8 Dieting and Exercise Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

Mistake: You don't let your body rest

Why it's bad: You'll lower your sleep quality.

If you can barely keep your eyes open all day but toss and turn at night, it could be a sign of overexhaustion, says Halvorson. Other clues that you're working out too much include extreme muscle soreness that persists for several days, unintended weight loss, an increased resting heart rate, interruptions in your menstrual cycle or decreased appetite.

"Plan your rest as well as you plan exercise," says Polly de Mille, RN, a registered clinical exercise physiologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. Rest is a critical component of exercise, because it's when rebuilding takes place, she says. "If there's no balance between breakdown and recovery, then the muscle is in a state of chronic inflammation—and what may start as a simple case of soreness can turn into an actual overuse injury."

More: Your Post-Workout Recovery Ritual

Mistake: You're trying to lose 5 pounds—again

Why it's bad: You'll overeat when stress hits.

Yo-yo dieting can cause binge eating, especially on high-fat foods, according to recent research published in the Journal of Neuroscience. Study author Tracy L. Bale, PhD, associate professor of neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, used mice to examine how stress systems were affected after dieting. The results? Repetitive dieting was shown to cause long-term changes in DNA that can make you more sensitive to stress.

Dr. Bale says her findings support the need to find healthy ways to reduce stress—like doing yoga and meditating—and the importance of stopping the deprivation-binge cycle.

Feeling depressed, overwhelmed or frustrated? Soothe yourself with these 2-Minute Stress Solutions.

More: 7 Foods to Keep the Stress Away

Mistake: You go on an extreme short-term diet

Why it's bad: You'll gain weight when you stop (and be really miserable in the meantime).

If you ever tried a fad diet (e.g., the two-week cabbage soup diet), you probably know that the weight always comes back. A 2007 study in American Psychologist reviewed the results of several long-term studies on subjects who followed various low-calorie plans and found that the potential benefits are too small—and the potential harms too large—for dieting to be recommended as a safe and effective treatment for obesity. Several other studies show that most dieters often gain back more weight than they've lost.

So what can you do? Lose the fads and make lasting, healthier changes. See Eat Like This, Never Diet Again for easy, lifelong strategies.

More: How Many Calories Do You Need?

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