Losing weight can be one of the hardest things you do.
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight you know the path is filled with plenty of mistakes.
In this post I cover what I believe to be the top 5 mistakes we make when trying to lose weight and the simple solutions to fix them.
5 Most Common Weight Loss Mistakes
Weight Loss Mistake #1: Dieting.
The truth about dieting for weight loss is that MOST diets fail in the long-term due to poor adherence.
I mean, think about it…
How many times have you tried to diet just to end up right back at square one?
I know I can personally attest to the fact that most (if not all) diets are not sustainable in the long-term.
And yet, the first thing most of us do when trying to lose weight is… Diet.
Look, if you want to lose weight and keep it off in the long-term, do yourself a favor and STOP dieting.
The Solution: Focus on improving your dietary habits with gradual changes.
A better approach than dieting for weight loss is to focus on gradually improving your dietary habits and/or behaviors.
This is doing things such as;
- Eating a favorite fruit or vegetable prior to every meal.
- Replacing sugary beverages with diet or zero calorie options (there are plenty of options now and the key is finding one YOU enjoy).
- Drinking a glass/bottle of water 10-15 minutes before every meal (such s when you’re preparing the meal).
- Finding sufficient substitutes to your key problem foods, e.g, thin crust pizza in place of thick crust with extra cheese and 5 toppings, light ice cream in place of regular, etc.
It is the building of simple, practical habits like these which lead to long-term weight loss.
So, next time you’re trying to lose weight… skip the dieting and focus on building simple dietary habits.
Weight Loss Mistake #2: Following random or generic exercise programs.
We have all tried some random workout we found online or followed some exercise regimen in the hopes it would help us lose weight.
We focus so much on what some online guru or misinformed trainer says will “burn the most fat” instead of focusing on the most important thing; what WE enjoy doing and therefore will consistently do long-term.
Hopefully you know by now that there is NOT some magical workout that you HAVE to follow to lose weight.
So, before you go to follow another unsustainable exercise regimen or workout follow the points below.
The Solution: Focus on exercising in a [safe] way that YOU enjoy for just 5–10 minutes a day several times a week and gradually increase frequency, duration, and/or intensity overtime.
Now, while I believe that we should all avoid the popular exercise advice that is all too common I do believe that we should all exercise to some degree (if we are cleared to do so safely).
Why? Because using both a healthy diet and exercise in combination is likely most effective for weight loss (learn more about that here).
The key is finding a form of exercise that we enjoy and is convenient for us to do frequently.
Look, as far as weight loss is concerned, exercise is simply a way to burn calories and hopefully help retain some muscle mass.
So, all you need to do is find a [safe] way to exercise that YOU enjoy doing and therefore will help you consistently burn extra calories.
So, again, before you go follow some “fat loss workout” or expect some regimen to magically produce weight loss remember, “the best exercise for fat loss is that which YOU enjoy doing and therefore will keep doing long-term”. (1)
Weight Loss Mistake #3: Aiming for 10k (or some arbitrary amount of) steps.
Look, there is nothing wrong with having goals or 10K step goals specifically.
The issue lies in the fact that this is an arbitrary number that people use and feel as though they failed when they don’t reach it.
The other issue is that they’re aiming for 10k steps when they currently get 1/5-1/3 of that currently.
That is a large leap.
There is a better approach to being more physically active to help us lose weight than some arbitrary step goal.
The Solution: Focus on a more practical way to move more such as getting up and moving for 10–20 seconds every 20–30 minutes.
This is a simple habit that we can all build and which can help us burn more calories on a daily basis, making weight loss that much easier.
It is simple habits like these that can make weight loss so much simpler, easier, and stress free than we make it.
Some other great tips to help you get moving more for weight loss are;
- Pace whenever you’re on the phone
- Park further from the store/office, even just a few more spaces away than usual
- Walk to the mailbox
- Walk your dog for 5-10 minutes on a daily basis
- Set aside 5 minutes a day to actively play around with your child (or dog)
- Get up and move whenever a commercial comes on while watching TV
Make even a few of those habitual and you are now burning more calories every day without even feeling like you’re doing much at all.
No step goals that you feel you have to reach, just simple, enjoyable habits to build that last.
Weight Loss Mistake #4: Setting unrealistic goals from the beginning due to impatience.
One of the biggest mistakes we can make when trying to lose weight is setting unrealistic expectations from the start.
We set goals which we cannot achieve and in doing so set ourselves up for disappointment and negative feelings in the future.
This is unfortunately an all too common cycle for individuals.
- Set an unrealistic goal, fail, feel bad and hopeless afterwards.
- Wait a few weeks or months and get the desire to lose weight again.
- Set an unrealistic goal, fail, feel bad and hopeless afterwards.
Before long we start to believe that weight loss is hopeless and that we have “tried everything” when in reality we have tried nothing.
Do yourself favor and break this cycle NOW.
STOP setting unrealistic weight loss goals and start with small, simple goals which you can actually achieve.
The Solution: Understand and accept from the start that this will take time, effort, and making mistakes. There are no short-cuts to successful long-term weight loss, so start with the right mindset.
Not only do I believe that we should stop setting unrealistic weight loss goals but that we should stop setting weight goals to begin with.
One of the best things you can do if you want to lose weight is… STOP trying to lose weight.
We obsess so much over a number and so much on how we can lose weight that we miss the key factor in long-term weight loss; building a healthy lifestyle that supports that ideal body weight we have in mind.
So, instead of obsessing over the finish line we should focus on perfecting the path to it (e.g, building simple healthy habits which form into a healthy lifestyle).
There are no short-cuts to successful long-term weight loss, so start with the right mindset and expectations.
Stop focusing on losing weight and start focusing on building a healthy lifestyle that will get you there.
Weight Loss Mistake #5: Not monitoring your behaviors, progress, and mistakes.
Self-monitoring is one of the most negated aspects of weight loss.
Unfortunately, it’s not something that most of us think about nor prioritize when trying to lose weight.
However, self-monitoring is beneficial for 2 key reasons (in my opinion);
- It helps us develop crucial data, e.g, progress in our health habits, times and context to slip ups, what and how much we ate, etc. This is all important information to find and correct any issues we’re having.
- It helps make us more aware; simply put, the more we pay attention the better view we’ll have of any situation or problem.
I think these are two key issues we have when trying to lose weight and/or build a healthier lifestyle.
We don’t monitor and record crucial information so we are left guessing and making assumptions, making it very hard to find the true issue let alone correct it.
And so much of our lives are habits that we’re rarely fully present and aware of what we’re doing (specifically those things that are hindering our weight loss goals).
One simple fix we can make to prevent this mistake (and the issues that come with it) is to start monitoring our behaviors, progress, and slip ups.
The Solution: Take 5 minutes a day (preferably in the evening) to go over your simple health habits and how well you did with following them, where you slipped up, why you believe you did, and how you can do better the next day.
This one simple habit can make a huge difference for us in the long-term, helping us gain important information and become more aware of what we do on a daily basis by reflecting on it.
Just 5 minutes in the evening can be a great start. As time goes on and this becomes habitual you can increase the frequency (once a day to twice a day) and/or the duration (5 minutes to 10 minutes).
Now, like most things, this is not some magical weight loss solution that will by itself produce huge results.
It is simply another simple, practical tool (or rather habit/routine) that we can develop to improve our chances of successful long-term weight loss.
So, the 5 key mistakes you can make when trying to lose weight are;
- Following random or generic exercise programs
- Aiming for 10k (or some arbitrary amount of) steps
- Setting unrealistic goals from the beginning due to impatience
- Not monitoring your behaviors, progress, and mistakes
And if you want to succeed in losing weight, i.e, lose the weight and keep it off you need to;
- Focus on building better dietary habits in a simple, gradual manner.
- Focus on a type of exercise for just 5-10 minutes, several times a week that you truly enjoy and is convenient for you to do. Consistency is key NOT what “burns the most fat”.
- Focus on moving more in a simple, practical manner which you can make a daily habit.
- Set realistic goals and/or expectations from the start, focusing more on the path (building a healthy lifestyle) than the finish line (weight loss).
- Take 5 minutes a day (preferably in the evenings) to go over your progress, behaviors, goal, and slip ups.
I hope that this post can help give you some sufficient guidance in better achieving your health and weight loss goals.
For some great free resources to help lose weight and keep it off check out this page here.