So, you’re about to embark on a new weight loss journey, or maybe you’re already into one. Before you get ahead of yourself, here are 8 common mistakes people tend to make that keep them from reaching their goals. Be prepared so that you know how to navigate through these typical problems.
I know you’re excited. Your motivation has probably never been higher. Why don’t we keep it that way by not burning yourself out in the first couple of weeks. Exercise is great, and you should be doing a combination of strength training and cardiovascular training, but that doesn’t mean that more is always better.
Make small changes to your exercise program just like you do with your diet. You don’t have to go from nothing to everything overnight. Build yourself up to 1, 2, and then 3 days of strength training a week. Do something you enjoy. Two hours every single day of high-intensity exercise for someone who hasn’t built up to that work load is either asking for injury, or will be burnt out in weeks.
Cutting Calories Too Low
Of course you need to eat less than you burn if you want to lose weight, but cutting calories too low will not get you to your goal any faster. In fact, it’s likely to slow down your progress.
Prolonged calorie restriction causes a down-regulation of important fat-burning hormones like thyroid, and appetite-controlling hormones like leptin and ghrelin. Lower your calories, but the smaller the deficit the better. Go too low and you’ll be wondering why you’re not losing any weight.
Becoming Obsessed With Your Weight and the Scale
Gotta lose weight. Gotta lose weight. Wrong! Gotta lose FAT. How often do you weigh yourself? Is it weekly? Daily? More than once a day? It’s a great feeling when you see that number on the scale go down, but how do you react when it goes up? I’m going to guess that reaction isn’t good.
The scale is not going to tell you everything you need to know about your progress. It’s only going to tell you how heavy you are. It won’t tell you how much muscle you’ve put on, or how much fat you’ve lost.
Obsessing over your weight can lead to frustrations, which can lead to you giving up on your lifestyle change. If you feel the need to weigh yourself every day then take the average of 7 daily measurements. This will help smooth out water weight fluctuations. Then compare your average weight week to week.
Changing Up Your Routine Too Often
I’ve been guilty of this so many times I’ve lost track. I try out this eating style for a week or so and then I read somewhere else about another eating style that might be better. I start questioning whether I’m doing everything I can to reach my goals. So I end up changing up my routine, and in the process, I never give the original eating style a chance to work.
I know it’s a hard thing to do, but once you decide on a way to eat and exercise, stick with it. If it hasn’t even been two weeks, there’s no reason to even consider changing anything.
If after two weeks you haven’t made any progress, you can start looking into making small changes to your current routine. That doesn’t mean change every single thing. It means change 1 or 2 things and see if that gets the progress moving forward again.
Over-Restricting Your Food Choices
There’s no need to cut out every fun food you enjoy eating. Doing so tends to create a spring loaded effect where you go a period without eating these foods then can’t take it anymore and binge. You then start the cycle over and over again.
I used to think that I couldn’t just have two slices of pizza or a little ice cream. I thought that if I had just a bite I had to have it all. But later I realized I was blaming the food instead of the restriction that preceded it. Don’t be afraid to include the foods you enjoy in moderation. Watch your total calories and enjoy.
Having Unrealistic Expectations
Let’s see, you want to lose 50 pounds, so at 2 pounds per week, that would mean you will hit your weight loss goal in 25 weeks. Wrong. I’m not going to go so far as to say it can’t be done, but realistically, it’s not going to happen, and you’re going to get discouraged when you start falling behind that pace. So much so, that when your expectations aren’t met, you end up giving up because it just takes too long.
Set a goal of .5-1% body mass loss each week, with the lower number being the most realistic. Take a bigger view of your timeline and remember that this is a lifestyle change and not a 2lb/week weight loss plan. The weight will come off, but you have to get out of the day to day weight loss mentality.
Obsessing Over Calories and Macronutrient Ratios
How many calories should you eat? How much protein, fat, and carbohydrates are optimal for weight loss? Don’t worry about it! At least don’t worry about it yet. For now, focus on improving the quality of your diet and getting active. Once your diet is 80-90% whole foods and you’re exercising consistently, you can start playing around with meal timing, carb cycling, or various macronutrient ratios.
In the beginning, it’s quality over quantity. At least that should be your main focus. Cutting calories to an already bad diet will further lower the amount of nutrients you get, and if you add exercise in at the same time, the nutrient deficiencies get even worse. Block out all that noise and focus your attention on one thing only – eating healthier food.
Only Focusing on External Appearance
It’s been a month of eating healthy food and being active, but you haven’t lost any weight, so you haven’t made any progress – or so you think. It’s hard to think about all the positive changes you’re making to the inside of your body and to your health because you can’t directly see them. However, all that hard work is changing your body from the inside out.
Even if your weight hasn’t moved in weeks, take solace in the fact that you are a healthier person than you were just weeks ago. It’s only a matter of time before those internal changes start reflecting on the outside. Be patient, smile, and love the new person you are becoming.