Motivation Articles

11 Mistakes Beginners Make in the First Month of Weight Loss

The first month of a weight-loss journey is a mixed bag of hopes and questions, accomplishments and obstacles—and, of course, the occasional mistake. No matter how motivated and prepared you are, there will inevitably be days when you feel like you just can't get it right.

Whether it's an unintentional sugar binge, a string of skipped workouts or unrealistic goals, take comfort in knowing that bumps and obstacles are par for the course. The key is finding the right detours and creative solutions. Don't let any of these all-too-common blunders derail your weight-loss goals.

1. Forcing yourself to eat foods you hate.

The main reason that most diets fail is because they're not sustainable. Trying to choke down foods you can't stand just because they're on a prescribed meal plan won't keep you on track for the long term. According to Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, the director of nutrition education for Herbalife, this strategy turns dieting into a form of punishment, a tactic that rarely works. "If you punish yourself by eating something you can’t stand, it’s easy to rationalize a reward in the form of a high-calorie treat, which will only undermine your efforts," she warns.

If you do force yourself to eat a certain healthy food, you could end up hating all foods in that group by association. For instance, if you dislike kale but keep adding it to your meals, you might get turned off by all leafy greens. Instead, look for alternatives that are more palatable to you. "There’s nothing magical about kale," says Bowerman. "Baby spinach, Swiss chard or arugula are just as good for you, and you might like those better." As you learn which foods help you achieve your goals while also pleasing your palate, you'll develop lifelong healthy habits.

2. Weighing yourself too often.

When you embark on a weight-loss journey, it might seem counterintuitive to avoid looking at the scale—but weight fluctuates day to day for a variety of reasons, including water retention or hormonal fluctuations. Trainer and founder of Fit Armadillo Catherine Basu has often seen clients who gain weight one day, become discouraged and want to give up. "To avoid getting discouraged by the numbers on the scale, it's best to weigh yourself once a week at the same time—or maybe not at all," she suggests. "Instead, take circumference measurements, particularly at your hips and waist. These are a much better indicator of your overall health and success."

Instead of getting caught up in the numbers, Jessica May Tang, corporate wellness coach and founder of Damon Wellness Consulting, recommends focusing on finding your "meaningful why." Remind yourself of the reasons you started down the path to weight loss in the first place; chances are they have more to do with quality of life and less to do with hitting some arbitrary weight. Remember, having more energy to keep up with your active children or tend to your garden is more meaningful than any number.

3. Testing the waters.

After a week or two of sticking to a weight-loss plan, you may get frisky and be tempted to start indulging in your old food vices. When you're bolstered by your newfound confidence, the bad eating behaviors that you’ve suspended while on the diet may seem more manageable, but fitness coach and sports nutritionist Brandon Mentore warns that this is a set-up for mental punishment.

"You want to eat the cookie because you want to prove that it doesn’t control you, but what usually ends up happening is that you'll experience guilt after you eat it, and then pull the reins tighter on your diet and exercise," he says. "Instead, stick to your plan and splurge only when you’re supposed to."

4. Trying to eat "perfectly."

It's great to have discipline and motivation, but slipping into the all-or-nothing mentality can wreak havoc on your long-term journey. Chelsey Amer, registered dietitian and creator of C it Nutritionally, advises her clients to steer clear of overly rigid diets, such as only eating grilled chicken and steamed broccoli or allowing zero indulgences. "These types of extreme changes can lead to burnout instead of a long-term healthy lifestyle," she warns.

Ken Immer, president of Culinary Health Solutions, encourages dieters to make a list of which foods are their "non-negotiables,” or the ones they love most and can't imagine giving up. "If you don’t realize which foods are your non-negotiables and then they go missing, it can create extra anxiety," he says. "When those foods can be included, even in small amounts, the entire diet experience can be more enjoyable, and therefore more successful." Continued ›

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About The Author

Melissa Rudy Melissa Rudy
A lifelong Cincinnatian, Melissa earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from University of Cincinnati before breaking into online writing in 2000. As a Digital Journalist for SparkPeople, she enjoys helping others meet their wellness goals by writing about all aspects of healthy living. An avid runner and group fitness addict, Melissa lives in Loveland with her guitarist husband and three feisty daughters.

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