Motivation Articles

6 Weight Loss Mistakes to Avoid

Small Changes for Big Results

Welcome to SparkPeople! Hopefully your program is off to a smooth start, and you’re happy with your progress so far. But for others who aren’t seeing results yet, it’s been a little more frustrating. Many dieters tend to make similar mistakes when trying to lose weight. But being aware of these mistakes—and making small physical and mental changes—will help you lose the weight and keep it off for good. Here’s how:

Slower is Better
The first mistake dieters make is having unrealistic weight loss expectations. The SparkPeople program is set up to help you safely lose between half a pound and two pounds per week. Studies show that individuals who rapidly lose weight are more likely to gain it back. So if you’ve lost a few pounds this month—excellent! Don’t discount that because you see someone on T.V. losing 15 pounds in two weeks.

Everyone is Different
While some people lose a lot of weight in the first few weeks, others might not lose any weight for a few weeks. Although this can be frustrating when you’re doing everything right, it’s not a reason to give up. Sometimes it just takes a little while longer to see the results of your hard work reflected on the scale. Remember, eating right and exercising regularly have positive impacts on your health in many other ways, such as more energy, less stress, better sleep, and reduced risk of many diseases. You’ll receive those benefits—regardless of the number on the scale.

Weight Loss is Rarely Constant from Week to Week
Many people lose a lot in the first few weeks, and then their weight loss slows down considerably. It’s totally normal to have weeks when you lose more than expected, and weeks when your weight remains the same despite your consistent efforts. Our bodies are very complicated and don’t always cooperate with the estimates of how much we should expect to lose. People rarely lose a consistent amount of weight each week. Measuring your weight loss on a monthly basis can be a more accurate gauge of how well you are doing.

Weight Loss is Not Immediate
Cutting calories today (through diet and exercise) will not necessarily show up on the scale at the end of the day or even by tomorrow. Your weight can fluctuate from day-to-day for reasons that have nothing to do with your diet and exercise program. Much of this fluctuation is due to water and food intake. While your scale may show changes throughout the day, fluctuations that could be due to food & water alone are not permanent weight losses or gains.
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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist and behavior change specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • I'm glad I came across this just now. I'm very close to reaching my first goal at the end of the month and was wondering what goal I should set next. A certain amount of weight loss by New Years? ehhh it will only be about 5 weeks. Then my b-day is in March, so maybe I'll try to get below 200 for that. But that's about 36 pounds in 15 weeks...about 6 more than the recommended amount. Still , maybe it's worth the focus. Can't decide, but leaning towards that one. If anyone has any suggestions send me a note! - 11/11/2015 12:10:51 AM
  • Taking it slow is hard but if I stopped trying every time my weight loss stalled (about every three weeks or so) then I would not be 50+ pounds less. I know if I hang in there it will start dropping again. - 8/25/2015 8:33:18 AM
  • helpful, thanks - 7/10/2015 2:40:29 PM
  • Thank you for this article. - 6/12/2015 3:54:15 AM
    Thank you for this. A month in and I needed this. The first few points especially. - 2/15/2015 6:51:33 PM
  • I weigh every morning, it keeps me accountable. I do realize that fluctuations are going to happen but it gives me an estimate of my fat loss. I don't watch the weight loss reality shows or any of the shows with weight as an issue--I want to be healthy and I think these shows can hurt that part of all sparkers lifestyle change--we want to lose weight but most importantly, I think we want to enjoy that loss and the only way to do that is be healthy!! Not all of us are ever going to be stick thin and that is a reality we need to realize, but healthy we can all embrace. ;0) - 2/15/2015 4:03:10 PM
  • I think it's well said not to pay attention to weight loss results "as seen on TV." I get frustrated with a lot of reality shows where people extreme measures to lose weight quickly. The shows seem to be more for entertainment with weight loss packaged as instant gratification than to really show people how to lose weight realistically. - 2/15/2015 12:12:00 PM
  • I really enjoyed and appreciated the part about "slow" weight loss and that everyone is different and has different weight loss even when doing everything "right." - 3/10/2014 1:36:39 AM
  • Great info. I saved this so I can go back and read it. When I see my wright and it's not dropping like I want it to. But we do have to make a lifestyle change. - 12/2/2013 10:42:42 AM
  • ELLEN546
    One should eat in the reverse of what many of us do, more in the morning, decent lunch, and small dinner (timings relative to when your personal main activity is), with regular PLANNED snacks since a big pitfall is getting really hungry, then eating whatever is handy. In fact when I lost weight years ago, I basically ate six to eight snack-sized 'meals' a day, planned to cover the foods I needed over that period, rather than larger meals.

    Another thing I learned was to wear the same clothes for every weigh-in; it can be surprising how much a different pair of shoes, or even a shirt, can weigh. Since as others have said, weigh loss can vary so much from week to week, a fraction of a pound in clothing can obscure the true amount lost. Of course if you're weighing yourself in the privacy of home, probably wearing nothing, or next to that, would be easier. - 4/30/2013 8:01:14 PM
  • ARICHT42
    The last time I went on a diet I worked out every day for 2 months and in those 2 months all I lost was 12 lbs. I felt like I was doing something wrong. The only thing that keeps me from sticking to weight loss is after 22 yrs of eating out my brain doesn't know healthy meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is very stressful for me. I hope this time around I learn to take it one day at a time. - 4/30/2013 12:32:45 PM
  • ARICHT42
    The last time I went on a diet I worked out every day for 2 months and in those 2 months all I lost was 12 lbs. I felt like I was doing something wrong. The only thing that keeps me from sticking to weight loss is after 22 yrs of eating out my brain doesn't know healthy meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is very stressful for me. I hope this time around I learn to take it one day at a time. - 4/30/2013 12:32:45 PM
    Weight loss should be gradual over a period of time and one should not over anxious. Obese could be heridetary in which case it would take more time and effort to shed the extra weight. I have seen many who have over a period of time achieved this either caring for their figure or from the point of health. For weight loss, it requires strict eating habits, selection of proper food items and daily exercise. I am a pure vegeterian and so far I have maintained my weight within the prescribed range as per MBI. Unnecessary worrying also causes weight gain. With proper life style and positive thinking, one can have a wonderful life. - 4/30/2013 4:58:53 AM
  • This article contains solid information and covers all the basic issues around weight loss that most people struggle with. The information is well written, than you. Happy New Year to everyone. - 1/7/2013 6:34:04 AM
  • Great article! I have been doing some sort of intense cardio 5 days out of 7 and weight lifting 3-4 days out of 7 without any external results. I definitely can lift more weight compared to 9 months ago but I wasn't losing any weight nor decreasing inches as fast as I thought I should be. My problem is that I was consuming way too few calories. I am trying to get past the feeling that I can feel full all the time with careful planning and still lose weight. Obviously my way hasn't worked. :-) From now on I am staying within my range. Thank you for the article!
    - 9/17/2012 10:40:21 PM

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