Motivation Articles

6 Weight Loss Mistakes to Avoid

Small Changes for Big Results

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Weighing yourself immediately after wearing a “sweat” suit, getting into a sauna, or finishing an intense workout might (or might not) show a loss on the scale. But that is temporary water loss that will come back after you rehydrate yourself by drinking. Remember—you’re trying to lose fat, not simply “weight” or water weight.

This is a good reason to not weigh yourself more than once a week. The Fitness Resource Center has several articles that expand on this idea, including Body Composition Measures Results and Measure Progress Without the Scale.

Setbacks Are Normal
No one is perfect. You can expect to hit some bumps in the road, no matter how hard you’re trying. The important thing is not to let those bumps get you totally off track, but to learn from them and move forward.

The article ”1 Step Back, 2 Steps Forward”, located in the Motivation Resource Center, offers tips for dealing with setbacks, and Coach Dean’s message board post about staying motivated includes even more helpful advice.

Eating Less Isn’t Always Better
A lot of people assume that the less you eat, the faster you will lose. One of the biggest mistakes dieters make is not eating enough. Your calorie range is based on your current weight, goal weight, how aggressive your goal is (whether you want to lose weight quickly or slowly) and how much exercise you are doing. Your recommended calorie range might seem like a lot of food—especially if you are accustomed to fad, restrictive diets.

But if your body is not getting enough nutrients and calories (especially if you eat less than your recommended calorie range), your metabolism will slow down. This is called “starvation mode” because your body thinks it is experiencing a famine, so it starts holding onto every calorie you give it, making weight loss much slower or impossible, and weight gain more likely. That's why it's so important to eat within your calorie range. If you aren’t, you could be doing more harm than good.


Hopefully these tips will help you avoid many of the common pitfalls dieters face, and deal with the ups and downs of weight loss more easily. Hang in there! It’s not always easy, but you can do it!


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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 a certified personal trainer, certified health coach and advanced health & fitness specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • 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
  • NSSREENIVASAN
    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
  • This article is very hood and should be taken to heart !


    Thankyou ! - 8/16/2012 11:30:53 AM
  • RAMJNKGHA1
    I've been working very hard to increase my aerobic and strength exercise to lose the fat!
    I will remember 'I am trying to lose fat!' next time my scale shows that I've not lost any weight. Thanks SparkPeople, this site is fantastic! - 7/12/2012 3:53:58 AM
  • Wow my husband was right , though I won't tell him that. I think that's half my problem I don't eat regular like breakfast, lunch but from now on I make sure i eat 3 meals a day and light snack.
    - 4/17/2012 5:31:32 PM
  • Wow! I had no idea! I thought that the fewer calories, the better. From now on I will try to stay within my range. Thanks for this great article. - 12/20/2011 11:22:26 PM
  • CREEPMOM
    HI REALLY SERIOUS. I WILL HAVE MY BYPASS SURGERY IN 6 MONTHS, WHEN YOU GET THE ANSWERS TO YOUR WAY OF WATING PLAN WILL U PAS IT ON TO ME ALSO?? I APRECIATE IT I SHOULD GET IN THE TRAINING NOW. THANK YOU SO MUCH. EVELYN creepmom@yahoo.co
    m - 10/1/2010 8:08:07 AM
  • CREEPMOM
    HI EVERYONE TODAY IS DAY ONE FOR ME, I AM ON MY WAY TO MY 6 MONTH FOOD PROGRAM TO LOOSE WEIGHT, A NEW WAY OF LIFE, THEN MY GASRTIC BYPASS, IT IS THE ROUTE I MUST TAKE. BEDCAUSE OF BEING HEAVEY FOR 60 YRS, MANY HEALTH PROBLEMS, SO I'LL BE HERE EVERYDAY FOR A LONG TIME AS I DO REALLY WANT TO LOOSE THIS EXCESS WEIGHT AND HAVE A NEW AY OF NUTRITION FOR LIFE, AND EXERCISE. TOGETHER WE CAN DO IT. EVELYN creepmom@yahoo.co
    m - 10/1/2010 7:49:04 AM
  • WEEZIELOU
    I also have a hard time keeping the weight off. Within a week my weight may go back up and I have to get it back down sometimes 3 to 5 lbs. The article was great and I do know this and I just keep working on it. I walk about 8 miles daily and now do some strength workout but still fluctuate. - 7/5/2010 9:29:31 PM

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