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 an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist and behavior change specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • Good article, timely reminders of things I should know but helps to see reinforced.

    My 2 cents is that I do much better mentally if I weigh-in daily. I can deal with daily fluctuations (I understand trend lines!) and can often rationalize day-to-day why my weight is the same or went up. Weekly weigh-ins carry too much "weight" (pun alert) and with less data, the trends can be more difficult to see. - 4/24/2016 1:09:04 PM
  • Right on the money!!! Yesterday I did a blog centered around why I'm losing only a few ounces when I had been on an average 1.5lb a week. I had not been reaching my calorie range set by my dietician of 1550. Instead I had slipped back into the range of 1,00,,,perhaps less to 1200. I'm of course correcting this. I started off at 248 beginning of Jan,,,, I started at 288,,, goal is 198 end of the year. Just need to stay focused.

    Yes there WILL be those times of eating more ,,,,remember SPARKS is NOT a diet,,, those DEPRIVE us,,, it's a LIFESTYLE change,,, celebrating!!! - 4/24/2016 9:20:53 AM
  • I love this article! Great reminders for losing and maintaining. - 4/24/2016 7:46:36 AM
  • DIETSUGGESTIONS
    @dietsuggestions gives some more about what to avoid and what to eat.
    Over-Exercising
    Nourishment Labels
    Reducing Calories Too Low
    Coming to be Obsessed With Your Weight and the Scale
    Changing Up Your Routine Too Often
    Over-Restrictin
    g Your Food Choices
    Obsessing Over Calories as well as Macronutrient Ratios
    Only Focusing on External Appearance
    - 3/30/2016 8:01:38 AM
  • I found this article had a lot of good reminders for me. I have gotten extremely frustrated with my weight loss! The first 40 lbs came off pretty quickly and easily for me while I was doing the HCG diet which some people may or may not be familiar with. Basically I would call it a "near starvation diet" and it was miserable. It was effective at making me lose weight quickly, but when I went off that diet I gained 10lbs back within less than a month. Due to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, after gaining the initial 10 back, I have maintained where I am at but any time I try to lose any more weight it comes off EXTREMELY slow! So slow that I often feel like giving up! I have only lost 2 lbs in the last 3 weeks which I assume is just water weight since I am no longer eating overly processed foods. So, now I am resorting to calorie counting which I absolutely hate but hopefully this will get those last 30-35 lbs off! - 3/28/2016 2:56:10 PM
  • This was a good article except for one glaring problem. I was so disappointed to see "starvation mode" invoked. This concept continues to be misunderstood and incorrectly applied, as happened in this article. I try to avoid nit-picking others' writing, but the whole "starvation mode" thing continues to be thrown around in discussions about weight loss, and leads to a lot of misunderstanding and poor decisions. - 2/18/2016 8:55:35 AM
  • 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
  • SMILINSWEETPEA
    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

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