5 Common Weight Loss Mistakes that People Make
When I started working out (around 9 years ago) I knew absolutely nothing about what I was doing. I was still in college and to be honest I wasn’t really into the whole fitness and health thing. I just wanted to look good and lose some weight.
Being a guy, lifting weights seemed like the “manly” thing to do, so I signed up to a gym that was close to my apartment back then (I was living in Dapitan and the gym was along Espana in front of UST).
For two months I didn’t see any improvement. The only weight loss I experienced was a lighter wallet (OK I’m exaggerating… paper doesn’t weigh that much lol).
My workout then involved me trying all the machines that weren’t being used, standing around looking at everyone else, and doing a 5 or 10 minute walk/run on the treadmill because everyone seemed to end their workouts that way.
I didn’t know what I was doing and I literally looked lost whenever I was at the gym. Things were very very…
I was in desperate need of guidance back then so I know how difficult it can be for people who are new. I know how it feels to want to lose weight but not know where to begin and what to watch out for. I could’ve done a lot of things with those wasted 2 months if only I had bothered to do some research first.
In this post I’ve come up with a couple of things that I think everyone who wants to lose weight should know about. They’re the more common mistakes that people make when starting a weight loss regimen and they contribute greatly to the number of people who become depressed and frustrated with their weight loss efforts.
Mistake #1 – Unrealistic Goal Setting
One of the biggest mistakes people make is setting a goal that’s impossible to achieve. The “shoot for the stars, land on the moon” mentality can work for some people but usually aiming too high and not achieving it can lead to a lot of disappointment.
One very important thing to remember is that there’s a limit to the amount of weight you can lose safely. That’s why so many people advocate slow weight loss because that’s easier, safer, and more long term.
A realistic estimate is 1-2 lbs of weight lost per week so keep that figure in mind when you’re setting your goals. It is possible to lose more weight than this if you’re on the obese side because the more weight you need to lose, the more you can. But it gets progressively harder the lighter you become.
But to keep things simple just focus on the 1-2 lbs per week mark. If you lose more than that then awesome, if you don’t that’s fine. Just try to get there for now.
So again, keep things real and you won’t end up disappointing yourself.
Mistake #2 – Starting with no Weight Loss Plan
This is pretty much what happened to me when I started. I had no plan on how I was going to reach my weight loss and muscle building goals. I thought that as long as I started lifting weights, things would just sort themselves out.
Oh how wrong I was.
If you want to lose weight, you need a clear, specific and personalized plan on how to achieve your goal. That’s why most people get a trainer or a coach to make them a weight loss program.You might want to consider this option.
But you can also make the plan yourself, just be smart about it.
A couple of things that you need to ask yourself when coming up with a weight loss plan are:
- What’s my target weight and how much time do I have to achieve it?
- How much time per day/week can I devote to working out?
- How flexible are my eating habits (dieting)?
- Am I going to enroll in a gym/class or should I just adopt a healthy hobby (running, swimming, biking, etc…)?
- What options are available to me locally (classes/gyms close to work or house)?
- Do I need a coach/trainer to help me out or can I do it myself?
Each of us have different considerations so you’ll probably come up with more items to add to your list, but the ones I mentioned above are pretty basic and should apply to most people.
If you plan your weight loss wisely, you won’t end up wasting your time, effort, and money. You’ll also get better results and become more motivated to lose weight because you actually have guidelines to follow.
Mistake #3 – Trying to do it alone
Now it’s not impossible to do this alone. If you’ve got the drive you can do most things by yourself. But it’s so much easier to lose weight with other people so it’s advisable for beginners to find a group to workout with.
The group acts as source of support for when things become difficult. They’ll push you to keep going and usually people respond well to group pressure.
The other use for the group is for accountability. You need to be accountable to someone and having a group that monitors your progress will make you feel guilty whenever you’re thinking of slacking off.
If it were only you, there’s a greater risk of becoming lax in your efforts because you have nobody to report to but yourself.
So find some friends who also want to lose weight, and setup your monitoring/support group.
Mistake #4 – Prioritizing Weight Loss over Fat Loss
One extremely important distinction that everyone should know about is the difference between weight loss and fat loss.
When you say weight lost, people normally refer to the difference lost between two weigh-ins using a weighing scale. Most of us have one at home so it’s the easiest way to measure progress.
The problem with using a weighing scale though is that the results can become very inaccurate because our body weight changes easily.
For example weighing after working out will result in a lower number because we just lost a lot of water weight (sweat). Weighing after eating or drinking a lot of water can also make us seem heavier. But these are the more trivial reasons for knowing the distinction between weight loss and fat loss.
The more important consideration against the use of weight lost as the main means to measure progress, is the development of the mentality where people don’t really care anymore if they lose fat or muscle as long as they weigh less.
This is really common with people who do extremely low calorie or crash diets.
Some people starve themselves for weeks just so they can drop their weight really quickly. But what most people don’t realize is that with this method, they’re setting themselves up for failure in the long run.
This subject actually deserves its own post and I’ll probably write one later on, but for now let me try to explain it briefly in this one.
When you starve yourself, not only does it become more difficult to burn calories because our body enters “starvation” mode where it tries to consume as few calories as possible, it also starts to catabolize muscle tissue for energy.
Starvation mode is bad enough, but because muscle tissue burns calories even at rest, the more muscle mass we lose, the lower our metabolic rate becomes.
So as you continue to do crash diets, it becomes progressively harder to lose weight. Why?
Because once you stop your diet, you’re going to gain back the fat but not the muscle tissue that you lost. You end up with a lower metabolic rate than what you had before you did your diet.
You’ll just keep repeating this cycle the more you do crash diets, further dropping your metabolism.
So when trying to lose weight, it’s very important to focus on fat loss.
Fat is what makes us unhealthy. Fat is what covers our muscles and prevents our “cuts” from showing. Fat is what makes your limbs all soft and pasty when you touch them.
It is the amount of fat in our bodies that has a more direct relation to how healthy we are and how good we look.
It has nothing to do with weight. Weighing ourselves is just a convenient albeit inaccurate way of measuring how much fat we’ve lost.
And when we look at the discrepancy between the last weigh-in result and the current one, it should already be a given to us that what we’re trying to estimate is the amount of fat lost, which is only a certain percentage of the difference we get.
So go ahead and use your weighing scale at home, like I said it’s convenient. It allows us to get our weight loss “numbers” fix really quickly. It gives us some peace of mind to know that the numbers keep going down.
But don’t get hung up on the results if and when they aren’t what you expected them to be because they can be deceiving. Get your fat percentage measured regularly and use that to monitor your progress.
Mistake #5 – Thinking that just dieting is enough
And finally, dieting is not enough, although a lot of people seem to think it is. Sure you can lose weight without exercising but you’re jeopardizing your health in the long run.
Here are a couple of points to consider:
- As previously discussed, intake of too little calories can cause your body to enter starvation mode
- Continuous dieting can result in low nutrition intake because you’re not eating enough food to meet your RDAs (you wouldn’t have to eat so little if you also exercised since the calories you burn compensates for the extra food)
- Exercise can improve your health (your heart improves and it reduces the risk for diseases like diabetes)
- Regular exercise improves your strength and general well being (less fatigued and more energized)
So if you’re going to lose weight, you should be watching what you eat and exercising at the same time. It’s not even necessary that you do intense exercise. Even just 20 or 30 minutes of cardio 3 times a week is enough to start you off. You can build up from there.
If you have a physically engaging hobby or a sport then that makes things much easier. Just do that and make it a regular thing.
So keep those 5 common mistakes in mind and do what you can to avoid them. Don’t waste your time like I did when I started. Be smart about losing weight, be realistic, and keep yourself motivated.
Hope you found this list useful.
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