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My Top 10 Weight Loss Mistakes: What are Yours?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
What I have learned in my 47 years on this planet is that it isn’t from our perfection that we learn the most about who we are, but when we make mistakes and learn from them that we find our true essence.

Below are my top 10 weight loss mistakes. I can tell you this wasn’t too difficult to configure because I certainly could come up with at least 10 more. Feel free to add to my list so that maybe others can learn from our mistakes.

  1. DIETING-Plain and simple diets don’t work. Trust me, prior SparkPeople, I spent 32 years trying every diet under the sun. Everything from The Mayo Clinic (name only, not actually endorsed by the Mayo Clinic), The Grapefruit Diet, The Hollywood Stars Diet, even the Hot Dog Diet, you name it I have probably tried it.

  2. EXPECTING INSTANT RESULTS-I can’t tell you how many times I started this journey in the past expecting instant results on the scale only to find myself gaining and not losing early on. It was so frustrating not to see the results, but I have learned with healthy living it takes time for the body to change.

  3. UNDERESTIMATING THE POWER OF TRACKING MY NUTRITION-This has been such a huge learning tool for me. There have been days when I just knew I had eaten over my calorie range only to discover that I was far behind and vice-versa. This is the number one tool, now that I am in maintenance, which I return to when I feel my nutrition habits slipping.

  4. OVERESTIMATING MY CALORIC EXPENDITURE VIA MACHINES-Before I joined SparkPeople I would go by the readout on the machines on my at home elliptical and at the gym. I was shocked to discover the machines were overestimating my caloric expenditure by almost 250 calories per day. This could have been a big reason as to why it may have taken me longer to see results.

  5. BELIEVING THAT EATING LESS THAN MY CALORIE RANGE WOULD BRING QUICKER RESULTS-I have since educated myself and learned that one must eat to lose. It is far better to become more active than it is to eat fewer calories which can lead to frustration and almost a guaranteed binge somewhere down the road.

  6. NOT GETTING ENOUGH Z’s- I never take getting a good eight hours sleep for granted any more. I am by far a healthier person and more in control of my eating when I get that good ol’ 8 hours of shut eye every night.

  7. EXPECTING OTHERS TO SHARE MY ENTHUSIASM FOR GETTING HEALTY-What I have learned is when others are not ready to embrace a healthy lifestyle, there is little you can do to guide them along the way. They have to want it as much as you want it for them.

  8. NOT STRENGTH TRAINING-By far one of the biggest changes in my body has come from adding strength training into my workout regimen. Not only does it allow for better overall tone, it has improved my running, as well as my active daily living activities.

  9. BELIVING PLATEAUS MEANT I WAS DOING SOMETHING WRONG-This was one of the toughest obstacles I had to get past. Plateaus just mean that our body has adapted to this new way of living and we just need to determine ways to shake things up.

  10. NOT ALLOWING TIME FOR RECOVERY-This is where the "some is good so more must be better" mentality has to be shattered. After being told that my recovery time is the time my body begins the adaptation process to the exercise, I never underestimate the power of a good day or two off.

    Keeping the list to ten was hard. There have been many more mistakes I have made, but by far the biggest lesson I have learned is this is a life-long journey that will have many twists, turns, and obstacles. But no matter where it takes me, I am in it for the long haul. I will never go back to the way things used to be.

    Have you made any weight loss mistakes? What have you discovered to be the most significant change you have made since joining SparkPeople?

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SNUZYQ2 12/24/2019
Thank you for sharing your mistakes. I recognized several of them in my weight loss journey as I read along. Report
Yes, yes, and yes Report
Great article Report
thanks! Report
I'm guilty of a few of these. Thanks for the info! Report
I don't consider #1 to be a mistake. Limiting calories (1,500/day in my case), completely eliminating sugar, restricting starches and fat, and getting at least 50% of my nutrition from fiber-rich produce IS a diet. It's worked for me, and I can absolutely maintain it for life (barring an occasional relapse.) There are still plenty of things I CAN eat, all of which I really enjoy.

I DON'T get enough sleep; however, there's really nothing I can do about that -- I'm a lifelong insomniac. Report
Never thought about those little bits of into. Guess what, been thru them all. Thanks. This needed to be brought to my attention. Glad I read them for they are very good ones. Report
Nice list. Report
I totally agree with #10. I felt if there was a class offered, I had better be there, even if it meant coming back 2 times a day. I got to the point that I was crabby and not enjoying it, just checking it off for the day. I gave myself permission to stop it, I feel better most of the time, sometimes still a little guilty for not going. Crazy, I know!! Report
Loving this list. Will refer to it often Report
Awesome list. It resonates alot of what I am currently going through. Thank you for the eye openers. Report
#5 Strikes a chord with me. It's just so easy to think this way. I keep thinking that it is food that has gotten me to where I am today. That if I work on the food, then I must go in reverse, right (lose weight)? I forget that it is also my inactivity that has contributed to my weight gain. One of my "skinny" friends is one of those kind of girls that doesn't need to work out to keep her figure. She generally eats well, but she will tell you that her main motivation for working out it those little splurges that she has now and then. It sounds like her way of thinking is spot on and my thinking is more backwards! Report
#7 is a good one for me. It's so helpful to have someone right there with you, but not everyone can be that someone! I know too many people who unconsciously try to sabotage instead of encourage. I'm not mad at those people - I just choose to keep my goals away from them.

I think EVERYONE needs to be mindful of plateaus. They happen to everyone, it's just a part of this lifestyle we are choosing. When that moment comes and lasts, I know I'll need all the reminders I can about sticking with what I know works. Report
Amen to this article and to all the comments! My biggest shortcoming is in Food Tracking. I need to be more consistent and accurate in that regard. But Knowledge is Power, and as Maya Angelou says, "When we know better, we should do better." Report
I have just started getting Healthy and living better. Thank you for this advice and warnings. I will receive this as a great blessing. Thanks again Report
I was glad to see that all of these things weren't just me. Report
I wanted to revist this blog for quite awhile now.

My major pitfall is failure to plan ahead...I need to have packaged snacks, either fresh fruit or protein snacks that I can "fall back on" when the schedule will not allow me time to eat properly. Every trip I take, I have my little cooler with me for reassurance!

Eating out is always a challenge, but if I know where we are going for our meal, I try to go on their website ahead of time, to check out their menu and get a rough estimate of the calories I might consume... When in doubt, I carry the mini guideline available here at SP for portion control...

So far, I have been able to track probably 95% of my food successfully by planning ahead...sigh.

I love this list. I completely agree- and have made all these mistakes myself.
The biggest mistake I am fighting right now is expecting quick results. Its taken me years to add on this weight but I want to take it off in a few months. Feeling like I am focusing so much on losing weight- tracking calories, making time to cook healthy meals, keeping stress low, and making time to workout- I feel like I should see the scale reflect that effort. I need to remember the other positive results- the great feeling I have when I am treating my body with the respect it deserves,etc.
The biggest mistake I make after I lose weight is that I think I should not have to focus on maintaining that weight. I get over confident and think I can handle just eating what I want- thats how weight comes back. I have decided that maintaining a healthy weight always needs to be a constant effort- I won't ever be in a time when I can just eat whatever I want. Report
Amen sister! I think we can all relate to these. I have to add falling into the trap of the low carb diets for the quick results and hunger control. Then when off them, eating way too few calories for a few days then binging for a few days, or even just days of too much good but calorie dense food. Report
Yes!!!! It is as if I am the one writing this blog.

Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone.

My biggest problem was that I gave up too quickly because I expected immediate results...... and my expectation for weight to be lost were toooooooo unrealistic.

I am changing my approach...... I feel like with sparkspeople I can now have a life change for a life time.

Thanks again for the compforting Blog and Take care Report
Great article! Thank you! One of my mistakes was assuming I knew what I was taking in, calorically speaking. Now, I try to research foods I haven't tracked yet BEFORE I eat them. (An example: I thought cole slaw made from cabbage would be a healthier choice at a restaurant only to find out I would have been better off with the mashed potatoes and gravy I was craving!) Knowing the nutritional facts about the foods we eat just allow us to make better choices. I strive to know what I am about to eat rather than regretting my decisions later. I also try to stick with what I know is a better choice for me rather than venturing to try something about which I am less sure. (I can always research it for possible future consumption, but once it is in my body, the damage is already done.) Report
All of the above plus:
Avoiding trips to the loo by not drinking water,
breaking off from excercise just because I "slipped"
Consolling myself that no one died of weight gain
Listening to other peoples opinion that Am okey just the way I am. Report
Am really impressed with the astute way you sum it all up, if only i'd seen it before, i could have saved my self a lot of time! Report
Great Blog.
My biggest mistake--lack of patience and lack of consistency. I am working on it!! Report
I try to burn some calories everyday. I rarely sit and watch TV anymore. Now I exercise during a show. Report
To list all my mistakes in loosing weight would take days of writing and spell checking so I will name the top 3 mistakes I have encountered, not only in weight loss but in healthy living in general. Being obsessed with the numbers on the scale and weighing myself not once, but twice a day. By doing this I have created so much frustration that is has been counter productive in the past. Being consistent in exercise was my first biggest challenge to date. I can't expect any kind of life style change if I am not consistent in my behavior. And the number one biggest mistake I have made is not eating enough calories to keep my body fueled. I have been storing fat for years and with the increase in my activity levels and decrease in calorie intake I have had the pleasure of gainning weight and burning muscles rather than fat. I'm still working on the calorie side of my life changes and it is with the support of people on sparkpeople.com that I am finally getting past this one large weight loss mistake Report
Thinking that looking at people heavier than I in a less than possitive way would give me motivation. Report
excellent blog!
i think my biggest mistake is giving up too soon, and falling into emotional eating. along with not practicing strength training.
I learned not to get cocky, overconfident, and complacent. Its a lifelong journey and takes diligence and vigor to stay healthy, fit, and happy. All to easy to give in to anger or frustration, to get caught up in daily pressures and stress, and find one's self vegging out or stuffing their face. Report
This is a great blog entry...I agree with all you've said and I'm so glad I read it because it reminds that I'm on the right track even when i feel like I'm failing! Thanks! Report
What a great blog!
I have made plenty of mistakes over the years, but thanks to SP I have been able to reach my goal and maintain my loss. Most of all, I learned to do it the right way. Report
What a great article! Nancy writes with such honesty and I'm always humbled after reading her posts. I think my biggest lesson I've learned so far is that I fall too easily off the wagon for too long a time. If I have a fast food meal (funny, it's usually after a doctor's appt), the rest of the day is shot, then the week, then two weeks after that. I have no illusions that there won't be temptations in life going forward, and that this really is a lifestyle change and not a strict "diet" that must be adhered to at every moment. That being said, I'm not ready yet for those days of having that "cheat" meal, so to speak, without it leading to bingeing for days on end. It fuels something in me when I do this, and I'm self-defeated afterwards, for too long a period of time. I plan on writing my very first blog ever (scary for me) about being "afraid of success", as I really think that is at the center of my being "stuck" so to speak. Thank you, Nancy, for being forth a subject that I think all of us can relate to and can add to our own lists (reams of paper, anyone?)
Shannon~ Report
Great Blog! Report
Yep, I can relate! I joined SP as well as a community weight loss challenge at the same time (because I was afraid i wouldn't stick to SP without some form of "live" accountability). Having the group pressure (!) has helped me get on track & stick with it. thanks SP! Report
I am still new on this journey but my previous mistakes include:

1. Believing that because I did 120 mins of cardio 5x week I could eat what I liked.
It's only since I started SP & counting cals did I realise how many junk cals I was eating.

2. Blaming it on my metabolism. See above. I could not understand why I exercised harder but still did not shift weight so naturally assumed I had a 'slow metabolism'. How many of us are still clinging to that belief?

3. 'Finishing up' food. No calories when its off someone else's plate, left-over & lonely in the fridge or about to reach its sell-by date, right? I am still learning to let it go even though it breaks my heart to put food in the bin & not my stomach! Same goes for 'free' food - when someone else is buying, at a party, I am on a business trip at company expense, at the bar & the snacks come round, birthday cake in the office, etc. It's only since starting SP that I have (gasp!) refused free bar snacks, said no to birthday cake & been ridiculed for having just soup & yoghurt for lunch instead of a blow-out. One good thing about SP is that when offered an unidentified deep-fried 'thing' I am always thinking "How would I enter that into my nutrition tracker?" and can't be bothered to figure it out so say no thanks!

4. Thinking I am still hungry after a big meal. I am still learning it takes time for the food to go down & the signal from your stomach to say "whoa boy!" That's when I would normally be in the kitchen scavenging the left-overs! If I am still having pangs after half and hour then a hot drink usually helps.

5. Not having a low-cal snack ready. I take lots of fruit to the office each day - as soon a I feel the first hint of hunger I eat a piece. That way I get through about 5, sometime 6 pieces a day. I am not a naturally keen fruit eater so there is no temptation to scoff it when I don't want it. When there is no fruit, guess what - I hit the vending machine and eat chocolate.....

6. Being afraid of being hungry. This is especially relevant when I am out of routine, like on a business trip. I tend to over eat breakfasts (buffet breakfast at the hotel) as I never know when lunch is coming! Still not sure how to solve this one. Secrete fruit about my person maybe.....

7. Impatience. Weight loss is a slow deal. One thing I like about SP is the graph showing your progress of weight loss vs. target loss. This is quite comforting as I am currently below the curve & lets me know I am still heading in the right direction - even though I am impatient to be the new 'me'.

8. Not believing that I can reach my target. Somehow believing that other people can lose weight but not me due to some inherent difference.

9. Not calorie counting as I thought it was too difficult. SP fortunately has changed that and makes it easy & fun. I have only been doing it for 3 weeks & I know that I will no doubt have times when I won't do it but it has certainly been an education & brought new awareness of the fat, carb & protein content of different foods.

10. Feeling trapped. The tension between wanting to 'enjoy' life in a hedonistic, live for today, eat & drink what you like vs. a life of carefully monitored intake & fitness regime. Fortunately I enjoy my work-outs, you need to find a way to make then fun, either with music or podcasts on your ipod or by trying to beat your own personal bests and I have found I can more or less 'eat what I like' & still stay in my cal limits as long as I don't eat too much junk. I have had the odd 'blow-out' day since starting and still managed to stay on track so hopefully adopting a more careful eating style will become a habit that I don't have to think too much about......

I think you pretty much nailed most of mine. I also do the all or nothing. I read a quote just the other day that really hit home. "If you got a speeding ticket, you wouldn't speed the rest of the day just because you've already messed up." Sounds silly right. What do you do when you get a speeding ticket, for like a week you drive the speed limit. So why do it with your health. I just need to keep reminding myself. :-) Report
I have an issue with all or nothing, if I "mess up" a lot of times it will send me on a downward spiral. It seems like its not even me when I start binging, but some evil twin who wants to sabotage me. I also make the mistake of drinking alcohol on the weekend! I drink once a week every week but I binge and I eat horrible food afterwards. Then I have a hangover the next day that leaves me wanting to lay around all day and eat the easiest possible foods. Its like a bad chain reaction but I cant give up my one day out a week and its always with my friends - which we all love to drink so Im SOL. Report
This is very good information. I have beat myself up thinking I have failed somehow when I just have to accept that it takes time and to just keep going at a pace that suits me. I have to change my all or nothing thinking and this is good advice. Report
I think I have also made just about every mistake on the list. Now I try to put treats in to stay on track and hate to count calories. That is why most diets failed for me. I try to be myself and change the lifestyle habits and eat in moderation instead of eating when depressed or stressed out. It is hard to get the eight hours sleep in my profession. Report
I can really relate to all of the comments! For me, not tracking nutrition is really a deadly thing. Slowly, I'm learning that.
Excellent! Report
I really enjoyed this article.
The main difference for me this round is deciding that this is my life- not a flash in the pan, quickie, but... just my life.
That means I don't sweat the small stuff, and it's direction, not perfection that I'm aiming for.
105 down, 45 to go, and it's just- my life.
Loving it. Report
good review Report
My biggest mistake used to be black and white thinking. I'd either diet and exercise full force, or do nothing. I still struggle with my aim for moderation, but seem to be getting better and better at balancing weight management with life!! Report
Logging everything I eat using the Nutrion Tracker, sure makes a difference. I stay more within my range. My biggest difficulty is if I go "out" to eat, I basically refuse to buy healthy. I figure if I'm going to spend the money, I'm going to make it worth while. Which I only do MAYBE once a month anyhow. Fast food maybe 3 times a month at the MOST. My other thing is sleep. I would LOVE to sleep for 8 hours, but because of my busy work schedules, that means I only have a couple hours at home everyday, and I like to enjoy it. Makes for some late night though. Report
Thanks~ for shareing,I like this Blog Report
I think I have made just about every mistake on the list. I didn't realize the machines were that bad! That is frustrating because I tend to try to burn an certain amount of calories rather than focus on a time per machine. NOW WHAT DO I DO? Report
I have made several mistakes, as I'm guessing many people have made the same as me; thinking a diet is a health change, not walking or doing some type of cardio every day, not drinking enough water...

The most significant change is knowing that I've learned so much and what to look out for - NOT stress eating was one of my biggest challenges! Report
Thank you for your post. My plateau is driving my bonkers, but I'll keep going.

Cheers, Dutchie Report
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