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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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The best news in all of these messages is that we're not alone! Daily weigh-ins are deadly for me. If I've lost - it might be time to congratulate myself, and if I haven't - you know what happens. Once a week works much better for me.
I've done phen-fen, Weight Watchers in 5 states - no kidding - and now finally I'm running a marathon - not a sprint to lose the weight once and for all. Good luck everyone! Report
Yes, I can share almost all of your mistakes. In addition,

1. not drinking enough water
2. being tempted to jump start my weight loss with a fast or crash diet like drinking only slim fasts for a week.
3. this one I read on here and found if I do NOT do it then I can set myself up for failure......and that is planning my next day's meals....... if I "wing it" then I almost always end up giving in to temptation. Report
Great List! It feels good to feel a communal sense in these shared mistakes. Report
Yes, i agree with all that; thanks for the article. Report
I have made the mistake of not eating enough. I was in WW and I stopped losing when I was working with construction. I wasn't eating enough and drinking water. What a disappointment that was for me. I was so frustrated with the whole ordeal. Tracking ones nutritional intake is really important and figuring out how much to eat when working physically taxing jobs. Report
Biggest mistakes, dieting to lose weight for a specific event rather than a lifetime change; expecting it to happen overnight, there are no shortcuts; way way underestimating what I was eating. Now I am measuring and weighing all my food and tracking it so that I stay within the recommeded guidelines. Report
Yes, I love this........it is realistic!!!!! Report
Great list. Diets don't work and results are not instant. It is a slow process and tracking your nutrition definetly helps. Being able to give myself a treat does help with the cravings and helps me to stay on course. Report
I totally agree with all of it - except for #4. Once I started using a heart rate monitor and was 10# heavier or more than I am now, I realized that most machines UNDER estimated my calorie expenditure by about 25-40%! Talk about seriously UNDER eating as well!

It wasn't until I reached the 150's that I started to be more in line with what the machines calculated. Report
I have learned that I need to learn better exercises to just relax. I think it is easy to start exercising, get caught up in it, and then realize it can become stressful after awhile too trying to fit it in. So on top of cardio, I am going to try to learn more exercises that relax my body that I can do throughout the day. I think that may help a lot in not snacking or cheating on eating when work is stressful. Report
You've hit every one of mine.... My critical ones were underestimating calorie intake and not strength training. Report
I have recently hit a Plateau, and was getting frustrated. I got away from tracking what I was eating. Last week I started tracking again. I think the accountability of tracking EVERYTHING I eat is the most important. Like you said, plateaus happen. It is time to shake things up. That is why I am not starting to train for my first ever 5K. (and I am so not a runner. :) ) Report
My best lesson is to not beat myself up. Report
Great article, thanks! I think one of my biggest mistakes is trying to start-up too many healthy habits at once. Report
Not eating enough calories in a day. I can't seem to help it. I'm not hungry that often. Report
Reading your blog was what I needed this moment.
Thanks for posting it. Report
Loved the article. I am guilty of not getting 8 hours of sleep in and I don't do enough strength training. What I love about SP is when I log in my nutrition I get to see just where the calories are....seems there are days that I eat more carbs and not enough protein, even though I stay within my range. It's a real eye-opener. Thanks for sharing this great information! Report
I did pretty well in most of these except for not sleeping enough. Not that I didn't want to but I have insomnia. Report
I think one of my biggest weight loss mistakes is not realizing the liquid calories I was consuming. Now that I am tracking on here I was amazed to discover that somedays a full third of my calories was liquid. That is an area that I am really trying to work on. (wish I liked water *sigh) Report
I think many of us could have written this article. I think I relate to each and every one of them. Now, I'm not on a diet any more. I have an eating plan. It's a way of life now. If i could just get rid of the number problem on the scale, all would be better for me! LOL Report
I can relate to all of these. Thank you for sharing! Report
Although I KNEW that the change had to be FOR LIFE, I still went back to my habits and gained back 20 pounds of the 70 I'd lost.
Also, expecting to be a certain weight. A lot of those charts just aren't accurate due to body BUILD (i.e. large breasted women, not that I can claim that fame!) and age etc. I think those charts are off after the mid-40 groups. (My "ideal weight" is suppose to be 129 - 149, but at 131 I look like a bobble-head ... according to the SP article link> www.sparkpeople.com/r
8&page=3 /link
I am 5'5" and am suppose to weigh mid-point 125 and my range is 112.5 - 137.5
No way! At 18 when I was in bootcamp I weighed 115 pounds - I'll never see THAT again! I was a LEAN, mean, fighting machine - no fat to speak of.
So, not all of these calculations CAN be correct.
Also, the machines at the gym have come a long way. I have a HRM and have tested it against the machines (that you actually have to put your age/weight etc in) and they ARE accurate. However, the machines that don't have that option are assuming that whoever is using it is 150 pounds, so it doesn't come out accurate for EVERYone. Best bet is to use either a machine that puts into account all YOUR personal information (LifeFitness machines have that option) or get a good HRM that tells you how many calories you do burn. Report
It all sounds very familiar! Every diet in the book....but with SP, the excercise
videos are a real motivation for me. Thanks for sharing! Report
This was GREAT! I can relate to these, and I'm sure most can. It makes me wonder why we know what works and what doesn't, but we still try to make these mistakes. Report
I too tried every diet under the sun and although they sort of worked for short term they never lasted, got the diet mentality out of my head now thanks to SP. Love the tracking and logging as it does keep me accountable and motivated. Report
How ironic, I had just lovingly "chastised " my trainer for the scale not moving down when I was trying so hard. Though she didn't give me this info..she said I really was losing, even if the scale wasn't showing it..but I'm a numbers person. I willtake this to my group tomorrow , as I was not the only one with this concern..LOL Report
I can relate to all of those!
I also make SparkPeople my home page so I can remember to log in and track. It makes a difference, and helps me to stay motivated. Report
Not planning consistently. Report
Man can I relate to all ten of these. Sometimes I feel like a complete failure Report
Definately not throwing in the towel when I blew it for a meal or a day! I've done much better at that this time. Also, having SparkPeople as my home page is a constant reminder of my goals. Report
Sounds like common mistakes everybody makes... guilty as charged :)
Thanks for the reminder! Report
My biggest problem is giving up if I have one bad day or week. Report
Every single one of these! Notoriously undereat, don't track food (still have trouble remembering this), diet after diet, none that worked. I think my biggest mistake was not taking time for me, letting everyone else control what I did. Report
For me it goes in this order:
#2, #5, #3, #4 & #9. It is finally sinking in on what it takes to lose weight, but I sometimes do one or more of these mistakes when I am not focused. I am get better on staying the course. Report
I appreciate your article and can relate to many, although not all, of your mistakes. My 2 largest mistakes have been not dedicating the time to log what I eat and not developing my work-out stamina gradually and consistantly. I am FINALLY on the right track. Report
I can identify with all of these mistakes - especially not getting enough sleep, not doing enough strength training, not making time to track my nutrition every day, and overestiating caloric expenditures at the gym.

That said, I think that my personal #1 mistake is that I tend to make it all too complicated. I try to make too many changes all at the same time and set too many goals for myself.

For me, #2 would have to be not being specific enough on my planning. Let's say I set a goal of losing 1 to 2 pounds a week. If I don't plan out how I am going to accomplish that, how will I make progress. I believe in miracles, but I don't think weight loss usually happens because of divine intervention. Report
Yup ... take your pick: Portion control, easily discouraged, too many celebrations completely "off the wagon", not tracking consistently .... a lot of it boils down to not being more intentionally aware of my eating, exercising, regular habits. Good blog! Report
Numbers 1-3 are my biggest struggles with my weight loss journey. Most of all, I have to remember that I am doing more harm than good when I don't track my calories on a daily basis. I also have to remember that there are no instant fixes to this journey. This has to be about the long haul. Thanks for the reminder that we have years of bad habits to unlearn and it won't happen over night. Report
What's the hot dog diet, lol? :) Report
Not forgiving myself when I get off track. Report
Comment on #7 - oh how true!!! My husband and I finally had a discussion. He said that he saw me everyday and couldn't really tell the day to day, week to week accomplishments. He told me to show him things that he can congradulate me on and he will do so. This sounds dumb, but it is not that he will comment on them to me...he will tell my parents, his friends, my friends, the kids..."look at the way her pants fit. Last week those were much tighter." or "she has really toned her arms. There is true definition of muscle there!" It helps him and it helps my self esteem too. Share my enthusiasm? no! Be able to share the results? yes! Report
I'm sure I've made waaaaaaaaay more than 10 mistakes...Here are some of them.
1) Weighing myself too frequently...It just bums me out and causes me to lose confidence.
2) Eating foods that I don't like and pretending that they'll grow on me...they never did.
3) Creating elaborate diet/fitness regimens that I couldn't maintain.
4) Having too many full length mirrors! I don't believe mirrors contribute to our self-esteem in most cases...the exception is if you have toilet paper hanging out your back ~ then, of course, it's great to have a full length mirror.
5) Thinking that others are as obsessed with MY looks as I am...I don't think anyone notices my weight loss unless it's drastic. (Since that hasn't been the case, no one notices...and why should they?!!!)
6) Not giving myself enough time before throwing in the towel. Maybe that's just a lack of commitment on my part from the beginning.
7) Creating too many goals! I need to stick to just a couple of changes at a time.
8) Thinking that a diet and a healthy lifestyle are synonymous. I've chosen a healthy lifestyle this time.
9) Taking tons of supplements and diet pills! 'Nuff said.
10) Not maintaining a focus on areas of my life OTHER than my weight. I have a lot of good things going on in my life. I've had many successes. My happiness cannot depend on the number on the scale or my jean size. Report
Definitely #2, #7, and #8.

I'm mostly maintaining now, but I have gained some back since I left a part time retail job (read: active) for a part-time sit-down job (read: highly inactive). The less you have to lose, the harder it is, and I KNOW this, but I am still so frustrated when I don't see the scale go down!

Even though I have been keeping up the lifestyle change thing since September 2006, I still have a hard time remembering that not everyone is as enthusiastic about getting and staying healthy, or making ANY changes in their life at all. It's doubly frustrating with family, because when I visit them, I have little control over the menu. They try, sometimes, but they are woefully misinformed about what is healthy... I even bring some of my own foods sometimes, particularly breakfast. At work, no one knew me before I lost weight, so I have to remind them that I worked hard to get where I am, and no, I would not like a free Frosty from Wendy's at 4:00 in the afternoon. *rolleyes*

Strength Training was something I was doing regularly, but then we started the process of house hunting and moving, and the schedule instability got me out of the habit. We've been in the house for a month and a half, and I still can't get back into the strength routine! I just don't wanna! LOL! I know I need to, but that doesn't seem to matter!

I'm working on this, though... my husband picked up EA Sports Active for the Wii, and it has a lot of great toning exercises -- way better than Wii Fit. The only thing it's missing is a good core program, so I am going to alter my Spark strength routine to only include core, until the expansion comes out for Active at Christmas, which is supposed to include core exercises, according to the press release. :) Report
I eat very little meat. SP has helped remind me to include Iron and other important nutrients. So keeping the daily nutrition diary is a Great reminder! Thanks. Report
I have more of an "augmentation", more than anything else, as this is a great article! When your excercising "solo", bring the tunes!! Great way pass the time, and get's your body moving to those times to speed up, and to slow down! [1 suggestion, NO PINK FLOYD!! can you say flash back? lol] Report
Wow! What a great article. I hav never seen a set of "lessons learned" so profoundly true. These keep it real! Thank you so much. Report
Great list. My biggest blunder as well is not strength training. I know it would help me so much, especially since one of my goals is to get more toned. I still haven't taken that step yet, which is probably why I haven't seen the results I want. Report
I try to get enough sleep but on average get 4-6 hours a night. usually 4 hours.
I know that doesn't help but I work a night shift.
of course I rely to much on the machines to give me my caloric expenditure as well. Didn't realize they were off THAT MUCH!!! arrgh! Report
Great list! I've made some of these mistakes in the past as well. Report
The biggest blunder I have made (and I have seen many others do the same thing) is to put life on hold until I get thin and then I can start living. It wastes so much precious time and seems so foolish in the long run. Report
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