The 4 biggest mistakes you can make when trying to lose weight

Woman eating a salad
Here are four common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight, and how to avoid them to reach your goal safely and successfully.

Starting out on a new weight-loss journey is energizing and exciting but it can be easy to get swept up in the momentum of new habits and get a little overzealous trying to fast forward to your goals. 

As much as it’s understandable—not to mention common—to want to shave a week or two off of your goal deadline or go a little overboard, some weight-loss mistakes could cost you the price of potentially never racing them at all. 

Here are four common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight, and how to avoid them to reach your goal safely and successfully.

1. Working out too hard and too often

Shaping up and slimming down are both a result of a diet overhaul in combination with a well-balanced workout routine. Most trainers and exercise therapists will prescribe a periodized program designed to progress and evolve with you over a realistic time leading up to your goals, and they are paced out strategically to allow your body time to adapt and progress. 

It can be tempting to want to double down on your workouts and extend training sessions or do two-a-days but proceed with caution. Overtraining is a real thing and can lead to injury, a weakened immune system, poor sleep and exhaustion—all things that work against you when you’re trying to lose weight. Resist the temptation to overdo it and stick to the plan with scheduled days off for adequate recovery. A little extra patience could mean the difference between getting there on time and having to take a prolonged break putting you way behind schedule.

2. Not eating enough

Knowing that you need to be in a calorie deficit in order to drop pounds, it’s easy to see how some fall into the trap of thinking that if they eat less, they’ll slim down faster. Not so fast. Not getting all the macronutrients you need in a day according to your weight-loss plan can have the opposite effect. Studies done on participants consuming very-low calorie diets showed that weight loss was not only very minimal with extreme caloric reductions but they also led to slowed metabolism and deterioration of muscle mass. 

Working with a dietitian, nutritionist or a quality online service or weight-loss app to determine exactly how much protein, carbohydrates and fat you should consume a day in order to reach your goal in time still remains the best way to manage food portions and macro mix and ultimately being successful at losing weight.

3. Relying on the scale

Most scales don’t account for body composition—which is the breakdown of what your total body mass is comprised of—primarily fat, muscle and bone. So while your body fat may be dropping, you might be adding muscle mass, which could mean the number on the scale stays the same—or in some cases even goes up. 

Instead of weighing yourself too often or relying on the scale alone as a marker of success, seek out a proper body composition scan that will give you a detailed report of your fat-to-muscle ratio. What’s additionally helpful is that you can follow your first scan up with a mid-way and end-of-goal scan to see the changes you made for a full, detailed picture. Many health and fitness centers have state-of-the-art scanners that provide you with a detailed report to take home. Look for one near you, here.

4. Comparing yourself to others

They say that comparison is the thief of joy and if you’ve ever wasted precious time comparing your unique situation to somebody else’s, you’ve probably found that to be true. Studies have shown that approximately 10% of our thoughts are comparisons and they usually have the opposite effect we think they might have. Instead of inspiring or motivating us to do more or better or be more successful, comparisons usually just leave us feeling discouraged, remorseful and can lead to destructive behaviors, such as disordered eating. 

Instead of wasting energy stacking yourself up against someone else, join forces instead. Studies show that participants on weight-loss plans who partnered up with a weight-loss buddy lost more weight than those who did it alone. 

Consider joining an online weight-loss group like Hydroxycut Huddle community, a place to connect with others on your weight-loss journey, share tips and stories, give and receive support and share information and motivation. 

Bottom line: For successful and lasting weight-loss, trying to race to the finish line or taking shortcuts could just end up slowing you down. Avoid these four mistakes when you’re trying to lose weight and you’ll be well on your way to safe-and-steady weight loss—and maybe a new friend!