Losing weight is hard, but not impossible!

Remember that your weight is heavily influenced by variables that are out of your control, like genetics, age, race, and gender. Specific areas of fat accumulation can’t be directly targeted, however, the majority of your weight can be influenced by lifestyle habits. Therefore, putting effort into changing your daily habits for sustained weight loss is an essential part of any weight loss plan. Just be sure to set yourself up for success by avoiding these 5 common mistakes that occur too often in weight loss planning.

1. Only Focused on Diet & Exercise

Typical weight loss plans push diet and exercise, but those aren’t the only factors affecting the numbers on the scale.

Weight is influenced by more than just what we eat and how much we sweat. Fat distribution is directly influenced by hormones. The types of foods we eat influence hormonal levels, but other factors can also cause an imbalance in hormonal patterns as well.

Insulin, TSH, estrogen, and the hunger control hormones, leptin and ghrelin, all have an effect on your weight. Keeping these hormones in balance is the ultimate goal.

Cortisol, known as your stress hormone, causes weight gain primarily around the mid-section. So if you’re a worry wort, no amount of exercise or calorie-cutting is going to lead to significant weight loss when you have chronically elevated cortisol levels. Therefore, adding stress management techniques into your weight loss plan is key!

Lack of sleep also promotes higher circulating cortisol levels from added stress on the body. Cortisol stimulates higher blood glucose levels, which causes more insulin to be released from the pancreas, promoting weight gain. Adding stress and sleep management aids into your routine can drastically make a difference in your weight loss goals and overall metabolic health.

2. Failing to Prioritize and Plan Ahead

If you’re serious about losing weight you must make it a priority every day. This means planning ahead for meals, snacks, and workout routines. Trendy diets, intense boot camps, or any other drastic changes in your lifestyle to lose weight are not the best approaches to weight loss. The best method for weight loss is to educate yourself and learn over time what’s best for your health goals to achieve a sustainable lifestyle that promotes a healthy weight. That being said, we must look at all areas that affect your weight and see where you’re willing to make adjustments. Once you commit to modifying these areas of your life it’s time to prioritize and plan ahead.

What are you willing to compromise to reach your health goals? How many days are you planning to workout a week? Are you going to workout at all? Are you cutting calories? Easing up on the carbs and snacking? Reducing alcohol intake? Practicing meditation? Setting a bedtime during the week? These are just some examples, but to make changes, you must be willing to change.

Failing to plan is planning to fail

Instead of scrolling social media all night, take some of that downtime to look up new recipes and make a grocery list. Look up workout routines and narrow down the type that not only will get you results but more importantly one that you enjoy doing.

If you don’t put effort into planning your success, you’ll likely be unsuccessful.

Meal prepping is an easy way to plan out your meals ahead of time. This will save you time during a busy week and keep you on track. Calculate your calories and macros and create meals that balance your diet to your goals. This is a process and not meant to be mastered overnight. Meal prepping will help you eat cleaner during the week so you can enjoy some treats on the weekend.

Your diet should not be severely restrictive. Instead, it should be 80% fuel and 20% fun. This means 80% of the week you’re eating clean whole foods and very few processed sugary foods/drinks. Then 20% of the week you can enjoy the fun foods life has to offer like cheesesteaks and ice cream. Life is about balance.

3. Not Counting Beverages

We focus so much on the food that we sometimes forget about the drinks. Sweetened beverages are a sure way to wreck your weight and health goals. Soda is a major offender, in which both diet and regular causes weight gain. Sports/energy drinks and gourmet coffee are also sabotaging your weight loss plans. Starbucks’ popular grande vanilla frappuccino totals nearly 400 calories, 52g sugar, and 10g saturated fat topped with whipped cream pushing you to double your daily sugar limit in just one drink.

Let’s not forget about alcohol. Alcoholic drinks like daiquiris and pina Coladas are heavy in sugar and calories. Instead, opt for mixers like club soda or tonic and add natural fruit garnishes.

Alcohol inhibits the body from burning fat, stimulates hunger more, and also impairs judgment leading to the late-night drive-thru visits, which may seem like a good idea at the time, but won’t get you closer to your weight loss goals.

4. Hyper-focusing on the Scale

Your weight will fluctuate all the time. Especially for women given that time of the month or if you had dinner and a movie date the night before. All that sodium will make you retain water and bloat.

The scale can play some tricky mind games and promote an unhealthy relationship with the numbers displayed.

Here’s a secret- the scale is a poor way to determine health. Even the body mass index tool (BMI) isn’t that great of an indicator of your overall health. This is because there are different types of fat, some benefit us, while others can cause disease in abundance. The scale and BMI can’t differentiate between types of fat and body fat distribution. Where the fat is located and the type of fat makes a huge difference in your metabolic profile.

Take a look at these two different people, same weight, but one would have healthy bloodwork and the other is likely headed toward obesity, diabetes, and possible heart disease.

  • Person 1: 150lbs, 5’2″ apple-shaped, high intake of fast food, sedentary, high amount of visceral (abdominal) fat -> UNHEALTHY
  • Person 2: 150lbs, 5’6″ muscular, high intake whole foods, very active, low amount of visceral fat -> HEALTHY

So while the scale is a good ballpark, don’t obsess and weigh yourself every day. Trust me, you’re encouraging a mental attachment to that scale and it can affect how you feel the entire day if it’s not the number you were hoping for.

Instead, look for a scale that will give you more accurate measurements of your body analysis. I use the FitTrack Pro to see my status of muscle mass, hydration, visceral fat, protein levels, and more. Reports show that it’s within 3% accuracy to a DEXA scan, which is used in the medical setting. A DEXA scan, typically used for bone density testing, is an easy way to measure fat levels as well.

5. All or Nothing Attitude

Before you go cutting calories and putting fat bombs in your coffee – remind yourself that this is supposed to be challenging and enjoyable. Also, diets don’t work. Being too restrictive ends up being unsustainable and slowing your metabolism even more actually causing more weight gain in the end.

This process is going to be challenging at times. The food industry has changed the way we eat food and now eating healthy takes a lot more effort. We must look at ingredients and be aware of what’s really in processed foods as there are hidden sugars in nearly every food item in the grocery store.

You can’t commit 100% all of the time. Just Do Your Best. That’s it, each day do your best to workout, eat clean, hydrate, release stress and tension, and sleep well. We won’t hit our targets all the time, but we can get a little better each week with small modifications.

Exercise is for life. There’s no start and stop date on your health because once you stoping using it, you lose it. Plan ahead and look forward to an activity you enjoy doing like cycling, playing pickleball in a league, weight-lifting/CrossFit, Zumba, etc. Pick an activity, commit to it, and bring a friend for accountability and some social time.

Getting healthier is supposed to be a lifestyle change and educating yourself on these topics is the best way to start. My goal is to share my knowledge with you to help you navigate your way through your own health journey.

Not sure where to start? Check out 10 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism and learn how to Count Your Macros!

Disclaimer: The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health conditions without consulting your healthcare provider. Information used is based on experience and opinion, not 100% evidence. Always consult with a health care practitioner before relying on any information in this article or on this website.