The Most Common Self-Sabotaging Weight Loss Mistakes

When it comes to weight loss, there are many obstacles that can stand in the way of your success. 

But, chances are, the mirror is the last place you’d think to find such a roadblock to reaching your weight loss goals.

Unfortunately, the reflection you see there (in the mirror) may be what’s hindering you. 

How? Why? Whatever do we mean? 

Well, when it comes to weight loss, there are some mistakes that are commonly made by many, and these things can mean the difference between success and sabotage. 

Take a look at these 10 common pitfalls to weight loss, seek to avoid these mistakes, and crush your weight loss goals! 


1- The Have Nots

I’ve often heard that the root of discontentment lies in a focus on what you don’t have. And, this rings true regarding weight loss as well. 

If you focus on what you can’t have, or what you can’t eat, you’re setting yourself up for failure. 

The experts agree, instead of obsessing over what you can’t have, shift your focus instead to foods that fuel your body in a healthy manner. 

A notable quote by Heather Morgan, “every time you eat or drink, you are either feeding disease or fighting it.” 

So, as you seek to improve the health of your body through weight loss, focus on what you can have to feel good, fight disease, and lose weight

2- Failure To Plan

I’m sure you’ve heard these often quoted words of Ben Franklin: “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” 

And, once again, this famous quote hits home regarding weight loss. 

So then, how can planning affect your weight loss efforts?

First, there’s big picture planning, or setting small, realistic, measurable, and detailed goals for  your weight loss journey. Setting such goals is a proven way to succeed in your weight loss efforts. 

Then, there’s small, daily or weekly, planning that contributes to your weight loss success:

  • Make a weekly grocery list, selecting items that will help you meet your weight loss needs. 
  • Prepare meals and/or snacks in advance, so when hunger or temptation strikes, you’re prepared with foods that will fuel your body for success. 
  • Lay out your workout clothes in the evening so you’re prepared to tackle your morning gym session. 
  • Keep foods that don’t align with your goals out of your house to avoid reaching for them when you’re overly hungry or stressed. 
  • Track or journal your food intake. Keeping track of what foods you eat not only helps you stay in line with your goals, but this can also allow you to see what foods or combinations of foods help (or hurt) your weight loss efforts. 

3- Stuck In A Workout Rut

Not adding variety to your workouts, doing the same thing day in and day out, may be stalling your weight loss efforts. 

But, you’re exercising. You’re moving your body. That’s all you need, right? 

Not quite. 

When you do the same activity all of the time, your body can essentially go into autopilot mode and stall your weight loss. 

Switching things up, seeking to do a mixture of cardiovascular exercise and resistance training, forces your body to work hard, burning calories and building muscle (which can also help your body burn more fat). 

And, aside from seeking to incorporate both of those types of exercise, including intervals in your workouts can work to aid in your weight loss efforts even more! 

According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, “short bursts of intense activity burn more calories and up to 36% more fat.”

4- Caloric Conundrum

Eating too many or too few calories, not just daily but throughout the course of a week, can also hinder your weight loss efforts. 

If you’re tracking calories as a way to lose weight, it is important to know just how easy it is to overestimate the number of calories you need in a given day. 

In fact, it is said that only 11% of Americans accurately estimate their daily caloric needs! 

And yet another caloric woe? Continually counting calories can cause burn out. 

It’s easy to obsess over each morsel of food you place in your mouth when counting calories (or carbs, etc. for that matter). 

This is why some experts insist that portion control is far more conducive to weight loss than simply counting calories. 

Certified dietician and nutritionist Jenny Beth Kroplin explains that while understanding daily caloric needs is important, creating an overall awareness of calories and their effect on the body, a better (and more sustainable) approach to weight loss is portion control. 

Kroplin states that “when focusing more on healthy portions, it teaches behavior change in the way we eat, what we eat, and how we eat.”

5- The Extremist

Have an “all or nothing” attitude? It could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts! 

Trying to build Rome in a day? It could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts!

Working out too much? It could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts!

Eating too little? It could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts!

Notice a pattern there?

It’s easy to think in extremes when it comes to weight loss. 

We can be tempted to think “if I just workout an extra hour,” “if I just cut out a few meals each day.” Or, perhaps you push yourself to unhealthy levels, thinking you can lose 20 pounds in 2 days, and then get frustrated or discouraged when you (realistically) don’t lose weight in extreme amounts. 

Such mindsets are not only unhealthy, but will certainly keep you from achieving your weight loss goals. 

And, even if you should happen to lose an extreme amount of weight through extreme efforts (in a short period of time), it is important to note that such extremes aren’t sustainable long term, which often means gaining back that weight and then some. 

6- Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater

There are a couple ways to look at the notion of “cheat meals” when it comes to weight loss. 

First, “not cheating” when seeking to lose weight has been known to sabotage efforts. 

To give up any and all opportunities to indulge in your favorite foods will set you up to fail. 

It’s not realistic to never, ever have pizza (or brownies, etc) ever again. And, this mindset often leads to failed attempts at weight loss and even instances of binging. 

And secondly, having a cheat meal or even a meal higher in calories can also boost weight loss after days of caloric restriction. 

Such a meal can keep you from getting too hungry while also preventing any cravings from getting “out of control.” 

7- Scale Obsession

An overly common mistake that many make when it comes to losing weight is to focus too much on the number they see on the scale. 

While weight can be a good measure of progress, it is also important to note that there are real fluctuations that can occur which have nothing to do with your efforts. 

Sodium intake, hydration (or dehydration), and even hormonal changes can all affect the number on the scale. 

Weighing yourself weekly or even biweekly can give a more accurate picture of your weight as opposed to weighing daily. 

Some other methods of measuring weight loss include:

  • Taking note of how you feel each day (look for improvements in mood and health as you lose weight)
  • Seeing progress in your workout sessions
  • Taking notice of how your clothes fit 

8- Ditch Fads

Fad diets often make empty promises. And, when you’re looking to lose weight fast, they can sound pretty enticing. 

But, if you want to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight, those diets that promise rapid weight loss (often involving unhealthy pills and/or the omitting of one or more food groups entirely) aren’t the way to go. 

When losing weight, look for a program or adopt an eating style that incorporates a variety of whole, nutritious foods. And, seek to incorporate a plan that you can stick to long term.

The right plan for you is one that you can slowly adapt to, seeking to make real changes to create a lifestyle that focuses on the health of your body.

9- Dehydration

Simply put, you need water. 

Better stated in reference to weight loss – your body actually needs water to burn calories. 

Ah, now your interest is piqued! 

When working towards losing weight, the last thing you want is to see your weight loss stalled by something with such a simple solution…here, drinking enough water. 

If you aren’t giving your body enough water, your metabolism could be negatively affected, slowing down due to dehydration and making it that much harder to shed those extra pounds! 

So, seek to add an 8 ounce glass of water each time you sit down for a meal or have a snack, or as some suggest, aim for consuming half your weight in ounces of water daily. 

10- Skimping On Sleep

What does sleep have to do with weight loss?


You can give it your all in the gym, and you can fuel your body with the foods it needs, in the amounts it needs, to lose weight… 

But, if you aren’t getting enough restful sleep, you may be sabotaging your efforts. 

When we don’t get adequate sleep (7-9 hours recommended for adults nightly), the hormones that signal hunger can be off balance, keeping your body from properly telling you when you’re full and when you’re hungry. 

And, a lack of sleep can also mean less energy. 

When you’re running low on energy your workouts won’t be as effective, and more importantly, when your body doesn’t have enough energy to accurately burn calories, the calories you eat will be stored as fat instead of being used for fuel. 

And, if you’re skimping on sleep to stay up late binge watching the latest series on Netflix, it’s also likely that you’ll consume more calories during these late night hours.


Don’t let your earnest efforts towards weight loss be sabotaged through common mistakes. 

When seeking to lose weight be sure to: 

  • Focus on foods that fuel your body, not on foods that you are seeking to limit.
  • Set small, realistic, detailed, and measurable weight loss goals and allow time daily to prepare, setting yourself up for success. 
  • Add variety into your sweat sessions (and interval training to boost success). 
  • Be sure to accurately estimate your daily caloric needs, or focus on portion sizes instead of calories for greater success. 
  • Be realistic, and choose a weight loss plan that is sustainable for your lifestyle, and remember to ditch the extremist attitude.
  • Incorporate a “cheat” meal into your week to prevent cravings. Think moderation over rigidity. 
  • Don’t obsess over the number on the scale, and seek alternative methods of gauging weight loss success if needed. 
  • Focus on a sustainable change in lifestyle that puts the health of your body first. 
  • Drink an appropriate amount of water daily. 
  • Seek to get adequate sleep nightly. 


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