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Mistakes by weightloss beginners are common place. It doesn’t help that the internet is saturated with information on what it takes to lose weight and keep it off and most of it by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

Here are some of the mistakes I’ve seen people make when trying to lose weight.

  1. Not counting calories.
  2. Villainizing a food group.
  3. Doing only cardio.
  4. Not maximizing protein.
  5. Having an all or nothing mindset.
  6. Fixating on the scale.
  7. Inconsistency.
  8. Working out too much.
  9. Overestimating calories burned during workout.
  10. Not planning meals ahead.

Not counting calories

Calorie is the unit of energy measurement in the body. A lot of people would have you believe that counting calories is too much work, or they believe it to be unnecessary. According to research, the basic requirement of weightloss is consuming less calories than your body is burning. There is a formula for finding out an estimate of your total metabolic rate, which can then help you estimate how many calories you need in a day. The only way to ensure you’re eating at your maintenance calories, or in the case of weightloss, below your maintenance calories, is by measuring and calculating the calories in everything you out in your mouth. When you skip this step, it’s easy to underestimate the things you eat, which hampers your weightloss leading to lack of results.

Villainizing a food group

Some people have fallen into the trap of thinking they’ll lose weight if only they cut out an entire class of food. Completely cutting out foods you enjoy, unless they are unhealthy and bad for you would leave you with nothing but misery and increase your tendency to not stick with your new health plan. The goal should be to eat whole balanced meals and cultivate a healthier relationship with food, not to start a crash diet that won’t last, which is what ends up happening when people become convinced that a certain food class is solely responsible for their weight problems.

Focusing on cardio

When a lot of people first think that they want or need to lose some weight, the first thing that usually comes to mind is, I should probably get my running shoes ready and try to get in a couple of miles daily. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Any form of movement really is better than remaining sedentary. However, cardio burns through your energy reserve, and that night sound like a good thing, but it will leave you ravenous, and you instinctively have the mindset that you worked hard so you should reward yourself with a large meal. Now if you’re someone that counts calories, you might try to stick to your caloric requirement for the day, in which case you might not feel satiated after eating which could lead to either hunger and misery if you have a willpower of steal, or mindless snacking and young over your caloric requirement which would then defeat the purpose of the run which is weightloss and not just keeping fit. And if you’re someone that doesn’t count calories, you would probably just go way over your caloric requirement from overestimating how many calories you burned while exercising.

Not maximizing protein

Protein is a very important food class because of the various functions it performs. Apart from the very important role of repairing worn out tissues, which is vital as constant rigorous exercise can lead to wear and tear of muscles, proteins have a lower amount of 4 calories per gram compared to carbohydrates and fats which have a whopping 9 calories per gram. Proteins also have an advantage of increasing satiety on less amount, and taking longer and more energy for the body to digest. This means that eating a significant amount of protein, atleast 1.5 grams per your body weight, will not only keep you full for longer, but you would get full on less calories and the body will exert an extra amount of calories while digesting it. An all round win in my book. Proteins are very important in your weightloss journey.

Having an all or nothing mindset.

It is said that the actualization of anything starts in the mind. Whether you succeed or fail at something is determined by the attitude you take to it. Losing weight is like anything else you learn in life, you might take a few tries before you get it right. Some people have the wrong attitude that failing once means they’ve failed, so they give up and simply go back to their old habits. Some people forget that the goal is to refurbish your lifestyle and give yourself new and healthier habits. Some people set themselves up to fail by setting impossible goals. For example, if you have a sweet tooth, and you’ve been more or less living off sugar and sugary foods and hunks for years, you can’t just wake up one morning and suddenly decide you’re going to take out everything with sugar in your diet and eat 100% clean. Then maybe you push through for a week or two, then cave and have a doughnut, but instead of getting right back on track, you decide to have a doughnut party of one with soda and maybe an entire cake because you’ve fallen out of the wagon now so you might as well go back all in. You only ever fail when you stop trying. If you notice yourself sliding back, dig down, steel yourself and continue pushing through.

Fixating on the scale

The temptation to constantly weigh yourself is a very common one, and one you must avoid at all cost, unless you truly understand that the number you see the scale is a sum total of your bone, internal organs, muscles and pretty much whatever you ate or drank. I always advise beginners to first gauge their progress by how they feel and look, or to take a measurement of their waistline and other areas using a tape. All these would more accurately tell you whether or not you’re making progress better than the number on the scale. It should also be noted that muscle weighs more than fat, so if you’re consistently eating and training right but the scale still seems to be going up, that might just be why.

Inconsistency

It has been said that consistency is key in everything you do. Consistency simply put, is showing up and doing what you’re supposed to. In weightloss, being consistent is even more important because to see result, you have to consistently do the right thing for a significant amount of time. The least recommended time to stick with a fitness plan before deciding whether or not it’s working, is 12 weeks. The best fitness plans, are slow and steady. Some people get impatient when they don’t see the results they expect in a ridiculously small time frame. Weightloss is not a magic. It takes hard work and discipline. There is no magic spell or cream to lose weight, it’s consistent hard work and a caloric deficit.

Working out too much

Most people who know nothing about weight loss and body building believe that to lose weight, they must be at the gym working out for atleast 3 hours everyday, 7 days a week to get the body they want. A lot of people live with a misconception of how weightoss and building muscle works. Nost believe that the weightloss and muscle building occur in the gym, so they more or less intend to sleep there until they see results. However, weightloss and muscle building occur at rest. When you weight train with a significant enough amount of weight to create resistance, your muscle breaks down under pressure, then in the presence of protein and a few other compounds, your muscles will build itself back up fortified enough to withstand the pressure that once broke it which is why we talk about progressive overload and how to achieve it to avoid plateauing. The rebuilding and the fat burning happens at rest, which is why gerring enough sleep and taking rest days are extremely important. 1 hour to 1 and a half hour of intense training 3 to 4 times a week, is enough for a beginner who is working on a caloric deficit, maximizing protein and prioritizing rest and sleep.

Overestimating calories burned during workout

It is common to see beginners shovelling food into their mouths after a workout session believing they have earned it because some tracking device told them they burned a certain amount of weight. Most calorie tracking devices are grossly inaccurate in calculating calories burned while exercising or at rest. I always advise that anyone trying to keep track of their calories, should watch their caloric consumption instead. Eat in a deficit of about 300 calories and whatever calories you burn working out will be a plus.

Not planning meals ahead

You can only stick to a plan if you had one in the first place. When you’re just starting off building a healthy relationship with food, it is better and easier to plan your meals at atleast knew day in advance. This enables you to account for every meal and even snacks and helps you keep track of your calories when you stick to your plan. This is made easier with the use of a food journal. Planning your meals ahead also helps you reduce the stress of coming up with what to eat on the spot and trying to deduce portion sizes and calories which in turn helps you maintain your caloric requirements and a smooth weightloss journey.

This list is in no way exhaustive and I am always open to answering any questions you may have. You can leave a comment with your opinions and questions or contact me directly with the contact form.

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