When you want to lose fat, the last thing you want to do is waste time and effort.
Stop the self-sabotage. Start doing the right things in the right ways to ensure success.
Here are eight common fat loss mistakes and how you can avoid them.
Mistake #1: Not Having a Clear “Why”
You think: “Eh, I just want to lose some weight you know? Look a little better I guess.”
Unfortunately, when fat loss gets tough (and it will) “losing some weight” and “looking a little better” aren’t effective motivators.
You have to dig deeper, or you’ll never make it through the tough times.
Let’s pick apart “losing some weight” as in: “I just want to lose some weight, you know?”
“Well, I have some belly fat that bothers me.”
“Why does that matter?”
“I don’t feel confident around my wife anymore, and being this overweight limits my ability to play with my kids.”
>>> See what just happened there?
The boring, uninspired “just want to lose some weight” turned into “getting a strong, capable body that your wife is attracted to and can actually keep up with the kids.”
The Takeaway: Take some time to evaluate the meaningful, deep reason(s) you want to lose fat in the first place.
Mistake #2: Planning For What’s Out of Your Control
You need clear process goals, not outcome goals.
An outcome goal is “lose 30 pounds.” Outcome goals are mostly out of our control.
A process goal is “eat 1,900 calories a day.” A process goal is within our control.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with an outcome goal. But it should be accompanied by clear, measurable action steps that you can work on daily.
Let’s use the outcome goal of “get better sleep.” What process goals can you attach to it?
- I will leave all electronics outside of my room every night
- I will record my wake-ups and bedtimes to track overall sleep habits
- I will practice a bedtime ritual of reading, brushing my teeth, and yoga
Each of those can be measured, tracked, and will get your closer to your outcome goal.
The Takeaway: Once you’ve found your deep “why,” you need a specific “how,” before your planning even begins.
Mistake #3: Having Unrealistic Expectations
This one isn’t entirely your fault.
Mainstream fitness marketing has made “30 pounds in 6 weeks” sound doable. So have the fad diets that helped you drop 8-10 pounds of water weight in a week.
Healthy, sustainable fat loss occurs at around 1% of your body weight each week. That means…
- A 180-pound person could aim for 1.8 pounds per week
- A 200-pound person could aim for 2.0 pounds per week
- A 220-pound person could aim for 2.2 pounds per week
Any faster, and you’ll risk losing muscle, strength, and crashing and burning a few weeks in.
There’s also a catch.
Around 1% per week is ideal fat loss, physiologically speaking.
But our lives don’t always provide ideal conditions for fat loss.
So before you whip out a calculator to see how long a 30-pound loss will take at 1.8 pounds per week, don’t forget to add “life” to those calculations.
Life can double your “ideal” timeline:
- 30 pounds in 6 weeks? I don’t think so
- 8 pounds in 7 days? Nope
- 1% per week, every week? Probably not
But a 1% loss most weeks, with the occasional 1-2 week plateau or setback?
Sounds about right.
In other words, that 30-pound loss might take 2, 4, or even 6+ months.
The Takeaway: Before you greedily consider that “too slow,” when was the last time you shed 30 pounds in a non-miserable way and kept it off?
Mistake #4: Going Out With A Bang
Many people think losing weight comes with a “do not eat” list. So they have one last hoorah of ice cream and booze. After starting, they’ll realize I don’t ban any food, and their binge wasn’t necessary.
If you feel the need to binge all your favorite foods before starting a fat loss plan, that’s a huge red flag.
It says:”I have no idea how to incorporate these foods in a healthy way so I’m going to cut them out altogether.”
This means the diet you’re planning on stinks—a lot.
An effective fat loss plan is sustainable.
In other words, unless you plan to cut out wings, burgers, and beer forever… you shouldn’t cut it out of your diet altogether right now.
It won’t last.
But here’s the good news.
The Takeaway: As long as your total calories are in check, you can still eat your favorite treats in moderation and lose fat.
Just make sure you “spend” most of your calories on the good stuff.
Mistake # 5: Not Tracking Progress
You don’t love the way you look right now and want nothing to do with exposing that. Nobody wants to look at (or measure) their own gut.
But you’ll regret not taking initial progress measures—like photos, measurements, and weigh-ins—for two reasons:
(1) They can keep you on track. The scale fluctuates quite a bit. If you’re not tracking weekly averages, you may mistakenly think you’re not making progress. Tape measurements might show progress when the scale isn’t moving—as will monthly progress photos.
(2) You’ll want them after your body changes. When you do successfully transform your body, you’ll regret not having good “before” photos to see how far you’ve come. Plus, you’ll be curious how many pounds and inches it took to get there.