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3 Common Weight Loss Mistakes That Are Making you Miserable

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, 8 min read

3 Common Weight Loss Mistakes That Are Making you Miserable

Do you feel like you’re putting in all the effort into losing weight, maybe even seeing some results but not really enjoying the journey and cannot wait till it’s over? If the answer is yes, you may be approaching your goals in a way that is unsustainable. 

We get it, weight loss can be challenging. Together, let’s explore 3 weight loss mistakes that may be negatively impacting your weight-loss journey, and strategies you can implement instead, in order to achieve sustained weight loss and enjoy the journey too!

Doing Too Much, Too Soon

As discussed in this article, when it comes to weight loss, slow and steady wins the race!

With this in mind, trying to change all your habits at once will be counterproductive in the long run. Instead, breaking goals down into bite-sized amounts (pun intended) will make them more manageable. 

Experts advise setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound). This will allow you to celebrate reaching small goals along the way, which will lead to increased self-satisfaction. This, in turn, will motivate you to increase the goals and add new ones, leading you to eventually reach your desired weight. 

Research shows that patients tend to overestimate the amount of weight loss they will lose, which may lead to disappointment and discouragement if the desired outcome isn’t achieved within a designated period of time. In this study, a “reasonable” weight loss was seen as a “disappointed” weight because it wasn’t aligned with the patient’s expectations. 

Instead of seeing weight loss as a sprint or a brief pain endurance activity, try to see it as a marathon instead - an opportunity to learn new skills that you can enjoy going forward as part of a healthy lifestyle. This way, you can transform the preconceived notion that weight loss is inevitably going to be a miserable experience, into excitement about your future and better quality of life. 

Here are a few examples of how you can “start small” and increase your goals overtime:

GoalInstead of thisTry this
Be more activeGo from 1k to 10k steps, overnightStart with 2k steps in the first week and then increase
Eat healthyGo from eating no vegetables to 5 portions per day, overnightEat an extra portion of vegetables per day in the first week, then increase
Keep hydratedGo from drinking 2 glasses of water per day to 2L per day, overnightStart by drinking a glass of water with each meal and then increase

Giving yourself time to work your way up when it comes to your health goals will mean you’re less likely to quit before reaching your desired weight. Furthermore, this will allow you to enjoy other aspects of your life during your weight loss phase just the same, or even more, than you did before. This includes socialising with friends, eating out, taking rest days and more!

Choosing food and exercise you don’t enjoy

In the past, you may have engaged in restrictive dieting practices and rigid training plans, which have left you feeling exhausted and discouraged about your weight loss plans.  Let’s face it, being constantly hungry and tired isn’t going to contribute to you feeling happy, to say the least! So, how can we change that to promote positive change?

We’re often made to believe that certain foods are “unsupportive” of weight loss and need to be eliminated from one’s diet. Research states, however, that selective food deprivation (i.e. cutting out foods you enjoy completely) may in fact increase food cravings. Eating “enough” and incorporating all the foods you love in moderation is essential for making your weight loss journey sustainable and enjoyable..

Changing your dieting practices - examples:

Instead of thisTry this

Undereating: eating too little to support a good quality of life and all your daily activities including exercise

Eating regularly 

Eating until feeling comfortably full and satisfied

Eating enough in calories but depriving yourself of the foods you enjoy mostEating all the foods that you enjoy (in the right proportions)
Rigidly sticking to your pre-planned meals and amounts Adjusting your energy (food) intake to your daily activity and hunger levels 
Cutting out food groups such as carbohydrates or fat because you believe that will help you lose weight quicker

Building balanced meals that include all the different foods groups – carbohydrates, protein, fats and fibre (fruits, vegetables)

Forcing yourself to eat foods you don’t even like!Understanding that no single food will help you lose weight quicker or give you the perfect health, so there is no need to eat something you don’t enjoy

Another belief you may hold is that you’re “not good at exercise” and you may even detest it. This may be a result of negative experiences earlier in life, where you were made to engage in exercise you didn’t enjoy or were put down for your efforts. 

Being aware that your current feelings towards exercising are a result of past experiences will allow you to find self-compassion and start with a clean slate. You can then give yourself the permission to engage in exercise you enjoy, while aligning it with your own personal capabilities and this will increase your chances of continuing to exercise long-term. It may take a little time to find exercise you enjoy doing, and the best you can do is experiment and be open to new experiences!

Changing your exercise practices - examples:

Instead of thisTry this
Sticking to a rigid plan in hopes of losing weight fast, while putting other things on holdCome up with a training plan that is sustainable, flexible and doesn’t jeopardise any other aspect of your life 
Over-exercising to the point of extreme fatigue and exhaustionAllowing sufficient rest between workouts and knowing when to stop
Choosing to do exercise you don’t enjoy doing, because you have seen it work for other peopleChoosing exercise and activities you enjoy doing and look forward to
Exercising when under-fuelledEnsuring you support your workouts by having a suitable meal earlier in the day
Thinking that more exercise is better Understanding that sometimes less is more - for example, it’s better to achieve 5k steps on the daily basis than aim for 15k, then burnout halfway through the week

When you don't allow yourself some flexibility or enjoyment when it comes to your diet and exercise, you will see any slight deviation from your designated plan as a failure, forcing you to quit altogether. 

Not being able to stick to a certain weight loss regime isn’t a weakness or a failure, it’s your body’s way of telling you it’s being pushed to its limits or the chosen exercise doesn’t agree with you for whatever reason.

If in doubt, ask yourself - Is this something I could imagine myself doing for the rest of my life? If the answer is no, this probably means you’re currently engaging in activities that you don’t enjoy, with the intention of shedding pounds as quickly as possible, which is neither healthy nor sustainable!

Measuring your success by the number on the scale

We are taught that the scale is the ultimate measure of success when it comes to weight loss. But did you know that the scale isn’t actually a good indicator of progress as it cannot tell us the source of weight loss? 

Our weight fluctuates day-to-day based on hormones, water retention, and other factors we cannot monitor from simply stepping on the scales. When our body weight changes, it doesn’t necessarily mean we have lost or gained body fat, but instead could be any of the following reasons: 

  • a change in water weight due to sweating or water retention
  • an increase or decrease in muscle mass 
  • a loss of glycogen (used for energy) which is bound to water
  • whether or not you’ve been to the bathroom to empty your bladder and bowels 
  • hormonal fluctuations, especially during PMS
  • whether or not you’ve recently had a meal

Instead of focusing on your scale weight as your main indicator of progress, experts recommend focusing on so-called non-scale victories, for example:

  • Changes to how your clothes fit 
  • Changes in progress pictures 
  • Improved energy levels throughout the day
  • Reduction and better management of food cravings
  • Improvements to your mood, happiness and confidence 
  • Improvements in the quality of your workouts and overall strength
  • Improvements in skin appearance
  • Improvements in concentration and clarity of thought
  • Improvements in sleep quality and rest 
  • Improvements in blood markers 
  • Reduction in pain e.g. joint, back
  • Increased enjoyment of eating and cooking new meals 
  • Increased pleasure from hobbies
  • Increased ability to participate in physical activity - even simple things like going to the park or climbing the stairs 
  • Increased motivation to improve your health and wellbeing 

All of these, whether directly or indirectly, contribute to your weight loss goal and taking note of these non-scale victories will increase your motivation to continue. 

Focusing on behaviours that will help you achieve your goal (e.g. cooking, walking more, drinking more water, etc), rather than the outcome (a reduction in body weight) will make it easier to keep repeating those behaviours, even when the scale isn’t dropping. 

Likewise, focusing on what you’ve already accomplished rather than how far you still need to go will allow you to celebrate those small yet important victories and help you stay motivated on your weight loss journey!


This article explored some pitfalls you can avoid on your weight loss journey and provided tips on how to make the experience more enjoyable. Whilst your weight loss journey is not forever, maintaining the weight you have lost will be. In order to do this you need to find exactly what works for you - and if that’s something you enjoy, you’re far more likely to stick to it! Be creative, inquisitive, and don’t be afraid to try new things! 

At eMed, we’re here to support you through your weight loss and ensure that you have the knowledge to be able to overcome any obstacles with confidence, allowing you every success on your journey.


  • Medical Clinics of North America. Maintenance of lost weight and long-term management of obesity. Link
  • Psychology & Health. Changing eating behaviour vs. losing weight: The role of goal focus for weight loss in overweight women. Link
  • Appetite. Effects on food cravings of a very low calorie diet or a balanced, low calorie diet. Link 
  • Journal of consulting and clinical psychology. What is a reasonable weight loss? Patients' expectations and evaluations of obesity treatment outcomes. Link

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.

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