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The world of health and fitness is vast. It seems like everybody you talk to is an expert on lifting weights, dieting, running, or heart health. 

In truth, while everyone has their own experiences, it doesn’t make them an expert in anything. What worked for them may not work for you. It also doesn’t mean they’re offering you sound advice. 

Though they have good intentions, it’s best to do your own research to find the right type of diet or nutrition plan to help you reach your goals. Just as importantly, you need to identify common dieting mistakes that will get in your way. 

We’re not here to tell you what to do. However, we would like to help save you a little time and frustration. Keep reading for the top 10 weight loss snafus. 

1. Not Setting Realistic Goals

As with any pursuit in life, you need to start by setting goals. However, you need to tread carefully here. Setting unrealistic or super long-term goals may result in falling off the wagon. 

We recommend taking the SMART strategy when setting goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable 
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Begin by dreaming up your ultimate weight loss goal. Then, break it down into smaller, milestone goals. Each time you hit a milestone goal, you experience a small victory that will help propel your forward. 

For example, if you want to lose 60 pounds, break it down to losing 6-8 pounds per month. It may sound like slow progress, but losing too much weight too quickly isn’t sustainable.

2. Not Knowing How Many Calories to Consume

One of the most common dieting mistakes people make is not having a clue about how many calories to consume each day. They know they need to restrict their eating, but they don’t know by how much. 

This often leads to dangerous calorie deficits or minimal progress. We suggest using a BMR calculator to determine your basal metabolic rate (how many calories your body burns per day). Once you have that figure, shoot for a 10-20 percent deficit for a healthy weight loss strategy.

3. Not Making a Meal Plan

There are endless types of diets out there, but none of them will be successful if you don’t stay consistent. When starting a diet, it’s imperative to make a meal plan to set yourself up for success. 

This will help you stay on point. It’s a good idea to meal-prep for an entire week at a time, including lunches for work.

4. Not Tracking Everything You Eat

Whether you’ve made a meal plan or not, it’s vital to track everything you eat. There is a myriad of food tracker apps on the market you can download on your phone that will make this part of dieting much easier.

Tracking your food allows you to see your eating habits from a new perspective. For example, little snacks here and there really add up. They seem innocent at the time but could be hindering your progress.

Food tracker apps help you see what you’re eating and automatically calculate your calories. This includes a breakdown of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

5. Consuming High-Calorie Drinks

One of the worst common dieting mistakes is drinking your calories. Consuming your calories through things like soda, commercial coffees, and energy drinks present multiple problems. 

First, drinks high in sugar have zero grams of fiber. The sugar is a straight shot of energy that your body can’t use. Instead, it stores it as fat.

Secondly, if you’re restricting your calories and drinking a large portion of them, you’re depriving yourself of other important foods and nutrients.

6. Falling for Fad Diets

If you take away one thing from this article, let it be to avoid fad diets like the plague. Fad diets are popular because they present “easy” ways to lose a lot of weight quickly. However, these too-good-to-be-true results come at a price.

Most fad diets are incredibly restrictive. They basically starve your body, forcing it to burn fat. While this sounds good, your body also starts eating away at its own muscle.

Not only will you lose muscle mass (which lowers your metabolism), but you’ll also experience several other negative side effects. These include fatigue, irritability, mood swings, nausea, lethargy, inability to focus, and more. 

Research the pros and cons of different types of diets to determine which one is best for you.

7. Overdoing It on Cheat Days

Going to the opposite side of the spectrum of extremes can also inhibit your weight loss goals. We all know how tedious it gets to eat tons of fruits and vegetables during the week. Naturally, you’re going to look forward to your cheat meal.

However, you must not allow your cheat meal to get away from you. Many people see little to no progress on their diets because they don’t know how to cheat responsibly.

They have a cheat meal that turns into a cheat day. In some cases, people end up binging all weekend. Essentially, you’re undoing all of your hard work by consuming a massive surplus of calories. 

8. Not Focusing on Other Aspects of Your Health

One of the most common dieting mistakes is forgetting that being healthy is a multi-faceted state of being. Dieting down and losing extra weight is awesome, but there’s more to being healthy than just being skinny.

We recommend exercising several times a week, combining strength training and cardiovascular training. You need lean muscle mass to improve your metabolism and stay strong and functional as you age. Cardio is important for keeping your heart and lungs healthy.

9. Becoming Obsessed With the Scale

One of the worst things you can do is form an unhealthy relationship with the scale.

First of all, the scale isn’t necessarily an accurate depiction of health. By traditional BMI standards, a 200-pound male at 5’9″ is considered obese. However, if that man has only 12% body fat, he’s actually healthier than the vast majority of the world. 

Don’t measure your progress with the scale alone. Take monthly body measurements and have a personal trainer take your body fat percentage. You should also take monthly progress photos. 

Secondly, weighing yourself every day can lead to an unhealthy obsession. If you’re starting a diet and starting to workout, the scale will be all over the place. You’ll build muscle mass and retain more water, which makes your weight fluctuate. 

Weigh yourself once a week at most, but rely on the other methods listed above for a true depiction of progress. 

10. Comparing Yourself to Others

Finally, don’t make one of the more common dieting mistakes of comparing your progress with other people. If you’re shooting for a healthy weight loss goal (no more than 2 pounds a week), you’re doing things right.

Don’t let your co-worker who’s starving herself discourage you with her 10-pound weekly weight loss numbers. Yes, she’s having extreme success, but it’s hurting her in the long run. People who lose weight incredibly quickly are likely to put it back on.

Do You Want to See Results and Avoid These Common Dieting Mistakes?

If you want to make big changes in your life, we want to help. Check out some of our other articles for more tips on how to lose weight, get fit, and incorporate healthy habits in your life. 

And if you’ve become captivated by the fitness world and are looking to take it to the next level, consider investing in an Alloy franchise. You can own your own fitness center and start helping other people on their fitness journey.