When it comes to weight loss, too many people focus on that big goal. This leads to many issues, including a lack of motivation and just eventually giving up. Don’t be one of those who doesn’t reach their target weight loss and definitely don’t be one of those who just piles it on afterwards.

You can make a change by finding out the top mistakes that people make when they try to lose weight. You’ve probably done one, if not most, of these five mistakes -- we all have at some point on our weight loss journey. If you haven’t, that’s great, but learn from the mistakes of others so you don’t do them in the future.

Weight loss mistakes
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Don't make the same mistakes that others do when losing weight.

Mistake #1: Not Setting Mini Goals

So, you have 5 stone to lose. That’s 70 pounds! That sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Well, it is a lot but the mistake is focusing on that big number. If you keep looking at the total you have to lose, you will feel like it is impossible to reach. It gets even harder if you put weight loss off and keep gaining weight.

While you need that end goal, remember that it is an end goal. During your journey, set some mini goals to reach along the way. This could be every half a stone (seven pounds), which will be 10% of your 5 stone target! It could be every five or 10 pounds or to fit into a certain size dress by a certain date.

These mini goals give you something to keep working towards and note that they don’t always have to be scale goals. I have a mixture of scale, clothing and measurement goals. I put on weight last week (1/2 a pound) but I was happy because I met my goal to fit into my summer wardrobe.

Mistake #2: Putting All Your Focus onto Weight Goals

If you keep worrying about your weight, you will find yourself de-motivated and just won’t want to carry on. This is a major reason to have a mixture of types of goals. I have measurement goals each month and then clothing goals now and then. My next clothing goal is to fit into a UK size 12 (at the moment I’m between a 14 and 16 depending on the store).

The problem with the weight is that it fluctuates. You should weigh yourself at the same time on the same day each week. This helps to avoid too much fluctuation. I’ve found that the weight can fluctuate between two pounds during the day – yes, two pounds! That’s a lot between a 24 hour period so you need to make sure you get on the scales at the right time.

You could find that your weight goes up one week, especially if you suddenly do a lot of activity. For some reason, the body tends to hold onto a few extra calories when you suddenly increase your activity and it can take a week or two to go back to normal. This could mean seeing a smaller weight loss or not one at all the week that you expected it. Don’t be disheartened; go home and take your measurements of your waist and hips to see how they’ve changed.

Enjoy your food
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Enjoy your food and lose weight slowly. It's not a race

Mistake #3: Crash and Yo-Yo Dieting

Crash diets aren’t healthy for you. Please avoid them as much as possible! The ONLY time I would consider doing a crash diet is for a two week period when I’m trying to kick-start my weight loss. I may hit a plateau (where I stay the same for a couple of weeks) or it may have been when I first started trying to lose weight.

Crash dieting may help you lose 10lbs in the space of a week but that isn’t healthy! Healthy weight loss is between one and two pounds so please stick to that. Yes, at the start you will lose more and every now and then you’ll find your weight loss is bigger but on average it should be between one and two pounds.

A 10 pound weight loss is just too hard to keep off. You haven’t changed your eating habits – you’ve temporarily made some changes so that you can quickly lose weight but you’ll go back to your old eating habits after the diet. This causes you to gain all the weight and more back and you will end up yo-yo dieting. By making healthy changes (and they’re only small and gradual) you will find that you lose weight, keep it off for the long term and feel better about yourself.

Mistake #4: Thinking the Diet Will Fix It All

Dieting is just one part of weight loss. You also need to increase your activity levels. To lose weight you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. While your body does burn some on its own, you can increase that amount by moving around more. The more exercise you do, the more calories you will burn and the more weight you will lose.

It also allows you to live life while on a diet. You have the chance to eat a little more one week or enjoy your holiday without worrying too much about your weight gain. If you go over the amount of daily calories you’re allowed, you can do more exercise to make up for it and still lose weight that week!

Exercise is also beneficial because it means your muscles will grow stronger. Concentrating on the diet will help you lose the fat but it doesn’t help you tone muscle. You still won’t have the figure of your dreams unless you exercise. You don’t have to do a lot – doctors and health experts recommend 150 minutes per week – just start off by doing some and increase that as you become more comfortable with it.

Mistake #5: Not Drinking Enough Water

People who gain weight are guilty of being dehydrated. You may find that your weight gain is actually due to water retention. It also gives you the feeling like you’re hungry (yes, really!) and makes you want to snack more.

Before you reach for that chocolate bar, or even that piece of fruit, pour a glass of water and drink it. Now think about whether you are hungry. If you are, then grab a healthy snack but don’t just eat for the sake of it.

Being dehydrated leads to other health issues, including organ problems, constipation and fatigue. Your body needs water to survive so make sure you drink enough. Between six and eight glasses a day is enough on an average day. If it is very hot or you do a lot of exercise, drink more as you will sweat more of it out.

Don’t be one of the guilty. Learn from others’ mistakes and start your weight loss journey successfully. This isn’t a race to get to the end. Allow it to take your time. The slower it comes off, the harder it is to go back on! You will make the changes gradually, so you develop good habits, and will hardly notice that you eat less than you did before.

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