Skip to content

5 Critical Mistakes That Sabotage Your Weight Loss, Trainer Reveals

Solve them and get your weight loss journey back on track.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

If you're constantly struggling to lose weight despite your best efforts, you could be committing several key errors that are wrecking your results. Sure, we know some of the more obvious issues—eating junk food, not exercising at all, etc.—but in this article, I'll share the lesser-known reasons that seriously slow your progress. Read on to learn about the critical mistakes that sabotage your weight loss, and solve them ASAP.

You're overestimating how many calories you burn.

middle-aged woman on treadmill demonstrating mistakes that sabotage your weight loss

Far too many people overestimate the number of calories they burn from exercise. (In fact, the calorie counters on some of your favorite cardio machines may be inflating your calorie burn by a whopping 20 to 30%!)

In addition, the number of calories you burn decreases the longer you train; for example, if you burn 400 calories in an hour, doing an additional hour will not burn another 400 calories. Also, the fitter you get, the fewer calories you burn with the same exercise intensity! Why? Because with better fitness, your body becomes more efficient.

Instead, use more realistic measurements. Ultimately, you'll know you're burning enough if your physique is improving.

Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Work Out 7 Days a Week

You're underestimating how many calories you eat and drink.

cooking with olive oil

Calories lurk everywhere. An extra 2 tablespoons of olive oil—which doesn't seem like much—is 240 calories. An extra pack of sugar with your coffee makes a difference over a week. Oh, and the calories listed on a nutrition label aren't always accurate. (The FDA actually allows a 20% margin of error.) So if you're still not losing weight—despite your "strict" diet—check how much you're truly consuming versus what you think you're consuming. You might be surprised.

Related: Fitness Mistakes at 50 That Prevent You From Losing Weight, Says Trainer

You're exercising too little or too much.

woman tired after run, overtraining and demonstrating mistakes that sabotage your weight loss

Everyone knows that if you don't exercise enough, you won't get great results. But if you're doing two-a-days or pushing yourself to exhaustion every time you train, you can also hurt your fat loss.

Training to exhaustion all the time is unnecessary, as it could push your body into overtraining, elevate your stress hormones, lead to injuries, wreck your sleep, etc. Intense exercise two to four times per week is plenty—especially if you're on a diet that's already low in calories. From there, you add low-to-moderate intensity exercise to supplement. If you're draining yourself with exercise, dialing down can improve your strength, energy, and weight loss more than you'd think.

You're not sleeping enough.

tired man turning off his morning alarm in bed

Your body doesn't improve at the gym; it improves at rest. That's why skimping on sleep infers with your body's ability to lose weight. In fact, many studies show that poor sleep is correlated with larger waistlines and a higher risk of being obese. If you're serious about getting results, prioritize getting eight hours of sleep every night. Not only will you look great, but you'll also feel great!

You're not changing your mindset.

middle-aged man feeling frustrated and let down during workout

The last of the critical mistakes that sabotage weight loss has to do with your mindset. Some people who struggle to lose weight also struggle with their mindset and self-image. For example, they might say they've "always been overweight," so even if they lose 10 pounds, they may very well gain it all back in a month. Or they say they've "always been lazy," so they start skipping workouts even after joining a new gym.

Ask yourself: Do you see yourself as a fit person or do you see yourself as something else? Improve your mindset and your self-talk. Be very careful with whatever you say after "I am." It might seem woo-woo or new-age-y, but believe me when I say this could be the missing link to your success. Good luck—you've got this!

Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, is a fitness expert featured in Esquire, GQ, and Men’s Health and the founder of GroomBuilder, the destination for men who want to transform their bodies for their weddings. Join the free 5-day course to burn fat and build muscle for the big day! Read more about Anthony
Filed Under