1. Using only weighing scales to track your progress is not enough
Weight is influenced by many factors including fluid fluctuations, hormonal changes, estrogens levels. For example, hormones fluctuate during a woman’s menstrual cycle often leading to feeling fuller around the thighs, hips and bottom etc. A person may be holding on to water but still losing body fat at the same time but due to the mentioned factors the fat loss may not be represented on the scales. In addition if a person is also training regularly (e.g. resistance training, circuits etc.) then it’s likely that muscle mass may have increased and body fat reduced. This change in body composition will not always be reflected accurately on the scales. It is still ok to weigh yourself but its not necessary to weigh yourself every day. In fact it may be better to weigh yourself once a fortnight. In between that, use other measures such a tape measure (e.g. to measure waist etc.), take photographs (front back and sides), and in addition simply gauge how you feel in your clothes.
2. Not tracking what you eat will probably lead to weight re-gain
Often people start a fat loss programme, continue it for a couple of months and then suddenly find they are re-gaining weight again. When a person loses weight the calorie requirements will reduce and so it’s quite easy to start over eating again. By tracking food intake you are more able to get a better understanding of personal calorie needs. You can use a basic app such as My Fitness Pal, or even just write down what you eat.
3. Not being realistic from the outset will lead to disappointment
You may have a goal at the start as to how much weight you want to lose but the time frame needs to be realistic. Healthy weight loss is around 0.5kg to 1kg (1lb to 2lb) per week. Drastic weight loss from FAD diets will inevitably lead to weight regain after a while. At first if you have a lot of weight to lose you may lose more than this range but this will slow down. Being realistic also means that you need to think long term. Weight loss is a gradual process and takes time. Weight loss is not linear and you may have fluctuations in weight, this is normal. Stick with it and be patient.
4. Know that your weight loss will slow down after the first few weeks/months
It is quite common for people with a lot of weight to lose to lose a fair amount quite quickly at first. However, weight loss slows down as the body begins to require less energy to function at a lower body weight. This is when many people get disheartened and start taking drastic action. Keep up with regular exercise and keep track of food intake to make sure that you are eating the right number of calories for your new body weight!
5. Understand that to maintain the weight loss you need to exercise
Losing weight is achieved through the diet but to maintain it you need to be active. Research has shown that people who lose weight and maintain that weight loss keep up to regular exercise as well as other factors such as tracking what they eat.
Ann-Marie is a registered Nutritionist (BSc MSc RNutr) and provides nutrition advice to individuals and groups