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Things people to do lose weight that have the opposite effect

As a weight loss consultant, I have met a lot of people wanting to lose weight, each person comes with their own reasons and rationale. Needless to say, I've seen some great approaches and some less-than-helpful ones. Here are some of the things people to do to lose weight that actually have the opposite effect. How many of these have you done?


1) Eat very little: everyone knows about calories in versus calories out right? So you might be forgiven for thinking that severely restricting your calories will get you results, and fast. This simply isn't the case and may actually make losing weight harder for reasons you can read here. 

2) Adopt an all or nothing mentality: if I can't achieve the whole thing (and now) I won't do anything. If I can't lose all the pounds then losing one pound is no good. People feel like one mistake means it's all been for nothing but if you've lost any weight at all or increase your fitness even slightly you are still up on where you were before. Little steps.

3) Buddy up with a friend: this can be a good motivational aid but it can't be the reason. If your buddy gives up will you keep going? Do you need them for you to take action? Commit to yourself then find a friend to help.

4) Exercise every day: again we know about calories in and calories out. This leads people to the conclusion that if you eat less and exercise more you get better results. The problem is that

  • if you exercise without changing your eating habits you won't get the results you want
  • this is usually done as a form of self-punishment meaning you are likely to feel awful and eventually give up (and berate yourself).
  • if you are exercising more you may gain muscle which means the scale might go up or at least stay the same

Exercise is great but it provides so many more benefits than weight loss. Do it as an act of self-care and consider adjusting how you measure your goals if this is your strategy.

5) Make-up harsh self-imposed rules: I'm only going to eat x number of calories. I'll restrict my intake of x, y or z. I'll only eat what I like during a 30-minute window on a Friday.

This is done with good intentions but a deprivation mentality only makes weight loss harder and never works long term. You can read more about why here.

6) Obsess over the scales: It makes sense that if you set yourself a weightloss goal using scales is an obvious way to keep track. Keeping a close eye on the scale can help but being too concerned about that number can be hugely demotivating. It doesn't tell the whole story. If you are are increasing your exercise your weight loss may slow but that doesn't demonstrate how much better off you are mentally or physically for being fitter. It also doesn't show the benefits of healthier eating or fitting in your clothes better. Be sure to use other measures too.

7) Join social media groups for peer support: at first this can be motivating but over time it usually goes one of two ways. 

One-you think you've found people who share your pain but soon realise you've joined a pity party where people give each other encouragement to fail because they want people to feel crap with. It's a saboteur ring!

Two-everyone is so motivational with their tips and successes. However, they rarely post about the bad days. All you get is the highlights which create an unfair comparison. You start to ask yourself "if they can do it why can't I?" and feel demoralised.


You can get some great tips in these groups but take what you see with a pinch of salt.

8) Lose weight for an event: like a wedding or a holiday. It can be a great way to kick start weight loss activity but it doesn't help maintain it. Most people put the weight back on after as they return to old habits and in some cases the prolonged period of deprivation makes people reach for more unhealthy food than they would normally eat. 

9) Stick to one strategy: Most people have a favourite strategy for weight loss. Something that worked before. So it makes sense to do it again, doesn't it? The problem is that rigidly sticking to one strategy doesn't always work. Most approaches will lose their effectiveness if you don't tweak them over time and almost every approach will lose it's appeal if it's overused. Be prepared to make tweaks and variations.

10) Tricking yourself: If I swap x for y I don't feel like I'm missing out. If I use a smaller plate...... etc etc

None of this affects your decision making which is the real cause of the problem. You might get some short terms wins but not much else. If this approach worked we'd all have cracked the problem by now.

11) Rewards and Punishments: this creates a 'good' and 'bad mentality'. You create a narrative in your head about what you 'deserve' which is rarely helpful. You forget what being kind to yourself actually means and tell yourself that a 'treat' is consuming the things that make your body feel worse. You can read more here.

12) Do it for someone else: I'm losing weight for my kids, so that they'll be proud of me. I'll lose weight so I look great for my partner like I did in my twenties.

Sound like good ways to motivate yourself? The problem here is that your partner already thinks you're beautiful and your children are already proud. Even if they weren't losing weight is unlikely to be the thing to change that. Approval from others can give a short term boost but when the compliments subside and the new you becomes the new normal, how will you stay motivated? Do it for you.

Over to you

What have I missed?

What have you done to lose weight?

Let me know on below or on the Facebook Page