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Top 20 Fitness & Weight Loss Mistakes To Avoid In 2024 and Beyond

Imagine you want to go on a road trip from Abuja to Lagos.

The goal, obviously, is to get to the destination safely, and in good time.

Could you use a list of all the mistakes other drivers have made on the same trip?

The avoidable traffic gridlocks that could cost you hours, the wrong turns that could lead you to another location, the worst stops for fuel and food, the bumpy roads that could wreck your car, the not so friendly weather at certain points on the route, and what to expect generally.

With this list of mistakes/being aware of these mistakes, and preparing accordingly, you could significantly increase your chances of getting to your destination safely – with as little trouble, setbacks, and delay as possible.

You’ll know what to expect and how to navigate any potential trouble

You’ll know which

In this 4-part series, I am going to share with you some of the top mistakes to look out for, and how to avoid (or at least minimize) them as you work towards your fitness and weight loss goals.

Why?

Having worked with and coached 100s of clients in last 10+ years, I have noticed that the clients/people who are most successful are the ones who consistently execute the plan, while simultaneously limiting or avoid these mistakes.  

Some of them are quite common but others are less obvious but equally likely to trip you up.  

To keep this manageable and easy to read, I have organized the mistakes into 4 categories: General Strategy, Mindset & Belief, Workout & Training, Diet & Nutrition.

In this post, part 1, we’ll discuss the Top 5 Strategy Mistakes

Top Fitness & Weight Loss Mistakes To Avoid: Part 1 – General Strategy

Mistake 1a: Not Setting Goals

Not setting goals is like going into a battle blind folded.

You know what they say – If you don’t have a target then you can’t hit it.

Studies show that the lack of clearly defined goals can decrease your chances of success by as much as 50%.

On the other hand, setting the right kind of goals can give you direction, increase your focus & motivation, and help you stay on track.

But we are not talking about the typical standard goals here – we need more concrete and specific goals.

You’ve probably heard of the SMART goal-setting system.

Your goals need to be Specific (S), Measurable (M), Attainable (A), Realistic (R), and Time-bound (T).

A typical goal is ‘I want to lose weight’ and a SMART goal is ‘I want to lose 6 inches of my belly in 20 weeks or by April 30th.

It also helps to break your longer term goals to medium and short term goals. For instance, if your long term goal is to lose 20kg in 12 months then your medium and short term goals could be to lose 10kg and 5kg in 6 and 3 months, respectively. Next is to break those goals down even further to monthly, weekly, and daily goals. This can help you overcome overwhelm as you work your way towards your big goals.

Outcome vs Process Goals

Related to goal setting, one common mistakes I see people make is failing to set Process goals. Process goals, unlike outcome goals, shift the emphasis to the day to day or week to week tasks that must be done to help you reach the result or outcome you want. So, for a person whose goal is weight loss, their process goals could include completing five 30-min workouts each week, eating protein with every meal, and completing 10,000 steps every day. The idea is – if we consistently hit these process goals then they will ultimately lead to main goal we want.

The NAPP Goal Setting System

The

By the way, there’s a difference between ‘having’ goals and ‘setting’ goals.

Setting goals is more deliberate and intentional – it requires some thought and action. Goals that you set are more empowering, and you are more likely to hit them, than goals that you just ‘have’.

Mistake 1b: Setting Unrealistic & Over-ambitious Goals

You know what may be worse than not setting any goals?

Setting unrealistic or overly ambitious goals.

When these unrealistic goals or expectations are not met, what happens 9 out of 10 times? We are disappointed, get frustrated, and then we end the quest.

But what is unrealistic for one person may be realistic for another. There are several factors that may impact your ability to reach a goal including:

·         The timeline or deadline you have set

·         The time you have available or you are willing to commit

·         Your knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience

·         Your current ‘status’ or ‘level’ – for instance, generally, it’s easier for men and heavier people to lose weight compared to women and smaller people. For example, a goal to lose 10kg in 3 months may be possible and realistic for a 100kg man but unrealistic (or at least significantly harder to achieve) for a 60kg woman. A person who is already in shape and currently runs 5km every day is more likely to hit a 4-week goal of running 10km than a person who is sedentary, out of shape, and has not done any real running since the last time they ran to catch a flight at the airport.

·         The tools, support, and resources you have, or don’t have

·         What you are actually ready, willing, and able to do

·         Your plans, strategy, or approach for reaching the goal – obviously, an ineffective plan or strategy will get you no where

·         Your actual commitment and execution of the plan

Goal setting is the first step towards your real change and transformation. Getting it right can be the difference between success and failure with your fitness and weight loss goals. Take your time to do it right from jump.

Mistake 2a: Not Creating a Plan –

There’s a famous quote that says – he who fails to plan; plans to fail.

It’s one thing to establish goals and it’s another to create a plan to help you arrive at those goals.

Think of goals as the destination you want to get to and your plans as the map. Without this map, or the equivalent, you are going to have a really hard time getting to your goals.

However, you’d be surprised how common this goals-without-plans phenomenon is.

Most people create a goal but fail to set up a plan for reaching that goal.

Why?

Maybe they don’t know their goals require a plan or maybe they are just not interested or motivated enough to bother. Maybe they don’t know what approach or strategies will work for their goals. Maybe they are stuck because of information overload.

Whatever the reason.

Failing to create a plan is one mistake that may cost you your goals.

Your plans should include specific action steps and task  

Mistake 2b: Creating Unrealistic or Over-ambitious plans

Creating an unrealistic plan is just as bad as not having a plan.

As with your goals, your plans (at least at first) should be individualized to your current circumstances and unique situation, not some ideal future or alternate universe where you have all the motivation, skills, resources, support, time, and money you think you need. I know, from experience, that this kind of flawed planning approach is where most people miss the mark, so let me explain a little more.

Even though we may have similar goals, we each have very unique circumstances and rate/score very differently on some of the factors that will affect our ability to execute the plan.

We rate differently on the motivation scale – some people are more motivated than others and therefore may be better able to get started and stay on track. Others can’t find enough motivation to get out of bed much less do a workout.

We rate differently on the time availability scale – some people have more time to fit in workouts and meal prep. Others have more demanding work and family schedules and can only get an hour to themselves, outside of sleep, each day.  

We rate differently on the skill and experience scale – some people are fitter and have more workout, healthy food shopping, and meal prep experience. Others are so out of shape and have not done a workout (of any kind) since grade school PA class.

We rate differently in budget and finances – some people are better off financially and can afford a home gym, a chef, and a personal trainer. Others are on a much tighter budget, can’t afford gym memberships, and may have to do with free workout videos online.

We rate differently on the support, tools, and resources availability scale – some people have a great support system that includes spouses, family, and friends. Some people have all the cooking gadgets that make cooking and meal prep a cinch. Others don’t even have steady electricity to help keep their foods fresh.

We also rate differently in our readiness and willingness to commit to the plan. Some people have all the tools, resources, support, money, and time but they are just not ready or willing to make the changes. Others are ready and willing but they are not able to …

So what’s realistic for one person may be unrealistic and completely unachievable for another.

By the way, when we say a plan is unrealistic – we are not saying you can’t do it one time.

Anybody can do a really tough workout one time. But can you do it consistently, every day (or several times a week), for several weeks or months?

Anybody can prep and eat one healthy meal or get one night of better quality sleep. But can you do it day after day and night after night until you reach your goal?

Your ability to consistently execute a plan, after the plan itself, is most important. I don’t care how great a workout or diet program is; if you can’t commit to it then It’s unrealistic and won’t be effective for you.

Hopefully, your ‘plan’ is designed to help you make the ‘right’ changes, consistently and progressively, over a longer period, not just over a day or week.

Start where you are; with what you have.

Finally, like your goals, it’s okay to scale back to a more realistic plan that you can consistently commit to. As your goals and circumstances change, be willing and flexible enough to change and adjust your plans. The only thing standing between you and your goals is an effective plan, and your execution of that plan.

No plans; no goals.

Mistake 3: using the wrong approach

Okay, so you’ve set some goals and created a realistic plan.

What next?

We’ve established that your plan (and the execution of it) is what bridges the gap between your

But what specifically should your plans entail? What will be your general approach?

What specific diet, workout, and lifestyle strategies and tactics will you employ/adopt?

Let’s bring back our trip analogy …

Imagine I gave you the wrong map for a trip or you used a bad or inferior means of transportation – What would your experience be? How would your trip end?

You’d probably end up in the wrong destination or take much longer to get there or maybe even quit the trip. Not to mention you’ll likely have a shitty, stress filled trip.

That’s what happens when you use the wrong approach for your health, fitness, and weight loss goals. These approaches can range from completely ineffective and unsafe to impractical and less than optimal.

Crunches & sit-ups alone will not help you lose significant body fat – not even from your belly.

Extreme and over-restrictive diets are generally not sustainable and won’t work long term.

Fat loss pills & supplements are typically over-hyped and probably won’t give you the results you are after.  

Depending on your goals, walking and cardio alone may not be enough.

These are just a few of several examples

A wrong approach can be doing something you should not be doing at all or doing too much of something you should be doing less of. It can also be not doing something you should be doing or doing less of something you should be doing more of 

·         STOP – doing something you should not be doing at all

·         LESS – doing too much of something you should be doing less of,

·         MORE – doing less of something you should be doing more of,

·         START – or not doing something you should be doing – like strength training,

We have finite time and energy, so the more time you spend doing the wrong things; the less time and energy you have for the right (and better) options.

Not to mention, some of these wrong approaches may take significant effort and time but yield very little, if any results. Consider, for instance, a study by the university of …… that showed that it would take 7 years of 200 crunches daily to lose only a pound of fat. I don’t know about you but

Most people’s approach is inspired by what they see other people doing, what’s on social and mainstream media (adverts, articles, and videos) and what they may have tried in the past.

So you begin ‘the egg diet’ because your colleague says she lost weight eating only eggs (and nothing else) for 2 weeks.

You buy and wear a waist trainer for several hours each day because the Instagram fitness influencer claims she lost 8 inches off a belly doing just that.

You begin an extreme detox or juice cleanse diet because some ‘guru’ on youtube swears it will help you get rid of toxins and lose 20lbs in one week.

Relying on cleansing, detoxing, pills, sit-ups, waist trainers, etc

Mistake 4: waiting for ________

How many times have you said to yourself ….

I’ll start later.

I’ll start on Monday.

I’ll start next week.

I’ll start when _________ (insert what you are waiting for).

This is one mistake I know many people (including me) are struggling with/have made. We always seem to be waiting for something before we start or stop doing something.

We are waiting for more a more time off work or a better schedule before we start working out again.

We are waiting for more money or a better paying job to begin a diet plan.

We are waiting to feel motivated and inspired before we begin to make those changes in our lives.

We are waiting – for the kids to go back to school, for a new maid, for our spouse or boss to travel, for a gym to open in our neighborhood, or to completely recover from an injury.

We are waiting to feel better and be in a better mood.

One time, a new client told me she was waiting to get in shape first before she joins the gym. I was like – ‘ah, that’s what the gym is for’

Sure, maybe it would be easier to make ch……. if you have all those things you are waiting for but the reality is that

Waiting for something – more, less, better, perfect, ideal, different, for motivation, for inspiration, to feel better, for later/tomorrow/Monday/, for more time, for more money, for better schedule, for holiday, for kids to resume school, for spouse to travel, for maid, injury, different location/job, etc

Ready, fire, aim

Next best thing, minimum effective dose,

The average plan that you consistently execute is better than the perfect more effective plan that we hardly do

Mistake 5: Not being consistent/Lack of Consistency

Consistency (with your diet and workout program) is probably the most important factor when it comes to fitness and weight loss.

You’ve heard it a few times – ‘Consistency is the key’

So why do many people still struggle with consistency?

Whatever the reasons, one thing is for sure, the only way we can get the results we are after is by being consistent and adhering to the plan/by mastering/improving our consistency and adherence.

But consistency just doesn’t happen. We have to design our goals, plans, environment, lifestyle, schedule, and support system to make it easier for us to stay consistent.

For instance, it’s harder to go to the gym consistently if you have to drive 2 hours to and fro each time. It’s may be harder to stay consistent with your diet plan when you don’t take the time to plan and prep the meals in advance. It’s harder to get quality sleep every night if you always stay out late with friends or stay up watching TV.

The key is to design, monitor, and continually adjust your plans, lifestyle, schedule, support system, and environment – to make it easier for you to be consistent.

There is no goal attainment without consistency.

Not for meaningful long term goals anyway.

By the way, one sure way to improve your consistency is to simplify everything.

Simplicity (more moderate, less complex approach) = Better adherence = Consistency long term = Better results = Feel better about yourself = More motivation to keep going = Less likely to quit = Long term progress & growth.

There are different levels of consistency. Consistency comes down to compliance (taking action) with your plans – 3 days of workout/week vs 6 days of workout/week

Adjust your plans so you can be consistent. Its okay to downgrade your ideal plan to a more realistic plan that you can be consistent with.

Consistency only works when you working at or above the minimum effective dose.

Simplicity helps with consistency

It’s better to stick to a moderate program that you can keep up with than struggling with a more aggressive plan

It’s okay to slow things down and scale back

Don’t beat yourself up for not being consistent and sticking with your plans

Guilt never helps (in this case), change better happens by feeling good

You’ll feel less like a failure and less likely to quit

Mistake 6: No support & accountability

Let’s be honest, real change can sometimes be hard and uncomfortable.

If you’ve being trying to improve your health, get fit, or lose weight for any length of time now – you’ll agree that it’s no walk in the park. 

You’ll most likely have to start doing more of the things you don’t necessarily like (or enjoy) doing – like exercising more frequently and eating more or less of certain foods and beverages.

It can be tough, at least at first.

Unfortunately, many people still don’t appreciate how the right support and accountability system can help ….

In one study published in the, the group that had ongoing support was

And we see this across the literature, not having the right support

Support can come from a variety of places – your spouse, a family member, colleagues, a dedicated community (online or offline), fellow gym goers or ‘dieters’, or a coach.

It’s time to stop riding solo. Find a group or someone who will support you and hold you accountable.

Mistake 7: no tracking, monitoring, and adjusting

This is one of the less obvious but serious mistakes people make.

So you’ve set your goals and you’ve created a plan.

You’ve even taken it a step further by actually implementing the plan.

You are doing the workouts and following the nutrition plan.

There’s just one problem.

You don’t know if what you are doing is working or taking you any closer to your goals. You may just be spinning your wheels with no real progress.

This is what happens when we don’t monitor our progress and adjust the approach – to ensure we keep moving in the direction we want.

You monitor by frequently tracking those parameters or outcomes you are trying to improve – weight, body fat percentage, waist measurement, dress size, blood pressure, etc.

Then if you are not progressing as you’d like, you continue to adjust or change your approach until ….

There’s a right and wrong way to monitor your progress (weighing once a week or less frequently is a mistake) but It’s more commonly the ‘adjusting’ part that people get wrong.

For instance, they check their weight after a week or 2 and it’s not what they were hoping for – so what do they do?

They double down and do more of what they are currently doing (reduce calorie intake even more), they abandon the plan and try something entirely new, or they completely quit and give up on their goals.

Yes, abandoning the current plan for a new and more effective plan may be needed sometimes, but most times (assuming your plan was not ridiculous to start with) a little tweak here and there may be enough to get you back on track.

Was the plan ineffective or did I fail to adhere to it? I don’t care how effective your plan is, if you don’t comply then you can expect results.

Think of this like the Minimum Effective Dose (MED) – there’s a certain dosage (amount of adherence) below which even the most potent drug (or in this case – plan) will be ineffective.

Your plan called for 6 workouts each week for one month but you only managed to workout 4 times the entire month, and now you step on the scale weight and you are complaining that the plan didn’t work.

No love, you didn’t.

Blame it on the rain, blame it on me, blame it on the ah ah ah ah ah alcohol – but please don’t blame the plan.

Make sure you frequently monitor your progress and adjust your approach accordingly.

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