Weight Loss Mistakes That Women Make

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woman standing on bathroom scale

Certain mistakes can leave women frustrated with their lack of weight loss.

It’s not often that I need to segregate the sexes in my writing, but sometimes I feel that it’s necessary. I’ve trained both men and women over the years and many of the women have come to me with plenty of miseducation about what it takes to build a beautiful body. The men have misconceptions too, but I’ll save that for another blog. 🙂 I’m constantly appalled by the negative and misleading information out there that keeps women from doing the right thing for their health and for their figures.

Let me stress that not all women make these mistakes, but having trained in gyms for over 20 years I’ve observed some patterns.

With that in mind, here are the biggest mistakes I see women make when trying to lose weight:

1) Avoiding weights

I know, I know, you don’t want to get “bulky”, right? I find it amusing that the women who usually say this are already bulky, but with fat and not muscle. Which do you think is going to look better?

If you improve your body composition by gaining muscle and losing fat, you’re actually going to look smaller overall. You’ll also look more “toned” because being toned is all about losing body fat so you see the muscle underneath. When you have more muscle overall, you’ll be able to eat more and not put on weight because muscle is more metabolically active (burns more calories). Embrace the amazing shape that weights can give you…as well as their fat-burning effects.

2) Not Eating Enough

Many women go for months on diets that reduce their food intake to 1000 (or fewer!) calories, mostly in the form of bland salads. They might get some initial weight loss, some of which will be muscle, but after a while their progress stops. What do you do then? Reduce your calories to 600 a day?!

When you drop your calories too low, your body adjusts to that lower level. It’s a survival mechanism so that you don’t starve. Unfortunately it means that if you start eating more than that lower amount of calories regularly you’ll put on weight again. It’s the start of a process that’s been coined “metabolic damage”, when your metabolism gets out of whack and doesn’t burn as many calories as you’d like it to. In many cases, increasing the amount of calories that you’re eating can be beneficial when you start a weight training program. You’ll build more muscle, which will make it easier to get leaner. If you’ve been on a very low-calorie diet for a while, adding more calories, particularly in the form of protein, can be a great step to rebuilding your metabolism and your health.

3) Being Obsessed with the Scale

Some women can’t seem to go a day without stepping on the scale to check their progress. It’s just a number on the scale. It doesn’t define you. Or even the success of your workout and nutrition plan. Your weight varies on a daily basis due to hydration levels, how much you’ve eaten recently, and hormonal changes. Checking too regularly can be disappointing…and deceiving. Muscle weighs more than fat so you can improve your body composition (ie. reduce your body fat percentage) through building muscle and losing fat and not lose a pound. But you’ll look better, I promise. The scale can be a good way of assessing your progress once in a while, but checking obsessively is only detrimental to your weight loss efforts.

4) Going On and Off Diets

“Let’s go out for pizza and ice cream…I’m starting my diet tomorrow!” “It’s already Friday…I’ll start my diet on Monday!” It’s really common for women to have the “on a diet, off a diet” mentality. You’re always on a diet. Your diet consists of what you consume on a day-to-day basis. You don’t get to wipe the slate clean and undo the damage just because it’s the start of the year or the start of the month. Every day is an opportunity to make sensible food choices that benefit your body and your health.

Stop going on a diet and start living a healthy lifestyle that gives you a banging body.

5) Doing Too Much Low-Intensity Steady State Cardio

Yes, you really want to get through that “People” magazine or check out the latest fashions from “In Style”, but during your workout session is not the time to do it (I recommend reading trashy/fashion magazines when you’re getting your hair done instead!). I see way too many women turning pages while slowly peddling on a bike or elliptical trainer. Some of them are so enthralled by the latest exploits of the Kardashian clan that they start peddling backwards or just end up standing on the machine reading. This is NOT the way to workout, ladies!

Even if you do manage to maintain a steady pace on the cardio machines, it’s not as beneficial for you as other exercises you could be doing, like weights or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). After a few weeks, your body adapts to the slow, steady-state cardio and you won’t be getting any weight-loss benefit. In fact, you’ll be burning off what little muscle you have (which slows down your metabolism) and eventually cause negative changes to your thyroid, which controls your metabolic rate.

6) Looking for the Latest Fad Diet

Just because JLo or Jennifer Aniston recently lost weight on some fad diet, doesn’t mean that it will work for you. But you’ve got to at least give it a shot, right?


Quit looking for the latest thing that the celebs are doing. Journalists make a great living making sensational stories about the newest gimmick, but the truth is that you can’t get around eating right and exercising for long-lasting weight loss results.

Come on Ladies!

You need to be strong and respect the science of your body. Weights will do your body good in a way that steady-state cardio can’t. You can’t keep looking for the latest thing…and keep hopping from one potentially life-saving diet to another. Your body won’t hold up to the torture and things will only get worse.

Eat healthy whole foods on a regular basis. Weight-train for strength and shape.

Keep it simple.

Stick to it.

Ignore all the noise that comes your way and your body will thank you.

Ivana Chapman 

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 8-year-old boy. She is a YouTuber, writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training, chocolate, mountain biking, and ice cream...not always in that order of preference.
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