Exercise to Lose Weight? 7 Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Local nutritionist, belly-dance teacher and author, Sharon Potocnik has developed a wonderful philosophy of losing weight effectively through her Love Food Lose Weight mantra!

While many of us can get caught up in the hype around hard core New Year’s fitness resolutions, in this blog post, Sharon shares her tips for keeping it real!

“here are some common mistakes that cause more people to fail than to succeed”

So it is that time of the year again when many make our resolutions to be better people in the year ahead.

My resolution this year is to make my resolutions every month. Once a year just doesn’t seem to cut it.

If you have decided to make a commitment to exercise more to try to lose weight, good on you. But before you do, here are some common mistakes that cause more people to fail than to succeed.

Mistake number 1 – Not moving for long enough.

Our body fat is not the ready supply of on-board energy that we think it is.

“choose activities that last longer”

Unfortunately, we have to be active for at least 20 minutes before the body will even consider dipping into our body fat to keep us moving.

So if you only exercise for 30 minutes, then you will only get 10 minutes of fat mobilisation time.

Sure, shorter activities may be beneficial for fitness and health, but if you want to shift excess body fat, choose activities that last longer.

Mistake number 2 – Running out of breath.

If you have ever watched The Biggest Loser, you would be forgiven for thinking you need to work out so intensely that you are ready to throw up or pass out if you want to lose weight quickly.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In order to convert body fat into usable energy, large amounts of oxygen are required.

That means, if you are not breathing deeply and comfortably while you exercise, you will not be getting adequate oxygen to burn fat.

Choose activities like a brisk walk over those that cause you to be breathless.

Mistake number 3 – Exercising on an empty stomach.

It is tempting (and understandable) to believe that if you exercise before breakfast your body will have nothing to use for energy except your body fat.

“have a breakfast that includes carbs before working out”

However, burning body fat also requires that there are some carbohydrates in the fuel mix.

Our liver stores a small amount of carbohydrates between meals, but most of that is used up overnight to feed your brain.

Without carbohydrates to burn fat while you exercise, the body will cannibalise your muscle tissue for fuel instead, so have a breakfast that includes carbs before working out.

Mistake number 4 – Cutting out too many carbs.

You can probably see where I am going with this. For many, cutting down on carbohydrates is a quick and simple way to reduce calorie intakes and if that means removing white bread, sweet biscuits and added sugars from your diet, go for it!

But vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains are not only sources of essential nutrients, they are also healthy sources of the carbohydrates needed to efficiently metabolise body fat.

Mistake number 5 – Food rewards.

An extremely common mistake made by people who take up exercise is to assume that they have worked off enough calories in their one-hour gym session to warrant a reward of food or drink afterward.


The sad fact is it takes a lot of running on the treadmill to use up just one slice of bread.

For example, 100g of chocolate is around 2000 kilojoules (kilojoules are just the metric unit of calories) and the difference between a brisk walk and not exercising is around 1000 kilojoules per hour.

This means, you would need to walk for two hours just to burn off the chocolate “reward”.

Mistake number 6 – Giving up too soon or inconsistency.

It is easy to get disheartened when you don’t see results early on.

“a body that is only exercised occasionally will behave like a body that can’t lose weight”

However, the body is very clever in that it does not make what isn’t needed.

For example, if you don’t drink/eat dairy foods for a few days, the body stops making lactase, the enzyme required to digest lactose.

If you start eating dairy again you will experience bloating until the body starts producing lactase again. The same is true for the enzymes that mobilise body fat and the myriad of other chemicals and functions that take time to wind up to full speed.

Consistency is also the key.

Just as a person who only eats dairy occasionally will come to think they are lactose intolerant, a body that is only exercised occasionally will behave like a body that can’t lose weight.

Mistake number 7 – Expecting miracles.

The Biggest Loser has a lot to answer for when it comes to perpetuating myths about weight loss.

When contestants supposedly lose 5kg or more in a week it is easy to assume our own measly weight loss represents a failure and to give up.

“pick a variety of activities that you enjoy and can do for the long term”

In reality, due to all the limitations mentioned above and more, the maximum true body fat reduction is about 250g per day- repeat, maximum.

So unless you are prepared to increase your physical activity every day for most of the day, don’t expect to come anywhere close to the maximum. But on the other hand, 50g per day would add up to over 18kg weight loss in a year.

Even if you don’t lose weight, fitness through physical activity is extremely important in maintaining overall health, so pick a variety of activities that you enjoy and can do for the long term.

For more on Sharon’s Love Food Lose Weight tips, visit her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LoveFoodLoseWeight. Sharon’s e-Book is also available now on Amazon https://www.amazon.com.au/d/B01MXZQP72/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482137621&sr=8-1&keywords=love+food+lose+weight