1. You've setting conservative goals
You want to lose 7kg but you decide to set a goal of losing 3kg to start with as it seems more manageable. Actually, researchers now say you’re more likely to be successful aiming for the whole amount from the get-go. “Your goal should be challenging but possible,” says Professor Yael Benyamini from Israel’s Tel Aviv Unversity. “Then turn it into an action plan focusing on one or two easy changes. Once you have established these as habits, then focus on more changes.”
2. You're losing weight too slowly
It’s said to be the sensible approach but if you’d prefer to use a plan that triggers rapid weight loss, then do. “People are more likely to quit slow, steady weight-loss plans because they get miserable,” says Dr Michael Mosley, author of The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet. “But so long as you have a plan as to how you are going to maintain your weight afterward, you are no more likely to regain weight than someone who has lost it slowly.”
(Read more: Lose Weight By Eating These 10 Healthy Snacks)
3. You're fixated on calories
There’s a place for counting calories and it’s a popular weight loss strategy but it’s not as simple as it seems. “Everyone’s metabolism is different and we all burn food differently,” say nutritionist Emily Holmes. On top of this, the way we calculate calories doesn’t accurately reflect how many we actually absorb from the food when we eat it. A rare steak, for example, provides 12 per cent fewer calories than a well-done one but calorie charts don’t take that into account.
4. You're measuring results by the scales
For starters, the scales don’t register whether your weight loss is fat, muscle or water, which does matter in terms of how your results look. Also, the number on the scales is not the best motivator – photos and measurements are better, say a new study. “Measure weekly and take photos every three to four weeks,” advises Dr Isaac Kumar from Spain’s University of Alicante.
(Read more: 7 Ways To Lose Weight Even When You Sit At A Desk All Day)
5. You've gone gluten free
It’s been touted as a magic key to weight loss, but it’s no miracle. “Wheat and gluten are found mostly in refined carbohydrates and if cutting gluten out of the diet also removes these, most people lose weight,” says nutritional medicine practitioner Fiona Tuck. But if you swap gluten containing carbs for processed gluten-free alternatives, the opposite might happen. “Gluten-free processed foods are often higher in refined carbohydrates and starches than their counterparts,” she says. “These quickly turn to sugar in the body and raise insulin levels – which is a big no-no for weight loss.”
6. You're replying on willpower
“Willpower is like holding your breath, you can only do it for so long – and every time it fails you reinforce the idea that you’re weak,” says Domini Stuart, author of You Can Beat The Binge! “Sucess comes from changing your mindset so you see your choices as being kind to yourself.” While some people can do this immediately, for others it takes a while to change those thought processes. Stuart suggests that, “Each day you think of one tiny thing that would make you feel better about yourself – perhaps replacing your normal lunchtime soft drink with water – and choose to do it. Once you do, praise yourself.”
(Read more: Feel Like You Put On Weight Overnight? These 8 Things May Be To Blame)
7. You don't allow for treats
Dieting tends to come with an all-or-nothing mentality. Fall off the wagon one day and that’s it, you’ve failed. However, planned cheat days, where you know when you’re going to stray and what foods you’ll eat will prevent this, shows new research. People who cut back a little bit for six days a week and had one planned cheat day lost more weight and stayed on track longer than those eating a bit more food but dieting every single day.
8. You've given up fat
On the face of it, this makes sense – fat contains twice as many calories per gram as carbohydrates – but a recent study looking at the results from low-fat diets versus losing weight in other ways found there is no good evidence for recommending low-fat diets over other methods. “Fat helps us feel full,” says Tuck. “If we eat low-fat foods we feel less satiated and want more. Low-fat diets also encourage you to eat processed diet foods, many of which are full of sugar and artificial chemicals. Eat fresh foods instead.”
(Read more: 7 Bedtime Habits That Are Secretly Making You Gain Weight)
9. You're relying too much on exercise
It’s brilliant for health, amazing for building and toning muscle and to enhance your weight-loss results, but “losing weight just by being active is very hard work,” says personal trainer Ali Cavill. “Not to mention that exercise has an effect on hunger and appetite hormones that can make people hungrier after their workout and eat to compensate.” In fact, experts believe this compensation effect is why 70 per cent of women asked to exercise for weight loss ended the 12-week trial fitter, but fatter, that when they began! “A succesfful weight-loss plan has two parts – healthy food choices and physical activity,” says Cavill.
(Text by Helen Foster, Good Health (Bauer) / Additional Reporting by Natalya Molok)