17 Mistakes You Could Be Making, That Are Stopping You Getting Lean And Toned.



it’s Rob here from The Unit Fitness and if you’re someone who wants to get in shape, shift some excess weight, look leaner and more toned or is after getting the body ‘you used to have’ back I’ve got something you’d be interested in right now. 

Chances are you’ll have come across some roadblocks stopping you in your tracks so I’ve collated a list for your convenience of 17 mistakes you could be making which are holding you hostage right now, without you even realising you’re making them or that in fact they are wrong.

(That last part is, unfortunately, a result of all the confusing and conflicting ‘health and fitness’ information we’re bombarded with nowadays from social media, newspapers and TV to supermarkets and bus adverts)


But anyway, after reading this article you’ll have a much better understanding of the things YOU need to work on to be able to shift forwards.

Let’s begin…

1 . You don’t move enough each day.

Simply put you need to make your body work a bit harder, to increase your daily calorie expenditure. Whether that be parking further away from the shops so you have to walk more, taking the stairs rather than the lift, cycling to work instead of driving or hitting a few short home workouts (see our YouTube channel here) for some awesome workouts needing no equipment) by simply ‘doing more’ each day you’ll burn more calories.

2 . You don’t do any purposeful exercise during your week.

We all know exercising the body and taking yourself out of that ‘comfort zone’ is key to improving your health and fitness but why do so many struggle and not do any? It could be a combination of things from motivation (which comes from having a real, tangible goal set to work towards), to the knowledge of what to do in the gym. Or maybe it’s self-esteem and confidence? 


If you’re someone who lacks both of those then starting a fitness regime may be too daunting a task to do on your own. Another reason why people fail to start exercising is the fear of being judged, which is crazy. They think that people around them will think differently of them if they begin to exercise. There are many reasons behind why friends and family may not be supportive of your weight loss attempts but simply put you need to do it for you, if indeed this is a real limiting factor for you right now.

3 . You let your excuses rule your body. 

We’ve all been there, that time comes around to hit the gym or go out for a run but ‘something’ comes up that’s unavoidable and means we ‘have’ to miss that scheduled workout. It’s cold out, it’s wet out, (those 2 excuses even come up for someone who is training INDOORS because it means leaving the warm dry comfortable house!!). I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’ve too much work on, my pet needs me, my trainers need a clean, I forgot my P.E kit (flashback to school but still a legitimate excuse to miss a workout!) etc you get the idea. 

Anything and everything that could get in the way does. This is excluding the actual reasons people miss training such as a heavy bout of flu, kids are sick or traffic is against you BUT even those don’t mean you shouldn’t reschedule with yourself and train at a later time or catch up the next day. The problem comes from missing a session and feeling it’s all ruined so you miss the next 2, 3, 10… and before you know it it’s been weeks since the last time you’ve done any exercise. Try starting again and things feel 100x harder than if you kept it up.

4 . You’re unsure of what exercise is right for you.

This is a common problem but an easy fix, trust me. All you have to do is find something that you ENJOY doing. Simple as that. It may mean a bit of trial and error at first to find that ‘thing’ but it’s worth the effort. All the ‘thing’ has to be is something that pushes you out of your comfort zone, get you improving your body (think strength, toning, and shape), burning calories, releasing endorphins (which make you feel positive and great for exercising) and having fun. 

We aim to make our sessions challenging, engaging (with us the PT’s and others in the groups) and fun to do - which is the main thing that keeps our members consistent and coming back week in week out. (Hint: consistency brings about results).

5 . You don’t get out of your ‘comfort zone’.

We know for a fact that any exercise is beneficial regardless of how challenging it is for the body and if you’re new to training then doing ‘something’ will bring about results in the short term due to a change in circumstances (you’re now burning calories that you simply were not before). But there comes a time that your body adapts to the stimulus you provide it. 

Think running a mile. If you did this as a complete inactive beginner it would be a hell of a challenge and you may have to walk/jog it. But over time you get fitter and stronger to be able to deal with the demands of that mile. There comes a point at which that mile seems easy and you need to progress somehow; be it long distance or time or go at a faster pace. This progression will feel uncomfortable just like when you first started that mile as a beginner. 

This type of progression is easier to judge when using weights in resistance based training as lifts can become easier meaning you may feel like you coast through sessions a bit more rather than feeling like it was a challenge. This very plateau can keep someone stuck. Expect plateaus like this and keep pushing safely through the comfort zone.

6 . You’re keeping yourself in a calorie surplus.

For those who don’t know, the main thing around weight loss or gain is our energy balance (simply calories in vs calories out). If you’re in a calorie surplus you are effectively eating and drinking more calories than your body needs. 

This may well result in weight gain or at the least a stable weight (which can be demoralizing if losing weight is the goal). It can be very easy to be in a surplus as there are so many foods (and drinks) out there that you don’t realise contain many more calories than you think they do. Or you simply don’t realise how much all those snacks and meals across the day add up to. 


Portion size is a big one to watch and having an idea of what your usual meals contain calorie wise is a very smart move to make. If you find that most meals you eat contain 500 to 700 calories, and your daily calorie target to lose weight should be 1800 then you should probably watch how many extra snacks go in across the day or indeed the week as you could well be consuming on average 2000 per day meaning you’ll never be in enough of a calorie deficit to get your weight shifting.

7 . You have no way of knowing your calorie intake.

Expanding on the last point, we know that getting your energy balance right is key but if you’ve no way of knowing what’s going in then how can you ever expect to get results? This part does take WORK on your part and most people will again use this as an excuse to not do it. Weighing and measuring your food (and calorie containing drinks) out is important for a number of reasons. 

One is if we go ‘by eye’ then we could easily be way off so measuring out gives you 100% confirmation that the portion size is what it is. You then need to track this intake somehow; calorie tracking apps like MyFitnessPal are extremely convenient for this part. And finally, you need to do this for everything, even if for just a short time (7 to 14 days tracking will work for most as not too intrusive). If you track some things but then have 2 biscuits around a friends house and don’t track them your final calorie total won’t be true to what you actually ate. It can be hard to remember yesterdays food intake or even what you had 12 hours ago so make it a habit to put something into the app after you’ve eaten it. 


By having the knowledge of what ’s going into your body you can use that data to make decisions about where to go next. Weight isn’t changing and you’ve eaten a consistent 2500 calories per day across 14 days? You now know that this total is around your maintenance level and therefore to lose weight you need to eat less than that amount.

8 . You underestimate calories in.

One final point leading on from the last is that without measuring foods you’ll most probably underestimate what something contains. So even if you’re using MyFitnessPal to track foods are you being accurate? Most people have no knowledge of a number of calories something contains. 


If they were to put into their tracking app some olive oil they had on a salad but never measured it then they could put it down as a teaspoon of oil but actually drizzled on more than a tablespoon without realising. Extra 100 calories anyone? Easily done and if done regularly over a week the excess calories add up.

9 . You overestimate calories out. 

This is probably one of the most common mistakes regular exercisers make and that’s thing they’ve just burned 800 to 1000 calories in that tough workout they just smashed because it felt really hard, they were breathing heavy and sweating, or their Fitbit, I watch, fitness tracker etc told them so. Both are inaccurate ways of assessing how effective a workout was on calorie burn and overall progress. 


What fitness trackers are good for is keeping you mindful to move more and exercise regularly but calorie expenditure isn’t as simple as measuring your pulse from your wrist and giving you an accurate figure. And just because it felt like an effort to train doesn’t mean you can go and hit a 1000 calorie ‘guilt free’ pizza. Chances are most people only burn 200 to 400 calories through a focused high-intensity interval session or weight training routine. 


This may sound pitiful but as exercise and movement only really equate to 15% of our daily calorie needs there are other benefits to exercise than just calorie burning. Tip: Ignore the calories out part of MyFitnessPal and use a calorie calculator that takes into account your activity level such as ours here to help you work out your calorie requirements.

10. You have no way of gauging your progress.

Just like tracking foods in and calorie totals is important to be consistent, tracking metrics such as body weight, body measures, clothing fitment and visual images are all key things to reinforce the progress you’re making. 


If you don’t measure body weight regularly (try to ignore the number and use it purely as data rather than letting it affect your mood), or better still body weight AND body circumference, or even better body weight, circumference AND regular images of yourself, then how do you know if what you’re doing and eating is getting you closer to your goal? 


If you have positive reinforcing metrics that are telling you your progressing then it’ll really help you push on, if the numbers tell you you’re NOT making progress then you can change something (fewer calories in, more calories out etc) to get things moving.

11. You let outside influences determine your outcome.

We can all be guilty of this and it’s not an easy one to get around sometimes. We all know that person who means well but is actually keeping you stuck. It could be your mum who upon hearing you’re trying to diet and exercise tells you that you’re fantastic as you are, you don’t need to lose weight. 


When really you’re not happy with yourself and know you need to but it’s coming from someone you love, respect and look up to so hard to ignore those comments. Or on the flip side, it’s those people who are jealous of your efforts because they know they would never be able to do it themselves and will sabotage your efforts by making little comments or remarks that subconsciously influence your decisions. 


A common example of this is going out with friends and having them peer pressure you into eating or drinking things that you’re trying to avoid (this can be completely innocent or delivered in a no threatening way but none the less still takes you off track).

12. You think the small things don’t matter.

That biscuit I had with a cup of tea (twice a day every day) doesn't matter. Olive oil is healthy right, so I won’t count the calories in the drizzle I have on my salad. I’m exercising regularly now so can afford to drive everywhere now I’m expending loads of calories in the gym (when actually you’ll want to keep up your daily activity alongside gym work). 


There are endless little things that all add up to keeping us stuck in a place we want to shift out of. A review of the big roadblocks is key but also don’t ignore the little guys. All calories in count, all calories out count, consistency in exercise counts, regular body stat tracking counts. Don’t slip up by ignoring a seemingly irrelevant thing.

13. You follow one ideology and think that’s it.  

Following on e way and disregarding all others is a fatal mistake. A lot of approaches work to a degree but a combination of the best ones is well, best. This could be the diet you’ve read is really healthy but avoids all carbs when we know balanced diet including healthier carbs is necessary and getting the energy balance right is key, not cutting out a whole macro nutrient. 


Or only following one way of exercising and slating other ways as being ineffective when it could be that to become balanced and in great shape you need to combine weight lifting with some running and also mobility and flexibility work. Try not to get fixated on thinking one way is best and everything else is rubbish and won’t work.

14. You think a diet is a short term thing. 

We hear this a lot and I’ve no doubt you’ve been through similar thought processes. You think (and usually this comes around the first week of January every year!) that a short 4-week blitz on exercise and diet will get you in fantastic shape. 


Regardless of the fact it’s taken you 10 years to put on the 2 stone, you want to shift, why do you think it’ll fall off you in 4 weeks. When you get 4 weeks in and things aren’t moving as fast as you first thought, negative thoughts flood in and force a quitting mentality. 


Realising that you’re in it for the long haul early on is key. Plan small goals and just aim for them. If your 2 stone is now spread out across a few months in short 10lb goals this will likely keep you sticking at it and seeing the 10lbs shift gives you that mental boost it’s working.

15. You think that a certain supplement/juice diet/pill/potion or detox is the way forward.

A really sad and unfortunate result of social media advertising nowadays is the ability for companies to get enticing and attractive marketing in front of you so that you feel compelled to buy inferior products which seem like THE solution to your problem. We know the weight loss industry is huge with much conflicting information out there so it makes things very easy for companies selling products that fit into the category mentioned in this points title to target individuals who are in a very stressed but receptive state. 


The person who's struggled to lose weight through diet and exercise for years (for whatever reason, but could be one many of the mistakes in this article) will literally do anything once they reach a certain point and when a ‘detox’ diet comes along and is only £100 per month but promises weight loss why would they not go for it. If you’re making the mistake of relying on a fad diet, supplement, pill, potion or detox to get you in shape right now then just pause for a second to think of what comes next. 


You may do really well at first (because if you’re replacing 2 ‘real food’ meals with a low-calorie supplement shake each day then, of course, you’ll lose weight) but is this really sustainable for the rest of your life? Hell no and there’s evidence to suggest a very high percentage of people rebound from said diet or supplement regime to gain more weight back than before they started! A better way to reduce calories each day is to limit the size of 3 real meals or just have 2 larger sized portions. 


You’d be £100 better off (maybe even more as you’ll likely buy a little less food) and feel 100 times better (because the nutrients in real food that has grown oaths earth and not been manufactured do your body a world of good, as well as the actual process of chewing and digesting real food rather than low calorie liquid ‘nutrition’ if we can even call some of those products that).

16. You have no support or professional guidance around you.

Probably the biggest mistake people make, and one you could be guilty of f you’re reading this is to try and do it all alone. We all need support and guidance from time to time regardless of our experience or ability level. 


Sometimes the limiting factor (and it’s more prevalent in guys than the women) is ego. It can be seen as a weakness to get help, especially in the gym, so getting over that hurdle first is key. Then having a Team of Professionals in your corner, or at least one great Coach who you can turn to for help will 100% make your journey easier. The one thing our members say makes the biggest difference to their results (or lack there of before joining us) is the support they get from our Team. We actively encourage them to utilise us and reach out when help is needed. 


We always look to improve our service and deliver more for them than before. If someone is alone in their efforts as soon as things get difficult they are likely to stop or give in. Some may even keep pushing on but incorrectly through bad form and technique which could lead to injury. 


So, if this one is relevant to you right now, a simple fix is getting someone in your corner who can have your back (this doesn’t have to be us but we’ll always take the time to chat with someone who asks us for help).

17. You don’t believe in yourself enough.

Finally, and a bit of a follow on from the last mistake is that there’s a lack of self-esteem and belief that you can actually make changes. If you’ve been stuck 2 stone overweight for years it can be hard to see a way out of the downward spiral as you get older. But linking to many points in this article, if you see positive changes occurring from small things done consistently then it reinforces the fact you can do things. 


If you have a Coach to help you stay on track and motivate you then you begin to believe in yourself more. If you’re around other people who’ve either been in your position and gotten great results or are going through the same things as you right now then that’s a real driving factor to keep you in a great mood. Past failures shouldn’t keep you stuck, use them as data to learn from. 


If you’ve tried a certain diet or exercise and it hasn’t worked for you in the past, it may not be the diet itself but other factors affecting you at that time. It comes down to the belief that things will get better, but in order to do so, you first need to try!

“It’s Not About What You Plan To Do Tomorrow But What You Start Working On TODAY That Matters”

If you’ve gotten this far in my article then I commend you for staying with it and if any points really resonated with you right now maybe take some time to work on how you can rectify those mistakes.


If you need any help then please feel free to get in touch with us at The Unit Fitness here as we’re open to chatting with anyone keen to improve their health and fitness.

Yours in fitness,

Rob Foster

Co-Founder of The Unit Fitness Godmanchester. 

Rob Foster