10 Things Guaranteed to Derail my Weight Loss Efforts

10 Things Guaranteed to Derail My Weight Loss Efforts

I started my weight loss journey back in October 2010. I lost my first 30lbs 6-7 months into my journey and then it took me another year to lose 10 more pounds. Today, I still struggle with those last 10 + pounds. My weight loss goal is 130 lbs. Currently, I am 145 lbs so I have about 15 more pounds to lose. I have to admit those final pounds have been a constant struggle. The first 30 pounds seem to come off relatively easy but the last 15 pounds not so much.

You would think that after 4 years I would be a weight loss expert and completely immune to anything that is going to sabotage my efforts. Well guess what? I am not. Not by a long shot.

I don’t mean to sound negative and defeatist because in all reality I have lost between 35-40 lbs and sustained that weight loss over the last 4 years. So, I need to remember and celebrate that accomplishment because anyone who has lost weight and kept it off knows that is quite a feat. But it definitely does not come without hard work and challenges.


A weight loss lesson I learned over the years is it’s important to be aware of the challenges that can derail my weight loss efforts. Some days it seems like the world is working against me and I need to dig real deep for motivation and willpower. Other days I feel like I am in total control and confident in this whole weight loss journey.

Good news is that despite any natural disasters or emergencies I am in control. I just need to recognize and embrace that. This does take intention and self-awareness because we all know it’s easier to point the finger at everything else for our lack of weight loss. However, at the end of the day 99% of our weight loss depends on the choices we make. Especially, the choices made when we are faced with situations that can derail our efforts. Therefore, it is important to identify the things and situations that challenge us.

I put together 10 things guaranteed to derail my weight loss efforts. Obviously, your challenges are going to look slightly differently but I think each one is relatable in some way. Basically, I thought about how I feel, and what is going on in my world, when I feel off track or struggling with my weight loss goals. I paid attention and this is what I came up with.

#1 Starting the day with an unhealthy food choice and/or no exercise

What I do the first thing in the morning sets the tone for the rest of my day. That is especially true with the food choices I make. If I start my day with a green smoothie I am more likely to make healthy food choices throughout the day. The only scientific data I have to back that up is paying attention to the days I drink green smoothies. If I eat something like a breakfast sandwich or a bowl of cereal I tend to struggle. Not saying those things can’t be healthy but for some reason a green smoothie filled with fruits, vegetables, and lots of power foods just puts me in the right frame of mine for the rest of the day. If I get breakfast from the drive-thru then forget it, I might as well go back to bed because the rest of my food decisions are horrendous.

The same goes for exercise. If I exercise first thing in the morning I make positive choices the rest of the day. I feel good, energized, and ready to take on the world. Without exercise I become a couch slug. Again, these are based on my personal observations.

So, if I start my day with exercise, and a nutritious green smoothie, I am setting the rest of my day up for success. If I don’t then well I need to be prepared for the challenges that follow those decisions.

#2 No sleep

I can’t function without sleep. It’s amazing I survived the sleep deprivation of the infant years. When I am tired I am unmotivated, lazy, and do not make good choices. I don’t seem to care what foods I eat and I actually find myself craving comfort fatty foods when I am tired. I drink more coffee which means more creamer and that equals extra calories I don’t need.

It has become apparent that my healthy lifestyle depends on getting adequate sleep. I am more alert and make better choices throughout the day.

Obviously, I don’t always have control over my sleep pattern (kids getting sick, emergencies, etc.) but for the most part I do. So, I do my best to make sure I go to bed at a decent time and set up my environment to support 7-8 hours of sleep.

#3 No weekend strategy

Weekends get me all the time. I pride myself on meal and exercise planning during the week but then Saturday hits and it’s like a free for all. Embarrassingly, I actually just discovered this. Believe it or not but it never occurred to me that my weekends were sabotaging all my work done during the week. It wasn’t until a reader asked me about my weekend strategy that I realized I didn’t have one. It makes so much sense to have one and now I know my weight loss efforts have struggled because of my lack of planning. I do find preparing a weekend strategy a little challenging because weekends can be so unpredictable but I am determine to create a strategy that works for me. Stay tuned for more information on this.

#4 Leftovers and scraps

A few years ago I wrote a post called “the mom moments that made me fat”. It is still one of my most popular posts. One moment I talk about is eating my kids leftovers or scraps. I am sure many parents can relate. This was a huge obstacle for me and often still is. I hate throwing food out and some days I would eat the scraps in place of making my own dinner. Sad, but unfortunately it is true. This was an issue for a variety of reasons but the main issue is when I eat scraps I have no idea how much I am eating. 100 calories? 500 calories? Who knows? Not me and that’s a problem. When I don’t know the amount of calories I am eating then most likely I am eating too much.

Another issue with eating my kid’s leftovers is scraps don’t satisfy. So, not only am I eating too many calories but also my body’s not being satisfied which means I am still going to be hungry. All food scraps do is add a bunch of unaccounted calories to my diet. For these reasons I need to stay away from them.

#5 Food temptations in my house

In my experience, willpower should be saved for situations you don’t have control over (ex. parties). I don’t have good willpower when it comes to food in my house. If there is chocolate in my house, I will eat it. Cheez its? Gone. Pretzels? Forget about it. I will eat the whole bag. Reese Peanut Butter Cups? Don’t even go there. I can always be bribed with chocolate and peanut butter. Therefore, I do my absolute best to keep foods that tempt me out of the house.

Tapping into willpower at a party is much easier because you are only there for a couple hours. Most of us spend a lot of time in our homes so depending on your willpower when at home is not a realist weight loss strategy. There is no way I can stare at cookies all day and not eat one. Not possible. My best bet is to save my willpower for when I really need it. At home I practice discipline by keeping those temptations out of my house.

#6 Getting sick

I just recently had the flu and it was not a fun experience. Not only did getting sick derail my weight loss efforts but it also derailed every effort I had in my body to do anything. It was awful. I couldn’t clean, cook, work, or do anything. I was completely bed ridden for 5 days. The thing with getting sick is you never know when it will hit. So it is difficult to plan for it. I think the best thing to do is not stress and do all you can to get healthy as quick as possible. I also think it is helpful to stay ahead of the game. When I got sick I didn’t have anything prepared or planned out. I had no food prepped or in the freezer. I got sick on a Saturday so I barely had food in the refrigerator. We had no medicine in the house. So, while you can’t predict when you will get sick you can try to stay ahead of the game. The best way to do this is have a routine and stick to it. But the best advice is to take care of yourself and try to get back into the swing of things as soon as you can.

Even though you can’t always predict when you will get sick you can try to prevent illness by creating a healthy lifestyle of eating nutritious foods, exercise, and getting enough sleep. If all else fails then just rest and take care of you.

#7 Unprepared when leaving the house

If we are going to spend a lot of time on the road or out of the house I try to remember to bring snacks with me because nothing sends me to the drive-thru faster than two kids whining they are hungry. And once the drive-thru is chosen that creates a domino effect of bad food choices throughout the day. It just the way it is so I do my best to stay away from all fast food. As with many things in life the key is to be prepared. Usually, I bring our water bottles, cheese sticks, and some lara bars with us. If anything needs to be refrigerated I will pack it in a small cooler bag with some dry ice. Having healthy snacks available when we leave the houe has saved me money and many unnecessary calories.

#8 Eating frequently at restaurants

As much as I love to cook I equally love to go out to dinner. However, a restaurant menu can have a whole page of healthy options and for some reason I still order fries. I have a really hard time making the “good” choices at restaurants. For this reason I try to keep my time in restaurants limited. This way I can enjoy the naughty foods without feeling guilty because it is a treat and not an everyday meal.

#9 Spending too much time in the “hot zone”

The “hot zone” happens when you are not prepared to deal with the situation at hand or are caught off guard. For me it is a place of desperation and stress. I do not make positive healthy choices when I am in the “hot zone”. The only choices that happen are ones that help me survive the situation. For example, heading to the vending machine because I am starving. Once in a while this is not an issue but if I am grabbing a candy bar every day because I am not prepared with a healthy snack then yes that will become a problem. In my experience, it is really important to create an environment that keeps my “hot zone” under control. If I don’t control my environment then it will control me.

#10 Slacking with accountability

This one is huge for me! I need to be held accountable or else I slip. There are times I think I can slack, not track my food, or do my weekly weigh in but then my tight jeans quickly remind me that I need structure. If I don’t portion out and track my food then I need to depend on my eyeballs and my eyes are not always honest. Or if I am eating small bites while cooking dinner or snacking without paying attention then it is only a matter of time before I start gaining weight. Staying accountable by tracking my food, weighing in, and writing my blog keeps me intentional with my weight loss efforts. I need that and probably always will.

I don’t want you to get discourage by this blog post. The point is to help you become self-aware of some of the things in your own environment that could be derailing your weight loss efforts. Remember, you can’t change what you don’t know. When you know better then you can do better.

Would you add anything else to this list? What are your tips and/or thoughts to help keep your weight loss efforts from being sabotaged?

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  1. Thank you so much for writing this-it is exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I’m down 65 pounds in 18 months and am struggling with the last 15 pounds. I have a battle with my willpower, cheetos and red wine every evening. Typically my willpower loses. But, you are so correct-if I start my day out right with a workout and my protein smoothie, it sets the tone for the remainder of my day. Wearing my FitBit and logging into MyFitnessPal is also a huge factor in how my day turns out as well.

  2. Jennifer says:

    The biggest weight loss problem for me has been menopause . I’ve always been an active vegetarian and weighed 135-145. Then I hit my late 40s and bam! 15-20 pounds almost overnight. I haven’t been able to lose it and it’s been 5 years!

  3. Denise Hank says:

    Thank you for this post. I see myself in every one of these situations. I have joined WW many times over the years. Have lost the weight only to gain it back. This time I have been a member for over 6 months and still weigh the same as when i started only because I keep losing and gaining the same 5lbs over and over. I know the program works if you follow it, I’m not following it, throwing money out the window and feeling disgusted with myself every time I look in the mirror. This post is just what I needed, a swift kick in the butt! Thank you!

  4. Kemistrea says:

    Thanks for sharing! I have been a WW lifetime member for almost two years but I gained 10 of 20 pounds back and your article sums up the reasons. Especially the morning routine. If I eat a high carb breakfast, I am battling with my blood sugar all day – and I’m not diabetic 🙂

  5. neansai says:

    Since 2009, I’ve lost 100 pounds, gained back 20. I came across your blog today and it’s just what I need to help me get back on track. Speaking of being ‘on track,’ even during this period of gaining weight, I’ve tracked everything. I’ve been tempted to ignore the weight gain and quit tracking, but I know that acknowledging it and continuing to track will get me going back in the right direction. I’m currently wavering between following Weight Watchers or using My Fitness Pal. I have a free month of online WW coming, so I’ll keep using it, but then I think I’ll use MFP. I’m finding WW lets me be a bit too dishonest with myself regarding the amount of food I’m eating because fruit and veggies are ‘free.’ I also need to remember that in general, pastas and grains are not my friends on a day-to-day basis. Going to download your book now.

  6. Needed to see this today!! I started my morning with a cookie and pringles and as I ate it I knew this was going to make the rest of the day hard for me. These so apply to me!! Like Denise I have lost and gained the same 10 lbs. I need to lose an additional 10-15 but I get off the rails for some reason every time and it is a slippery slope. Thanks again!!

  7. Jennifer W says:

    Thank you so, so much. Your honesty with your weight loss journey. I love it. I have been following you now for about 100 plus days (how long I’ve been using my fitness pal).
    Your recipes, especially salads have really helped me. I am now down 10lbs. It was not an easy feat. My goal is another 10lbs. I have stalled out despite really upping my exercise. I’m trying to see this as a new way of living but it’s HARD! Such great advice in this article, thanks again.

  8. margaux milchen says:

    I have lost 21.5 lbs and have about 100 to go. I always have 3 eggs for breakfast. on the weird occasion that I can’t or don’t have time,…a low carb yogurt with Flax meal in it or stopping for a to go salad a 7-11 (check calories…i do), works. I don’t always have time for lunch, so breakfast is very very important.

  9. Teresa (Tc4IowaState) says:

    I want to thank you for always being a new post in the morning on my Facebook Page. I need you and this week is one of those starting over weeks. I started again last Sunday tracking sincerely on MFP.
    This week my co-worker is off on another “diet” adventure and wanted me to go on her trip with the MLM diet patch.
    I need you and other good healthy eating plans to keep popping into my world. I know there is no quick fix and spending $150 on something you have no idea what it is going into your body seems nuts. I hate prescription medicine…that is iffy at it’s best.
    I will stick to the healthy choices and be sincere in my choices. I love the Plan to Eat also. Just need to use it better.
    Have a great day!

    • Thanks so much for this message. I am right with you. I find it very useful to read motivational posts in the morning. Its when I am sitting down and just thinking about everything. It is a great time to reflect and refocus. So glad you find my info helpful. I will make sure to keep sharing post every morning.

  10. Tammi Holland says:

    I have lost 43 pounds since February 2014. I’m 5’4″ , 55 years old and I weighed 180 – my highest ever! What finally motivated me was I developed adult onset asthma – I’ve never smoked but grew up around second hand smoke so who knows. I have been on every “diet” known to man haha. I have learned you can’t diet. You have to change your life and develop different habits. You can eat a recee cup or three but only once a month not daily. I try to eat healthy 95% of the time and that way when I don’t it doesn’t ruin or undo what I’ve done and the most important thing I’ve learned is that I’m human and I forgive myself if I’m not perfect. You don’t have to wait until tomorrow to restart eating healthy you can do it right now. Diet is a negative term. I like “live-it” much better.

  11. Spot on! Leaving the house unprepared gets me every time. Another big one for me is shopping when I am hungry. For whatever reason, I turn into one of Pavlov’s dogs at the Target checkout line when I see all that candy! I have found that if I have a protein bar or something in my bag, I will skip the candy and eat the healthier choice in the car.

  12. I could have written this exactly word for word. My biggest problem is accountability. How do you handle this?

  13. Vivian Aspinall says:

    Thank you for your posts. You make me laugh out loud frequently. Listening to someone who thinks like me, has similar challenges and a sense of humour encourages me. One hurdle for me was making changes that my husband and son might not like. Cutting out things they were use to eating. Most of my food changes have been less meat, more veg and fruit. I do not buy temptations — except occasionally because of them. I must say they have been extremely supportive and tolerating of new recipes, new foods etc. Thank you for your support!

  14. Beth Sterosky says:

    Thank you for all you do and all you share.

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