Losing weight. The dreaded notion that invigorates some and scares the mess out of the rest. It’s not breaking news that America is facing an obesity epidemic. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it doesn’t really matter what someone looks like when they carry too much excess fat. The same American society that is overweight is also obsessed with image, so too often it does matter (for the wrong reasons) what someone looks like. The real focus shouldn’t be on how you look or how skinny you can become, but rather how healthy you can become. If you can focus on your health and wellness through exercise and what you eat, weight loss will come and the aesthetics of how you look will be a bonus. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look your best, but don’t make it your only focus or forget about feeling your best first.

Listen up, guys. Don’t get caught in these weight loss traps! When you make the decision to change some habits or get healthier, you are going to have information overload as ads and opinions are thrown at you from all directions. Have a plan and don’t let common sense die. You’ll get trapped with only the possibility of a struggle to get out. Here are some common weight loss traps to avoid:

Drink only diet soft drinks! Soda, or “pop”, used to be made with real sugar. It was replaced by the cheaper and worse-for-you high fructose corn syrup. Next came diet drinks and all their promises of 1 calorie or no calories with artificial sweeteners. The artificial sweeteners aren’t any better for you than the high amount of sugar. Here’s a tip: don’t drink either. If you must have your fizzy fix, do it in proportion and maintain self-discipline. Always drink more water than anything else.

Check the scale! Nothing wrong with checking your weight periodically, but don’t obsess. This weight loss trap can make you think you aren’t making progress, because the number doesn’t show what you want it to show. This make it tough to stick to a plan. Try using a measuring tape for your waist circumference instead and focus on how your clothes are fitting. Remember: muscle tissue is denser than fat tissue, so it weights more. As you build muscle, you may maintain your weight or even gain weight.

Calories are bad for you! Calories are our energy source. Fruit is relatively high in calories based on the sugar content, but no one would tell you not to eat fruit. You do need a calorie deficit to lose weight, but it’s all based on how much you are working out. If you are training hard, you need calories to stay healthy and have energy for the day. Calories aren’t bad for you. Too many calories when you remain inactive is bad for you. Fat grams are much worse for you than calories.

You need to starve yourself to lose weight! This weight loss trap can be very dangerous for your health. This goes hand-in-hand with the notion that calories are bad for you. If you forego eating, your metabolism will actually slow down, because your body isn’t acting continuously as it should to burn calories.

It’s manly to eat a lot! This trap is especially for guys, as the peer pressure usually results in men thinking it’s a “guy thing” to stuff your face. Don’t be afraid to eat normal portions around your buddies.

You can lose 100 pounds and get as buff as Ryan Reynolds! Setting unrealistic goals is a major trap to avoid. If your expectations are so high that your only realistic chance is to fail, you will fail. Set small, attainable goals. Set these goals in segments. Once you achieve a small goal, move onto the next one until you’ve met all your small goals and ultimately your big goal. Don’t be afraid to set big goals, but be realistic and take small steps to get there.