Wondering why you aren’t losing weight? You’ve done every diet known to [wo]man, you slog for hours on the treadmill, maybe you’re even doing high intensity interval training and you’re just not seeing results. You’re frustrated. No, dammit! You’re angry. You’ve been doing everything right. You’re working so hard. Why aren’t you losing weight?
I’m going to share with you the obstacles that I’ve run into along my physique transformation journey and the solutions that I’ve found.
Why You Aren’t Losing Weight
You are trying to make too many changes at once, in too many areas of your life. It is too much, too fast. You’ve radically overhauled your diet and your exercise habits. You tend to be all or nothing and go to extremes. I know all about this one. I think I’m SUPER WOMAN– dut dutta dah! I am going to over haul my body, my relationships, my work, my home, my spiritual practice IF IT KILLS ME! Then it kinda does. Well, at least it makes me really sick.
STOP IT!! No seriously, you have to do some serious work on your priorities. Everything cannot by definition be priority, since priority means first. You have to give up a lot of mediocre to have a little of great. Tweet This.
Not enough sleep
Why you aren’t losing weight could be as simple as lack of sleep. Lack of sleep causes you to eat more and causes you to be less likely to workout. With less sleep you are also less likely to have an effective workout. You are also more prone to injury during your workouts. Your muscles can’t grow and your body can’t recover from your training sessions without rest, recovery, and sleep.
You gotta get you some sleep. 6 hours is good. 8 is better.
You are taking in more energy than you are expending
This is the number one reason why you aren’t losing weight. Most people underestimate their caloric intake and overestimate their exercise. For a study on this go here. Bring awareness to your eating and exercise habits. You may have to weigh your food, count your calories, and log your exercise and approximate calories burned. Not forever. Just until you get a good idea of the amounts you are eating and caloric density of those foods.
I am so guilty of this one. For years I thought, “Well, I’m a dahhncer. I just won’t eat meat or any fat and dahhhnce every day. How can I help but develop long, lean muscles when I’m dahhhncing? (and eating as much as I want) That got me what? You guessed it. Extra fat on me and those long, lean muscles? Not so much.
Keep track of your habits. Journal your daily food intake and your daily exercise and movement habits. Even being accountable in this small way can boost your progress.
You’re sedentary or your exercise isn’t vigorous
This was the other piece to the weight gain of my college dancing days. Sometimes I would have a particularly vigorous dance class, but mostly it was fairly tame. And unless I was dancing allllll day, I simply wasn’t using up enough energy. (there were a couple semesters when I was dancing all day and the physique difference was obvious).
I hate to break it to you, but even if you’re training 3 hours/week in the gym, but work at a desk job–you’re sedentary. It’s not just what you do in the gym that counts, but what you are doing the rest of the hours in your week.
If you’re just walking, or doing “cardio”, start a strength training program. Subscribe to this blog to get the basic Body Weight Workout ebook (Its FREE!) to get you started.
If you are already strength training or lifting weights, maybe you need to challenge yourself more and be lifting heavier. Lift something heavy enough that you can only do about 5 quality reps. The last couple of reps should feel like you’re not going to make it–but you do.
If you’re already doing challenging strength training, try adding in some high intensity interval training 1x/week.
If you’re completely inactive everywhere but the gym (or during your workouts), then incorporate light activity into your “off” days–walking, climbing at the playground, dancing, hooping, jumping on a trampoline–whatever is FUN for you that keeps you moving.
If you need someone to help you design a smart, effective, fun program, talk to me.
You’re Working out too much
Wait a minute! You just said….? I know completely opposite, but when you exercise a ton, with heavy intensity, for long periods of time every day, your body will naturally want to replace the energy it burned. Your body always wants homeostasis. (Which is whatever it is used to.) So, you will then rabidly devour everything in sight and just replace everything you burned off and often more. Totally defeating. Endurance athletes often run into this problem. They log lots of miles, and get super hungry.
Find your edge, your tipping point where more exercise becomes too much. If you’ve been doing 5-7 days/week hardcore exercise, start by scaling back 1 or 2 days. See if you can do just 3 days per week of good quality strength training and maybe 1 day of high intensity interval work.
You’ve got the wrong information
“Just don’t eat carbs and you’ll lose weight!” or “Eat vegan (paleo, south beach, according to your blood type etc. etc.) There is this myth out there that following a certain diet will automatically produce weight loss.(Hint: weight loss is about calories in/calories out)
Here’s some more myths: Just do lots of cardio/aerobics for weight loss. Don’t lift more than 5lbs. Just work your abs, and do crunches.
Here’s another. Losing weight is easy. NOT TRUE. Weight loss can be VERY HARD.
It can be difficult to find sources of credible information. And remember, everyone is going to have their own slant to things, depending on their experience, and yes they are trying to sell you something. So, some tips for you:
- find someone who has accomplished what you want to accomplish (Weight loss? Find someone who’s done it and been successful. Strength? Find a power lifter)
- Put on your B.S. detector. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Take what works for you and leave the rest.
- Here are some resources that I trust for good information on fat loss, strength,and muscle building.: Girls Gone Strong and Tom Venuto.
Maybe you ARE making progress
But you just can’t see it. Progress is not made in a linear fashion. You progress. You plateau. You progress. You plateau. Then you make a huge leap. Sometimes you might stall out for weeks before you start making progress again. This is normal.
Don’t just depend on the scale for feedback. Make sure you take pictures every 2-4 weeks (yes in your undies or bathing suit). Are your clothes getting bigger, fitting differently? Are your measurements smaller? Are people commenting on your weight loss? Try looking at yourself in different mirrors. Remember, you see yourself every day and it can be hard to notice the small changes.
Lack of support
People you live or work with sabotage your progress by surrounding you with lots of junk food. Or you don’t have an exercise buddy. Others in your family don’t consider health and well being a priority.
Have a heart to heart with your partner, family, friends, co-workers. Ask a good friend to go on this journey with you. This one can be tough since you have no control over the actions of other people. Ultimately, you can only control your actions, so it’s best to focus there. Getting a coach also helps.
You don’t want it badly enough
to sacrifice something else, to go through the pain of changing. Change is harder than we think. Sometimes MUCH harder. You may discover that being lean (or whatever your goal is) is not worth that much effort. If something is your first priority you WILL do whatever it takes to get it.
Get brutally honest with yourself about your priorities and what you truly want. It can take some time and soul searching. You’ll learn a lot about yourself. Trust me, I’ve been making some
tough gut-wrenching decisions lately and it’s not easy. But when you figure it out you will feel a lot lighter. Sometimes what you thought you wanted was what somebody else wanted you to want, or what you thought you should want. And it’s okay if you decide that weight loss is not your first priority. It can’t always be and it shouldn’t always be.
If losing weight is truly your Most Important Thing in your life right now (you’ll know if you feel like you’d die if you didn’t do it), then you will buckle down, search out the knowledge and methods you need, and do it.
You already have a low or healthy level of body fat
The lower your body fat percentage is the harder it is to lose more. Your body needs some fat in order to survive and be healthy and it will do all it can to hang onto that. That level is different for different people. 20-22% is a normal healthy range for women. Some women find it tough to go much below 18-20% without running into problems (physical and psychological). Other women can be fine at 15% or lower. Understand that 10-13% bodyfat, with visible, ripped, 6 pack abs, is competitive physique level and is NOT realistic to maintain every day year round. Physique competitors are counting every morsel that goes into their mouth for weeks.
Yeah, you don’t really want to do that–do you?
Maybe your body is at its genetic set point and without Herculean effort and possible risks to your health and sanity is just not going to lose anymore. Find ways to love and approve of yourself as you are. Be proud not just of how your body looks, but of what your body has done, can do, and will do! Tweet This.
Be strong! Be Beautiful!
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