I often am asked “Why can’t I lose weight?”…
or told “I’ve lost 20 lbs. and can’t seem to get rid of the last 10!” or “Nothing I do is working”.
It’s difficult to stay motivated when you’re making changes to your lifestyle and not seeing changes to your body.
First, remember that weight loss isn’t linear. You will usually lose a few pounds of water in the first few weeks of starting a new eating regime. However, there will be weeks that you see no difference in weight, or even a slight increase. Totally normal! Maybe you’re exercising and converting your fat to muscle? Maybe you’re not drinking enough? Maybe you’re expecting your body to change in lightening speed?
Second, remember that gaining weight didn’t happen overnight, so losing it won’t happen that way either. Practice patience, you won’t be sorry.
Making any change is difficult, making changes to your body is even more difficult. You want to see a difference. You want to be rewarded for your hard work by having the body you want, right now. But sometimes our actions actually stall our results. (Yup! That sucks!)
Here are some reasons why you may not be losing weight:
You’re not eating enough!
It is very possible that you cut back too much on your food and your body is literally confused. Because your body needs food for fuel, it can freak out and hold onto fat and even slow the metabolism because the lack of nutrients makes it feel sluggish. So, eat a variety of foods that make you feel satisfied (not hungry when you finish eating). Eat healthy snacks like apples with peanut butter or veggies with hummus. Don’t cut out entire food groups. It may help in the short term, but the results will be very difficult to maintain.
Aim for three healthy meals (protein, fiber, and healthy fats or starch). Try to include one to two snacks daily as well. Everyone has different needs, you have to find what works for you: your schedule, your hunger, and your energy levels.
You’re not drinking enough!
And I’m not talking about coffee and wine! I’m sure you’ve got that down like a champ. I’m talking about good old-fashioned water. Our bodies need water to meet our basic needs like helping to digest food, keeping our bowels moving (I know, no one wants to talk about poop), and adding moisture to hair, skin and nails. Not to mention that your body uses water to regulate body temperature and to help keep joints “cushioned”.
So, if you’re increasing your exercise, you should be increasing your water intake as well. I aim for about ½ my body weight in ounces. For example, if I were 150lbs, I’d aim for 75 ounces of water per day.
You’re exercising too much!
Exercise is great! It helps us sleep better, strengthens our cardiovascular system, and can increase our lean muscle. It also can reduce our risk of developing diseases (like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol). Exercise can truly improve your overall quality of life.
Too much exercise, however, can be counterproductive. It can lead to injury, physical exhaustion, and sleep disturbances. Also, too much exercise can wreak havoc on our hormones, eventually disrupting our body’s ability to burn fat effectively.
So, aim for 30 minutes of movement daily (as an average). Let go of the idea of “no pain, no gain”. Listen to your body. Make your workouts fun. And rest when you need to!
You’re not sleeping well!
Lack of sleep has been linked to increased irritability, cravings for sweet and starchy snacks, and even a decrease in libido. Not to mention, there can also be a decrease in cognitive functioning and focus.
Doctor’s recommend 7-9 uninterrupted hours of sleep per night. But as a fellow mom, let me tell you, I totally understand that that’s a luxury. It’s rare that my sleep is uninterrupted. It’s even more rare that it totals 7-9 hours daily. But I do my best. Try to get to bed just 15 minutes earlier than you normally do. Turn off your electronics. Sleep in a cozy, dark room.
You’re not lifting weights!
I have friends who are avid runners and really love it (ugh, I just can’t). But their weight doesn’t change and they are frustrated as hell. I hear “I run five days a week!!! How am I not losing weight?” My answer: You need to lift weights!
Lifting weights challenges your body in a way that cardio just can’t. Don’t get me wrong, running is great, especially for heart health and stamina. But if you’re looking to change your physique….. weights are the way to go!
Lifting weights will help you to increase your strength (and no you won’t bulk up), boost your confidence, decrease body fat and increase lean muscle, and even help to decrease your stress!
And my favorite part is: weights will help you burn more calories and even have you burning fat for up to 24 hours after your workout! When you have an intense workout, more oxygen is consumed in the body, helping to break down fat stores. This process is called EPOC.
Before you get too frustrated, ask yourself some important questions and reflect on where you can improve:
- Am I eating enough? And in a variety? 3 meals and 1-2 snacks daily?
- Am I drinking enough water? About ½ my body weight in ounces?
- Am I overdoing my exercise? Is my body exhausted? Average 30 minutes of movement daily.
- Am I sleeping enough (as much as life will allow me to?) 7-9 hours daily?
- Am I adding in some weight training? 2-3 days per week.
Make changes where you can and remember to practice patience. Slow progress is better than no progress. And slower weight loss is more sustainable.
Don’t give up. Your best is yet to come!