A question that we sometimes hear is “Why haven’t I lost weight even though I have been eating better and exercising?”
When you’ve committed to a lifestyle change and you are waiting for results, it’s really discouraging when the number on the scale won’t budge or you still can’t get into your “skinny” jeans. There’s several reasons this could be happening, so I’ve put together a list of what may be holding you back from meeting your goal weight. They won’t all apply to you, so don’t assume that you are failing at them all, but read through to see what you could improve on!
- Eating too little: we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that the less calories we consume, the more weight we’ll lose. Our bodies are a lot more complicated than that, and actually require a substantial amount of calories in order to function, and in order to lose weight. Stop counting calories all the time and start eating more intuitively, paying attention to your hunger cues and cravings. Eat slowly and consciously, enjoying your meals, and you’ll be less likely to overeat or undereat.
- Eating too much processed food: Similarly to the calorie counting myth, many people assume they can eat whatever they want, as long as it’s low in calories or fat or carbs, but these foods tend to be heavily processed. Think diet pop, low fat yogurt, “lean” frozen dinners, deli meat, and other “diet foods” marketed as being healthy. These offer little nutritional value, and are taxing on the liver and kidneys, which have to filter out the waste and byproducts that our bodies can’t use. This burden on the organs can make it difficult to shed unwanted fat.
- Drinking your calories: When you’re cleaning up what you eat, remember to think about what you drink. Juice, milk, soda, alcohol…they all are high in calories, sugar, and heavily processed ingredients, and they add up faster than you think. Water should be your primary beverage, perhaps supplemented with some tea or coffee, but try and stick to those options for the most part.
- Rewarding yourself too often: Eating well and exercising definitely means you have room to indulge sometimes, but it’s important to limit those rewards. Don’t get into the routine of enjoying a muffin from your favourite coffee shop after every workout because you “earned it.” If you feel like indulging once a week or so, treat yourself to 1 meal, but keep it at that. As often as you can, give yourself non-food rewards, such as letting yourself sleep in on your day off, buying a new outfit, or getting a massage.
- Too much alcohol: Similar to eating too much processed food, alcohol is incredibly hard on the liver, as it’s essentially a poison that your body has to break down and excrete as quickly as possible. It’s also high in calories, but not a kind that are easily used for energy, so they are stored as fat.
- Eating worse than you think: You may think you are eating healthy but there is always room for improvement. Educate yourself on what is actually healthy – for example, Caesar salad is worse than you think with the bacon, creamy dressing, croutons, and cheese. Additionally, that diet soda you think will help you lose weight may be making you crave sugar! Look at your diet and be honest with yourself; Could you be doing better? What could you cut back on or add in?
- Over-Supplementing: The protein industry is massive. People are downing anywhere from 30-100+ grams of protein per day from bars and powders, when they probably don’t need to. That’s right, many people are now over-consuming protein assuming they “need” it, when they most likely get enough from their food. Protein products are highly processed, too, making them an offender for point number 2, and the majority of them are not easily digested.
- Not getting enough rest and sleep: Sleep is more important than you realize and can hinder your weight loss severely. Aim for 8 hours when you can, but I know that isn’t always realistic. Try your best to get at least 7 hours – you will notice a huge change in your mood, productivity, and energy levels. Make sure your mattress is really comfortable, and adjust your environment as necessary. Need a fan, noise machine, ear plugs, black out curtains, or weighted blanket? It’s worth it!
Still not losing? Change things up. Once your body strengthens and adapts to your workout, it will no longer be a challenge. Change things up by doing different exercises, increasing weight, or switching up the number of reps and sets. As your workout intensity and frequency increases or decreases, keep in mind that your diet needs will also fluctuate. More working out means you will need more calories to properly recover. Try not to eat the same foods too consistently, our bodies love a variety of foods and this will help to prevent a plateau. If you’re still not losing weight but have an excess of body fat, you may need to speak to your doctor about possible underlying issues around weight.