You know better than anyone, dropping pounds is no easy feat.
It’s a seemingly constant struggle that leaves you tired, hangry, disappointed, and frustrated. Despite doing everything you’re told — literally everything — the scale doesn’t budge.
At this point, you’ve heard it all. You’ve worked with trainers, you’ve tried several diets, you’ve cut all kinds of calories, and you gave your exercise routine a real shot … but you’re still stuck.
You don’t need more “expert” information, another educational video or article, or additional (unsolicited) advice from personal trainers, friends, family, and coworkers that you’ve heard before.
You want the secret reasons you’re not losing weight. The stuff that isn’t plastered all over the internet, and the kind of things most fitness professionals either don’t know, or won’t tell you.
We find many of our clients are unknowingly sabotaging their own weight-loss efforts. Before you abandon all hope, take a look at the 9 hush-hush reasons you’re not losing weight below.
Keep scrolling to reveal the secret reasons you’re not losing weight, so you can burn fat, tone up, radiate self-confidence, and be proud of what you see in the mirror everyday. We all want to be comfortable in our own skin, after all.
Would you rather blast fat or lose weight? While most of us say we want to lose weight, blasting fat can remove inches (yes, inches) from problem areas like your waist, stomach, and thighs. Let’s be real: That’s what you actually want. When you blast fat, people notice. When you lose weight, it’s tough to tell. The truth is you can drop fat and inches without seeing significant weight-loss on the scale.
Rather than relying on the scale as your only way to measure results, try taking body measurements every 2-4 weeks to track inches lost. All it takes is a few minutes of your time and a measuring tape. This 3-minute video shows you exactly how to get your measurements and track those inches you’re sweating away.
Despite a Master’s Degree in nutrition, Charmaine Jackson didn’t lose weight until she began journaling. In this 2013 feature on her incredible transformation, Jackson credited her journal for helping her lose half of her body weight - a total of 130 pounds! She refers to it as the “truth serum” that made her get “honest with herself” and identify bad habits like mindless eating and emotional eating.
So, are you journaling? Stop playing the guessing game. You can’t set a goal, track progress, or identify issues without a journal. Keep a daily food log and an exercise journal to track your workouts. This self-monitoring process is simple, yet shockingly effective (and one most skip over). If pen and paper isn’t for you, here’s a quick comparison of the 5 most popular meal-tracking apps you can instantly download on your phone.
Accept the fact that your weight will fluctuate several pounds a day. While seeing an increased number on the scale (no matter how small) is certainly frustrating, you can’t use that frustration as an excuse to give up. It’s completely normal for your weight to go up and down day-to-day. Salty foods, water intake, hormones, happy hour, and bathroom breaks (or lack thereof) all have an immediate impact on the number the scale spits out.
Per the experts, unless your weight stays elevated for nearly a week, fluctuations are a part of the weight-loss cycle. Rather than living and dying by the scale, weigh yourself weekly and measure your body every 2-4 weeks as discussed earlier. Measurements and weight give you a one-two punch of results you can rely on.
Lack of sleep increases hunger and appetite, while also leading to fatigue and reduced physical activity. Thus, people who don’t get enough sleep tend to reach for unhealthy foods and snacks that ultimately lead to overeating. Tack on the fact that your body can’t fully recover from exercise without sleep, and you have plenty of reasons to hit the hay early tonight :).
Cut caffeine in the afternoon, turn off the TV and ditch the cell phone at least an hour before bed, and ensure your room is dark and cool to promote high-quality slumber. Shoot for 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night to aid your weight-loss efforts.
Is a cheat meal going to kill you? No. But how often does your cheat meal turn into a cheat day? A cheat weekend? Or, a cheat week? I mean, who says no to ice cream after pizza, biscotti after pasta, and beer, burgers, and wings for an epic day of eating? Sorry for making you salivate (I’m wiping the drool from my keyboard)...
The problem with cheating is it’s hard to do just once. Let’s be honest: When it comes to food, it takes epic self-control to have just one slice of pizza, to swap fries for salad, and to go with the grilled tenders over the fried options at places like Chick-fil-A and Buffalo Wild Wings. If you’re overindulging too much, it will show up on the scale. And now that you’re journaling, you might see you’re cheating far more than you thought. Here are some tips to control your cheating and avoid the overeating that’s holding you back from significant weight loss.
Are you like a squirrel everytime you see a nut? Touted as a healthy snack (and easily the most delicious “healthy” snack out there), we often forget that nuts are only doing good if we severely limit our portion sizes. Half a bag of peanuts at the ballgame is a problem. A small handful of 8-10 unsalted almonds is the not-so-glamorous option that come with health benefits.
Beyond the tiny serving sizes, not all nuts are created equal. Many are coated in salt and sugar (you already knew those were bad), while others are ridiculously calorie dense … and still coated with “toppings.” Stick to a small handful of plain almonds, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, or pistachios once per day. If you so much as reach for the bag again, you know the calories you’re getting from nuts are an issue.
Sugar, artificial ingredients, and empty calories are common culprits in supplements. There’s a reason our ancestors thrived on whole-food diets, and we can do the same. Sure, supplements can be great on the go and when you’re in a bind, but they can do more harm than good if you’re taking the wrong stuff too often. If you don’t believe us, just ask the experts at Harvard, who wholeheartedly agree with our assessment.
Your best bet is to eat whole foods as often as possible and fill in the gaps with appropriate supplements. Audit the nutrition facts and ingredients on all of the products you buy. Look for low-calorie options with minimal ingredients. If it has more than 5-6 ingredients, toss it out. If you can’t pronounce any of the ingredients, they’re likely garbage. And if it has more than a few grams of carbs or sugars, it’s gotta go. If it managed to pass all of these tests, still use it sparingly :).
While Khloe Kardashian isn’t our go-to nutrition expert, she is the poster child for being wary of dairy after claiming she lost 11 pounds in just 6 weeks by nixing the products. Sure, cutting dairy helps you reduce sugar, carbs, and of course calories (though we can say the same about other food groups), but it also helps control bloating, gas, and inflammation due to sensitivity.
While that’s more than enough to convince you to limit your dairy intake, we must also acknowledge that a dairy allergy or intolerance could be playing a part in your stagnant weight loss. After all, it is one of the most common allergies. While an allergy or intolerance doesn’t guarantee weight gain, the symptoms can be catalysts to weight gain by preventing you from exercising and increasing cravings as you battle thing like fatigue, stomach pain, and nausea.
We’ve already touched on the weight loss cycle and expected daily fluctuations, but there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to water weight. The underlying problem with water weight comes down to two things: Sodium and carbohydrates. High sodium diets (think chowing down on your favorite salty foods; #bacon), make us retain water. In fact, we’ve heard just one teaspoon of extra salt can store an extra two pounds of water.
As for carbs, glycogen — a carbohydrate produced by the body — binds to water. When you first start on a low-carb diet, you can expect to lose water weight quickly as your body’s glycogen stores are depleted, and less water is retained. While this is a welcomed sign for most, it also means the opposite is true: An increase in carb intake while on a low-carb diet can cause an immediate increase in water weight as glycogen stores are renewed. This piece from verywellfit goes deeper into the science behind glycogen and low-carb diets. Fair warning: It might feel like entering ‘The Matrix’ on first glance.
At this point, we hope you’ve identified a few of the culprits that might be stalling your weight loss. If you scrolled right through hoping for answers, here’s a brief recap of what could be to blame:
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