If losing weight is your goal, then it can be frustrating to not see the results that you are hoping for. First of all I just want to reiterate what I am always saying, and what is a theme throughout this blog - focus on health! The number on the scale is not something that you should let take over your life. How do you feel? Do your clothes fit better? Can you run faster and further and lift heavier? These are all great things to keep track of, and despite seeing changes in those areas, sometimes the scale does just not move. Don't let it get you down. As long as you are making positive changes, then you are becoming a healthier person and that is what matters.
However, saying that, I still wouldn't write the scale off completely. It can still be a good guide and keeping track of it is nice to be able to look back on. As long as you don't obsess over it and you are aware of all the things that can make that number on the scale change (not just your eating and exercise, or lack of), then it can be a good tool to use alongside other things like a measuring tape and health checks.
Sometimes we feel like we are just doing everything right and there is still no change. Not on the scale, or with your clothes and you just don't feel any different. I have been there, a few times, but I managed to move through it with a lot of trial and error to see what needed changing.
I thought I would write a post about all the different things that might be contributing to not seeing any changes. Remember that everyone is different though, and this is just a guide.
- You are not eating enough: It can be so difficult to change our way of thinking from years of having it drummed in to us that we must severely restrict our calories in order to lose weight. This simply isn't true. You need to make sure you are eating enough for your body to work effectively. Think of your body as a car - you need to make sure it has enough fuel in it so it runs properly. A 1200 calorie a day "diet" is just not going to cut it. Sure, you might see an initial weight loss, but it will stall at some point and when you eat more, because 1200 calories is not sustainable, the weight will come back. I am going to be writing a full post on this soon.
- You are not measuring your food: I don't measure things like salad, fruit or vegetables, as none of them ever made me overweight, but things like olive oil for salads, I always measure out a tablespoon. I find that if I just free pour it, then I can easily add 2 tbsp instead of 1 and that is an extra 120 calories. That isn't a lot, but if you do that everyday, it all adds up. I also measure out things like nuts too, as I could easily eat 10 handfuls of almonds a day.
- Alcohol: As much as it pains me to say it, as I do enjoy a glass *ahem - bottle* of wine or a cocktail, alcohol is not going to help your weight loss. It lowers your inhibitions, so you are more likely to make unhealthy food choices and it also is empty calories. Try not to drink your calories as it can add up very quickly without you even noticing.
- You are stressed: Stress is a huge contributor to weight gain and it can hinder weight loss. Stress causes the body to produce cortisol which can promote the storage of fat. Try to relax more and try something like yoga as part of your workout routine.
- You are eating too much salt: If I notice the number on the scale going up, but my eating is still pretty good, then it is usually because I have been adding a bit too much salt to my meals. You need salt in your diet, so please don't cut it out totally as it can make you ill, but if you are eating a lot of pre-packaged foods or sauces or adding salt to your food, then try cutting back on that and it should make a difference. When using salt, I prefer sea salt.
- You are gaining muscle: Pound for pound, muscle and fat weigh the same, but muscle is more dense, so it takes up less room than fat. The scale could be exactly the same, but you are getting smaller, so focus on that.
- You are not getting enough exercise: Nutrition is really, really important when it comes to weight loss and health in general, but making sure you are getting enough exercise is very important too. I try to do 4-5 hours each week.
- Picking: A bite, a lick, just a spoon full, just a handful and just a taste all add up if you are doing it throughout the day. For those of you who track your food, you might track all of your meals and "official" snacks, but what about all those bits you pick throughout the day? They can all add up!
- You are avoiding weights: Cardio is great, but don't think it is the only thing you should be doing. Weight training is very important for weight loss and generally building strength. Don't avoid it. You don't have to go to the gym, use your body weight. Things like push-ups and squats are great.
- What you think is healthy really isn't: I don't want to be the food police here, but most of the things that advertise themselves as being healthy really aren't. So you have decided you want to lose weight and get healthy. You go to the supermarket and stock on everything that says "low fat", "low calories" and "healthy". Right? Wrong. In my opinion that is. Fat and calories are not the enemy. Fat is important, as are calories - just make sure you are eating the right amounts and remember that not all fats are equal. The main thing you need to remember is that low fat "diet" foods are filled with junk. Fat is usually what gives things more of a flavour, so they add loads of things you can't pronounce and it gives it a longer shelf life too. Would you see an advert on the TV saying how healthy apples are? Probably not, because everyone knows they are. Anything that has to convince you that it is healthy is most likely not a good choice. Just focus on eating real food in the right amount. It is also a mental thing. If you eat something "low fat and healthy" then chances are you are not going to feel satisfied and you will end up eating the full fat version anyway and eat even more calories. Whereas you could have just had a small portion of the full fat version in the first place.
- You are not eating enough vegetables: Vegetables are full of fiber, which helps you to feel fuller for longer. Not to mention they are very nutritious.
- You are impatient: You can't expect huge changes overnight. If you have come to read this article because it has been a whole week and you are still not seeing the changes you want, then be more patient - it takes time. For some people, it takes months to see any real changes, as everyone's bodies react differently.
- You don't need to lose weight: Sometimes we want to lose more weight when our body is perfectly happy and healthy at the weight it is. Think about the reasons why you are wanting to lose weight and if you actually need to. Read my post about the last 10lbs.
- You eliminate entire food groups: This can lead to a nutrition deficiency and I think that unless you have a medical condition that requires you to eliminate them, you should just work on having a balanced diet, work on portion control and eat whole foods.
- You are not getting enough sleep: For most of us it seems like there are not enough hours in the day and in order to be able to fit our workouts in, we need to get up earlier. This can mean that you are tired and you don't have enough energy for your workouts. Lack of sleep can also slow down your metabolism too. Try to cut back in other areas, like TV and internet time.
- You are skipping breakfast: Is skipping a meal a day is going to help you lose weight quicker? No! You need to jump start your metabolism in the morning. Eating breakfast also stops you feeling starving by lunch time, which can mean you over eat.
- You have a medical issue: It is really important to seek advice from a trained medical professional to make sure that there is not an underlying reason as to why you are finding weight loss so difficult.
- You are on a diet: This is one of the most important ones. Skip the diets and just eat real food in the right amount for your lifestyle.
Read more about how I broke weightloss plateaus.
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