Too many of us have been there: You’ve been dieting for some time now. Day after day, you say no to the cookie and yes to the salad, even visiting the gym now and again. You step on the scale and leave despondent and disappointed every time.
Why am I not losing weight?
Maybe it’s something I’m doing wrong, you think. Hopeless and searching for answers that will hopefully give you your life back, you scour the internet and receive more mixed messages. It becomes hard to remain optimistic when you can’t for the life of you figure out what you’re supposed to do. Cut carbs to lose weight, one article instructs. Eat more carbs and lose weight, you read five minutes later.
All these promises and propositions for new diet rules and regimens become exhausting. You’ve tried everything. It must be something wrong with you.
We promise that there are perfectly rational and reasonable causes for your stalled weight loss. We’re here to teach them to you, so that hopefully you’ll leave this internet article feeling more empowered instead of falling victim to the thought that caring for your health is pointless. There are so many reasons you might not be losing the weight — and you probably haven’t thought of any of them.
Your body needs water to break down stores of fat. It’s a biological process, and it requires H2O. Breaking down fat is also not a vital process — so if your body’s short on its water supply, it will be one of the first things to stall. To encourage the breakdown of fats stored in your body, stay as hydrated as possible.
Stop it with the low-fat yogurt already. Those yogurt cups will leave you unsatisfied and hungry, all the while packing on added sugar and preservatives. The time for fearing fat is over: Studies have shown that healthy fats are more effective for weight loss than low-fat diets. Why? Because you need fats to carry out your everyday bodily functions, and if you don’t eat enough of them you’ll be hungry and tired and crave junk. It’s simple, really — now go grab an avocado.
It seems simple, but it’s the harsh truth. Societal ideals of weight are wavering around a BMI of 16 — a number the World Health Organization classifies as “severely thin.” Chances are, your ideal weight in terms of appearance isn’t your body’s ideal weight in terms of health, and you’re pushing it to be lower than the weight you healthfully need to be.
Mindfulness is defined by Time magazine as “the act of focusing attention on present-moment experiences.” Simply by taking the time to meditate, reflect, and be in the present moment, you can reduce stress and improve your overall health. Your hormone levels have been shown to balance, and you experience a drop in the amount of cortisol in your blood. Cortisol influences weight by encouraging your body to keep it on — when you’re mindful, that inhibition can float away.
When the body receives excess protein, it stores it as fat. We’re told over and over again that protein is an essential part of healthy eating and muscle building — and that’s completely true. However, you don’t need lean chicken breast, some eggs, a protein shake while you’re working out, and a protein bar later. Calm down with all the protein. If you’re eating chicken with dinner and eggs at breakfast, you’re already getting enough.
It’s true that high intensity interval training (HIIT) boosts your metabolism and workout performance quickly. However, if you’re doing high intensity workouts every day, the metabolic effects of those workouts begin to diminish. Instead, your body gets stressed out by the over-exercise and starts to slow down its metabolism, actually putting on weight. Alternate your high intensity workouts with some lower intensity strength building, yoga, and stretching to get the maximum benefit from your HIIT session.
Arguing with your craving for cupcakes isn’t going to make it go away — it’s going to make it stronger. Saying “no” to your favorite indulgent foods only adds fuel to the fire by making you want the thing you’re told you can’t have. It’s psychologically proven: Cravings and sugar addiction are a myth.
When you deprive yourself of these foods, you’re actually more likely to eat them in the long run, and in greater quantities. To deal with cravings effectively, indulge them. If you want a cupcake, eat the cupcake — we bet you’ll find that you’re satisfied with just one.
“Set Point Theory” is the scientifically-backed idea that there is a predetermined weight range considered ideal by your body’s biology. Your body will do anything it can to stay in that range. Some people have higher set points than others — it’s possible that yours is on the higher end, and that to be healthiest your body wants to be at the higher weight.
The human brain is a powerful thing. If you watch a cooking show, you get hungry. If you think you’re sick, you could become sick. If you think you’re going to be happy, you’re likely to be. In some dramatic cases of this phenomenon, women who think they’re pregnant (but aren’t) begin exhibiting signs of real pregnancy.
The same could be true about weight. What happens if you think you’re fat?
This phenomenon is the culprit behind yo-yo dieting. The first diet worked so well! And then, the weight all comes back and you have to do something even more extreme to get it off again.
When you lose more weight than your body is happy with, your metabolism decelerates in response. This is the reason contestants on shows such as The Biggest Loser gain all the weight they lost back and more. A dieter’s metabolism reacts to all the deprivation of a diet by storing as much energy as it can — just in case it will ever have to starve again. This is actually bodies being really smart. They’re protecting themselves from starvation!
A common diet pitfall is to eat small meals in an attempt to lose weight by eating fewer calories. Eating “only” a salad for dinner or saying no to side dishes might seem like a good idea in the moment, but you’re making a critical mistake. Eating less at meals sets you up for hunger, cravings, and overeating snack foods later.
Whatever you’re eating for dinner is likely more wholesome and nutritious than the snack foods you have on hand. Eat whole, full, bountiful meals of nutritious foods for optimal health.
Having a consistent, sufficient sleep schedule is crucial for healthy weight loss. When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re scientifically proven to be more likely to put on pounds. This is in part because you’re likely to snack when you’re awake at night and partly because you’ll compensate for exhaustion during the day by looking to food for energy.
It might seem like staying up late has no consequences, but your waistline does not agree.
We know you’ve heard the mantra “muscle weighs more than fat” over and over again — and it’s true. But what’s also true is that when you’re building muscle, you hold onto water weight. That’s the weight you gain due to water retention in your body — weight that has nothing to do with fat cells. If you’ve been hitting the gym and suddenly see the number on the scale go up, don’t panic. And don’t stop going to the gym! The weight gain is a temporary side effect to your muscles healing themselves after your workout. Those additional pounds will eventually recede.
A slowing metabolism is a natural part of aging. Trying to combat a slowing metabolism by dieting can make matters worse — lowering your caloric intake causes your metabolism to drop even further. Exacerbating the problem and becoming frustrated isn’t going to help anything. The best thing to do in this scenario is to continue living a healthy, balanced lifestyle and learn to love your body as it is, no matter how it’s changing.
When you enter a caloric deficit, your body lowers its metabolism in response. You might think that decreasing your calorie intake will result in weight loss, but in reality this bounces back in the long term. Some telltale signs you aren’t eating enough include headaches, constantly feeling cold, and feeling tired even when you sleep the full eight hours.
Depending on the type of sickness you experience, your body could react in all kinds of ways. However, it’s possible during your illness that you’ll put on a few pounds. Don’t fret about this change — just focus on getting better. Once you’re healthy again, your body will balance back out.
Stress of any kind — body stress, emotional stress, etc. — releases the hormone cortisol, which can cause unpleasant side effects including weight gain. To minimize the cortisol in your system, try to keep stress to a minimum. Stress-reduction tactics, such as meditating or listening to music, can also be effective.
Antidepressants and other medications have a direct effect on the hormone production in your body. Since hormones have a lot to do with regulating your metabolism, these pills can shake things up a bit and cause you to keep on weight or even gain weight no matter what you do. Remember during these times that your mental health is more important than the weight on the scale — and that an improvement in your mental health could help you love your body as is!
Whether it’s a marathon, a ballet recital, or a championship sports game, these types of events have you training morning, noon, and night. All that movement and all those hours spent practicing take a toll on your body. It gets stressed out and starts anticipating future hours upon hours of movement the only way it knows how — by holding onto fat. Fat is where your body holds its energy stores, and as long as you’re pushing yourself to your physical breaking point, it wants them stocked and ready.
If you have a history of dieting, it’s likely that your metabolism has been thrown off from its original balance. This is okay — the more you eat intuitively and ditch diets and restriction, the more regulated your metabolism will become. You might not lose weight, but as we talked about in the previous slides: You might not need to! The weight you level out at once you listen to your hunger and fullness cues and tune in to your body is probably your healthiest weight, and the one you’ll feel best at.