I hear this a lot. “I am working out. I am eating healthier. I think I am doing all the right things but I just can’t seem to lose the weight”. I hear this from people who are new to their fitness journey and equally from people who have lost a significant amount of weight but are struggling to lose those last ten or so pounds. My very first “client” aka. friend of mine who has joined me in doing the same workout programs I do as well as drinking the daily superfood shakes has to date lost 26 pounds! Pretty amazing right?? He still, however, would like to lose another 10 but has been struggling to do so. This is not an unusual problem or something unique to him by any means. This happens quite a bit to people even despite having the best of intentions! And in his case, I know he is putting in the work because as his somewhat overzealous and borderline psycho accountability partner, I am ALWAYS checking in on him and even doing a lot of the workouts right alongside of him! 😊
Whether just starting out or well into your journey like my friend, stalled weight loss or the inability to even start losing weight can potentially be caused my any number of factors. They seem to generally fall into two categories, however, at least as far as I can tell: Physical Issues and Lifestyle Choices. Physically there might be something going on with your body…think an imbalance of hormones or a vitamin deficiency of some sort which could be due to a variety of reasons which I will talk about in a bit. The second category is lifestyle choices. You may just be missing the mark somewhere in your everyday life, particularly with your nutrition or in the manner in which you are approaching your workouts. Now there is a third possibility which is you really just aren’t putting in the effort you should be and maybe sorta kinda lying to yourself about it. I want to skip talking about number 3 because really there isn’t much to say about it. Just get you butt in gear and don’t cheat yourself. Ok that’s all I’m gonna say about that, I promise!
Let’s focus on the two reasons that have nothing to do with motivation. I started looking into this topic again because as I mentioned above my friend/client hit that dreaded plateau and has been unable to lose the last ten pounds he set his sights on shedding and I was trying to figure out what the cause might be. What I found out reinforced some of things I already suspected, but I also came across some new information that may be helpful to him as well as anyone else who is in the same boat. So as usual, I thought I would share some of this info with you guys! Happy reading! 😊
- You aren’t sleeping!! OMG you guys I can’t emphasize enough how important sleep is to well just about everything health related but definitely to losing weight! Not getting enough sleep affects your body in two major ways when it comes to shedding pounds:
- If you are not sleeping, your body is not repairing itself. Without being able to repair, it can’t continue to perform at peak levels and sustain a workout regimen that is doing any good. Also, without being able to repair itself, you are more prone to injuries that will just set you back even more.
- Your hormones get altered if you are not sleeping enough. And not just any hormones, your hormones that are responsible for controlling your hunger sensations. It becomes harder to tell when you are hungry and full when these hormones are affected by continually getting poor quality or not enough sleep.
- You are stressed out! Aren’t we all?? Chances are at some point, yes. The problem becomes when we are chronically stressed out our hormones get thrown all out of whack just like they do when we aren’t getting enough zzzz’s. When talking stress and hormones, the main hormone affected is cortisol. Being stressed out is linked to higher levels of cortisol which in the long run can cause your blood sugar to be elevated and your waistline to expand. And of course high levels of cortisol cause us to gain weight right in the lower stomach region in particular. How convenient right?? Couldn’t have helped me gain weight say in my butt could you cortisol! All joking aside, the good news is exercising is a great way to reduce stress. So find a workout routine that works for you and stick with it! Your body and sanity will thank you!
- You are deficient in Vitamin D – So about a month or so into my own health and fitness journey I woke up one day and thought I really needed to go get my Vitamin D levels checked. You guys, I still to this day have no idea why that thought popped into my head other than I just had a feeling. Sure enough, after going in a getting it tested I as low, like really low. I immediately started supplementing my diet with Vitamin D pills and got my levels up to normal again. I bring this up here because I found out that a lack of this particular vitamin can cause fatigue, sluggishness even depression all which can negatively impact your ability to be active and drop the unwanted pounds. There is some controversy about whether Vitamin D deficiency actually leads to weight gain, but in one study of women over 65, it was shown that the women who were deficient in Vitamin D gained more weight than their counterparts who had normal levels of the vitamin. Either way, you want to make sure your levels of this vitamin are where they should be along with your levels of other key vitamins and nutrients.
- You are eating more than you think! – Ok so this one goes back to a topic I wrote about a little while back about how important PORTION CONTROL is! I won’t go into the whole thing about how out of control our portions have gotten these days, but needless to say most of us are actually eating way more than we need to because we have been conditioned to think we have to eat massive amounts of food every time we sit down to a meal. Distracted eating plays a role in this one too…think about how easy it is to overeat when you are sitting in from of a TV snacking on your favorite chips or pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream (my personal fave). Just being mindful of how much you are putting on your plate is a great start. Weighing food is another technique or using portion control containers (that are used in one of my favorite workout programs, 21 Day Fix) to start re-training your brain and stomach to the correct amounts of food needed are also two good ways to be mindful of your portions.
- You are trying to out-exercise a bad diet! – Along the same lines as you may just be eating too much, exercising a whole lot but then neglecting your diet is also another common problem. Sometimes people think if they spend hours on a treadmill that they get a free pass then when it comes to what they are going to eat during the day. Sadly, (and I truly am sad about this) it doesn’t work like that. You need both consistent exercise as well as a healthy, balanced diet in order to see results in the weight loss department. This includes getting nutrients from all 5 of the food groups, in the right amounts on a consistent basis. Of course, with any good nutrition plan, there is that all important cheat day where you can binge on some of your favorite foods just for sanity sake, but in general you need to eat healthy, whole foods in order to lose the weight. This leads me nicely into my next topic…
- You might be doing the wrong exercises! – While it is wonderful that you are committed to exercising, you just way be going about it in a way that is not beneficial to your body…and oh boy I would not blame you! There is a TON of information and opinions out there are about what the best type of exercise is to lose weight. There is so much it is almost overwhelming, especially when you are just starting out on your journey. I can relate to this one so much it’s crazy. For years and years and years I believed cardio was the holy grail of weight loss. I was one of those people who hit the treadmills and stationary bikes religiously only to waste a lot of time, get frustrated and quit. In fact, my journey this time started out much the same way until I realized I was again beginning to spin my wheels and headed for another failure. Being wholly dedicated this time around to getting my butt in shape, I did some research and realized I needed to not only add much more weight training to my routine but I also needed to add variety to it. This was also the point in time when I stumbled upon the workout programs I do now and realized it was exactly what I needed. With over 700+ different workouts that include a variety of exercise types (cardio, weightlifting, Pilates, yoga, HIIT training, just to name a few), and meal plans to go along with it, I knew there was no way for me not to get results. The best part, I don’t even really have to think about it. The workouts are all planned out for me so all I have to do is show up, press play and follow along. The point is, don’t just rely on one type of exercise alone to do the trick. Your body and mind need the variety!
You guys there are a ton of other reasons in addition to the ones I went into detail about above that might be causing you to struggle in the weight loss department, such as:
- Being dehydrated
- Not focusing when you are working out (think scrolling through Instagram to kill the time at the gym instead of actually working out)
- Not having a well-thought out workout plan
- Being sedentary for too many hours during the day
- Overdoing it with sugar
- An issue with your thyroid function
And those are just to name a few more! Now there is one more option for people who have been working out for a while and still not seeing the number on the scale drop. You might actually have lost fat, just not weight! You may even look and feel thinner but the darn scale just does not seem to be moving in the right direction when you are stepping on it. That is because muscle tissue is denser than fat! You very well may have lost the bad fat and replaced it with good muscle! This is yet another reason I avoid scales at all costs….they aren’t necessarily accurate in terms of how healthy you are or the progress you may actually be making!
If you are concerned about not being able to lose weight, whether you are just starting out or well into your health and fitness journey, I would recommend getting a baseline physical to begin with. Rule out anything going on with your body that may be contributing to either a sluggish metabolism or unintended weight gain. If all looks good there, examine your lifestyle. Pay attention to what and how much you are eating, what kind of workouts you are doing and then tweak and/or tailor those things to work as effectively as possible for your body’s needs. Most importantly, DON’T GIVE UP!! If you need any extra encouragement, guidance and are in the market for a slightly psycho accountability buddy please feel free to reach out and I will do my best to help as much as possible!