Did you know that when you try and lose weight, your body actually fights back? You might lose a lot of weight in the beginning without even a lot of effort, but afterward, everything just slows down and even stops altogether for a while. There are reasons why you might not be losing weight even though you are doing plenty of exercise. This is called a weight loss plateau. Don’t worry! Pretty much everyone deals with a plateau at some point. It is possible to break through that plateau – you can get things moving again!
First, do not weigh yourself every day, or worse, multiple times in one day. For most people, especially women, our weight fluctuates by a few pounds. All depending on the foods we eat, as well as hormones, water weight, and even waste in the body. For some people, it can be very daunting to not see much of a difference in the number on the scale day after day. The best way to track actual weight loss is to track it every one to two weeks. It is common for the scale not to budge for a few days. The scale might not even budge for a few weeks at a time, but this does not mean you are not losing fat. It is also possible that you have gained muscle at the same time that you are losing fat because you have started exercising. This is a good thing, because the bottom line, you really want to lose body fat, not just lose weight.
A good idea is to use something else rather than just your scale to keep a track of your progress. For example, you could measure the circumference of your waist and body fat percentage every month. Another good way is to check how well your clothes fit and how they look in the mirror – that can give you a pretty good idea. Unless your weight has been stuck at the same weight for more than a week or two, you really don’t need to worry just yet.
Look at what might be hindering you to lose more weight:
Keeping Track of What you are Eating
Being aware of what you eat is very important if you are trying to lose weight. A lot of people don’t have a clue how much or what they are really eating. Studies reveal that when you keep track of your diet, the portions, and the type of food, it helps with weight loss. There are many useful apps for tracking your calorie intake. LoseIt or MyFitnessPal are two of the top tracking apps! Download one or both and see which you like best.
Proteins are the Number one Weight-Loss Food
Protein is actually the most important nutrient in losing weight. When you eat 25-30% of protein calories, you can boost your metabolism by 80–100 calories per day. You will also find that you automatically eat several hundred calories less in a day. This drastically reduces your desire to snack and cave to your cravings. A very good idea is to load up on proteins at breakfast time. Studies show that those who eat high protein breakfasts are less hungry and have fewer cravings in the day. Also, a high protein diet also prevents your metabolism from slowing down – a side effect of losing weight. Proteins also help to prevent you from putting on the weight again as well.
Maybe you are Just Eating too Many Calories
Many people who complain that they have trouble losing weight are simply just eating too many calories. Maybe you think this isn’t applicable to you, but you need to keep in mind that studies show over and over again that many people underestimate their calorie intake by quite a lot. If you aren’t losing weight, try weighing your foods and tracking calories for a while and you will soon see how you measure. As mentioned above, MyFitnessPal and LoseIt apps are some of the top tracking apps available! They will track your weight and will also calculate what it deems is a recommended daily intake of calories based on plans you can create in the app. You will also find a well-designed food diary as well as an exercise log. Stop blindly hoping to lose weight when you can follow the numbers.
Are you Eating Whole Foods
It’s not only the quantity of foods that is important; it is also about quality. When you eat healthy foods, you improve your well-being and help to regulate your appetite. These are the foods that tend to be much more filling than highly processed foods. Bear in mind that a lot of processed foods that are labeled as ‘health foods’ aren’t even that healthy. Rather stick to whole single-ingredient foods as much as possible. Instead of those “healthy” bags of apple chips – slice up your own apple, sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on them, and pop them in the microwave. They are delicious and much lower in calories and sugars.
You’re not Lifting Weights
Resistance training such as lifting weights is one of the most important things you can do if you are trying to lose weight. You maintain your muscle mass which is often burned along with body fat when you don’t exercise. When you lift weights, you also help to prevent your metabolism from slowing down and ensure that your body stays muscular and toned.
Are you Doing any Cardio
Cardiovascular exercises, also known as aerobic exercises or cardio, are a type of exercise that increases your heart rate. It includes activities like cycling, swimming, and jogging. It is an effective way of improving your health, and especially effective at burning belly fat which is the harmful ‘visceral fat’ that builds up around your organs and causes disease.
You’re not Sleeping Well at Night
For both your physical and mental state of health, good sleep is absolutely imperative. Studies reveal that when you don’t sleep well at night, you are at risk of holding on to extra pounds, higher risk of depression, and suffering exhaustion throughout the day. Children and adults who don’t sleep well have a risk of between 55%-89% greater than those who do sleep well. Why is this? What you eat just before you go to bed can affect how you will sleep. Like eating more than you actually need at dinner time, and then maybe having some snacks later on. All of this can lead to unhealthy weight gain. Often when you eat a lot you find you can’t sleep when you go to bed, even having stomach aches, or gas, or heartburn – all these things keep you awake, even forcing you to get up. Caffeine in coffee and chocolate drinks before bedtime can keep you awake for hours, even though you try and get to sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, you feel tired the next day which means you don’t want to move around. These factors all help the weight to pile on – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work that out.
Are you Holding Back on the Carbs
Maybe you have a lot of weight to lose. Maybe you even have metabolic problems such as type-2 diabetes or pre-diabetes – if this is the case, you might be interested in the low-carb diet. Some studies show that the low carb diet can cause better weight loss than the standard “low-fat” diet that is often recommended. When you embark on a low carb diet, you will notice improvements in a lot of metabolic markers, such as triglycerides, good HDL cholesterol, your blood sugar, to name just a few.
The Forever Important Water
When you drink water, you benefit your efforts of weight loss. In a study done over a 12- week period of weight loss, those who drank half a liter of water 30 minutes before they had their meals lost 44% more weight than those who didn’t drink any water at all. Keeping hydrated is not only important for weight loss but for healthy living in general. When your organs are well hydrated they are able to work properly to keep you healthy.
Too Much Alcohol
Maybe you love your alcohol; you like to chill out with your friends after work, or you enjoy it as a nightcap. But unfortunately, if you want to lose weight, it is better if you stick to drinking the spirits like vodka mixed with water for instance. Those who love their beer, wine, and sugary alcoholic beverages which can be highly delicious and refreshing, need to realize they are also very high in calories. Studies have been carried out on alcohol drinking and losing weight and the consensus seems to be that moderate drinking might be fine, but heavy drinking certainly is linked to weight gain.
Being Mindful of What you eat
There is a technique called mindful eating, one of the world’s really powerful weight loss tools. What it involves is slowing down and enjoying your food – it is noticing your food without any distractions, savoring and enjoying each and every bit – it’s listening to the natural signals that tell your brain when you have eaten enough. Mindful eating is known to cause significant weight loss and to reduce the frequency that you binge. Eat with zero distractions around you, sitting down, not in front of the TV, but at a proper table, with just your food and you. Then start eating slowly, chewing your food, noticing each morsel that goes into your mouth, how it tastes, how it feels – relish it. Be aware of the smell, colors, tastes, texture of what you are eating.
Maybe you Have a Medical Condition
Unfortunately, there are some medical conditions that literally drive weight gain and make it really hard for you to lose weight. Conditions like hypothyroidism, sleep apnea, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – all make it more difficult to lose weight – some can even cause you to put on weight. If this is the case for you – or you aren’t sure – it’s a good idea to see your doctor for a check-up. Your doctor can also recommend the best course of action for you to take.
Have you Been Following the Same Diet Plan for too Long
This is a real weight loss woe – dieting for so long to the point that you have been losing weight for quite a few months and suddenly you hit a plateau. When you do hit a plateau, it might be a good idea to take a break. Try something else like upping your calorie intake by a few hundred calories each day. At the same time, try and get better quality sleep. Also lift weights with the aim of getting strong and to gain some more muscle. Aim at maintaining your body fat levels for at least 1-2 months before you start trying to lose weight again.
Losing weight is generally a slow process. A lot of people lose patience before they reach their end goal, and then they just put on all that weight again. It is often possible to lose weight fast in the beginning of your diet; even possible to continue to lose weight at a good rate of even more than 1 or 2 pounds every week. But many people also have unrealistic expectations of what they can achieve with a healthy diet and exercising. Some believe they are going to look like that fitness model or the bodybuilder in the Beautiful Body mags. If you have already managed to lose some weight and you are looking good and feeling good about yourself, but the scale doesn’t seem to be budging anymore, maybe it is time to accept the body you were born with. If you are a large-boned man or woman, for instance, you might not achieve a lean mean look, but the size of your frame has nothing to do with being overweight or not being able to reach your ideal weight goals. At some point in time, your weight will still reach a healthy set point where your body feels most comfortable at and trying to go beyond that point won’t be worth the effort and might even become impossible for you.
You are Focused on “Dieting” instead of Fixing Your Diet
Most restrictive diets never work in the long term. After a while, most people go back to old eating habits – and gain the weight back – because the restrictive diet they are following is just too much for them to stick to forever. This is why you should stop “dieting” and start working on your diet. When you change your daily diet with the purpose of eating healthy and losing weight at the same time simply because you are eating balanced, healthful foods you will get longer-lasting results. Instead of looking at weight loss from a dieting mindset, rather make it your goal to become a healthier, fitter, happier, more content person. Nourish your body, don’t deprive it – let weight loss follow as a natural side effect.
The bottom line
We all know that weight loss is not always easy and there are numerous factors such as what we have mentioned above that can literally bring your efforts to a standstill. At the very basic levels, your weight loss will fail when your calorie intake is the same as or higher than how much you can burn them off. There are good strategies to try though, such as mindful eating, or keeping a food diary, maybe eating more protein is a good idea or doing more resistance exercises. But in the end, changing your weight and your lifestyle will require dedication, perseverance, discipline, and resilience.