Why am I not losing weight?
Have you ever been trying to lose weight and the scale just won’t go down, or worse it goes up?!
Well, you are not alone. Not only have I experienced this with clients in the past, but I have experienced it personally!
It is so discouraging to do everything “right” and get on that scale, proud as a peacock only to find it went up. You know there can be other reasons but that doesn’t stop the feelings of defeat.
I want to really weigh in on some reasons you may not be seeing changes in the scale. I also want you to know why 1 pound on the scale is probably not fat and something else!
Reasons you are not losing weight
- Eating when not hungry
- Not eating when hungry/skipping meals
- Not eating satisfying meals
- Not eating enough protein
- Not eating enough vegetables
- Eating too much processed food
- Your routine around eating
- Drinking sugary beverages
- Emotional eating
- All-or-Nothing mindset
- Staying on a diet
- Lack of adequate sleep
Eating when not hungry
When we make a decision to eat, it should be because we are hungry. We should be evaluating our hunger on a scale. This does a couple of things. It allows us to re-evaluate for fullness.
Let’s say before you eat, you evaluate quickly your level of hunger. On a scale of 1-10, you decide you’re hungry and you have physical signs such as belly rumbling. You give your hunger a score of 6. You sit down to eat a meal. Part of the way through your meal, you realize you actually feel satisfied but not uncomfortably full. This is a good indicator to stop eating.
Not eating when hungry or skipping meals
So, early in my diet days, I would try to skip meals to reduce calories. It wasn’t my best time. What I found is when I skip meals, whether on purpose or by accident (like when I worked in the ER and didn’t have time to eat a real meal) I became ravenous and ate all the things.
It is our body’s natural and biological response to feeling hungry. When we ignore it, it doesn’t just go away (maybe for a short period but it comes back with vengeance). Research shows that when we are hungry (or tired) we tend to make poor food decisions.
Some ideas to help prevent missing meals. One is to have a backup plan. I keep a protein shake and fruit on me almost always just in case. You can pack a meal replacement bar for emergencies and have it with you at all times. Another idea is to have some simple stuff in the kitchen for nights where cooking is not an option.
Not eating satisfying meals
If I eat foods that are not satisfying to me, I feel like my body reacts the same as if I have not fed it. I will start rummaging through the kitchen for something because I feel unsatisfied.
You don’t have to eat meals that are unsatisfying to lose weight. Find healthier ways to cook foods you already love. For instance, I love chocolate and donuts, that’s why I created this super yummy chocolate donut recipe for when cravings hit and I want a chocolate donut!
This is also the reason why I love counting macros. It allows me to eat foods I enjoy while losing fat.
Not eating enough protein
Protein is such an important macronutrient for so many reasons. It is responsible for satiety, repairing and building body tissues, and can aid in fat loss.
Research consistently shows that when a person increases lean protein intake, their totally calories decrease, and they lose body fat WHILE maintaining their muscle mass.
Protein also requires more energy for the body to digest. The need for more energy equals more calories burned, pretty neat huh?
Proteins are things like fish, poultry, lean ground beef, lean cuts of beef, eggs, dairy, tofu, and tempeh.
Check out this video about protein and weight loss (its less than five minutes)
Not eating enough vegetables
Vegetables are AMAZING! Vegetables are nutrient-dense, which just means they provide a lot of nutrients with fewer calories per serving.
They also contain phytochemicals that offer protection against free radicals ( these are linked to aging and many other diseases), can protect against cancer, can decrease the risk of heart disease, and reduce overall mortality.
Vegetables also contain loads of fiber which can help with Number 2 and feeling full which are both beneficial when trying to lose weight.
Research shows that nearly 74% of Americans are eating less than 3 servings of vegetables each day.
If you don’t eat a lot of vegetables I encourage you to try adding vegetables to a meal at least three times a week. Cook them in different ways. I do not care much for boiled or steamed broccoli, but roast it in a little olive oil and salt and I am all over it. Also, try it multiple times before you decide it truly isn’t for you. I tried spaghetti squash like four times before I fell in love with it!
Eating too much processed food
So, some processed food is not bad, but when you take into account that the average American diet includes 50-75% of processed food, we have to talk about it.
The problem with most processed food is that it is HIGHLY processed. I am not talking about canned fruits and vegetables which go through some level of processing, I am talking about potato chips and microwave dinners.
Heavily processed foods are extremely calorie dense and lack good nutrients. They also contain loads of preservatives to increase their shelf life.
I cannot tell you how many times I tried to live on lean cuisines and other highly processed junk because it spouts “healthy eating.” Im not knocking them, but you should really try to consume more whole food than processed.
Your routine around eating
This one is often overlooked by so many, especially us moms who are eating over the sink or snagging what our kids leftover while clearing the table. We have to evaluate how we eat just as much as what we’re eating.
If we are inhaling our food because Little Jimmy had football practice in 5 minutes, are we really enjoying those meals, are we really satisfied. I can tell you it’s not very satisfying, in fact, many times I am left wondering if maybe some little elves have come and taken my food because it’s gone and I am still hungry.
Are you sitting down and enjoying your food? Are you taking the time to evaluate hunger and fullness cues? Take time to chew each bite and really taste your food, it truly does make a difference.
Drinking sugary beverages
Man, this used to be me every morning. I would stop on the way to class or work and get a large Ice cappuccino from Tim Hortons and drink every single drop.
Drinks like these are super calorie dense and have lots of sugar, in fact, a single drink can have all of your recommended sugar intake for the DAY. Switching to water is a great way to see some big changes in your waistline.
How many times have you got upset about something and you turned to food? I can’t even count the times because there are so many. One thing I have learned is when I eat junk because I am emotional, it makes it worse.
When you’re eating the brownie or donut, you are focused on that food and how good it tastes, but once it’s gone, the feelings come flooding back. Now add on top of that the fact that you have created new negative emotions because you caved and you have a double whammy.
The best thing to do is really understand while you’re feeling emotional and addressing that. Food does not solve the feelings or uncomfortable emotions, in fact, and can increase those feelings.
When you find yourself upset or emotional about something, find a different way to work through it. Some of the things I do are reach out to a friend, go for a walk, take a shower, or put my headphones on and dance it out. You literally can’t be mad when you’re dancing!
All or nothing mindset
The all or nothing mindset is one that states you’re either all in or you’re all out. This belief throws balance out the window.
Picture this. You are at the steak house with your family and the waitress brings a fresh warm basket of oh-so-good rolls. At first, you think, no, I am not going to eat the rolls. The smell consumes you, the look of pure delight as your husband and kids eat the roll breaks you and you have one roll. It’s so good, you enjoy every second of it. But as soon as the roll is gone, you feel guilty. You have this battle in your head, I shouldn’t have eaten that roll dammit!! So what do you do?
Oh well, I already messed up by eating ONE ROLL, guess Ill enjoy myself and get back on it tomorrow. So then you consume another and another until you’re stuffed on rolls and dinner hasn’t even made it to the table yet.
But it’s okay because you’re going to get back to it tomorrow, and since you “can’t” have this food anytime you want when you’re trying to lose weight, you’re going to eat it all before starting back tomorrow. Sound familiar?
The thing is, its okay to have that roll, life isn’t over because you ate the roll. Your weight loss isn’t wrecked because of one roll. Its because of what you told yourself after you ate the roll. Because you told yourself you have to be all in or all out, because you said you have to be perfect or else. It doesn’t work that way. Instead try this, celebrate the small wins.
So lets say the old you would have done the above. You would have eaten the whole basket of rolls after beating yourself up for the one tiny roll you had to start with. But that isn’t who you are now, so now when you have that roll, or two, celebrate that you didn’t eat the whole basket. You have to celebrate you and the small victories, especially starting out!
Staying on a diet
When we are constantly trying to lose weight, we go on diets, we restrict calories we get hangry, and we “fall off the wagon.” We create unrealistic food rules that make us feel like we have to stuff ourselves with all of our favorite foods before the diet starts.
Then, it starts, we do good for a few days, then we have some peanut M&Ms or pizza and we think well might as well start back tomorrow, then we eat everything in sight. Then tomorrow comes and it’s Friday, you lapse again, so now you think I will just start again Monday, and so on.
When you decide to try to lose weight, you should set a block of time. For instance, I am currently in a 12-week cut. My calories are reduced slightly to allow for fat loss. At the end of my 12 weeks, I will go into maintenance (which means increasing calories slightly) to allow my body to heal. I will do this for another block and if I still have weight to lose, I’ll enter another cut (I can write about this in another post).
The thing is if we are constantly “dieting” we are probably constantly gaining it back because we don’t have a plan for after, what we are doing is not sustainable.
Lack of sleep
One thing I always ask clients when they say the scale went up is how they slept? Believe it or not, sleep can be a big component of losing weight. Here are a couple of things research has found about sleep and your weight loss results.
- Being short on sleep means you’re more apt to get that sugary coffee or energy drink we talked about above.
- You will likely not have the energy to power through a workout.
- You make poor decisions ( Going 24 hours without sleep is equivalent to having a blood-alcohol level of 0.10%!)
- Not sleeping enough can cause a cortisol spike, which is a stress hormone that can cause belly fat.
- Your metabolism also becomes groggy. According to webmd.com, Within 4 days of not getting enough sleep, your body no longer processes insulin correctly causing insulin sensitivity. And insulin sensitivity means your body now has trouble processing fats from the blood and guess what it does with it? It stores them as fat in the body??
Other things to remember
First and foremost the scale is just a tool to collect data. There are other ways to collect data, through measurements, pictures, and just how you feel in your clothes overall.
There are so many things that affect the scale, SO MANY THINGS!
Also, for you to gain one pound of true bodyweight you would have to eat in excess of 3500 calories! Thats a lot of calories, and I am not saying it is impossible but you have to ask yourself did I really eat that much food?
This is why I like to track my food, I know for a fact I did not eat 3500 extra calories! I know that it is something else.
So to recap
There are a number of reasons the scale might not go down, or even worse go up. Go through a mental check list and ask yourself if you’re doing any of these things. Be honest with yourself, because lying will only keep you from seeing results. If you are working with a weight loss coach, be honest with them so they can help you come up with a game plan to crush your goals.
I would love it if you gave me a follow over on IG and Facebook at Barbara Casey Fitness and thanks for reading!