Losing weight can be tricky and frustrating. It goes well for a time and then grinds to a stop. In this article we’re going to look at reasons why you might not be losing weight and what you can do about them.
- Weight loss ultimately comes down to in imbalance in calories: fewer going in and more being burned. This is why diet and exercise are so important.
There are lots of reasons why some people can just think about going for a little walk and lose 5lbs, while others need to trek the Himalayas to achieve the same. However if you’re not exercising enough for the amount you’re eating and drinking, then weight loss won’t happen.
One of the most effective ways of working out if you’re doing enough of the right intensity exercise is to keep an exercise journal and use a heart rate monitor. From here you can work out what you can do to increase the intensity (ie calorie burning) of the workout. Have a look at this section of the site for other fun exercise ideas that you can build into your week that will increase your activity generally.
- So the other half of the weight loss equation is how many calories you’re eating and drinking. If you’re eating and/or drinking too many calories then the weight loss balance is not in your favour.
Think about what you’re eating, your portion size, and what you’re drinking. That journal will come in handy here too.
A few common pit falls for food and drink are:
- large portion sizes of healthy foods
- dressings on salads
- alcoholic drinks
- adding sugar to your tea and coffee several times a day
- bread and butter
- non-diet sodas
- fruit juices
- isotonic sports drinks
- TV snacks
- Snacks while driving
- Finishing off the kids’ plates
- Snacking while cooking
Do any of these ring a bell?
Using food scales when you’re measuring out your portion sizes will help your eye grow accustomed to what a reasonable portion is.
Susan Kraus is a registered dietician at Hackensack University Med Centre in New Jersey. Her advice is 1 cup of rice or pasta is about the size of a baseball, an ounce of cheese is 2 playing dice and 3oz of protein is the size of a deck of cards.
Take some time to weigh out foods that you commonly eat/cook and get used to what a portion looks like.
- Stress in our lifestyles can cause weight loss to be difficult for a number of reasons.
When we’re stressed, our bodies automatically want to conserve energy in case it’s needed in the future. It does this by releasing certain calorie-conserving hormones.
Also, if you’re too stressed out, many people head to the cookie jar, snack box or wine bottle, therefore eating more calories than they should.
In addition we tend to eat more mindlessly – which means we don’t stop eating when we’re full because we don’t realize we’re full.
If this is you then be aware of the stresses in your life. Even if you feel you can’t do anything about them, you can be more mindful about what you put in your mouth.
- Not eating can be as damaging to your weight loss ambitions as eating too much. If you’re skipping meals in one part of the day, this can often result in food cravings and bingeing later.
The body’s reaction to prolonged fasting is to reduce its calorie burning rate and to store fat (research at Vanderbilt University has found). So small meals regularly during the day is ideal – some say 6 small meals a day is better than 3 normal ones – but if that isn’t an option for you because of family meal planning, then go for 3 meals but watch out for the snacks.
- Sleep plays a vital role in our wellbeing as well as how we digest and process the calories we’ve consumed. This is because of the hormones that are released at that time. So if you’re not sleeping well/enough these hormones aren’t released effectively.
What’s more, if you’re up late there’s a chance that you’re eating and drinking more calories.
- We said at the top of the page that everyone burns calories differently (which is one reason why we’ve not added any specifics such as ‘X amount of exercise will burn Y calories’ here). There are plenty of reasons for this and one of these is that you may have a medical condition that slows your calorie burning rate.
Conditions such as:
- thyroid disease,
- heart disease,
- kidney disease,
- lung disease,
- joint/muscle problems
can all mean that you either can’t move about as much, are on meds that change your metabolic rate (the rate you burn calories) or have hormone problems that change your metabolic rate.
Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about meds you’re taking or if you’re seriously trying to lose weight and not managing it.
- Weight loss is a slow process for most people. Average weight loss in a sensible calorie controlled diet with exercise is about 1-2lbs per week. If you’re too impatient and expect more than your body can deliver, then it will be frustrating.
If you’ve been dieting for ages and still are not seeing even 1lb a week weight loss, then review your diet and exercise regime and be honest with yourself. Are there snacks and drinks that are sneaking in? Are you slipping on the weekends?
Become a savvy food label addict and don’t be fooled by words like ‘Lite’. For example: If a cookie is ‘low fat’ it’s probably full of sugar.