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8 Reasons You're Not Losing Weight - Even Though You're Trying

person frustrated with trying to lose weight

You’re trying to eat healthy. You’re even working out on a regular basis. But the weight’s not dropping.

What’s going on? Why are you not losing weight?

Here are eight possible reasons to consider.

1. You’re not getting enough sleep

Study after study has shown that sleep deprivation leads to weight gain. Sleep loss may even make weight loss difficult, even if you’re cutting calories appropriately. And, there are several reasons.

When we’re sleepy we tend to move less. Not only less exercise time, but we tend to sit instead of stand, take the elevator instead of the stairs.

Staying up late may also invite more mindless night snacking – and more calories. And, here’s another thing. When we’re sleep-deprived, our hunger and fullness hormones get out of whack. This causes us to feel hungrier or less full so we might eat more at meals and snacks than usual without even realizing it.

Sleep Solution: Make it a priority to get 7-8 hours of QUALITY sleep to make weight loss easier. Here's a blog to help you get better quality sleep

2. You’re overestimating how many calories you burn

Do you ever look at the “calories burned” on your exercise machines? And, maybe reward yourself for a “job well-done”?

From the chatter in the dressing area – and the steady flow to the smoothie place next door, I’m guessing a lot of people do.

But, here's the thing.

Most machines overestimate the calories burned by as much as 20-30%. And, if you're leaning on the handrails, that's negating some of the work, too.

Workout Solution: Don’t believe those apps that calculate how many calories you’re burning. They are based on very lean muscular men. Even lean, muscular women aren’t going to burn as many calories as the read out. If you're not losing weight, try H.I.I.T. workouts a couple of times a week. Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.

3. You’re sitting too much

Even if you’re working out for an hour a day, what are you doing the other 23 hours?

I’m guessing you’re sitting a lot.

We often reward ourselves for a good workout, by relaxing more during the day - telling ourselves we deserve a break for all our hard effort at the gym.

Sitting Solution: Take a standing or moving break every 90 minutes or so. Not only will you burn more calories than sitting, standing and moving increases alertness and energy levels so you feel better. Plus, this study suggests you might be more productive.

4. You’re not weighing every day

I realize there are many experts that suggest staying away from the scale entirely - because of the anxiety it causes. I simply don’t agree, except when dealing with patients with eating disorders.

Ok, if you can maintain a healthy weight without ever weighing yourself, then good for you. You don't need a scale. 

If you can judge your body fat level simply by your clothes, then good for you.

But, that doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, with today’s stretchy yoga clothes and flex waistbands, it’s just way too easy to add on another ten pounds without even noticing.

And, data from the National Weight Control Registry suggests that the more weight you gain, the less likely you are to ever lose it again.

That's why I suggest daily weigh-ins if you're really serious about losing weight.

Research suggests that daily weigh-ins are associated with weight loss, while monthly weights are linked to weight gain. Perhaps it’s because daily weigh-ins keeps your goal front and center, so you make better decisions every day. His research suggested that every day weigh-ins were significantly better than even five or six times a week.

Does that number on the scale cause anxiety?

Why does knowing the number on the scale be any different than knowing the temperature outside, how much fuel is left in your car tank, or how many miles you have to drive to get to work?

These are all numbers.

Realize that the anxiety comes not from the number on the scale, but from the messages you tell yourself about that number. So there's no need to throw out the scale.

It's the negative self-talk that should be addressed.

And, not just because of the how we interpret the number on the scale. If you're berating yourself about the number on the scale, you'll likely doing it in other areas of your life, too.

Scale Solution: If you're not losing weight, find a way to monitor your body weight so it doesn’t get out of hand. Weigh-ins should be done at the same time of the day. If you finds that getting on the scale determines your day – good or bad, then remember, it's not the number that's doing it. It’s your self-talk, the way you talk to yourself. Same with food. It's not the cookie or the handful of chips that does you in. It's that self-bashing that leads to you eating more than you were actually hungry for. You might benefit from seeing a counselor to help you get away from that all-or-nothing mentality in which a small blip either direction on the scale can determine your day. Why should knowing your weight affect you anymore than say the knowledge of your height or the color of your hair?

5. You’re forgetting about the little things

Many of my clients proclaim that they can't understand why they can't lose weight - or why they are gaining weight. They then go onto say, “All I eat is…”.

But, as I ask for details, we realize that there was so much that was forgotten.

Too often people think they're gaining weight because of overeating episodes. When in fact, weight gain typically occurs from the accumulation of some very small things.

Consider this: there are approximately 3500 calories in a pound of fat.

And, since there are roughly 350 days in the year, eating just ten extra calories every day can result in an extra pound of weight gain over a years’ time.

I once had a client that gained 10 pounds over a nine-month period. She kept insisting that her doctor was missing something. That she MUST have a metabolism problem because she wasn’t eating anything different.

But, as we reviewed everything, it turned out that nine months ago, during the holidays, she had switched from fat-free milk in her coffee to one of those fancy higher-calorie creamers.

When she measured how much she put into her two large mugs of coffee and we examined the difference in calories, it completely accounted for the weight gain.

Simple Solution: If you're not losing weight it might be helpful to log your food intake periodically to keep you mindful about what you really eat. And, make note of the portion size that you actually consumed. There are many apps, like MyFitness Pal, that can be helpful. But, some clients have found that simply writing it down on paper - without even recording the calories is enough to realize where changes need to be made.

6. You’re eating from large plates

Research suggests that plate, bowl, cup, and glass sizes matter. The bigger they are, the more we tend to eat or drink. The bigger the serving spoons, the more we serve ourselves, too.

This researcher also discovered that the color of the plate mattered, too. If the color of the plates match the color of the tablecloth (say, a white plate on a white tablecloth or white food on a white plate) we tend to eat more food.

Dinnerware Solution: If you're not losing weight, invest in some luncheon-sized plates. And, use smaller 8oz glasses and 1950’s-sized coffee cups (not mugs).

7. You’re skipping breakfast

Think you're "saving calories" by skipping breakfast? Think again.

Breakfast skipping is associated with weight gain.

Breakfast eaters tend to eat less later in the day – and overweight individuals tend to eat the bulk of their calories during dinner and beyond.

And, when you eat matters. According to the National Weight Control Registry, a database of successful dieters, people that eat breakfast tend to maintain weight loss more than those that skip it.

Breakfast Solution: Eat breakfast every day. If you’re not hungry when you awaken, it's ok to eat as soon as you feel the hunger. But don't put off eating until lunch - or you may overeat. If you're not losing weight, it helps to intentionally cut back on nighttime eating. Eventually, you’ll wake up hungrier - and ready to eat breakfast.

8. You’re eating in front of the TV or your computer

Do you nibble on chips, cookies, or popcorn while watching TV or a movie? Ever find yourself at the end of the bag and thought, “How did that happen?”

It happens to all of us. If you eat while being involved in another activity (mindless eating), you’ll end up consuming more calories.

Mindful Solution: Make a rule to eat only at the table – and then turn off the electronics and put down the paper or magazine. Eating mindfully makes you feel more satisfied and you’ll end up eating less.

There you go, eight reasons why you’re not losing weight – and solutions to help you get back on track. If this was helpful, please share with friends and colleagues.

Need help losing weight? Schedule a call with me to discuss one-on-one coaching.

And, check out my Better Body Online Course, offering a step-by-step path for permanent weight loss. 

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