You’re trying to eat healthy. You’re even going to the gym 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:
- 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 people 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.
Solution: Make it a priority to get 7-8 hours of sleep to make weight loss easier.
- You’re overestimating how many calories you burned at the gym. Do you ever look at the “calories burned” on the 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. One study took 81 sedentary, but healthy women, through a vigorous but manageable supervised exercise program. After 12 weeks of aerobic training, they were certainly more fit – but many weighed more. And, no, it wasn’t all muscle! Why? The senior author of this study suggests that it’s likely that those who gained weight began eating slightly more and moving less when they weren’t on the treadmills.
Solution: Don’t believe those apps that calculate how many calories you’re burning. They are based on very lean muscular men. Even lean women aren’t going to burn that many calories. If you’re not losing weight, try H.I.I.T. workout a couple of times a week. Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
- 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. See, this is the other reason that the women in the study mentioned above didn’t lose weight. Often we reward ourselves for a good workout, by sitting more during the day.
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.
- You’re not weighing every day. I realize there are many experts that suggest staying away from the scale entirely. I simply don’t agree. Ok, if you can maintain a healthy weight without every weighing, then good for you. 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, 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. Research from Dr. Brian Wansink 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 showed that every day weights was significantly better than even five or six times a week weigh-ins.
Solution: If you’re not losing weight, find a way to monitor your body weight so it doesn’t get out of hand. There are other ways, of course, but you may want to consider weighing yourself daily at the same time of the day. If you’re one of those people that finds that getting on the scale determines your day – good or bad, then realize it isn’t the scale…it’s your self-talk, the way you talk to yourself. 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 you weight affect you anymore than say the knowledge of your height or the color of your hair?
- You’re forgetting about the little things. Back when I offered individual consulting, I frequently heard clients proclaim that they couldn’t understand why they were gaining weight. They would briefly share what they ate starting with, “All I eat is…”. But, upon closer examination, there is so much more being consumed. Weight gain typically occurs from very small things. Since there are approximately 3500 calories in a pound of fat, eating just ten calories more a day can result in an extra pound over a years’ time. I once had a client that gained 10 pounds over a nine-month period. She kept saying she wasn’t eating anything different. But, it turned out that during that nine-month period 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.
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. One easy app is MyFitness Pal.
- You’re eating from large plates. Wansink’s 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. He 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) we tend to eat more food.
Solution: If you’re not losing weight, try eating from luncheon-sized plates and drink from 1950’s sized coffee cups (not mugs).
- You’re skipping breakfast. 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, 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.
Solution: Eat breakfast every day. If you’re not hungry when you awaken, eat as soon as you feel the hunger; don’t wait 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.
- You’re eating in front of the TV or your computer. Have you ever nibbled on chips, cookies, or popcorn while watching TV or a movie? Ever found 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.
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.