One of the most common questions I get asked here at the gym is “why am I not losing weight?” or “why has my weight loss stalled?”
It’s hard for me to answer these questions for people because I’m only with these clients about 3 hours a week, so there’s 165 hours that go by where I have no idea what they’re doing exercise or nutrition wise.
Most people think they’re doing the right things when in reality they’re likely not doing enough. Is getting in shape really a priority that you’re working toward each and every day? Or are you just doing some things right and hoping that you’ll wake up with the body of your dreams and abs to die for?
The truth of the matter is losing weight while maintain or putting on lean muscle mass is something that takes a conscious effort and determination each and every day. Steve always says:
The small decisions you make day in and day out – what you eat, how you train – add up over time and determine the physique you currently have. Changing your physique isn’t about making one giant change, but rather making several small ones each day
So I thought I’d put together a little list of the most common reasons (that I’ve seen) for why people don’t get the results they want.
1. You’re overdoing it on the carbs – or timing them wrong
This is really common. While I don’t typically count calories, if you are new to nutrition and looking to slim down you should have an idea of how many calories your eating and what your macronutrient (protein, fats, carbs) breakdown looks like. If you’re trying to lose weight you should be keeping these within certain lines. I wrote an article about how to figure out how much you should be eating that you should check out if you have absolutely no idea.
When people think carbs they think about bread and pasta, but veggies and fruit have carbs too. Now I’m a huge proponent of eating fruits, veggies and whole grains but there certain times of day where it’s more optimal to eat these foods if you’re trying to lose weight. Also a lot of people don’t check packaging of foods for sugar content, this is an absolute must if you’re trying to lose weight.
2. You’re not pushing yourself in the gym
It happens all the time. People stick with the same weights, do the same exercises and basically stick within their comfort zone when they should be changing it up. If you want to see a change in your body you need to keep progressing forward. Our bodies are amazing at adapting to our routines so you need to keep it on it’s toes!
Change your weights, change your reps, change your intervals! There are so many ways to design rep schemes depending on what your goals are but the bottom line is that you need change to create change. Every 2 weeks or so you should either up the weight or change up your rep scheme (ie. if you’re doing 3 sets of 8 this week next week try for 4 sets of 12).
3. You eat great during the week and undo it all on the weekend
I can’t tell you how many people do this. They eat reasonably well all week so they feel they need to reward themselves on the weekend. Now I’m all for a treat but some people eat bad from morning to night both days – just because it’s the weekend. Try to limit yourself to one or two treat meals during the weekend. There is nothing worse than working hard all week only to undo most of it on the weekend. All the little snacking really adds up and you need to be aware of that.
Also a lot of people like to indulge in a little beer or wine over the weekend. Alcohol plays a huge role in weight loss and you need to be aware of that.
4. You think you’re eating healthy, but you’re not
If you’re eating mostly processed foods, you’re doing something wrong. I always tell people when they grocery shop they should be getting the bulk of their food from the outside aisles of the store where all the fresh produce, meat and other goodies are. While Lean Cuisine may sound good you’re really not getting much bang for your buck. Most of those frozen dinners still have an alarming amount of sugar (seriously look at the box!) and sodium for how small the portion is. Yes it’s only 200-300 calories but the meal is so small you’ll be hungry again within an hour.
If you’re new to losing weight I always tell people to start basic. Only eat whole, real food. Don’t worry about counting calories, just eat foods that grow from the ground or food that eats things that grow from the ground (chicken, beef, fish). There is no reason to over-complicate things if you’re just starting out. Keep your meals to as few ingredients as possible (not including seasoning and spices) and focus on fresh food.
Also make sure that you’re not drinking your calories. Aside from protein shakes and things like that your drinks should contain 10 calories or less. Most calories that are drank are empty calories that don’t fill you up and typically contain a lot of unnecessary sugar.
When in doubt journal what you’re eating, at least for a little bit. That way you can actually see how much you’re eating (you may be surprised). Fitday.com is a really easy site to use to do this.
Remember, just because something is ‘low-fat’ or ‘organic’ doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
5. You’re not prepared to eat healthy
Eating healthy day in and day out takes preparation, it doesn’t just happen. You need to plan out your meals and make sure your cupboards are stocked with healthy food. Now if you have a bunch of healthy food but no idea on how you’re going to prepare it you may just stop and get something on the way home for convenience sake. Meal plan and take the time to figure out what you’re going to make in advance. I love roasting or barbecuing a batch of chicken at the beginning of the week so that it’s ready to go during the week and I only have to prepare the veggies when I get home. Also there are some basics that I always keep in my cupboard so that no matter what I know that I can whip up an easy healthy meal.
If you take an hour or two out of your day on Sunday to prep your meals for the week it’ll make everything else so much easier. You want to be prepared, not tempted. You need to be ready each and every day to wake up and make positive food choices and that can only happen if you plan ahead.
Of course there are a lot of other reasons people don’t lose weight – medical, sleep related etc – but these are the most common that I see here. I understand that everyone has different goals and different means of getting here so these are just general points.
Losing weight (typically) doesn’t happen by accident, you need to work at it each and everyday (including weekends!). If you really commit yourself to losing weight it will happen.
Stop making excuses, stop eating crap on the weekend and really make an effort and I bet you’ll be happy with your results.
As always if you have questions – just ask!