Do you find yourself unable to lose weight, despite your best effort to eat well and be active? The truth is, many factors can impact the number on the scale. There are a ton of misconceptions about what being healthy means, so it’s easy for even the most thought-out exercise and diet plans not to work. Here are 9 sneaky reasons why you’re not losing weight, and steps you can take to make progress on your wellness journey.
1. You’re Overdoing Your Cardio Sessions
Cardio is important to any exercise routine. Not only does it boost your metabolism and keeps your heart healthy, but it gives you a good sweat at the same time. Only doing cardio- or doing too much of it- on the other hand, can actually be a big part of your problem. In fact, long cardio sessions, like staying on the treadmill for 90 minutes, can eat away at your lean muscle. Lean muscle is crucial for burning more calories and boosting your metabolism.
When you regularly do long cardio sessions, your body becomes more focused on endurance rather than strength. It starts storing fat as an energy source so you have plenty of fuel reserved to go the distance. If that wasn’t enough, long cardio sessions increase your appetite drastically, making it that much easier to snack and overeat. Switch up your gym routine with a couple days of strength training that focuses on your major muscle groups.
2. You’re Avoiding Lifting Weights
This next one goes hand in hand with doing too much of one thing and not seeing the results you were hoping for. If you’re exercising regularly and can’t seem to lose weight, then you might need to start picking up some weights. You don’t have to train like Mr. Universe, and you don’t have to stop doing cardio completely either. But if your goal is to shed some pounds, there’s no better way to do that than by building lean muscle.
To get the most bang for your buck, combine strength training and cardio into your workout routine. For instance, circuit training gets your heart pumping and your body working up a sweat, all while doing short spurts of resistance exercises.
More lean muscle means more fat you’ll burn. And these workouts are an extremely effective way to do just that. Not to mention, circuit training promotes the release of hormones that target that stubborn belly fat. It’s a win-win. If you’re a bit unsure of where to start, try doing some exercises that only use your body weight, like push-ups or lunges, to start, then work your way to lifting actual weights.
3. You’re Not Getting Enough Good Stuff
If you’ve ever heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen” then you know just how much your diet can influence your body. So, if you’re exercising regularly but not losing weight, the first place you should turn your attention to is the kitchen.
People tend to focus all of their attention on burning calories instead of what they’re using to fuel their bodies. A good rule of thumb is to choose more whole, all-natural foods. Another helpful tip is to load up your plate with protein and try to eat the protein first. That way, there’s less room on your plate- and in your stomach- for sugary carbs. Look for foods that have the fewest ingredients possible. If the label has a bunch of words that you can’t pronounce, you probably don’t want to put that in your body.
4. You’re Not Hitting The Right Balance
Carbs tend to have a bad reputation for causing weight gain, but that’s something you might want to rethink. Like anything in life, it’s all about moderation. Cutting out carbs completely, or any macronutrient for that matter, can leave you feeling deprived. Not to mention, it often leads to full-on binging.
Instead, look to add healthier, complex carbohydrates to your diet. This includes foods like brown rice, oats, quinoa, peas, beans, and sweet potatoes, to name a few. As the name suggests, complex carbs are made up of longer, more complex chains of sugar molecules than simple carbs, like corn syrup or raw sugar. Your body digests complex carbs slower, giving you more lasting energy throughout the day.
5. You’re Not In A Deficit
If you find yourself eating clean and still not losing weight, you may be simply eating too much. Even the healthiest diet won’t help you shed any pounds if you’re overeating. The only way to achieve this is by being in a caloric deficit. A caloric deficit means you’re burning more calories than you consume.
Think about what’s in your kitchen, and see where you can make changes to more nutrient-rich foods. This is a great starting point instead of worrying about counting calories. Don’t be afraid of healthy snacking throughout the day, either. It will help prevent you from eating too much during your meals. Keep some healthy options with you in your purse or at the office so you’re prepared for whenever hunger hits. And make sure to eat slowly during your meals. It takes your brain 20 minutes to recognize that your stomach is full, so take your time.
6. You’re Taking It Too Easy
There’s no cookie-cutter formula to eating healthy and working out. It’s just a series of trial and error until you find out what works best for you specifically. After all, every body is different. The more time you spend in the gym doesn’t necessarily mean the more fit you are, either. The average person shouldn’t be exercising for more than an hour each day, if they’re doing it right, that is.
Rather than focusing on how long your workouts are, focus on how intense they are instead. The harder you work and the more intense your workout is, the shorter your session may need to be. Aim for a quick and intense workout, with short breaks in between sets. You’ll be able to achieve the afterburn effect that will keep your metabolism supercharged for up to 48 hours after you leave the gym.
7. You’re Not Dealing With Pressure
Stress can come in many shapes and forms. For example, your body undergoes physical stress when you’re working out. In order to lose excess fat, you need to have a healthy balance of exercise-related stress and time to recover. If you don’t take enough time to recover, however, your body has no choice but to go into defense mode.
The physical and mental demands of exercise cause a stress response in your body. You’ll start to overproduce a stress hormone, cortisol, in order to defend itself from the pressure. Cortisol is an important (and normal) part of exercising. It gives your muscles the energy they need to keep moving. When there’s an overload of cortisol for an extended period of time, however, it can have some negative effects, like stubborn belly fat. While your body stops producing cortisol when you stop exercising, mental stress can trigger this stress response as well. So, it’s important to keep your physical and mental stress in check so you can achieve full-body wellness.
8. You’re Not Getting Enough R&R
As previously mentioned above, your body experiences pressure and stress throughout the entire day, especially when you exercise. When you rev up your metabolism from an intense workout, it’s important to focus on a different set of muscle groups the following day. On the other hand, if you prefer full-body workouts, add a rest day to your routine, or do light cardio and stretching.
Rest and recovery can be thought of as simply being lazy, but it’s actually the opposite. A little R&R is often more important than the actual workout itself. In fact, it’s during this time that your body actually burns fat the most. Plus, if you push yourself too hard, you won’t be as able and willing to work hard the following day. So listen to your body. Go hard, but also give yourself some TLC, too.
9. You’ve Hit A Wall
Do you remember the excitement you felt when you first started seeing results from exercising? It typically comes in the first few weeks of consistently working out and eating right. You feel euphoric and motivated, excited to keep making progress. After a while, though, you notice the number on the scale won’t budge. You’ve plateaued, and here’s why.
When you lose weight, your body begins to adapt in order to maintain its new “normal”. As a result, the number of calories needed to lose weight shifts as well. For instance, eating 2,000 calories a day while working out may have been enough in the beginning to lose weight. However, now that you’ve lost weight and your body has adjusted, the number of calories you would need to consume has decreased. If you want to burst past this plateau, you’ll need to cut the number of calories you’re eating each day, or crank up your activity level.
So, if you’re struggling to meet your weight loss goals, there are plenty of things you can try to break out of your slump. From switching up your exercise regime to adjusting your eating habits, there’s a solution that will work for you. You just have to be patient and you’ll find it. Click here to learn more ways of getting back into exercising.