In Part 1 of this article I looked at 5 of the top reasons we don’t get the weight loss results we want. Here in Part 2, I explore another 4.
You Haven’t Given Yourself Enough Time to see Results
It may sound strange, but just because you’re not losing weight doesn’t mean you’re not getting results. Often, the results we expect are based on what the scales say, and if the number doesn’t move we decide that we’ve failed regardless of what’s actually happening both inside and outside our bodies. There are many factors that affect weight loss which, again, can’t always be measured or accounted for with the tools we have. In that sense, your body may be making changes that can’t yet be measured on the scales or with a tape measure.
Take some time to find out if you’re realistic about weight loss by asking yourself these crucial questions:
Are my weight loss goals realistic? Experts agree that a realistic weight loss goal is to lose between 0.5 and 2 pounds per week.
Am I seeing any results? Forget about the scales and determine whether there are other changes happening that may indicate you’re on the right track such as:
Losing inches, even if you’re not losing weight.
Your clothes fit differently.
You’re slimming down somewhere – You may see it as a failure if you’re losing weight, but not from the areas you’d like. It is not possible to ‘spot reduce’ fat on our bodies, so pay attention to all the changes in your body and you may find you really are getting results.
Have I given myself enough time to see results? It often takes 3 or more months to see significant changes and, for a lot of people, it could take longer. Making lifestyle changes can be a challenge and we usually have a few slips before we’re more consistent. And, keep in mind that the process isn’t always linear. Unless you’re perfect 100 percent of the time with your diet and exercise programme and, let’s face it who is, then you won’t lose weight at the same rate from week to week. It takes years of bad habits to gain weight, so expect to spend more than a few weeks to undo the habits and take the weight off.
Are there other benefits beyond the number on the scales? Results show up in your mind and body, not just the scales. Are you getting anything else out of your exercise and weight loss programme? Do you feel better? Sleep better? Feel stronger? Make a list and refer back to it if you ever feel discouraged.
You Have a Medical Condition
If you’re not getting weight loss results despite exercising and changing your diet, you’re probably frustrated, discouraged, and maybe even depressed.
Weight loss is a complex process involving a variety of factors we control, such as diet, exercise, activity levels, stress and sleep habits and some we can’t control, such as genes, gender, hormones, age and body type.
So, where do you start if you’re not losing weight? Step one is to see your doctor to rule out any medical conditions. This is especially important if you think you’re doing everything right and you haven’t seen any changes at all on the scales or your body after several months (or, worse, you’re inexplicably gaining weight).
Some health problems and common medications can cause weight gain, including:
- Some thyroid conditions
- Some diabetes medications
- Some antidepressants, including Prozac
- Beta-Blockers for high blood pressure
- Some antipsychotics and anticonvulsants
If you’re on any of these medications, talk to your doctor about the side effects and possible substitutes.
If not, knowing the side effects of what you’re taking helps you become more proactive about your situation. You may need to work harder to lose weight and be extra careful with your diet.
Keep a food diary, monitor changes in your weight, and let your doctor know if you gain more than 5 pounds in a month without any changes to your diet or exercise.
You’ve Hit a Plateau
Almost everyone reaches a weight loss plateau at some point. As your body adapts to your workouts, it becomes more efficient at it and, therefore, doesn’t expend as many calories doing it.
You may find that after your initial weight loss, your progress will slow down and eventually stop. Some common reasons for plateaus include:
- Doing the same workouts – Your body needs to be challenged to progress, so make sure you’re changing your programme at least every 4-6 weeks. Change the intensity or frequency of your workouts to keep your body ‘guessing’.
- Not eating enough calories –If your body doesn’t have enough fuel to sustain your level of activity, you can actually stop losing weight.
- Overtraining – If you exercise too much, the body sometimes responds by decreasing the number of calories you burn during the rest of your day.
You Don’t Need to Lose Weight
Many of us have unrealistic ideas of what a healthy weight and body shape is. We all have different shapes and, though we can make changes to our bodies, we can only improve on the bodies we have – not turn them into someone else’s body.
Think about this: Take away all the reasons you want to lose weight that have anything to do with how you look.
Now, look at what’s left… are there any other reasons that you need to lose weight? Are you at risk of developing medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease? Are you within your ideal weight range?
If you’re at risk, losing weight may be important for staying healthy. But, if you’re very close to your goal and can’t seem to get rid of those last few pounds, ask yourself if you really need to lose them. Would it be possible to be happy at your current weight?
None of us is perfect, and focusing on what is good about your body, as well as what it can do rather than simply what it looks like will help you to banish negative and destructive thoughts and aid in your long term goals of losing weight, gaining fitness and being healthier.