When the scale won’t budge, your pants aren’t fitting any differently, and your waist measurement hasn’t changed at all despite changing your diet and adding exercise, it’s time to take an honest look at the little things that may be hindering your progress. You would assume that weight loss is a numbers game. Burn more than I take in, correct? Sort of. Here are some of the sneaky things you’re doing that have you wondering, “Why am I not losing weight?”
- Underestimating how many calories you are consuming. – Did you know that the FDA allows for a 20 percent margin on calorie counts? Think that meal you ate has 300 calories? Well it could be up to 360. It’s a good idea to overestimate when calculating calories when dining out or eating packaged foods.
- You stick to all “fat free” products. – You’d assume this change would help you lose weight. Wrong. Many manufacturers will remove the fat from their product, but replace it with sugar and other fillers. Instead, go for the low fat version; the little fat you will be consuming is better than sugar, dextrose, or high fructose corn syrup.
- You are eating too much. – Get out that food scale. Weighing your portions is the best way to insure that you are not over consuming. Your protein may be the size of your hand, but how thick is it? Rely on portion sizes in grams or ounces instead of tablespoons or cups for more accurate calorie counts.
- You’re good all week, then splurge on the weekends.- You are not alone. Weekends bring the feeling of freedom, and that lack of schedule can send our diet into a downward spiral. Allow yourself 1 to 2 treats on the weekend, but stay within your calorie count. You can undue all your hard work during the week with just one day of complete indulgence.
- You’re under eating.- Biologically, our bodies are made to hold fat during times of famine (think back to our ancestors living through harsh winters). If you are not feeding your body enough calories, your metabolism will fall into “survival” mode and you will hold on to body fat. For weight loss, women should multiply their bodyweight by 10-12 and men by 12-14 (these numbers depend on activity level, lean body mass, and genetics). And never drop your calories below 1200 (women) and 1500 (men).
- You are too strict and end up binging on “off plan” foods.- Deprivation doesn’t work. Go cold turkey on all of the foods you enjoy and you may end up falling completely off the wagon. Instead, don’t blacklist foods. Think of them as “all the time” and “sometimes” foods. Enjoy a small portion of what you’re craving 1-2 times per week, then get right back on track. Trying to be perfect may set you up for failure.
- You’ve cut out an entire food group.- First it was “low fat” then “low carb”, then 500 calories a day. The truth is these strategies don’t work in the long term. In order to keep your metabolism strong and lose weight at a healthy, maintainable pace, make sure you consume a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Keep your carbohydrates in the morning and around your workouts when your body will put them to good use.
- You keep “starting over”.- “I blew it, I’ll start again Monday”. This mentality will keep you in the “diet prison”. You’re not dieting, you’re making a lifestyle change toward a healthier, more fit you. One bad meal does not need to spell diet disaster. Admit it happened, move on, and get right back on track.
- You are eating 2-3 large meals a day. – This will work for some, but for most, over consuming at one meal then going hours without food will be bad news for both your metabolism and your blood sugar levels. Try to consume small meals every 2.5 to 3.5 hours, each with a small amount of protein. This will keep your blood sugar and energy levels even and make you less likely to eat more than you need because you are famished.
- You expect results overnight. – How long did it take you to gain weight? Probably years. Why do we expect it to come off overnight? Be realistic and give yourself credit for all the positive things you are doing. The scale is NOT the only gauge of your success. Celebrate small victories and know that maintainable, healthy, safe weight loss takes time.
- You are “Biting, Licking and Tasting” (BLT) yourself to death. – I’m talking about the calories we don’t register. The lick of the knife after making your child’s sandwich, the one peanut M&M at the office, or that handful of nuts as you pass the pantry. These items add up and can halt your weight loss progress. Commit to no “BLTs” this week and see how differently you feel!
Can you relate to some of these items? Devote to making small changes. Finally see the scale move, your pants get looser, and your outlook on weight loss turning positive. This summer will be your healthiest, most fit yet!