Have you been exercising religiously, eating sensibly, and maybe even counting calories but still not losing weight?
This is a very common concern amongst most clients that I encounter in my day to day work. They swear they’ve been doing all the right things and yet see little or no change with their bodies. On the contrary, some seem to be gaining more weight.
The most common question I get as a personal trainer from clients, friends, and acquaintances is why they don’t lose any weight despite all their good intentions. My answer to this is usually not straightforward as most would expect. This is because there are several underlying factors that affect one’s ability to lose or not lose weight.
Because of the constant barrage of questions regarding this topic, I’ve been doing some digging around in every resource available, trying to find the reason behind this scenario.
Below are seven weight loss mistakes that are hindering your progress on the scale:
1. You are only focusing on exercise alone.
Exercise is good for overall health and well-being and anyone who is active needs to be praised for their effort. Exercise is hard and requires a lot of discipline. Besides, if you exercise regularly and don’t lose weight, there are other numerous benefits that you get regardless of the changes to the scale or none thereof.
The truth, however, is that exercise alone will not help you lose weight.
It is true that exercise burns calories but not as much as you might think. When you work out, you burn from between 300-500 calories doing intense exercise for one hour. This is however dependent upon your weight, age, sex, and other factors.
On the other hand, when you eat a piece of cake or doughnut, you get close to 500 calories which will take you hours of hard exercise to get rid of.
No amount of exercise can make up for your poor diet. Therefore, the best way to lose weight is to cut back on your calorie intake and increase your level of physical activity or exercise.
2. You eat back all that you burn
You overestimate how much you burn and use exercise as an excuse to overindulge later on. We are all guilty of this one.
You rationalize that since you’ve been in the gym in the morning and did an insane exercise routine, you feel this gives you the right to eat without a care in the world. Alternatively, you say, ‘it’s okay let me have that extra beer and come tomorrow I will run an extra 30 minutes to burn off the extra calories’. Admit it, you’ve all at one done this.
And, if this sounds like you, then you’ve got the answer to your unfruitful weight loss efforts. You can’t exercise and eat back all the calories you’ve burned and expect to see any tangible results. Use exercise to help you burn calories but not as a license to eat more.
3. You are not consistent enough
I normally advise all my new clients to adhere to one crucial rule: show up.
Being consistent is very important especially if you’re just starting out, you’ve hit a plateau, or you’re struggling to lose the last few kilos. You can stick to a strict diet for weeks on end or follow a tough exercise routine for 8 weeks but unfortunately, that is not enough.
Fitness is not about doing an 8-week program then stopping after it ends. To be consistent, set long-term goals and move steadily towards them no matter how slow your progress is.
Sometimes back, at a gym where I used to train, I pointed out to one of the members I’d known for some time that he might as well take his money and give it to charity where it would be put to better use, instead of paying for an annual gym subscription and not using it all. Of course, he didn’t take this nicely because we don’t like being told the truth, it hurts. Later, he thanked me for being honest and direct to the point where he became regular in the gym as opposed to training two to three times a month.
Clearly, why should you pay your hard earned money to a gym and show up only once or twice a week and expect fast results? It’s never going to happen any time soon so wake up!
On the other hand, you can be very consistent with your habits but tend to fall off the bandwagon often. This can be by drinking every weekend with your buddies.
Being consistent means you practice portion control at all times and you don’t go overboard whether with friends or alone.
4. Your weight is normal
If your body fat percent falls within the normal range, then you probably don’t need to lose weight for any health reasons.
The common scenario is that when a person successfully loses a lot of weight, they start living in fear of gaining more weight. As a result, they tend to go to extremes. They overdo their weight loss and become skinny and sickly. Unfortunately, in their own minds, they still see themselves as fat. This is unhealthy.
It’s okay when you want to lose weight to look good and feel sexier. However, it is difficult to lose a single pound when your body fat is already low than when you have more weight.
Your body has a magical way of striking an equilibrium.
When you gain too much weight, your body will make you very uncomfortable until you eventually take action. When you lose too much weight, it will resist your efforts to lose more weight. If you push yourself further and lose more, you’ll invariably regain everything you had lost to maintain that balance.
Therefore, the best way to go about this is to apply moderation in all food and exercise habits.
5. You are only focusing on the scale
Like I had detailed in one of my previous articles (Ditch the Scale), most people complain that they are not seeing any change on the scale, even though they are losing inches.
When you do weight training, you will lose fat but at the same time gain muscle. The end result is that you will appear leaner but your weight might remain the same. When this happens, you should, in fact, be happy because your body composition is getting better, meaning you are healthier.
Do not rely on the scale to monitor your weight loss progress because the scale doesn’t give you the whole picture. Ultimately, if your physique is changing, be sure that you are on the right track.
6. You are not eating as healthy as you think
Most people think they eat healthily and consider healthy eating important. But, let’s look at it clearly. If you claim to eat healthily, but your weight is constantly increasing, something is not adding up. Know that you’re eating a load of crap and you’re in essence lying to yourself.
I’ve had countless incidences where clients tell me, ‘Ken, I don’t eat that much’. However, when I analyze the results that they are producing, the answer is there for all to see.
Results don’t lie. Just look at the results that your body is giving you. The inches, percent body fat and lean mass clearly show whether you are eating healthily or not.
Don’t compare your diet with what your friends are eating and rationalize that yours is better.
If you’re not tracking your food intake probably in grams, then quit making assumptions that your nutrition is perfect.
7. You are doing the wrong kind of exercise
Any exercise or physical activity is good for improving your health.
But, when you want to lose weight, what kind of exercise should you be doing? Some people say cardio is king, others say weight training is all you need. There’s another group that swears by aerobics and other dance classes.
It’s therefore very confusing to figure out which type of exercise will produce outstanding results.
All types of exercise burns calories. And for you to lose weight, you need to burn calories. However, focusing on cardiovascular exercises alone won’t give you that body that you dream of every day. You will lose weight but your muscles will appear flabby and saggy.
Weight training will help you build muscles and thus promote fat burning, during and way after your workout.
A well-rounded training program should be all-encompassing. It should include weight training, cardio, and flexibility exercises. You will experience amazing changes in your body in the shortest time possible by training using a well-balanced program.
Therefore, if weight loss is your goal, ensure your program has all the components of a properly designed exercise routine. This should include cardiovascular training, resistance training, and flexibility.
If weight loss is a goal that you’re pursuing, I have created a 12 Week Fat-Burning Program to get you started on this journey. You’ll only need a set of Dumbbells and a mat to get started. Check out the program HERE.