Chances are, you've been on a diet. A lot of us diet. And the reason most of us diet is to achieve one thing and one thing only: weight loss. Whether you're following a conventional diet or simply counting calories and watching what you eat on your own, you might be wondering why you just can't seem to lose weight, right?
The good news: You can definitely lose weight.
If you have unhealthy and unneeded body weight, there is nothing your body wants more than to get back on track. It doesn't matter what your age is, how active you are, or what your diet has been like.
You're probably wondering why, if the weight comes off so easily, you can't lose weight.
Let's get to the bottom of that mystery.
In this article I'm going to cover:
- 3 big mistakes that stop people from losing weight
- 5 things you can do to start losing unhealthy body fat right away
Why Can't I Lose Weight?
Just over 50% of women try a diet of some sort every year. All that dieting adds up to A LOT of money. So much so that the weight loss industry is worth just over $72 billion.
If you've tried some sort of a diet over the past couple of years, such as a keto-style diet or even Atkins or paleo, the first five or ten pounds might come off pretty easily for a few weeks, then slowly creeps back on. In fact, not only does the weight creep back on, but a pound or two extra might make its way on board your belly or bottom, too.
There is no doubt that most of us need to lose weight. After all a majority of Americans fall into the "overweight" or "obese" categories. But before you attempt to lose weight again, it's important to understand potential mistakes you could be making that prevent you from maintaining long-term weight loss.
Mistake #1: Calories In/Calories Out
Back in high school, most of us learned that 3500 calories equal a pound of fat. Mathematically this is absolutely correct, but physiologically, our bodies simply don't keep weight off by cutting calories, especially when the amount of calories (a.k.a. energy) is too severe.
What happens: If you go from eating somewhere in the neighborhood of 2500 calories a day, which is pretty normal, down to 800 calories a day, you'll probably lose weight. In fact, you could lose quite a bit of weight if you dramatically cut calories like this. But the second you start eating "normal" again, your body will whack on the weight and put a couple of extra pounds on reserve.
If you happen to drop down to a very low amount of caloric intake because of an illness, such as the flu, or if you're doing a temporary one-day cleanse, you're probably okay. But if you maintain a caloric intake that's too low for too long, such as in the case of a very low-calorie diet, the weight will come back on quickly and you'll probably end up storing more fat than you bargained for as your body is in a perceived state of fight or flight.
You can read more about how eating too few calories throughout the day impacts your thyroid here.
Mistake #2: Lack of Patience
If you're eating healthy...and I mean truly healthy, it's perfectly fine to lose 1/2 pound a week. You're doing great. But for a lot of people, that type of progress isn't desirable because faster is better, right? Nope! If you're seeing progress, whether it's on the scale or measurable through your waistline, stick with it!
We've been conditioned to think that a "Biggest Loser" mode of weight loss is the path to take. But what a lot of people don't realize is that people who lose weight rapidly (more than 2 pounds a week) tend to re-gain the weight after a short period of time.
What works: permanent, long-term weight loss is slow and steady. The goal with all of my clients is to lose anywhere between 1/2 to 1.5 pounds a week - at the most! That may not sound terribly appealing, but after you put in six months of work and lose close to 40 pounds (the equivalent of 1.5 pounds a week), slow, steady, and permanent is pretty great!
You can learn more about private coaching with me here.
Mistake #3: Confusing Inflammation for Body Fat
If you're looking in the mirror and you see a body that is carrying a little too much extra weight, you're likely to assume it's body fat. And it could be! But if you've tried to lose weight by eating healthy foods, or foods you think are healthy, and the scale still won't budge, one of two things are happening: you're eating the wrong foods OR you have inflammation.
It's almost impossible to lose body fat (especially through the belly area) if you're dealing with chronic inflammation.
Fortunately, there is a lot you can do! Once you start controlling inflammation, the weight will start coming off.
Chronic inflammation can be caused by:
- digestive disorders
- recurrent infections
- an inflammatory diet (eat these foods instead)
- any condition you've had for a long time that ends with the letters "itis"
How to beat inflammation: Change your diet, pronto. Avoid eating fried foods, heavy meats, foods that have ingredient labels a mile long, and foods with added sugar. You should also cut out dairy, corn and soy, at least for a week or two, to see if you notice a difference.
The upside is that after you control inflammation, you can start re-introducing foods you had to avoid. I'm not saying you should go back to eating fast foods a few days a week, but you if you can get your arms around inflammation for a reasonable length of time and start notice the weight coming off, then you can go into a maintenance phase of re-introducing some foods in moderation.
**I'm kicking off a NEW group coaching program in 2021 that addresses meal planning, fitness and lifestyle. If you want more information, get it here.**
How To Keep Weight Off
You want to start losing weight now. I get it.
Here are five things you can do right now, that don't involve counting calories, to help you lose weight:
- Keep a food journal: Track absolutely everything you put into your mouth, from water to snacks to meals. You don't need to measure or weigh what you're eating, but roughly estimate how much you're eating so you can see it with your own eyes. Nothing is more enlightening than becoming totally conscious or mindful of what you're eating.
- Increase your fiber to 35 grams a day: Start increasing the amount of fiber in your diet. Eating vegetables or fruits with every meal is one of the easiest ways to make that happen. While fiber supplements, like Metamucil, might help with getting regular, they won't help with weight loss. Get real fiber from real food to see a difference. Here is a list of 70 high fiber foods to get you started (bottom of the article).
- Drink 12 ounces of water at these times: Drink 12 (or more) ounces of water when you wake up, and then 15 minutes before every meal or snack. Drinking water before (not during) meals or snacks helps to improve digestion. Oh, and you stay hydrated which is something that helps to maintain a more optimal metabolism, too!
- Push the table away a few hours before bed: Eating too close to bedtime can throw off your body's fat-storage hormone, insulin, when you need it least (at bedtime). Eating too close to bedtime also interferes with your body's human growth hormone (HGH). Remember, HGH is responsible for helping your body burn fat, maintain muscle mass and your youthful look! If you've had a late night and need to eat before bedtime, make it on the lighter side.
- Move your body: You don't need to run a marathon to stay healthy and fit, but you do need to move a little bit. At the very least, walk for 30 minutes a day to keep your joints moving and metabolism boosted. If you don't move it, you'll lose it!