You cut out the junk, you're not eating too late at night and you're staying active. You feel good and your clothes are fitting better, but something isn't adding up. You're losing inches but can't lose weight. What gives?
Why You're Losing Inches But Not Weight
When I start working with a new client who has an unhealthy amount of body fat to lose, I always (I mean ALWAYS) have them take a thorough measurement of their natural waistline, hips, thighs, and upper arms.
Because it's incredibly common for people just like you to tighten up before you lighten up...and that's not a bad thing.
What's happening is something called recompositioning. Another way to think of this is your body is trading in fat for muscle. And yes, you can do this through diet, especially if you're shifting from a highly refined diet to a diet consisting of clean protein, healthy fats, and high-fiber carbohydrates.
Now, I want to be clear that if you have a good amount of weight to lose and you continue to eat healthy, you will see the weight come off. Just because it's not happening after two weeks of starting a healthy eating plan is no reason to quit or get frustrated.
When Will You Actually Lose Weight?
Anywhere between a half-pound to two pounds a week is good. If you're not seeing that right away, but you're losing inches, don't worry about it. Progress is being made an eventually it will be reflected on the scale.
If you begin losing more than two pounds a week, and you're concentrating on cutting calories...be careful. That could come back and bite you with a rebounding weight gain the first time you go back to eating "normal" again. Two pounds a week, unless there is significant inflammation (see below) is generally considered a safe, maintainable place to be.
Everyone loses weight at different rates because every body is unique. For example:
Do you have inflammation?
If you're someone who has a lot of inflammation, you'll probably see the weight come off fairly quickly followed by actual fat loss. Inflammation, however, decreases best when following an anti-inflammatory diet. Learn more about belly fat and inflammation.
Are you a chronic dieter?
If you've spent years jumping from diet to diet, your body might not know which direction you're going in - making weight loss harder. The best thing to do is, as boring as it sounds, eat a very clean, balanced diet without over or undereating and you'll see the weight come off. It may take a little more time, but it will happen.
Are you over 30 or 40?
It's true that we lose a little muscle mass every year that we age, it sure doesn't mean that you're going to pack on the pounds! You may not be a spring chicken, but you can still get into the best shape of your life. I'm over 40 and speaking from experience. Weight will come off. Just keep moving. Exercise will help maintain bone density and muscle mass. If you need to get into shape, pick up a copy of The Belly Burn Plan.
Did you have a baby within the last year?
Pregnancy weight can take time to come off, so go easy on yourself. That said, I've worked with hundreds of pregnant and/or postpartum women and helped them get back into shape with a little proper meal planning and fitness support. You can do this entirely on your own, too. Focus on getting sleep when you can, eating as healthy as possible, and regaining some strength.
Are you in menopause?
The average woman gains about five pounds going through menopause. Hormones are busy playing around with our bodies and maintaining an optimal weight can be more challenging than before. Try to keep exercising, watch out for refined carbohydrates and alcohol, and increase the amount of fiber in your diet. This is an incredibly oversimplified snippet of advice, but it can be quite helpful. Refer to my services or pick up The Belly Burn Plan for extra support.
Watch Out For Weight Gain Setbacks
If you're reading this, it's probably because your clothes might be fitting you better or because your waistline is smaller, but the weight is not coming off.
You may also be frustrated or think that you're not making progress.
Let me tell you right now that that's not true. If your measurements are changing and your clothes are fitting better (even in the least bit) you're moving in the right direction.
But our minds are conditioned to focus on the number on the scale. Don't let this demotivate you from moving forward and sticking with what you're doing.
We all have a different body composition. Some of us carry more muscle, some of us have a broader bone structure, others are taller or shorter. It all really depends. If you're eating right, your body will find a balance.
Do your best to maintain motivation and watch out for these all-too-common setbacks:
Emotional or Stress Eating
Much easier said than done, but if you know that you're prone to emotional or stress eating, and the triggers for high emotions or stress are in your space of living, avoid having them in the house. Instead, conscious have a backup until you're better able to cope.
- Instead of eating a candy bar have a couple of squares of very dark chocolate on the ready. Dark chocolate has a way of making our brain happier while making our bodies healthier.
- Instead of ice cream, have a small container of frozen chocolate-covered strawberries or frozen grapes in the freezer.
- Instead of chips, have a few containers of fun types of hummus or guac in the refrigerator ready to be paired with a bunch of high fiber veggies.
- Instead of wine or a cocktail, try kombucha or sparkling water with a little juice.
The Weekends-Don't-Count Attitude
Weekends count. It's okay to have a splurge dinner after you've been on a great track for a month (and seeing progress), but don't throw in the towel every Friday night only to regroup again on Monday morning. By the time Monday morning rolls around you'll be puffy, a pound or two heavier, and wishing you never had brunch the day before or the chips and margaritas on Saturday.
I do not want to make you feel even remotely guilty for having fun (I do all the time), but weekend eating is about 30% of all your eating. Just some food for thought.
One Last Hurrah!
A close cousin of the Weekends-Don't-Count attitude, One Last Hurrah! happens all the time, and it just delays the whole process of moving from getting from where you are to where you want to be.
I often remind my new clients of this phenomenon which usually involves one extremely decadent day or meal of going overboard - eating and drinking whatever you want - because it will be the last time for X number of days before you can eat what you want again.
A Last Piece of Advice
Eventually, your body will start shedding the pounds along with the inches. Don't diet. What I mean by that is don't spend your days counting calories or worrying about grams of fat. Life is too short. Rather, focus on becoming a food snob. Your body is better than a bag of chips and soda. Eat foods that turn your body's metabolism on and nourish you from the inside.
After you've been on a good track for a long enough period and trust yourself eating a piece of cake or a slice of pizza and know you won't overdo it. then eat cake or pizza. You won't suddenly gain the weight back because you enjoyed yourself. Just don't make it a daily habit and keep your eye on the prize...a healthy body, inside and out.