Weight loss can be tricky. We all know we need to consume fewer calories than we burn to lose weight, but sometimes—even when you’re doing all the right things—that weight loss can come to a screeching halt.
This can happen for a number of reasons, but, more often than not, it’s comes down to something that requires a serious lifestyle change to fix. Here are 5 of the most common, yet not-so-obvious reasons you’re not losing weight, plus some tried-and-true.
The Secret Formula to Getting Fit and Losing Weight
I hesitated to write this secret in a blog post because I could make MILLIONS sharing it as the health industry is booming right now. But I’m generous so here’s the single secret formula to losing weight and getting fit: STOP EATING SO MUCH CRAP AND MOVE AROUND MORE! Seriously, anyone who really tells you any different is just lying. Yes I’m aware there are medical conditions. Yes I’m aware there are tons of studies around the plagues of white bread. Yes I’m aware that there are fads that encourage eating only things that dinosaurs could have eaten. I don’t care. Seriously. Nothing can sustain your fitness more than the realization that you just need to eat smarter and be active. I don’t think this involves you turning into a gym rat, nor does it involve requiring any significant investment in stuff/supplies/equipment, but it does involve dedication and time…sometimes two of the hardest things to give up.
No amount of exercise will help if you keep stuffing yourself with crap food. That was a big part of my problem. I LOVE food…all kinds – I don’t discriminate at all on food. Ever. I would eat whatever I thought tasted good…and lots of it. There is no way anyone can really lost weight and get fit without changing the habit around eating smarter. Notice I didn’t say diet, or only eat plants, or whatever. Eating smarter isn’t always about eliminating everything, but about being aware of what you are eating.
For me, the easiest way was to track calories. Now I don’t care about anyone who is going to jump on my method and say ‘counting calories is not the right way, blah blah’ – I don’t want to hear it. For me it is a simple formula. More calories in…more weight. Less calories…less gain. This method also allowed me to basically continue to eat whatever I wanted. My eating habits would change naturally because guess what – an 18oz rib-eye is a lot of calories! There are other methods like Weight Watchers that are similar (‘points’ based) in basically assigning a value to all foods you eat. I think these approaches are the easiest to understand and manage.
The best way to understand what you are eating is to write it down. Seriously write EVERYTHING down. And I’m not talking “sandwich” is what you write down, I’m talking “two slices wheat bread, 1.5oz turkey, 1T mayo, 1oz cheese” detail here. There is no way you can begin to understand how much you are eating unless you understand it at that level. For basically 4 months I wrote every ingredient down in every meal I ate. It started out to be incredibly annoying but just became routine and I used tools to make it easier (see below).
For me, I had to radically change my diet. I wasn’t eating any breakfast usually (and when I did it was a chocolate-filled croissant), would have whatever the café special was at work (usually high in calories) and would LOVE to go out for dinner at typical restaurants (Mexican, Asian mostly). I also had a soda for lunch and didn’t really drink much else during the day. I changed this completely. I focused on trying to eat more protein, less sodium and less sugars. I didn’t really focus on other specifics like carbs, etc. Here was a typical day for me food-wise:
- Breakfast: Protein Shake. I exercised first thing in the morning and would have a post-workout protein drink. I used 100% Whey Protein as my mix. I know this has more things in it that I couldn’t pronounce, but I allowed myself to break the whole foods rule for my protein substitutes. The mix that I used was Cytosport 100% Whey Protein. It was not delicious but was not disgusting either. Over time I changed this to mix with almond milk, frozen bananas and a berry choice for more of a shake. This shake approach is now my preferred method. Freeze a bunch of bananas and they add great flavor but also serve as the ‘ice’ to get it to shake consistency.
- Lunch: Depending on my schedule I’d have another protein substitute like a protein bar. I’ve been pretty busy at work lately and not really near any food options easily (lots of meetings and running between buildings) so using protein bars helped provide me some nutrition and tide my hunger over. My sister-in-law turned me on to these Quest bars and they actually are quite good. They don’t taste like glue and sawdust. These have become my choice protein bar for now. Low in calories as well.
- balsamic vinaigrette. I’ve NEVER liked salad, but this was okay and I got used to it.
- Dinner: Whatever my wife made for me. Seriously the best thing is to have no choice, especially when your wife is on a healthy food lifestyle. If I came home and there was a plate of quinoa and kale in front of me, I’d eat it. NOTE: Kale is a weed…I hate it. But this was the best thing as it prevented my mind from wondering what’s for dinner and dreaming of different things. Occasionally we’d go out for sushi or Mexican food, but I would choose very simple options there…and exercise harder the next day.
- Snacks: none. I just cut them out. This was what was causing me a lot of problems throughout the day. I just stopped cold-turkey. At home if I wanted a later snack after dinner, I would hunt for a banana or nectarine and that satisfied me.
- Drinks: I haven’t had a soda in 4 months. I’ve been drinking only water. I hate water. It has no flavor and no enjoyment. I chose to vary my water with herbal lemon tea (we have an easy setup at work). I tried to drink as much water when I could remember. I went to the bathroom a LOT more during the day and that’s a good thing. Seriously – drink more water.
That’s the essence of it. It was/is VERY hard change for me and my food love. But it was necessary to get me back on track. I think I’ll be celebrating my goal victory with an amazing meal but will be smart about my choices more often than other times. This is what worked for me. Calorie counting doesn’t work for everyone and there are a ton of opinions about it…but for me, it worked and I have the evidence to prove it.
You Have Poor Digestion The gut is incredibly complicated, and scientists are only scratching the surface when it comes to understanding how the natural micro-biome of gut bacteria works. But one thing is clear: whether you want to improve your ability to lose fat, boost your immune system, clear up your skin, or even just feel better on daily basis, it all starts with gut health.
Unfortunately, most people don’t usually realize their gut isn’t functioning properly until it’s too late. But there are steps you can take to help prevent any malfunctions: reduce stress, eat fewer meals or even consider periods of fasting to give your digestive system a break, minimize the consumption of legumes, grains, sugar and pastured dairy, and chew your food until it’s mush before swallowing.
You’re Not Eating Enough Fiber Fiber aids digestive health and helps to create a sense of fullness, which makes consuming fewer calories easier.
It’s estimated that only 5% of Americans get enough fiber. Why are people missing out? Most of us assume we’re getting enough from grain-based products like bread and cereal, but the reality is these highly-processed foods have been stripped of their nutrients and fiber. Instead, eat more fruit and vegetables, and opt for whole grains, like brown rice and steal-cut oatmeal.