Not losing weight and can’t figure out why? These 5 reasons might be the key to unlock your progress.
Are you trying desperately to get in shape but at a loss as to why you’re not losing weight? You feel like you’re doing everything right but it’s just not working. After all, you’re eating healthy and pounding away on the treadmill each and every day, so surely you should be losing weight.
But despite that hard work, you’re in the same old loop. Jumping from training programme to training programme, trying to find one that delivers results. But so far that Holy Grail hasn’t materialised.
And as for the whole nutrition thing that’s just another minefield you’re trying to tiptoe your way through. Every piece of advice seems to contradict the last, and your confusion level seems to increase by the day. But you’re doing your best and trying to eat healthy.
However, the end result is still the same…
You’re not losing weight.
So what do you do? Because going down the wrong path AGAIN doesn’t sound appealing in the slightest. In fact, it might just push you over the edge of sanity.
Fortunately for you, this article gives you the answers you need and will help steer you on the right path.
Now’s the time to ditch the fitness magazines with their crazy workouts and training programmes designed by guys jacked up on a few grams of questionable substances. I’m going to share the 5 most common reasons why you’re not losing weight. And most importantly, I’m going to tell you what you can do about it.
So before you head to the gym to hit your next marathon 2 hour workout, read this article and reset your mind about what REALLY works and why you’re not losing weight. Don’t allow your frustration to build anymore. Because this is the help, guidance, and direction you need.
Why You’re Not Losing Weight: Unrealistic Expectations
Before we go any further, answer me one question. How many times have you seen an advert for ‘Ripped Abs in 6 Weeks’, ‘Bigger Arms in 30 Days’, or ‘Get Lean and Muscular in 8 Weeks’?
Pretty often right?
In fact, I’d be amazed if any of you haven’t seen something like that. Because that type of thing is all over fitness magazines these days. And they’ll pretty much pop up on any related search in Google without doubt.
And it’s not difficult to see why they work so well. Everyone wants to look great and achieve it in the shortest possible timeframe. So the process of life changing results and a cover model body in a matter of a couple of months is damn alluring.
So much so, that I used to get sucked into this type of marketing and try any programme or diet approach that claimed to give me the results I was after. But did they work? Fuck no! Not a chance. And most of the time, I was just a few pounds lighter in my wallet than from around my waist.
So here’s the reality check.
The belief that weight / fat loss will be a straight-forward process achieved in 12 weeks or less is unrealistic for most people.
Now take the time to go and read that again. It’s important...
Let’s assume that your goal is to get a defined six pack. Now that’s a common goal for most people I come across. Typically, it’s because there’s a summer holiday or special event just around the corner and you want to get in awesome shape for the Instagram pictures.
And the question is therefore, can that goal be achieved in 12 weeks?
Here’s my take on it. If you’re already fairly lean and looking to get defined set of abs then 12 weeks is possibly a reasonable timeframe (but even that is tight). And that’s on the assumption you do everything right. Basically, the lifestyle you enjoy at the moment would have to go out of the window for the foreseeable future.
But for the average person that doesn’t want to live like a hermit for the next 3 months, the goal is unrealistic. You’re start point is probably much further away. So the process of building muscle and losing fat is much longer than you think.
Now that’s not what you wanted to hear. But I’m not in the business of bullshitting you and selling you a dream that’s not reality. Because what sounds more appealing to you? Giving up all the foods you love and slaving away at workouts you hate, or following an approach that allows you to live your life without excess restrictions, while still getting long-term results?
I know which one I’d put my hand up for!
So if you think unrealistic expectations are holding you back and resulting in you not losing weight, here’s what you can do about it.
Stop listening to the marketing:
Stop listening to the clever marketing of people and companies that are trying to sell you a quick fix. 8 weeks to shredded abs is not realistic for 95% of the population. So put the fitness magazines in the bin and move on.
Accept your goal will take time to achieve:
Understand that your fat loss and overall transformation could be years away. That’s right, years! Most people with the physique you desire didn’t get it overnight (unless they had some help from some not-so legal supplements). It takes consistent hard work and patience to achieve long-lasting results.
Love the process:
Have a goal in mind, but don’t obsess about it.
Enjoy the process of getting there and making it a reality. Enjoy your training sessions and be excited about your workouts and pushing yourself each and every time you hit the gym.
And enjoy your diet. Adherence to your nutrition is the biggest key driver for success. Get this wrong and you won’t even get off the starting blocks. That’s why having a plan you enjoy is the MOST important thing.
And if you want help setting up a diet that isn’t full of restriction and flexibility then download my FREE eBook that guides you through the exact process I use for both myself and my clients.
This is a proven method that works, when you combine it with a good strength-based training programme. And don’t forget that important dose of consistency and sprinkle of patience.
And here’s the evidence of what this type of approach can deliver.
Hannah was keen to get in shape, drop body fat, and have a generally more lean physique. This is her progress over a 12 week period. And as you can see, there’s been a significant change in her physique and body shape. All of which was achieved while she was enjoying holidays, weekends out, and not overly restricting any part of her life.
And this transformation is still work in progress. There’s no unrealistic expectations. Hannah knows she’s on the right path and she’s focused on being consistent over time.
Why You’re Not Losing Weight: Focusing on scale weight and not body composition:
Not losing weight is a key reason why you might be considering giving up on your diet and switching to another programme. But the truth is that not losing weight shouldn’t be a particular concern of yours.
Scale weight only tells part of the story. And scale weight will fluctuate day to day depending on a number of factors.
For example, water retention will significantly impact the scales. Muscles are c.80% water so for a man that has a reasonable amount of muscle there will always be some initial consistent weight loss as muscles deplete of glycogen and water at the start of a weight loss programme.
For women, the menstrual cycle can cause significant fluctuations. So in these instances it’s important to measure periods of time within your cycle to get a more consistent appreciation of true weight differences.
Here are a few other things that can influence scale weight:
- The time of day you step on the scales
- How much you’ve eaten before you weigh yourself
- The size of the shit you took this morning
- How much sleep you had the night before
- How stressed you are
And make no mistake about it, there are even more variables that can impact that weight number. So be careful how you interpret that number when you look down at your feet. And certainly don’t let it impact your day.
In addition to all that one key point to remember is that you are interested in losing fat and building muscle. Being a specific weight when you step on the scales is not a goal. For instance it’s quite conceivable for some people that you could get the body you want at a heavier weight than you are now.
So you can see that using weight as the sole measure of success is fundamentally flawed. it should be use as one indicator of progress, not the be all and end all.
Here’s what you can to to make sure you’re not overly swayed and influenced by scale weight.
Take more measurements:
Take a number of measurements at the start of your programme, including arms, chest, waist, and thigh to get a full picture of where your start point is.
And take some ‘before’ pictures so that you can compare the visible changes further down the line too.
Measure body fat. And if you can’t do that yourself or have someone that can do it for you, compare yourself to known images online. Google ‘Body Fat Comparison Chart’ and match yourself up to the image you look like the most.
Only use the scale as a long-term indicator of progress.
Take the readings, log them, and ignore the day to day fluctuations. Take an average across a 7 day period as a better indication of weight loss.
Remember that you may be building muscle at the same time, so weight loss will never be totally linear. And you may even go through periods of weight gain. But that’s not necessarily fat gain.
More often than not it’s simply a change in levels of water retention.
Why You’re Not Losing Weight: Lack of Compliance
This is a coach’s number one goal when coaching any client. Compliance is so important for achieving your fat loss goals. Because the more you stay on plan, the quicker you’ll start to see great results.
So if you lack compliance then that could be a key reason why you’re not losing weight.
“But Simon, I’m sticking to my plan day in and day out. It’s definitely not a compliance issue”. Really? Well let’s look at the evidence.
Even though you may think you are tracking calories correctly, research has shown that people under report their calorie consumption by up to 40-50%. This study showed that a group of obese subjects significantly underestimated their daily calorie intake and overestimated how many calories they were burning through exercise.
And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this was a fundamental reason why they were not losing weight.
Because it goes back to my favourite topic, the calorie deficit.
If you’re not in a calorie deficit then weight / fat loss cannot occur.
So if you’re eating out regularly, or not tracking calories across the weekend, then you could be underestimating your calorie consumption.
So what can you do about it? Well here’s my advice…
If someone starts working with me and they say they’re eating correctly, but not losing weight, the first thing I would do is get them to track all calories.
And by that I mean ALL calories. Everything from the butter on your bread, to the oil used for cooking, and the dressings for salads. Basically, anything edible needs to be tracked.
And before you get all panicked by the having to track all that, let me just say that this would only be a temporary thing. It’s designed to show you the reality of how many calories you’re consuming every day. Once you have the idea and concept, you can dial back the level of tracking to a degree.
More often than not this technique serves as a bit of an eye-opener. Because an extra 50g of nuts here and there, the olive oil you cook with, and that extra slither of cheese before you put it back in the fridge all adds up.
Be honest with yourself
When you’re tracking calories don’t cheat yourself by turning a blind eye to the donut you had a work. Just because it was Sam’s birthday doesn’t mean donuts are calorie free (I wish they were).
Be honest with yourself. In the long run, noting everything down will actually benefit you. Because you can see where you’re going wrong and actually do something about it. Hiding it and putting your head in the sand does no-one any favours, least of all you.
Plus, if you have a coach, you’ll fry his brain if you hide stuff from him or her. So do everyone a favour and get everything out in the open.
Accountability is one of the biggest reasons you might fall off the wagon and drift back into your old ways. Not losing weight can simply be a symptom of not having the support network around you to keep to you on track.
And you can combat that in a numbers of ways. Here’s just a few.
Write down your goals and tell your friends and family about them. And encourage them to ask you questions throughout the process. Because you’re less likely to veer off your plan if you feel like your nearest and dearest will be “checking in” on you from time to time.
Utilise social media. Everyone has a social media account of some description these days. Whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, or one of the billion others.
So use these mediums to publicise your goals, your progress, and your fitness journey. Because you’ll actually find people are very supportive and motivational. So feed off of that positivity and use it to your advantage.
Get a coach. As an online coach I was bound to say that, right? But in all honesty, I truly believe in the value of proper coaching and even more so in what I do.
Because having someone guide you through the process is incredibly advantageous.
And in my case, I’ve been exactly where you are now. Frustrated at not losing weight and fat as I wanted. Ultimately, feeling like my goals were unattainable and not knowing where to turn.
Where I started
Here’s me back in 2014 when I was heavily into cycling. I was fit and lean, but not ready to grace the cover of a fitness magazine just yet.
My own personal challenge
A couple of months after that slightly embarrassing hotel mirror selfie was taken this happened.
That’s what a broken hip looks like in case you were wondering what the hell I’m showing you.
Where I ended up
So that’s quite the setback for anyone with a fitness goal. But with the right approach to training and nutrition, this is what I achieved in 2 years.
Note the fact I said 2 years! Because it definitely didn’t come overnight. It was a case of doing things consistently right over a period of time.
So the fact I was able to achieve the body I always wanted, despite these challenges was the one thing that inspired me to help others. I wanted to help people just like you work through frustration and barriers so you can achieve your goals. Because I genuinely believe it’s possible.
And over the course of working with clients, I’ve come across a myriad of different scenarios and problems. In fact, with every new client I learn something new, or have to come up with a solution to a new problem. And that’s the aspect of coaching that keeps things interesting and why I love it.
So if you feel like your not losing weight and making progress. And feel like you need that extra level of accountability and motivation then I’d urge you to strongly consider it. This article is not my sales pitch to you, but if you do feel like online coaching might be for you, then you can see how Iron Paradise Fitness can help you achieve your goals by clicking here.
Why You’re Not Losing Weight: You Need A Calorie Adjustment
Overtime you get to a point that you feel like you’re not losing weight. And after a period of consistent progress that can be frustrating for you.
But the thing to remember is that as you lose weight over time, you are naturally going to require less calories. Because you’re getting smaller and your requirement for calories is also reducing (assuming other variables remain the same).
Therefore, there’s potentially a point where you hit a maintenance level of calories and need to make an adjustment to how much you’re eating in order to keep progressing.
So here’s what you need to do.
Making a calorie adjustment
The recommendation here would be to cut 100 calories out of your current daily requirement. Usually that should come in the form of 25g of carbs. But it really comes down to personal preference. So do what ever you feel is necessary and suits your food choice preferences.
Try this for 2 weeks and see if if has the desired effect. Ideally, you’ll start to see your progress resume and you won’t need to drop calories any further.
But that is just a general guideline and everyone is different, so you’ll need to experiment with how much of a drop in calories you need.
And remember to not drop overall calories too low. Because being below BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is not good for your health, basic functions of the body, and your performance in the gym.
The temptation might be high to keep dropping calories. But low, low, low calories starts to work against you at some point.
Why You’re Not Losing Weight: The Process is Never Linear
The process of weight and fat loss is never linear. There will be periods of time where your progress will plateau and you feel like you’re not losing weight.
So your first reaction should never be to hit the panic button and start taking drastic measures.
In fact here’s a real example of the last time I was in a fat loss phase.
You can see there were periods of ups and downs along the way. But the overall long-term trend was in the right direction.
So the moral of the story here is to recognise that there will be periods where you’re not losing weight. And there will be periods where you feel like things have stagnated. But know that this is 100% normal. It’s not necessarily an indication you’re doing badly and should give up. Far from it.
Understand that any plateau or blip in progress is temporary. And you just need to keep working hard, maintain your motivation, and work through it.
And if you do find there’s a sticking point and you’re not losing weight as expected, revisit the first 4 points you’ve just read and tick those off your list.
Failing that you could add in some cardio to help with additional calorie burn. But don’t be tempted to overdo it, because you could fall into the trap of overtraining.
The Final Word on Why You’re Not Losing Weight
The reason why you’re not losing weight could be due to a number of different factors. And here’s a recap of the 5 most common things why you’re not losing weight:
- Unrealistic Expectations - Is your expected rate of weight / fat loss not based in reality? Give yourself a slap around the face and recalibrate with what’s achievable for a normal person.
- Focusing on scale weight not body composition - You specifically want to lose fat, not weight. So stop obsessing about the scale weight fluctuations.
- Lack of compliance - The close you stick to your plan the quicker and more effective your results will be. But you’re not a robot, so aim for CONSISTENCY OVER PERFECTION.
- You need a calorie adjustment - As you lose weight and drop body fat your requirement for calories will reduce. So the fact you’re not losing weight may be an indication you need a tweak to your overall calorie intake.
- The Process is never linear - Don’t expect to lose weight / fat at the same consistent rate every week. Unfortunately, this shit just doesn’t work like that. Because you will have ups and downs al the way along your journey, So the fact you’re not losing weight every week doesn’t mean you’re not making progress.
But the key thing to remember is that none of them are unfixable. Because every problem and obstacle has a solution.
And in most cases that solution is simple.
Get yourself in a calorie deficit and do some strength-based training.
So if you’re not doing those two things already, I urge you to start. Because otherwise you’re just spinning your wheels on the start line and not going anywhere.