11 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight
Have you tried everything under the sun, but still can’t seem to lose weight? The key to weight loss, especially for women over 40, has more to do with mindset and consistency than how many different diets you’ve tried. Below is a list of 11 reasons you can’t lose weight.
One common mistake is thinking a temporary diet will get you permanent results. Whole30 and paleo are great, but they are very expensive and not easy to maintain if you want to have any sort of normal life. You’re mindset around eating has to be a life-long continuous thing.
I have done Whole30 a couple of times, and I can tell you as soon as I went back to eating normally and going out to eat a time or two per week, I gained the weight back even quicker than before.
This is just my theory, but I think when you clean your diet up THAT much, your body might “forget” how to process those other foods. So when you eat them again, it just takes it and throws it in the junk pile. A.K.A. your fat cells.
One great benefit I noticed was that my creaky joints and muscle stiffness went away, and my hair and skin felt so much better. But I only lost about 8 lbs, and didn’t keep it off when I started introducing other foods back in.
So bottom line, temporary diets result in temporary results. Instead of deprivation and starvation, learn to eat better quality foods. The quality of the calories also matters for weight loss.
Negotiating treats or workouts
How many times have you gone to bed all psyched about working out in the morning, only to wake up and hit the snooze 3 times. By the time you actually get up, it’s too late to work out. Another opportunity lost.
Or your coworker brings donuts. “I’ll just eat this one, and work out tonight.” The end of the day comes, and you have no desire to workout at all.
Do this several times a month and you’re weight loss progress will come to a grinding hault.
The best way to avoid this is to make a deal with yourself that NEGOTIATION IS NOT AN OPTION.
Skipping your workout to go to happy hour IS NOT AN OPTION.
Snoozing the alarm for 10 more minutes IS NOT AN OPTION.
When you hear that little voice saying, “I’ll go tomorrow” or “just 15 more minutes of sleep”, remember your goals and say “NO, WE’RE DOING THIS NOW”.
Then get right to your workout. Get right out of bed when your alarm goes off.
Speaking of workouts and diets, if you’d like a quick and easy diet and workout plan, check out my 7 Day Mind and Body Kickstart program here. It’s a day challenge I created out of my own need to get myself motivated to get healthy again.
Rewarding yourself with junk food
Have you ever done this?. Ok, *raises hand*, me too. But when you think about it, is it not the most counterproductive, accomplishment-ruining thing you can do???
We lose 5 lbs… “whoohoo! That deserves a nice banana split!”
We have a rough day, “I deserve this bottle of wine after the day I had” or “I’ve worked out every day this week, I deserve this (insert unhealthy food or drink here).
Again, it’s too easy to keep these little rewards going, and pretty soon you’ve fallen off your plan. Reward yourself instead with things you enjoy that don’t involve food or excessive amounts of alcohol.
Get a message or buy that cute outfit you’ve been eyeing. It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as you break the habit of using food as a reward.
The best (and most surprising) way I have found to figure out exactly how good or bad my eating habits are is to use a Food Journal.
Sign up to get your free food journal here. Just print out as many pages as you want.
I suggest tracking EVERYTHING currently eating and drinking for a week. Then going forward use it to plan your meals to make sure you are meeting your goals for calories and macro-nutrient goals.
Exercising your way out of a unhealthy diet.
Exercising may keep extra weight off to some extent, but it will not protect you from the damaging internal effects of an unhealthy diet. Your body needs a variety of vitamins and minerals that junk food is lacking.
Exercise alone can’t help clear out your blood vessels or digestive tract. Your exercise will also probably be less efficient if you don’t have the energy and nutrients you need to rebuild.
Using your family as an excuse for not eating healthy and exercising.
I know it is extremely difficult to make any life changes when others close to you aren’t on board. But this is about you and your goals. If you are the main food shopper and prepper in your house, talk to your family.
Let them know you will be cooking healthier food. Ask them to at least try to be on board with eating better.
You might be able to get their support by asking them to look for healthier recipes they might be willing to try. Bottom line is that you need to ask them to support you in your goals.
If they don’t want to eat what you cook, then they need to fend for themselves. Let them know you won’t be cooking separate meals, and you won’t be buying junk food. If they go out for fast food, ask that they don’t bring it home to tempt you with it.
Trying to “make up” for an unhealthy diet with exercise.
You cannot make up for an unhealthy diet… EVER. You may be able to burn up the extra calories, but the internal damage of eating foods high in fat and sugar cannot be eradicated with exercise.
The damage is already done and will continue if you don’t make changes to your diet.
Eating clean and low cal until you reach your goal and then going right back to eating unhealthy. Are you old enough to remember Susan Powter? Her motto of “Stop the Insanity” made her a household name back in the early 90’s.
The basic message was to stop with all of the up and down weight cycle and crash diets that prevent you from losing weight permanently.
Permanent weight loss requires permanent changes to not only your diet, but your mindset, too!
Focusing on how you look rather than your health
Isn’t it sad that how we look in our clothes seems to matter more than the doctor telling us we have high blood pressure, or that we are pre-diabetic?
This is a mindset I am very guilty of. When I was younger I was able to eat WHATEVER I wanted and never gain an ounce. Didn’t even need to exercise.
What many of us fail to realize is that although it may not show on the outside, when your diet is crap, the damage is already happening on the inside.
Thin people can still get heart disease and diabetes from a bad diet. Thin people still need exercise to keep their heart and bodies healthy.
Exercise is not just for those who need to lose weight.
When I think of cleaning up my diet and exercising, I have to admit it is mostly for vanity reasons first, health reasons second. In reality, improved health should ALWAYS be the number 1 motivating factor for eating clean and exercising. If you exercise regularly, the weight loss will come.
Not Eating Enough Calories
“But I thought the less calories you eat, the more weight you lose? ” So many people think this is the reason you can’t lose weight.
It depends how much less calories you eat. People think that if they fast and only eat once a day, or don’t go over 500 calories for the day and then go exercise for an hour, they’ll have the perfect bikini body in a month.
Why? Because your body is a very smart machine. Each of our bodies have a certain setpoint of how many calories we need to have just to survive with no activity.
Throw in the calories you need to accomplish whatever your daily activities are, and you need even more calories to function.
Generally, women should not go below 1200 calories per day. When you go too far below that, your body starts cannibalizing itself. Your metabolism slows to a crawl. If you workout under these conditions, your body will actual start to break down muscle first. Not to mention, you may fee sick or pass out from low blood sugar.
When you finally do eat, your metabolism has slowed to only use the bare minimum of fuel it needs for the moment. The rest is stored IN YOUR FAT CELLS. That means you did all that work for basically nothing. Very little muscle is gained and the fat stays right where it’s at.
No wonder so many people give up and throw in the towel when they try to lose weight this way.
Not only are you starving to death, you have no energy and see no results after all of that suffering.
Body composition is a much better indicator of a healthy body. Read my post about how measure body composition and why it is so important here.
Setting unrealistic goals
Summer is less than a month away, and I need to lose 40 lbs by July 9th. There’s no way that can happen. In order to succeed, you need to set small realistic goals that will eventually get you to your bigger goal.
Instead of saying “I have to lose X much weight by this date”, try setting weekly goals. “I’m going to aim for 2 lbs this week” is much easier and will give you a reward much sooner. It’s too difficult to think about a goal that’s weeks or months away.
There’s a trick I like to use when I run. I used to tell myself “2 miles is too far. “I can’t run that far without stopping”. Instead, I pick a marker in the distance and tell myself “ ok just make it to that stop sign”, or “just one more block”.
Then when I make that, I pick another one…. “ok, just now make it to that tree”. Before you know it, I’ve made it the whole distance without stopping!
You can use the same trick with other goals. Set smaller goals that are still a challenge, but doable. Those will ultimately add up to bigger results. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself by setting an unrealistic date or number of pounds. Just focus day by day, week by week, and you’ll get there.
Not planning your meals and workouts
The old saying “If you fail to plan, you can plan to fail”. This is SOOO true. I can’t tell you how many times I had good intentions to start eating clean. I was all set to make all my meals and pack them up for the week. And then I would opt to do something else on Sunday evening instead of shop and prep my meals.
What do you think happened to my diet?
Yep, fast food for lunch and starving with no healthy snacks the rest of the day. Then I would be so hungry that I would just stop and pick something up on the way home. Who wants to cook a bunch of food after long commute? So now tomorrow’s healthy meal plan isn’t looking too good either.
So just like with your workouts, make meal planning and prep a priority. Put it as a recurring event in your calendar, and let everyone know this is what you are doing at this time. No exceptions unless it’s an emergency. Treat it with the same priority you do your work meetings or doctor’s appointments.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, most of these reasons you’re not losing weight are due to you mindset around diet and exercise. Keeping a daily journal and tracking your progress can help change your mindset. You can then see patterns in your eating that may be related to stress or time management. Once you become aware of these issues, you can work on solutions.
Be patient with yourself and your body. Lasting changes take time, but the results are very much worth it!