We all know that eating too much and not exercising only leads to weight gain, but sometimes our good intentioned weight loss efforts can really be sabotaging our plan. Here are 10 reasons you may not be seeing that scale budge:
1. Underestimating your calorie intake: If keeping a food journal for the rest of your life seems too hard – I understand. However, try to keep one for a week and total your daily calories without changing the way you normally eat. I bet you will be pretty surprised at the number. I have done this and was amazed how quickly they add up! A woman trying to lose 1-2 lbs. per week (more than that is considered unhealthy) should aim for around 1,500 calories a day if she is incorporating a moderate to vigorous exercise plan – which we hope she is! Make sure to never dip below 1,200 even if it is rest day.
2. Lack of sleep: Getting less than 7 hours a night or having disrupted sleep can play games with your hormones -leptin and ghrelin. A lack of sleep can cause a rise in Ghrelin (the I am really hungry hormone) and lower the Leptin level (the hormone that tells you you are full). See the pattern?
3. Not eating before you exercise: A lot of people think if they exercise on an empty stomach they will burn lots of fat. It may sound like it makes sense at first because your body has to get its energy from somewhere right? It does, and unfortunately when you exercise on a completely empty stomach that energy comes from lean muscle not fat stores. Your body feels like it needs to hold onto those fat stores since you haven’t eaten in awhile, but it can let go of some of your muscle. Since 1 lb. of muscle burns 50 calories a day just existing, we want to keep as much of it around as possible! Even if you are an early bird exerciser, eat a light snack of at least 100-200 calories that is rich in complex carbs such as yogurt or cereal with fruit.
4. Sitting too long: Desk jobs are a reality these days, so some of us can’t help but sit a lot during the day. If this is the case make sure to get up every hour and take a short walk or stretch for a few minutes. Sitting too long causes our bodies not to make as much Lipase – a fat burning enzyme. Take those short breaks at work to combat this.
5. You are building muscle! If you are keeping up with your workouts and avoiding the “diet” pitfalls, then you may be surprised to see that scale not budging. Time to go try on some of those clothes you have been waiting to get back into b/c if you are consistent with weight training you may be adding muscle and losing fat, but the scale may not reflect that! Go by how you look and how your clothes are fitting. Lose inches, not necessarily pounds!
6. Not eating breakfast: Don’t try to save calories by skipping breakfast! Eat within 1-2 hours of waking to give your metabolism a kick start. If you want until lunch to eat your body enters “starvation mode” and loves to hold onto that fat and eat away at your muscle. Since coffee isn’t really breakfast ;), you should eat a 300 calorie meal that includes complex carbs, protein and healthy fats. Eggs, fruit and whole grain toast is a great way to start the day!
7. Are you working out to your full potential? You really don’t need to log hours and hours of gym time to lose weight. Make your workout time really count by giving it everything you have! During intervals, don’t cheat yourself- work as HARD AS YOU CAN. If you are not feeling very fatigued by your last set during weight training then you are not training hard enough. This is your time-focus on your goal and making it happen!
8. Too many liquid calories – Without realizing it, what you are drinking can really sabotage your weight loss. Whether it is too much cream in your coffee, juice, sodas and yes even those sports drinks (they really aren’t even necessary unless you exercising INTENSELY for over an hour) these calories add up. You don’t have to give up all these drinks, just be mindful of how much you are consuming and try to add more water and unsweetened green tea in place of some of those drinks.
9. Eating processed low fat foods: They look so yummy, and they are low in fat! We have all done it. While we do deserve a treat once in awhile, low fat doesn’t always mean low calorie. Again watch the calorie intake for the day, and limit the amount of processed foods in your diet.
10. Focusing too much on “dieting”: Tell me I can’t have a brownie, and guess how long it we take me until I cave in and eat one. With anything “(not just food) when we know something is forbidden, we will want it more. If dieting is consuming your thoughts, you will get of sick of depriving yourself and stop completely. So don’t diet! In order to lose weight the correct way and keep it off, it has to be a lifestyle change- no way around it. That lifestyle change does include the occasional brownie or whatever your craving is – just not at every meal. Having a feeling of control without deprivation is the only way to make a true lifestyle change.