Everyone has heard the adage of ‘eat less and move more’ to lose weight but it’s not always that simple, is it? Sometimes it can feel like you’re taking all the right steps and the unwanted pounds still aren’t shifting, leading to frustration and despair. If you’re fed-up with not being able to lose weight, the good news is that there is a reason and once you figure it out you can get started on the right path and work towards your body weight goals.
It’s expected that by 2025 (not long now) one-fifth of adults worldwide will be obese, with the UK to be among the countries most affected. The prediction, which is based on research, highlights the need for people to better understand why they struggle to lose weight and how to address the underlying issue.
Everybody is different and it’s important to realise that even under the same circumstances our bodies can react differently to others. Becoming fed up with the progress you’re making is a sure-fire way to fall off the wagon and back into old habits. One of the key things to focus on is the steps you are taking, however small, and the positive progress you are making. If you’re working hard and are still unable to lose weight it could be due to one of these common reasons.
You lack discipline
When you’re on a healthy eating kick do you often find that you have a treat when you know you really shouldn’t? Or maybe you think you’ve done really well but when you look back over the day you realise you’ve had several unhealthy snacks.
A lack of discipline is one of the biggest reasons why people fail to reach their weight loss goals and it’s a tricky issue to address as it comes down to your own will power. There’s plenty of temptations that mean you could reach out for a sugary snack rather than vegetables or put off exercising for another day but without discipline you’re unlikely to get very far or find you put the weight back on.
Only you’ll know if you’re putting in the effort to losing weight that you should be and can take responsibility to change it. If you know you lack discipline and want to move forward there are some steps you can take, including:
- Have a full health check. Speaking to a professional about the impact your weight could be have on your health could be the motivational push you need to be more disciplined.
- Set mini-goals and mark them off to keeping you going even when the road gets bumpy. Unrealistic goals can leave you feeling like a failure but mini, achievable goals can give you a much-needed boost when you reach them.
- Build up a network of supportive friends and family to help keep you on the right path when it comes to food. If you lack the discipline to exercise, try signing up to classes or arranging a run with a friend.
- Recognise that mistakes sometimes happen and pick yourself up and carry on even if you lapse briefly.
You need more knowledge
It’s likely that you know how many calories you should have every day – 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men – but do you know how many were in your lunch today?
According to research, Brits underestimate their calorie intake by 50%. The significant difference in the amount people think they are eating and what they are actually consuming suggests that a lack of education could be playing a huge role in the reason why many people struggle to shift the extra weight. Learning more about nutrition and what the body needs to function can arm you with the information you need to make more informed choices about food.
If you don’t have a clue about the calories you eat, a good place to start is simply recording them – either by making a note or using an app on your smartphone. You’re likely to be surprised by how many calories are in some of your favourite foods, even those you thought were healthy alternatives.
Once you’ve got a good understanding of calories and how many you consume it’s time to start cutting down. While you can lose weight simply by cutting calories, cutting out the wrong foods can leave you hungry, lacking the nutrition you need and can mean slower results.
Not all calories are equal, while a Mars bar has 260 calories so to can a prawn stir fry packed with healthy veggies. Clearly the stir fry option has far more nutritional value than reaching for a chocolate bar, helping you to feel fuller for longer and giving you the energy you need throughout the day.
You follow fad diets
Fad diets are tempting – they promise big results with little effort but rarely do they provide the long-lasting results you’re looking for. Ahead of New Year and the summer season fad diets pop up everywhere, promising to help you lose vast amounts of weight in a short period. The problem here is that you’re looking for a quick fix when you should be focussed on a switching to a healthier lifestyle.
Fad diets include everything from only having a certain smoothie throughout the day to cutting out entire food groups. Did you know that it’s estimated that just 5% of people who crash diet will keep the weight off? Obviously, fad diets don’t deliver long-term results for most people doing them, if they did the most popular diet wouldn’t change from year to year and the industry would be much smaller, after all, there would be less need.
Typically, fad diets result in the dieter losing a lot of weight during the first few weeks, but much of this is water and will come back quickly after you resume normal eating, before hitting a plateau.
The remedy for this problem is simple, you need to be patient and look at the long-term rather than the immediate future. Rather than focussing on losing a lot of weight quickly, you need to look at the bigger picture and embrace healthier lifestyle choices that are sustainable.
You confuse hunger and dehydration or overeat
The symptoms of dehydration can mimic those of feeling hungry, such as feeling weak, shaky, or dizzy. This leads to people confusing the two and reaching for food when they should be getting a glass of water. Overeating is the main reason people put on weight and can prevent them from losing it even when they are making some healthier choices.
Overeating isn’t just linked to dehydration either but feelings of boredom, habit, and a lack of knowledge about correct portion sizes. If you think you’re eating too much and confusing hunger and dehydration, there are some step you can take:
- Recognise the different signs – Hunger shouldn’t come on quickly but gradually. If you suddenly feel hungry look at what else could be causing the signs.
- Make sure you’re drinking enough water – It’s recommended that you have between six and eight glasses of fluid each day.
- Have a drink when you feel hungry – At the first signs of hunger try drinking a glass of water and waiting to see if the sensations go away.
- Learn portion control – If you’re eating too much learning portion control can help, you’ll know that you’re getting enough energy from your food.
- Differentiate between hunger and cravings – If you’re craving a certain food it’s likely you’re not hungry. Distracting yourself can be the best way to overcome cravings.
- Write down what you eat – If you’re picking at food when you’re bored it’s easy to forget about these extra calories, writing it down every time can be a way to help you cut back.
You expect supplements to be a magic bullet
A supplement should do as its name suggests – supplement your diet and exercise regime – but they’re not a magic bullet that will deliver results without putting in any effort, you still need to make healthier choices with food and be active.
There are lots of different supplements on the market that claim to reduce appetite, reduce absorption, or increase fat burning. Some supplement brands make exaggerated or inaccurate claims but spotting the ones you can trust can be as simple as looking at if they’re made in an accredited facility. Claims that seem too good to be true typically are, a supplement that states it’ll help you lose 10lb in a week without changing your diet or exercise routines should be avoided.
Supplements are an excellent way to deliver results but when you chose to use them it’s important to remember they are used to give an extra boost on top of the work you’re already doing. Eating right and exercising regularly should deliver you results, when you add in a fat burning tablet, for example, it should amplify these results, adding to your progress, and helping you to achieve your goals quicker.
You don’t exercise enough
There’s only so many hours in the day and hectic schedules can mean it’s difficult to fit in physical activity, especially if your job is sedentary. But while healthy eating alone can deliver results, exercising can speed up the process and help build muscle at the same time too.
It’s recommended that adults do at least 2 and a half hours of moderate to intense activity throughout the week or around 20 minutes each day. However, it’s estimated by the British Heart Foundation that a third of people in the UK don’t meet these levels and women are more likely than men don’t to meet the guidelines but other estimates put the number much higher.
It can be difficult to find the motivation to exercise as much as you know you should. Starting out with something that you enjoy doing is a great way to build your enthusiasm, signing up to classes can help with motivation too as you’ll have made a commitment. Once you start exercising you’ll develop a routine and the extra benefits, such as energy boosts and improved moods, can keep your enthusiasm going.
You repeat the same exercise routine
The fact that you’re exercising is great news but religiously repeating the same regime over and over again will mean gradually seeing less results over time. You need to mix it and try something new every once in a while.
Routine can help keep you motivated especially if you have a favourite class or exercise but stepping out of your comfort zone and turning your hand to something new can result in the boost you’ve been looking for. Exercising delivers results by placing stress on the body but, as it adapts, this stress lessens over time, resulting in the positive effects reducing too. Kicking it up a notch and changing your fitness routine can propel you towards your fitness and weight loss goals.
If that’s not enough reason to mix it up, it can give your motivation and enjoyment a boost too – it can be as simple as increasing your reps, switching exercises to target different muscles or joining a new fitness class.
Signs it could be time to shake up your exercise routine:
- Progress towards your goals has plateaued
- Your workout is no longer challenging
- You’re not a little sore the next day
- The weights feel too light
- You’re fed up with the routine
- You’re lacking motivation
You’re focussing on a targeted area
Everybody has a ‘problem area’ when they decide to lose weight and it’s easy to focus on this part of your body but it could actually be harming your overall effort.
Some exercises and products claim to target fat losses on certain areas, especially the belly – a common place people want to lose weight from. But it’s impossible to target where you will lose fat and people or products that claim this aren’t being accurate. It’s easy to be sucked into these claims, especially when they’re endorsed by a celebrity or claim to show results in before and after case studies.
The only way to lose fat is to create a calorie deficit either by cutting calorie intake, exercising or by combining the two. Where your body will lose fat from can’t be changed simply by using a certain product or exercising in a specific way. Typically, women are likely to lose weight from their thigh and hips first while for men it’s their lower abs that show the efforts of their work first – although it varies from person to person. The way your body stores and losses fat can’t be changed, that means doing hundreds of crunches every day won’t blitz your belly fat any quicker than a well-balanced diet and exercise plan that creates the same calorie deficit.
If you know you focus on a targeted area or have been taken in by impossible claims, it’s time to change your approach. Instead of looking at you ‘problem area’ looking at the bigger picture and know that eventually you will lose weight from your belly, thighs, arms or anywhere else that makes you self-conscious if you keeping going.
You have a medical reason
There are medical reasons that could be affecting your weight loss journey. If you believe you’ve taken all the right steps to improve your health and lose weight or have other symptoms it’s a good idea to seek professional, medical help. A medical reason doesn’t mean you can’t shift the unwanted weight, it may simply mean you need to start taking medication, take a different approach, or expect to achieve your goals in a longer time frame.
Medical reasons for not losing weight include:
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Sleep apnoea
- Cushing’s syndrome
If you think you have a medical condition that’s affecting your weight loss speaking to a doctor can help address any issues and put you on the right path to improving your health.