Seven reasons why I can't lose weight
Your weight loss has ground to a halt and you’ve hit a plateau. I hear your frustration, so let’s look at seven reasons why you can’t seem to lose weight and what to do to achieve a breakthrough.
As you read on, consider which reasons apply to you. If you discover that just one situation applies to you, apply the strategies. Some reasons for plateauing will be more challenging than others, but no barrier will hold you back from feeling fit, strong and in your best shape.
Here are the 7 reasons why you can’t lose weight:
Blowing out calories
- Not burning enough calories
- Social eating
- Hormonal fatigue
- Medical matters
Now, let’s look at each reason...
1. Blowing out calories
You may think you are on target with your Accelerator of Jumpstarter weight loss nutrition plan, but are subconsciously overeating or drinking each day.
What to do about calories:
- Check you understand the MJ Food Exchange sizes. For example, just 10g nuts or just 10 cashews = 1 Healthy Oil, not a 30g handful.
- Check your portions for MJ Exchanges. Use a measuring scale for some foods. You might be having 3 Starches from muesli rather than 2 for breakfast
- Consider keeping a food journal for a few days to write down everything you eat and drink. You may be surprised what you find.
- If you discover you have been overeating, adjust your food intake to drop calories.
2. Not burning enough calories
Sometimes we can think that just a small amount of exercise is all that’s required to lose weight. If your exercise routine consists of 3 x 30min walks a week, you may need to nudge this up. Increasing your MJ Effort Level from a 4-Moderate to a 6-Somewhat hard (see your MJ Effort Gauge) will significantly increase your calorie burn, build muscle and boost your metabolic fitness. As you get fitter, you can burn more calories in every workout.
What to do about calorie burning:
- Increase the amount of exercise you do by increasing the duration or frequency of workouts.
- Boost the effort you put into your workouts. You may feel discomfort at first, but as you get fitter, you’ll feel fantastic.
3. Social eating
Eating “on plan” 6-7 days a week is what achieves results. If you go off your plan on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for a long weekend of social eating and drinking with family or friends, it won’t work – that’s 4 days off and only 3 days on.
I want to enjoy social eating, but a highly social lifestyle is often not compatible with results, unless everyone you are eating and drinking with is making leaner choices.
What to do about social eating:
- Understand that your current lifestyle may not be compatible with the results you desire – you can’t always have both.
- Aim to stay on plan more days – the weekend doesn’t start until the weekend!
- Reduce your social eating schedule and make your social meals special occasions.
- If you can’t avoid social eating, ensure you can choose leaner options.
If family, friends or workmates are not on board with your new healthy lifestyle, they can sabotage your efforts. Offering chocolate or saying you’ve worked hard this week and deserve a treat are subtle ways to sabotage your best intentions.
You can also be sabotaging yourself and not even know it. Sometimes on a weight loss journey, you can get to a point where you get scared of success or think you don’t deserve success. Then, you undo all your efforts just to incorrectly prove you can’t do it – when you really can!
What to do about sabotage:
- Explain to family, friends or workmates that you are not made of willpower and need their help to succeed. It may not always be an easy conversation, but you’ll win them over if they truly want the best for you. If you don’t get their support, go it alone and prove to them you can do it.
- Remind yourself that you deserve a few things. You deserve to take the time you need to get fit and healthy. You deserve to be at your fittest, best weight ever and feel fantastic.
5. Hormonal fatigue
There are four inter-related causes of general hormonal fatigue - under-sleeping, over-stressing, under-eating and over-training.
Lack of sleep and stress not only drain you, they have a profound impact on your metabolic function. Poor sleep upsets hormonal balance, increasing levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Stress elevates cortisol, which also triggers cravings and increases the likelihood that body fat becomes more stubborn.
Under-eating can place your body in starvation mode and cause a drop in metabolic rate. Over-training can push up cortisol levels and although you are burning loads of calories, your efforts are cancelled out when body fat won’t shift.
What to do about hormonal fatigue:
- If you are under-sleeping or have disturbed sleep, implement a sleep strategy that is just as much a priority as your food and fitness plan. Aim for 6-8 hours of sleep a day, without disruption.
- Take steps to manage stress by changing either the source of stress, your reaction to the stressor at least, take time out to relax and recover from chronic stress.
- If you are failing to eat at least 5000kJ / 1200Cal a day, you may be going short on fuel and nutrients. If you are larger or more active, you may need more energy to avoid fatigue.
- If you are over-training, it’s time to ease off to allow your hormones to recover and work properly. Training levels are individual, but more than 60-90 minutes of daily high-effort exercise for weight loss, with no rest days can be too much
6. Medical matters
When you are eating well, exercising right, sleeping OK and stress is managed, but the weight won’t budge, it’s time to investigate whether a medical issue is holding you back.
Hormones are the first thing to check. High blood insulin levels can trigger your body to store more body fat. An underactive thyroid means your metabolic rate may be lower than normal. And sex hormone imbalances can pose a barrier too.
Next, consider any medications you are taking. Some drugs can make it harder to lose weight by increasing appetite, slowing metabolism or have other effects.
What to do about medical matters:
- If despite your best efforts, your weight is still unhealthy, talk to your Doctor about your frustrations and that you’d like to check if any medical problems could be holding you back.
- If your blood sugars are high, make a renewed commitment to eating and moving the MJ way, which is designed to help reduce insulin levels.
- If you discover you have an underactive thyroid, medication may normalise this and results will follow.
- Ask your Doctor to inform you if any medications you are taking have appetite changes or weight gain as potential side effects. If so, ask if there are other options to try.
- Go back to your Doctor for regular reviews to adjust any medications and your plan of attack.
Just like your height, genes influence your weight and body fat level. But whereas genetics likely determine 100% of your height, around 30-70% of your weight is predicted by your genes. The rest is determined by your lifestyle and up to you.
You may have more ‘heavy’ genes, which can predetermine a higher weight than you’d like. You might have chosen a weight loss target that is below your genetic potential. I know this sounds blunt, but understanding your genes has the potential to help you feel more comfortable and accepting of your body.
What to do about genetics:
- Be patient, as your weight loss and body shape changes may be slower.
- Appreciate that people come in all shapes and sizes. Very few of us have supermodel physiques and you shouldn’t judge success based on this so-called ideal.
- Review your target weight. By taking the pressure off achieving a much lower number, you may feel much better.
- Focus on achieving your best and healthiest weight, not your lowest weight.
Persistence, patience and breakthroughs
I’ve been a part of the weight loss journey of thousands of people. So, I know a thing or two about what it takes to reach your weight goal.
Re-evaluating your diet to find sources of hidden calories is an easy part. Putting more effort into workouts is harder. Asking your partner not to sabotage you is a little more difficult. And medical issues can be even more of a challenge.
The key to weight management success is being both persistent and patient.
Examine the seven reasons why you can’t lose weight and action the strategies that fit to reveal the places you’ll find a breakthrough.
You deserve to feel fantastic and I’m cheering for you.
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