Why Am I Not Losing Weight? How To Really Measure Progress
You decided it was time to lose weight, you invested time and effort in a new proven fitness or diet method, and now you’ve hit your first bump on your weight loss journey: the scale. You gave it your all, followed your routine to a T but it’s just not paying off. The numbers on the scale aren't getting any smaller––or worse, you’re actually gaining weight. You were pumped, now your motivation is wearing off, and the same question is on your mind over and over again: Why am I not losing weight?
Weight loss is one of the most common resolutions and we understand the frustration of not seeing results when you set your mind to it. However, there’s more to health than numbers on a scale and we’re here to show you how getting fit doesn’t always mean losing weight. And if you really feel as though you should be shedding more pounds than you are, there’s probably an explanation too.
If your goal is weight loss, make sure you’re coming at it from the right perspective. Do you want to lose weight because you feel pressured (be it from the unrealistic images we see in mass media, from someone in your life, or a distorted self-image)? Or are you genuinely concerned about your health and/or do you feel better about yourself when you exercise? Your reasoning should be somewhere within the latter.
If you’re someone who struggles with body positivity, click here to read about why you should love yourself no matter what the scale says.
So, why am I not losing weight?
First things first, losing weight takes time and consistency and definitely doesn’t happen overnight. For some of us, it’s even harder than others and there are explanations behind this. Do you feel as though the numbers on the scale aren’t a true reflection of your efforts? Here are the 10 most common reasons hindering your weight loss journey.
You’re not sleeping enough
There’s a reason why it’s called beauty sleep. Not getting enough time under the covers has a disastrous impact on your mental and physical health. Research shows that people who sleep five hours or less are more likely to gain weight than those who sleep more. And there are different reasons for that. Being tired makes you feel hungry so you're more likely to overeat and more likely to skip your workout. Sleep deprivation can also upset your hormone balance and encourage your body to store more fat. To go more in-depth, try following our tips on how to get better sleep.
You’re too stressed
We all know that stress is bad for us but did you know it could also be detrimental to your weight loss journey? When stressed, your body kicks into survival mode and starts producing cortisol, a hormone that increases appetite and makes your body hold on to fat more. Stress is a difficult condition to overturn—it’s not like there’s an off switch. That said, stress management is a thing and there are ways to bust stress or at least cope with it better. These include meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, or even walking in nature. Do your best to relax.
You’re not drinking enough water
Hydration plays a major role in weight loss because your body cannot burn fat if it is dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water is not only essential if you’re working out, it’s also a necessity if your goal is to lose weight. Water is a natural appetite suppressant, it helps to cleanse your body of waste and prevents water retention. Talk about an underrated ingredient! Aim for at least two liters of fluids per day.
You’re drinking too much alcohol
No, a cheeky drink never hurt anyone, but training and alcohol don’t mix well at all. Alcoholic drinks are full of sugar and pack a punch in terms of empty calories. Alcohol is not a nutrient and its calories cannot be stored in your muscles as energy that your body can burn later. Instead, they’re converted to fatty acids and stored as fat. Oh dear. Alcohol also depletes your energy and performance and messes up with your metabolism. It’s thus best to steer clear of it when looking to lose weight. If you do need to drink alcohol at a social event, stick to one glass and choose red wine or clear spirits. But if you do overindulge, see how to cure a hangover while staying healthy.
You’re eating too much
If you’ve embarked on a new fitness journey, you’re likely to be burning more energy and calories. This doesn’t mean that you can compensate by eating as much as you please, even if the food is healthy. Weight loss is closely linked to how many calories you’re eating and most of the time, we tend to underestimate that number. While obsessing over calories is not a healthy strategy, being mindful of just how much you eat throughout the day and keeping track of your portions is a great place to start. And remember: if your body doesn't have enough energy to sustain your level of activity, it will store fat, rather than burn it.
You might not want to hear this, but weight loss is a process. We often want things to happen right here, right now but it doesn’t work like that when trying to lose weight. It often takes 3-4 months before starting to see results. A slow pace is healthy and allows your weight loss to be sustainable. If you lose too much weight too quickly, you’re more likely to experience the yoyo effect, and nobody wants that. Besides, maybe you are actually seeing results that are not visible on the scale such as being more comfortable in your clothes or losing inches. This means your efforts are actually paying. Hold on to these little wins whenever you feel discouraged.
You’re not eating well enough
The following saying is famous in the realm of fitness: you can’t out-train a bad diet. Weight loss is always part physical activity and part nutrition, and if you’re eating junk food, it really doesn’t matter how much you’re compensating with exercise. Sure, the occasional treat is ok––as long as it is indeed occasional. To avoid hurting your weight loss goals, stay on track of your nutrition. Craving a snack? Choose a healthy high-protein option: Studies have shown you feel fuller longer and consume fewer calories when you eat more protein.
You have a medical condition
Maybe you’re putting in the effort but not achieving your weight goals because of underlying medical issues. Weight loss is a complex and delicate mechanism that we can’t control every aspect of. Metabolism is affected on an individual level by things such as age, gender, genetics and hormonal balance. Several health conditions (e.g.: thyroid problems) and medications (e.g.: antidepressants) have been linked to difficulties losing weight. If you aren’t losing weight and want to rule out any medical condition, see your physician for a check-up.
You’re not challenging your body
When you start a fitness routine, results can be quite impressive at first only to slow down over time, and maybe even stop. The body is extraordinary in its capacity to adapt to a workout regimen: it will become more efficient and burn fewer calories. One way to circumvent this plateau reaction is to keep your body guessing by constantly changing your exercise program and adding variety to the mix.
How to measure your success other than on a scale
Don’t let the scale become your worst enemy. There are many, many reasons why the numbers on the scale aren’t budging as quickly as you’d like––if at all. While you work on figuring out what’s causing you to plateau, there are other ways to measure your progress and keep track of your success (and none of them involves a scale).
You’ve lost inches
If you like the idea of looking back at numbers to evaluate your progress, how about taking your measurements? Record the measurements of your chest, waist, tummy, hips, thigh and upper arm and check no more than every other week. You might not be losing pounds, but there’s a real possibility you’re losing inches.
You’re more comfortable in your clothes
Do your clothes fit differently? Can you button up your jeans again, at last? Do you feel more comfortable in that favorite skirt of yours? These are all signs that your efforts are paying off and your new habits are having a real impact.
You’ve slimmed down
Track changes in your body. You might not have gotten rid of your cellulite, you might not be as firm as you’d like, but be honest about the effects of your weight loss plan. Take progress photos at the start of your journey. Chances are, you are actually slimming down.
If you don’t see any changes at all, it might be time to check in with yourself. Maybe your goals are unrealistic in the first place. Maybe you just don’t need to lose weight. More often than not, your body knows best. And weight loss might not be what it needs. Instead of focusing on how to shrink your body, focus on all the things that make it beautiful.
Why taking care of your body is bigger than weight loss
There’s more to being fit than losing weight. When you change your habits to lead a healthier life and embark on a new nutrition and exercise journey, the benefits you reap aren’t just linked to numbers on a scale.
No, you might not change your body overnight but there are so many reasons why you should continue to nourish your body with nutritious food and challenge it with regular movement, regardless of whether or not you are losing weight.
You may feel better emotionally
Getting fit is great for your mental health. Every time you exercise, your body releases endorphins, a happy hormone that lifts your spirits for the day ahead. Working out regularly is a natural way to kick stress and anxiety to the curb.
You’ll gain muscle
Remember when we said muscles were heavier than fat? Your fat loss might not be visible on the scale but with exercise and proper nutrition, you’ll be able to build better muscles that will make you feel stronger and ready to take on whatever life throws at you.
Looking to build muscle? Check out some of our strength training recommendations.
You’ll have more energy
This is one of the positive effects of taking care of your body. If you often feel tired or worn out, exercising will boost your physical energy levels. You’ll increase your concentration and sharpen your focus too.
You’ll sleep better
Switching to a healthier lifestyle will help you get a better night’s rest. If you struggle with insomnia or don’t have great sleeping patterns, physical activity makes it easier to achieve high-quality sleep, leaving you refreshed and relaxed.
Most people are healthy at their current weight. If that’s you, ask yourself why you are trying to shed weight. Not all bodies look the same but all of them are beautiful. If you’re obsessing about numbers on the scale, switch your mindset from weight loss to taking care of your body. Instead of trying to change it, invest your efforts in figuring out how to be happy with the weight you are. It’s called body positivity. At the end of the day, isn’t the ultimate goal to feel your best? Even if that’s without dieting or working out. Whatever you choose, 8fit is there for you.