That’s the question many people ask when their weight loss plan isn’t working.
Asking yourself ‘Why can’t I lose weight?’ is actually one of the best things you can do for yourself.
It says you know that what you’re currently doing isn’t working for you.
You’re at the place where you’re ready to look at alternatives – try something different to get a result you want.
So why can’t you lose weight?
Here are 3 possible reasons you may not be losing weight – and some suggestions on what you can do about it.
#1) Medical Reasons
Now this is not the same as saying you’re genetically programmed to be overweight. That is hogwash. In fact scientists estimate that even if you do have a genetic propensity to gain weight, your genes only account for 15 – 25% of your current weight. So forget the genetics excuse.
But there are medical reasons that some people can’t lose weight. Low thyroid, adrenal exhaustion, insulin resistance and other medical conditions can make losing weight near to impossible.
That’s why before starting any weight loss plan, you should talk to your doctor first. Have a full workup and make sure that you don’t have any health issues standing in the way of your weight loss.
There’s nothing more frustrating that trying to lose weight, doing all the right things and not losing an inch – all because of a medical condition.
Get the medical condition cleared up first and then address the weight (in fact, the weight may just go down on it’s own once you get the medical condition addressed).
#2) Emotional Eating
I recently read an article where a nutritionist estimated that 75% of overeating was due to emotions. 75%!
Can you imagine what would happen if you learned to eliminate emotional eating and cut out all those calories?
What a weight loss impact! The weight would be falling off.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, emotional eating is on the rise. Most people today are feeling the pressure of an increasingly hectic lifestyle. We hardly have time to tie our shoes, never mind deal with our emotions.
Because of this, our emotions get stuffed down and ignored until finally they explode and we’re face-down in a bowl of Rocky-Road ice cream with extra chocolate sauce.
Here’s the bottom line: you are human and you have emotions. Your emotional needs are important and need to be addressed properly with love. You need emotional nurturing and proper emotional care.
If that means you take a 5 minute break every few hours at work to regain your emotional balance, do it. If that means you need to unwind by doing a mall walk and window shopping after work – don’t let anything stop you.
Learn to nurture your emotional health and you’ll nip emotional eating in the bud – and start losing weight FAST.
#3) Mismatched Weight Loss Plan
There are many different ways to lose weight and dozens of weight loss programs to choose from. Some plans emphasize a change in diet, others emphasize a change in exercise, others focus on the inner reasons for overeating.
Every person is different and will lose weight in their own unique way. If what you’re doing now isn’t currently working, it may be a simple case of personality-plan mismatch.
Maybe instead of a diet-focused weight loss plan, you would feel better with a fitness-focused weight loss plan or a psychological weight loss plan. There are lots of plans to choose from and you deserve to take your time and find one that fits your personality and lifestyle best.
If you think this is the case, take some time to review different diet or weight loss plans. Find one that you can get excited about. One that makes sense to you and that fits your belief system and personality. That’s when you’ll make real weight loss progress!
So those are 3 possible reasons for your weight loss plateau. You don’t have to stay stuck in a weight loss rut. You don’t have to keep asking yourself the frustrating question: Why Can’t I Lose Weight?’ Keep believing in yourself and in your dreams. Don’t give up and you will get there!
#4) You’re Improperly Tracking Your Weight
So that’s the only real reason why a person will be unable to lose weight. However, there are still scenarios that can and do occur in which a person will successfully be losing weight but just THINK that they’re not.
The first such example of this occurs due to improperly tracking your weight… and then basing your progress on it.
Let me take you through a few of the common scenarios I see on a regular basis:
- Person A compares what they weigh today to what they weigh tomorrow… and bases their progress on it.
- Person B weighs themselves before eating/drinking/pooping on some days, and after eating/drinking/pooping on other days… and bases their progress on it.
- Person C weighs themselves at random times throughout a single day… and bases their progress on it.
- Person D compares their weight first thing in the morning today, to their weight after lunch tomorrow, to their weight after their evening workout the day after that… and bases their progress on it.
- Person E is a woman who ignores the normal change in weight that takes place at a certain time every month… and bases their progress on it.
- Person F weighs themselves once per week and compares that one day to the same day of the following week… and bases their progress on it.
- Person G weighs themselves every day for 4 days in a row and compares it to their weight on the 5th day… and bases their progress on it.
- Person H weighs themselves as accurately as possible for 1 week only… and bases their progress on it.
I can keep going, but I think I’d run out of letters. And I think you get the idea.
Which is that in all of these scenarios, the person is basing their entire weight loss progress (or lack thereof) around what the scale is telling them, while failing to properly use that scale and/or properly perceive what it’s telling them.
Why is this a problem?
Because while your body weight is a very useful tool for tracking your progress, you must also realize that the numbers you are seeing aren’t always an accurate representation of what your body is truly doing. Especially in scenarios like these.
This is because your body weight can and DOES change from one day to the next (or even one hour to the next) as a result of a loss or gain in muscle, fat, water, glycogen, poop, food intake and more.
That means daily fluctuations in body weight (plus extra monthly fluctuations for women) are extremely common and normal. And they’re constantly taking place without your knowledge.
Which means it’s possible for a person to be in that required deficit making progress BUT YET incorrectly come to the conclusion that they’re not… all because they’re not properly tracking that progress.
So it’s not that you can’t lose weight in these cases, it’s just that you’re doing a poor job of seeing that it’s happening.
So how do you prevent this?
- Always weigh yourself first thing in the morning on an empty stomach before eating or drinking (but after peeing), and wear the same amount of clothing (ideally very little) every time.
- Weigh in daily… take the weekly average… and only pay attention to that weekly average. This is key.
- Have 2-4 weeks worth of accurate data before assuming, worrying or adjusting. So none of this “I was losing weight fine on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday but now on Thursday my weight has stalled” bullshit. Or telling me your weight loss has stalled, I ask for how long, and you say something like “1 week.” Nah, it doesn’t work like that. Instead, wait until you have 2-4 weeks worth of weekly averages to compare before assuming there’s a problem.
- Be aware of outside factors. For example, if you consume an above-average amount of sodium today, you should expect an above-average amount of water retention tomorrow, and thus a temporarily above-average body weight. Of course, the previous points (only paying attention to the weekly average over the span of 2-4 weeks) will go pretty far in preventing this sort of thing from making any meaningful dent in your tracking.
- Measurements can help, too. So if your weight from one week to the next happens to be the same, but various measurements have slightly decreased, it’s a good sign that things are still moving in the right direction (and for one reason or another, it’s just not showing up on the scale yet). I should however mention that measurements come with their own accuracy warnings. For example, you could put the tape measure around your stomach and have it be just slightly less-straight than you had it last time, and that tiny difference could throw the measurement off by a full inch.
Also keep in mind that this is really only ever going to be a short term issue.
Meaning, if you’re following these guidelines, weighing in as accurately as possible, and yet still find that 3, 4, 5+ weeks are passing without any weight being lost… then guess what?
You’re just not in a deficit.
#5) You’re stressed
Stress – be it caused by commuting, overwhelming workloads, screaming children or the more serious issues of illness and grief – is hard enough to cope with. But now there’s even more to worry about.
When your body is under stress, it releases cortisol, a hormone which, in small, short doses, is essential for survival, but in large, continuous doses, can increase your blood sugar levels and make your body more likely to store fat, especially around the waist.
If you want to lose weight, you may first need to think about losing (or at least reducing) any major sources of anxiety.
#6) You’re dehydrated
Water constitutes more than two-thirds of the healthy human body. And not replenishing this level enough causes havoc on many bodily functions – one of which is your metabolism.
Being dehydrated instantly slows the rate at which your body burns fat, and some studies have shown that just by drinking two cups of water. This rate can increase by 30%.
Another problem caused by dehydration is that your body will mistake thirst for hunger, making you reach for another snack rather than a drink.
The amount each person needs to drink to avoid dehydration depends on the weather. Body size and activity levels, but on average experts recommend glugging at least six to eight glasses of water per day.