Here’s some things I know:
- A lot of health coaches, healthy lifestyle websites, and society in general focus on weight loss.
- A lot of people feel like they should lose a few pounds.
- A lot of people make resolutions to lose weight.
- A lot of people struggle to lose weight.
- I don’t like to talk a lot about weight loss.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You are not a number on a scale.
Having said that, I do know that we love to focus on that number on the scale.
And I also know that a lot of people get really frustrated when they feel like they’re doing everything right and the number on the scale won’t budge.
So, while this isn’t weight loss advice by any means (which, by the way, I think is so hard to give across the board because every body is totally unique and works in its own mysterious ways…) it’s some insight into a few reasons why you might not be losing weight.
Even if you’re doing all the things we love to do to lose weight. You know, eat less, work out more. Sigh.
You’re gaining muscle (#gainz)
Maybe you implemented some of those quick-change ideas and you’ve been hitting up the gym on your lunch break. Maybe you’re sticking to that resolution and working out after work.
And maybe you’re noticing that your weight hasn’t budged. It might actually have (gasp!) gone up a bit.
What the bloody hell, right?
This one is simple really. Muscle weighs more than fat. You remember that from your high school health class, yes?
And it’s a reminder of what you should really be focusing on: how you feel. (Some people say look and feel, but let’s not go down that road. Perspectives and ideals are so fucking skewed, I can’t even. Also #guilty.)
You aren’t eating enough
Oh, I know, this one sucks, doesn’t it?
You have to eat to lose weight.
Yes, this goes against years of weight loss advice. But it’s kind of been proven to be bullshit.
If you aren’t giving your body enough food, it’s going to go into starvation mode and hold on to every last bit of food you’re giving it in the hopes that it can sustain itself. It’s going to stop burning those calories off. It’s going to slow down your metabolism given half the chance.
Not to mention how trying to restrict your calories sort of makes you a single-minded simpleton. Food, food, food. And then, when you finally give in to your body, because it actually knows what’s best for you, you gorge yourself and eat way too much.
Well, that backfired, huh?
Try this on for size: Eat nutrient-dense food that makes your body feel good. Remember how it’s going to make you feel, not how many calories or grams of fat are in it.
You’re overestimating your burn
One of my friends used to claim he burned 1500 calories sleeping. And about double that bowling.
While it’s absolutely true you’re burning calories in your sleep (after all, you’re still alive), you’d have to weigh more than 400 pounds to burn 1500 calories during an eight-hour nap.
Most of us are burning anywhere from 400 to 700 calories overnight.
And that’s if we’re getting REM sleep — you know, that deep, deep sleep. The kind you get when you doze off in the middle of your boss’s presentation about your company’s performance fiscal year to date. Snooze.
A lot of us have used the old “But I worked out today” excuse to polish off an entire plate of loaded nachos ourselves.
But, just like my friend, we’ve overestimated how many calories we’re actually burning. We swear our activity trackers and our smartphones and our GPS monitors know the exact number of steps we’ve taken, the exact number of calories we’ve burned, the exact number of times you sneaked a sip of pop instead of water.
Studies have shown these estimates are off by an average of 27 percent. Just, you know, FYI.
So, instead of pigging out post workout, have a snack to refuel. And then just eat normally.
You aren’t drinking enough water
Have you ever sworn up and down that you are quite literally starving and then you drink a glass of water and suddenly the hunger hounds in your belly go quiet?
Yeah, that’s because we’ve got this habit of mistaking hunger with thirst.
And this is a problem for a couple reasons. First of all, when you aren’t sure if you’re hungry or thirsty and you always opt for hungry, you might end up eating more than you need to. Second, when you aren’t drinking enough water, your body actually starts to retain water.
And, yes, both of these situations can lead to stalled weight loss or even weight gain.
Just like when you aren’t eating enough, not drinking enough water sends your body into survival mode. It thinks, “Oh, shit, there’s a water shortage. I better hold on to this.”
When you’re drinking plenty of water, your body knows it’s safe to get rid of any excess. It also sends signals to speed up your metabolism, flush out any toxins and waste, and can even quiet those hunger hounds.
So make sure you’re drinking enough water…that would be roughly half your body weight in ounces, extra if you’re working out. And, no, coffee and pop definitely don’t count.
You’re paying too much attention to nutrition
What? Is that even a thing?
Remember that health halo? That just because you bought something at a health food store or it’s got some marketing mumbo jumbo health claims on the package it must be good for you? Or immediately make you shed 10 pounds?
Let’s be clear.
Carbohydrates, fat, fiber, minerals, protein, vitamins — all good stuff that your body needs.
A high-protein donut with an omega-3-rich glaze and magnesium sprinkles?
A superfood latte laced with adaptogens and topped with a whipped coconut and maca foam?
An acai bowl decorated with a cup of peanut butter, four handfuls of almonds, a bag each of hemp seeds and chia seeds, drizzled with half a bottle of maple syrup, strewn with chopped up Medjool dates, and three bananas and a pint each of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries? Oh, and don’t forget the grain-free granola.
You’re pushing it, my friend.
Yes, there are redeeming qualities to all of these things (except maybe that donut…), and, yes, they might be good for you.
But it is possible to overdo it. (And talk about a blood sugar crash waiting to happen.)
Instead of loading up on all the healthy goodies just because they’re proclaimed to be healthy, remember all you really need to do is focus on real, whole foods. And always read labels.
If you take nothing else away from this post, remember this: Your weight is not always an accurate representation of your health. (This is a direct quote from my boyfriend. You can see why I like him. Also a good time to remind you that he is apparently obese, which is further evidence that the scale tells lies.)
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