The Top 3 Reasons You Aren’t Losing Weight

I’ve probably blogged about this before. But, its a recurring theme that deserves its due space on the internet. There are 3 things that will prevent you from losing weight and they are all too common:

1) ¬†You underestimate what you eat. Studies show most people underestimate what they eat or as I learned from my clients who are in Weight Watchers, these are called BLTs: Bites, Likes and Tastes. We are a society of standing up and eating in our kitchen, grabbing fast food and flying down the highway (or sitting in traffic depending on where you live) and eating while cooking. And, I’ve noticed time and time again that people disregard those BLTs. It’s an unspoken, underlying theme in America along the lines of “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas”: what you eat while standing, driving or reading facebook gossip doesn’t count. Do I always sit down to a meal and do nothing but eat? No, I certainly don’t, after all, that’s so….un-American. But, I am aware of my hunger and when I’m eating outside of hunger (like last night’s chocolate craving).

When I see food logs where people are eating the same amount every day and never indulging in anything that doesn’t come straight from the ground or from the butcher shop, yet they aren’t losing weight, I’m inclined to believe they need a reality check. I better see at least 1 beer, chocolate, fried something or food that comes out of a package or from a drive through window or we are going to have a reality check.

2) You don’t exercise like you think you do. This is a classic one and, I’m going to let you in on one big fat marketing lie, those numbers on the machines in the gym aren’t accurate. If it says you burned 300 calories after biking for 30 minutes, subtract about 100 and you may get a better estimate. And, never exercise to eat (i.e. just because you burned 300 calories that doesn’t give you a license to eat a 300 calorie sundae if your goal is weight loss). If you really want to get an idea of how hard you are working out, hire a trainer for a few sessions and compare what you do with what they have you do. Or, find a friend who regularly does interval workouts and join them. Another idea, strap on an accelerometer or pedometer (I like accelerometers better). I strapped one my foot and found out that I walk way less than the 10,000 recommended steps daily (on days I don’t run or do the stairmill). And, using one has made me more aware of the fact that I need to get walking more often.

Once you try these two things, and if you don’t lose weight, then we can look at step 3. But, first, you must keep a food journal of every single BLT every day for 1 – 2 weeks straight (or alternatively, follow exactly what I tell you to eat an the amounts I give you for 1 – 2 weeks). Next, change your workout routine, put on a pedometer or see a personal trainer. These 2 steps alone get the majority of people from “there’s something wrong with me, my metabolism is slow” to “holy smokes, this works!” Remember, if you are serious, keeping a food journal isn’t really that big a of a deal.

3) If you still aren’t losing weight, let’s look at your hormones. Fasting insulin (? PCOS in women), thyroid hormones (T3 and TSH), estrogen and testosterone for starters. If some of these are low, there are ways you can manipulate them with hormone replacement and diet.

I’m confident most people can lose weight if, and this is a huge if, they are diligent about what they are doing. There are of course cases where people have tried everything and if you are following a good diet and exercise program it’s time to delve into what’s going on physiologically in your body. Sometimes it’s a detective game and, the patient is the one who must do the detective work, find the right doctors, follow through and keep on top of their health.