I think the number one frustration for people when starting an exercise and healthy eating regimen, is not losing weight fast enough. You work so hard at exercising and watching what you eat, but the pounds aren’t melting off as fast as you would like. Sound familiar? Sometimes, you might even gain weight! So, what gives?
Here are 5 reasons you’re not losing weight:
1. I’m following the program perfectly, why isn’t it working?
Cortisol is a word you should become familiar with, as it’s a key factor here. What is cortisol? It’s actually a performance-enhancing stress hormone that serves an important function in survival situations. Unfortunately, when we force too much daily stress on our bodies, we shift into a state of chronic cortisol release. Basically, our bodies say, “hey, what’s going on here, why are you doing this to me?” This causes us to store excess fat as a survival instinct.
The beginning of a diet and/or exercise program, however, is a survival situation. In a very simplistic sense, your body releases cortisol, which, in turn, causes excess water retention to help you rebuild broken down muscle tissue. While this is cortisol functioning properly, it does lead to a period of water weight gain as you adjust to a new program. It’s nothing to worry about. By following a solid plan, your body will adapt by repairing this muscle tissue. This results in an increase in your metabolism and leads to weight loss if that’s your goal.
The trick is that there is no hard line on how long this adaptation takes. It’s based on your individual parameters. Just rest easy in the fact that it will happen, unless you force it not to!
2. I’m barely eating
Severe undereating causes cortisol release, as it’s the definition of a bodily emergency. My 7-Day Slim Down Plan offers a kick-start (or express) eating plan where you eat a lot less calories for a few days, but I always encourage you to get back to a solid maintenance calorie level quickly. A short period of strategic undereating with proper hydration will help your body dispense of unneeded food (most of us chronically overeat) and regulate bodily functions. Go too long, however, and chronic cortisol release is the result.
This is a tough situation because our natural reaction to weight gain is to eat less. When you’re exercising, it’s important to keep your eye on workout performance, as opposed to how much weight you’re losing. You should be eating enough so that your daily workouts improve over time. As long as that’s happening, your body is adapting, your metabolism is increasing, and you will lose weight provided you also don’t overeat.
3. I’ve been doing hard workouts for weeks
In order to continually improve your performance, workouts get harder as they progress. It’s also why you should add resistance (via added weight or gravity, as is the case with jumping) to workouts. If you’re doing the same workouts at the same intensity constantly, you are not forcing adaptations that lead to changes in your metabolism. This is called a plateau.
A plateau, technically, isn’t gaining weight—it’s remaining the same—but a proper diet and exercise program should continually force improvements. Otherwise, your metabolism won’t continue to increase, which is the goal of most weight loss programs.
4. My friend and I are doing the EXACT same thing and she is losing
Back to adaptation. We all react differently. The only absolute is that our bodies will change over time with a healthy program. A fitness rule called the Specificity of Adaptation states that it takes the body between 3 and 12 weeks to adapt to new stimuli, which is a very broad range. This is why it’s vital that you stick to your program and not change it repeatedly based on your daily results!
In test groups, two-week results have almost no bearing on who does best in the end. In fact, many people that undereat early and get off to a fast start will stagnate, while those who stick to the plan and eat as advised will start slower but train harder over time, leading to rapid weight loss as the program wears on.
5. I was losing weight, but now it’s STOPPED
This is the question I get asked the most in my challenge groups…”I was losing weight, but now I’m not, what’s wrong?” You eat less to lose weight. Things are going great, but suddenly you plateau—or start gaining. Odds are, your metabolism has slowed down in order to deal with the decreased calories. You’re starving your now fit body, so it’s doing what it needs to do to survive. The answer to this problem is pretty simple: eat more.
Again, this is a tough sell, so here’s an example. One of my early challengers lost 10 pounds during a round of TurboFire, eating only 1,200 calories a day. She then stagnated for a long time and was very resistant to eating more, fearing it would kick-start a regression. I talked her into adding calories and tracking her food online until, finally at around 1,600 calories, weight loss resumed. She then started to lose weight again! Of course, this number is going to be different for everyone. So it’s up to you to play around, add 100 calories at a time to your daily eating plan and see what happens.
The moral of this post: body transformation is based on making consistent, healthy lifestyle changes. Do that and you’ll never need to ask yourself why you’re gaining weight again.