Blind spots in your eating habits are often the culprits of not losing weight while dieting and exercising.
It’s frustrating and confusing to work toward your health goals and not see progress.
When hopelessness overcomes you, relax, take a deep breath, and make a few adjustments to these common reasons for not losing weight while dieting and exercising.
Before you know it, you’ll be looking good in your skinny jeans again.
First, Define Your Weight Loss Goals
Weight is just a number on a scale and doesn’t define you, necessarily improve your health, or life.
The most important bit is how you feel.
- How does your body feel?
- Are you happier?
- Do you feel strong?
- Are you pain-free?
- Are you sleeping better?
Health comes in many shapes and sizes. Measure what matters most to you.
Why You Can’t Lose Weight While Dieting and Exercising
Let’s look at a few ways you might unknowingly add excess calories to your healthy diet and then move on to the solutions that’ll get you back into your favorite jeans.
1. Snacks Vs Meals Knowing the Difference
Moderately active women need 3 meals and an occasional snack each day.
The calories of a meal are anywhere from 400-500 calories, while a snack is 100-200 calories.
Snacks aren’t meant to fill you up, but tide you over until the next meal.
In short, snacks that are as calorie-dense as a meal, are no longer snacks.
These “snack meals” add up.
Look at your favorite go-to snacks and check their calories.
2. Overeating “Healthy” Processed Foods
Whole foods in their natural state are difficult to over eat. Think broccoli, apples, chicken, avocados.
With processing, even “healthy” options become hyper-palatable foods that cause you to over-eat. Think protein bars, veggie chips, gluten-free snacks, granola, etc.
Don’t be fooled by processed healthy foods. They often pack a lot of calories and slow down your digestion.
3. Dehydration Can Slow Dieting and Exercising Progress
Above all, water and mineral water are ideal drinks when you’re looking to lose a few inches.
Make sure you’re drinking enough each day. Dehydration causes a host of health problems, but it can also slow down your metabolism making it difficult for your body to turn fat into energy.
Not drinking enough water also causes food cravings.
Your thirst cue gets mixed up with your hunger cue causing you to crave food when what you really need is hydrating water.
4. Excessive Drink Calories
The fastest way to consume calories is to drink them.
Within minutes you can easily consume 200-500 calories and a whole lot of sugar from your favorite drinks.
It only takes one sugary soda, “healthy” smoothie, or glass of wine to really throw healthy eating off track.
Watch out for these liquids when you’re dieting and exercising and not losing weight.
> That Drink Could Be Sugar Water
Any liquid you drink that has more than 0g of sugar is a form of sugar water. Here are some to look out for when you’re eating healthy but not losing weight.
- Fruit juice
- Sweet tea
- Energy drinks
- Coconut water
> Check Your Smoothie’s Ingredients
Drinking 16, 24, or 32 oz smoothies from popular smoothie bars not only gives you more than a meal’s worth of calories but a ton of sugar too. Sometimes smoothies are loaded with fruit juices and even ice cream.
If you’ve made your smoothie at home where you know every ingredient in it is healthy and whole, that’s great.
But be mindful, even smoothies made at home can be overloaded with fructose, the sugar that makes fruit sweet.
We’ll talk about the issues of too much fruit in a bit.
> Coffee or Dessert?
Stopping by your favorite coffee shop on the regular can add a lot of weight to your waistline if your coffee is full of sugars and flavorings.
Instead, take your coffee with a splash of cream or almond milk and a few drops of stevia.
> Alcohol Slows Weight Loss
Alcoholic beverages add extra calories and sugars to your diet.
They also lead to the slippery slope of mindless snacking, overeating, and more alcohol.
5. Too Much Fruit While Dieting and Exercising Can Cause Weight Gain
Nature’s candy. And while fruits are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients, they’re also full of natural sugars.
A friend of mine on a weight loss program where certain foods were “free” was eating a lot of fruit to curb her sugar cravings.
While she felt healthier than ever on her new diet, the 30 extra pounds she wanted to lose weren’t budging.
She wondered if her excessive fruit consumption might be why she wasn’t losing weight.
Sure enough, as soon as she limited her fruit to 2 servings a day, her weight loss progressed and she consistently lost 1-2 lbs a week from that point forward.
Some fruits have higher sugar content than others. Berries, lemons, limes, and grapefruits are low sugar fruits.
So if you exercise moderately and want to stay slim, it is best to keep your fruit servings to one or two a day and opt for low sugar fruits.
6. Eating Out Can Cause Weight Gain
Sometimes “healthy” eating at a restaurant isn’t healthy at all.
Restaurants have one major mission: make food tasty and delicious so you come back for more.
Even a salad can be loaded with unhealthy fats and excessive calories.
Occasionally eating out isn’t a problem.
When you eat out numerous times a week, it’s important to understand what ingredients and calories are in your favorite restaurant meal.
A quick tip: a squeeze of lemon or splash of vinegar, some olive oil, and salt makes a healthy salad dressing that isn’t loaded with unhealthy fats, highly processed carbs, preservatives, artificial flavors, and colors like most commercial dressings
7. Stress-Induced Weight Gain
Excessive stress can sabotage the healthiest diet and exercise routine.
Stress causes unhealthy behaviors like exercise avoidance, emotional eating, and lack of sleep.
Stress triggers cortisol (the stress hormone) that slows down metabolism and increases insulin levels causing weight gain.
Exercise is a fantastic way to deal with stress and improve your health and weight loss efforts.
Having coping mechanisms in place for when inevitable daily stressors pop into your life is the key to overcoming emotional eating.
8. Exceptions and Weekends When You’re Dieting and Exercising and Not Losing Weight
Constant exceptions make weight loss a constant battle.
Flexibility is important for a healthy lifestyle, but if daily exceptions and weekend plans regularly throw your diet and exercise program off, it’s time to take stock.
When you notice daily exceptions cropping up, it’s the perfect time to keep a 3-day food journal.
With a 3-day food journal, you’ll quickly see where bad habits have become the norm and what to do to correct them.
9. Eating Fewer Calories Slows Metabolism
Eating less may seem like a great way to lose weight but this strategy backfires.
A lack of nutrients coupled with an intense workout schedule can easily put you into starvation mode.
Once your body thinks it’s starving, it slows your metabolism down. When your conservation mode gets turned on, the body won’t let go of excess fat easily.
Not eating enough regularly can also lead to nutrient hunger and binge eating. Your body will release chemicals that make you want to eat beyond fullness.
Survival is priority #1.
Your body doesn’t care if you can’t fit into your favorite jeans. It cares that it’s getting the nutrients you need to function.
Fuel up with plenty of nutrient dense foods so your body is comfortable letting go of excess fat.
Kick start your metabolism by eating protein at every meal, plenty of veggies, and healthy fats.
10. Bad Digestion Can Cause You to Not Lose Weight When Dieting and Exercising
You are what you digest.
If you’re eating well but aren’t properly digesting your food, it can cause the same results as under eating.
Your body must have the calories and nutrients from your food. If food passes through your system undigested, your health suffers.
The faster food moves through your body and the better your body utilizes those nutrients, the healthier you become.
11. Lack of Sleep Causes You to Crave Calories
Sleep deprivation increases your hunger and causes you to crave carbs and fatty foods.
A bad night’s sleep throws hunger hormones and stress hormones out-of-whack.
Will power is sapped and it’s easy to fall back into bad eating habits when your stress and hunger hormones are working against you.
Make sleep a priority to increase mindful eating and get back on track with your health.
12. Not Eating Enough Protein
Muscles burn calories. Insufficient protein causes you to lose lean muscle tissue and makes muscles weak.
When you’re dieting and exercising without enough protein, you’re working against yourself.
Protein helps you feel full longer, it slows the absorption of carbohydrates down keeping your blood sugar levels balanced, and it helps grow and repair muscles.
A palm sized serving of protein at every meal and adding a protein to your snacks is a good rule for getting enough of this important nutrient.
13. Health Issues That Cause Weight Gain Even When Dieting and Exercising
Some health conditions cause weight gain and can stall your best efforts.
If your healthy diet isn’t producing results and you’re doing everything right, it may be time to see your primary care physician.
Here is a list of some possible health issues that cause weight gain.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Fluid Retention
- Cushing’s Syndrome
Do You Gain Weight Before You Lose Weight?
Especially if you’re working out but not losing weight.
Your healthy diet coupled with a muscle building exercise program is a great way to get stronger and build muscle that will help you burn fat moving forward.
But, because muscle weighs more than fat, building your muscles can increase your measurements and add pounds to the scale.
As you continue eating healthy and exercising, your added muscles will start blasting your fat layers and reveal your new beautifully toned muscles.
Solutions For When You’re Dieting and Exercising but Not Losing Weight
1. Be Intentional With Your Calories
If you’re feeling good about your healthy diet and fitness plan but your weight isn’t budging it’s time to count the calories in your favorite meals and snacks.
Don’t worry! Constantly counting calories isn’t necessary, but having a rough idea of how many calories are in your favorite foods is an insightful tool.
> Personal Example #1:
Sometimes I would snack on veggies and hummus for a late afternoon snack. So healthy, and filling.
Those veggies are great, but hummus has 70 calories in 2 tbl and I was eating about a cup. That’s 560 calories of hummus alone.
That’s a meal. It’s healthy and filling.
But I learned it’s a snack only when the veggies are eaten with a little hummus.
> Example #2:
At night, I was in the habit of having a bowl of raw whole oats sprinkled with cinnamon, raisins, nuts, seeds, and almond milk before bed.
Sometimes I even had two bowls! Not because I was hungry, but because it tasted so good and it’s healthy.
When I counted up the calories, that wasn’t a little late night snack, it was a second dinner.
Better to save that craving for breakfast the next morning.
If you need more food, eat. But know the calories of what you eat regularly so you can make smart choices.
2. Read Labels and Ingredient Lists
When you buy processed foods check out the label. The ingredient list alone will give you an accurate picture of what you’re actually eating.
Manufacturers use all kinds of marketing lingo on the front of a box or bottle, but the true story is on the ingredient list.
A bag of veggie chips is roughly 800 calories.
It doesn’t matter how well you eat all day, If you regularly consume a seriously high-calorie snack, you’ll have an overload of calories and not be able to drop unwanted pounds.
3. Be Patience While Dieting and Exercising and Not Losing Weight
Physical benefits take time. Look instead for immediate benefits: less inflammation, more confidence, a better mood.
It takes time. Skip the scale for a bit, keep your head down and blinders on while you work on your health, and then after some time re-evaluate.
You didn’t get out of shape in a few days. Just like It takes time to accumulate weight, it also takes time to release it.
When you feel discouraged after dieting and exercising and not losing weight, remember you could be one day away from seeing results.
It happens all the time.
You look in the mirror or try on your skinny pants and nothing seems like it’s changed. Just remember, you could only be a few days away from scaling the mountain.
Only a few days away from a flatter stomach. The shirt that was a little too tight last week fitting again. Your husband mentioning he sees a difference.
Health is a long game.
> How To Develop a Patient Mindset
- Ask yourself how long have I been working at this?
- How long did it take me to get to the point where I got serious about my health again?
- Give yourself at least that amount of time to get back to where you were.
- If it has been 10 years, don’t worry you’ll see results faster than that, but be patient and give your body the time it needs.
4. Be Kind to Yourself When Dieting and Exercising but Not Losing Weight
Loving yourself and being positive is more likely to keep you on track than beating yourself up for a high calorie snack.
Guilt doesn’t motivate.
Infact, guilt triggers the reward center of the brain making you more likely to eat even more guilty pleasures.
5. Be Your Own Health Coach with Positive Mental Conversations
What you say to your body, it believes. Be your own cheerleader. Believing you can do something is more than half the battle.
Here are some positive affirmations that keep you moving in the right direction.
- I am enough.
- I’m becoming an expert at making healthy choices for my body.
- My health improves every day in every way.
- I exercise because it makes me feel good.
- Eating healthy is easy, simple, and quick.
- I’m in control of what I eat.
- My body is getting stronger and healthier every day.
- I deserve a body that looks and feels amazing.
- My eating habits get healthier every day.
- Change is happening, and soon, that change will show up on the outside too.
So the next time you ask, “Why am I having trouble losing weight?” Consider keeping a 3-day food diary and then come back to this list to see where you might be going off track.
Sometimes difficult weight-loss boils down to a few adjustments to your regular routine. Those adjustments get you right back to making progress and seeing positive results again.
Have questions? Leave them in the comments. I love hearing from you and always reply!
Thank you for being here and taking the time to read to the end. Health journeys are more powerful when shared, so be sure to leave a comment below. ❤️
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