People start a workout regimen and wonder why they are not losing weight faster than they predicted. Many of them tell me that they can fit into their smaller clothes and are feeling better but the scale isn’t moving as much as they hoped for right away. There are several reasons for this that I felt was important for me to share.
1. Higher calorie intake-most people are unaware of how many calories they are consuming. So many products are marketed as healthy so we assume that they will help us to lose weight. We don’t realize how much salt, sugar and fat are in them. If you are working out, you may consciously or unconsciously eat a higher quantity of food. It’s possible that you are eating the calories that you are burning so you are never able to lose the fat. The only way to figure this out is to do a food journal. It’s just like doing a budget. How would you know why you are going into debt if you’re not looking at the price tags of what you’re buying? The food journal is an honest look and will unravel the mystery. If you are finding that you overeat when you exercise then modify your eating habits.
2. Less general activity-It’s possible that you are justifying being less active throughout your day because of your exercise session. Walking the stairs, moving and walking throughout your day is still important to do and exercise should be in addition to your general activity. A great way to determine overall activity level is to wear a pedometer. Set a goal and stick to it.
3. Muscle weighs more than fat-if your clothes are getting looser, then you know you are smaller. Hence you know that you are losing fat. So if the weight is the same and you are smaller it’s possible that you are gaining muscle and burning fat. A pound of fat is bigger than a pound of muscle so that would be the reason that your weight will stay the same but the clothes are fitting better.
4. Not enough calories-if you think that eating a calorie deprived diet will help you to lose weight, you’re wrong. It may work for the short-term but eventually your body will stop burning the fat and will go into starvation mode. Essentially your body is preparing for a famine by storing your extra body fat. I see this happen all of the time. There’s a minimum amount of calories that you need just for normal functioning. Your body also needs fuel for your workouts. The key is to eat enough but not to overeat.
5. Inflammation-When you’ve been inactive and start an exercise program or are starting to start something that’s much more challenging than usual, your body your body will produce an inflammation response. Essentially your body is healing the micro-tears (which are normal) and the fluid required (for the healing process) weighs a certain amount which can show up on the scale. This inflammation is temporary.
6. Stressors-Exercise is essentially a type of stress to the body. In and of itself it’s OK and a good type of stress when the body is adapting and getting stronger. However, if you have a lot of other bad habits, don’t get enough sleep, have a stressful job, etc. all of this stress will add up and potentially produce more cortisol in your body. This cortisol can be contributing to an excess of fat (particularly belly fat). The solution is to make sure to get enough rest, eat properly and find ways to manage your overall stress. I highly recommend meditation, yoga, breathing techniques and other strategies to reduce your stress in a healthy way.
6. Water Weight-Your body stores Glycogen within the cells. These molecules contain water and as a result of exercise you can gain weight from that water being stored within the cells. This is not water retention since the water is within the cells. This is actually a benefit to endurance athletes since their performance can improve. Muscles need energy so it stores energy (which is mostly water in the cell) for future use.
Use this guide to understand the process and continue your healthy habits. Focus on what you want-fat loss and better health. Stop fixating on the scale and what the numbers say. Don’t let it affect your emotions or motivation. Remember that life will throw you challenges. Do you give up on your way to your goal before reaching your target? If you are exercising in a challenging program and eating better, you will lose weight. Stay the course and you will see the results.