Ok tough-love, hard truth alert. I’m spilling the tea on why, despite your best efforts, you’re not losing weight.
This weekend I was at a BBQ with some friends and is often the case at this kind of gathering, some of the women started talking about weight loss. And of course, on how difficult it is. I always find it so interesting listening in on these conversations, because everyone has very similar beliefs on why it’s so difficult. “Oh, it’s harder once you’re in your 30s to lose weight”, or “I’ve always had a bad metabolism”… But the thing is, it’s not harder to lose weight as you get older – it’s the exact same process as when you were in your twenties or a teenager, and the only time you would have a ‘bad’ metabolism is if you have something like PCOS or hypothyroidism (and if you’re on correct medication these shouldn’t actually affect your metabolism anymore). So really, when it comes down to it, the reason you’re not losing weight is that you don’t understand the process and consequently aren’t following it through.
That sounds harsh, but sometimes reality isn’t pretty. The crux of weight loss is being in a calorie deficit. Your calories in have to be less than your calories out. It really is as simple as eat less move more. We have to forget all these excuses we have made for ourselves and just focus on that simple truth. And when you’ve been struggling to lose weight I know it’s a hard truth to hear. Weight loss is simple, but that does not mean that it is easy. My mission is to help make it easier for you so you can finally achieve your goals, so here are the basics on why you’re really not losing weight, and how to fix it…
Your Calorie Balance Is Out Of Whack
Ok, I briefly covered it above, but you have to get your calorie balance right. The UK government has a generic recommendation that women should eat 2000 calories a day and we all follow that rather blindly. But the thing is, I’m only 5’3. When I worked in an office and sat on my butt all day long if I ate 2000 calories a day I gained weight. Because that was higher than my daily energy expenditure. How many calories you can eat depends on several factors: your height, your age, your weight and your activity level. Throw in the fact that many people don’t actually track their calories or know how many calories different foods contain, then you are most likely eating more than you think you are. Seriously. If you say that you don’t eat much, but you’re still gaining weight or not losing fat, well then, you’re eating more than you think you are.
Arm yourself for success by figuring out how many calories you need to lose weight. One pound of fat basically equals 3500 calories, so to lose a pound a week approximately you need to be in a daily deficit of 500 calories. If you’re eating 2000 calories a day and staying the same weight then you need to drop calories – by 500 a day to lose that pound a week, or 250 a day to lose a more steady (and sustainable!) half pound a week. If you want a super accurate calorie calculation I really recommend the Scooby Free Calorie Calculator. It’s an incredibly helpful tool. Or, if you’re finding it all super confusing then drop me an email, I’ll more than happily help you figure it all out!
You’re Not Tracking Your Food
Ok, you know how much you should be eating calorie-wise and you swear you’re sticking to it. I mean, you’re hardly eating right? But if you’re not tracking your food how do you know?! I’m not saying you have to track your food for life, I’m a big believer in intuitive eating. But, you need to track at least for a little while to better understand how many calories are in foods. I have one lovely client who could not believe how many calories she was going over each day just because of adding one tablespoon of olive oil to her meals. Do you know how calorific olive oil is? One tablespoon is about 120 calories, and when you’re free pouring you’re probably having even more without realising. And then let’s not forget about that little bite you had which ‘didn’t count’ and the biscuits you had without thinking about…and before you know it everything adds up and you’re well out of your deficit without even realising.
Log. Every. Single. Bite. Seriously. Download the My Fitness Pal app on your phone and log, log and log some more for at least one month. It will be a real eye-opener. Besides, people often find that as soon as they start tracking their food they start making better choices too. It’s a great accountability tool.
You’re Being Too Aggressive
Remember when I talked to you about that all or nothing mentality back in September? No? Well here’s the deal: it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work when it comes to exercise, and it most certainly doesn’t work for dieting either. What happens when you cut calories too aggressively? Forget starvation mode nonsense, because, well, it’s nonsense (more on that another time), but you do get pretty damn hangry. And tired. And lethargic. Suddenly all you can think about is cake or pizza or crisps, or whatever your trigger food is. And pretty soon, you ‘cave’ and binge on it, and feel insanely guilty about it too. What is the point? By bingeing you then often wipe out that calorie deficit you have been torturing yourself to achieve, and you feel terrible about yourself.
Be kinder to yourself. If you’ve got quite a lot to lose then a 500 calorie deficit a day is manageable. If it’s just those ‘last few pounds’, then 250 a day is more than enough. I also strongly believe in the 80:20 rule. 80% of your diet should be from highly nutritious, whole foods, and then, once your macro needs are met you can get the other 20% from elsewhere. I mean, I have a bit of chocolate errrday. Because it’s delicious, and I don’t really want to not have it. And because of that I never binge on it, I just make it fit into my calories for the day. I love the 80:20 rule for how flexible it is, and the fact it takes us away from that damaging ‘good food vs bad food’ mentality. So give yourself a few more calories – 1200 a day is just sad if you’re not a bikini competitor – and give yourself some wiggle room for some of your favourite foods. You’ll make the whole process so much more manageable and enjoyable.
You’re After A Quick Fix
I’m sorry to burst your bubble boo, but there is no magic pill or fast-track to weight loss. If there was, we’d all know it by now. Stop falling back on fad diets and ignoring the basics. Yes, it all sounds too simple and it’s human nature to think there must be another, more advanced ‘top secret’ way that all us fitness professionals are hiding from you. But again, I emphasise, it really is just calories in calories out. You’ve got to get your calories right, you’ve got to track and you’ve got to be consistent. And it takes time!
Stop looking for a quick fix and bouncing from fad diet to fad diet. Step away from the juice. Trust the process, be consistent and stick to it for months. The results will come with time. Health and fitness are made out to be complicated, because, let’s be honest ‘eat within your calories day in day out’ doesn’t sound sexy and sell books and programmes. But the science repeatedly says that it’s the basics that work. And I trust science over the latest fitness Instagrammer any day, and so should you.
You Don’t Applaud Your Own Success
Girl, I will be your biggest cheerleader, but you gotta cheer for yourself too. I can’t count the number of ladies just like you who I’ve spoken to, and all have said ‘I hate that I can’t lose these last pounds’. Ummm…girl. For you to be on the last few pounds you’ve already put in the work. Why aren’t you celebrating that?! We all focus so much on the destination, rather than the journey, and we forget where we have come from. So often you’re already doing amazing things to work towards your goals, like eating better, going to the gym multiple times a week, making sure you get more sleep…and yet you’re failing to recognise the work you’re already putting in by focusing on not being at the end goal yet. And that is a huge shame.
Seriously, stop. Take a moment and look back on your journey so far. Instead of obsessing over not losing weight because of those ‘last few pounds’, instead, give yourself a good old self-high five for all the weight you already lost. Because if you’ve lost weight already, you’re not really not losing are you now? Whether you started your journey yesterday, last month or last year, you’ve already come so far. Be proud of yourself for goodness sakes!
OK, so I know some of that probably wasn’t stuff you wanted to hear. But I sure as hell hope it helps, even a little. Losing weight doesn’t have to be a miserable endeavour, and once you’ve mastered the basics it should feel a little more manageable. Deprivation, guilt and exhaustion are not necessary – lose the weight of those first and foremost, and focus on being a little kinder to yourself through the whole process.
Still not losing weight, or just overwhelmed with the whole process? If you want a little more help in making the journey actually *gasp* enjoyable, then get in touch with me for a done for you, tailored fat loss programme. It includes a combination of resistance training (changed every four weeks to keep you excited for your workouts), simple, easy to follow nutrition guidance with your calories and macros worked out for you for best results, and me as your very own ultra-hype girl. Seriously, I wasn’t kidding when I said I would be your biggest cheerleader.
Just click here to schedule in a consultation today. The BarBelles Squad isn’t like other programmes out there – it’s about enjoying the process, empowering yourself and finding out just how strong and beautiful you really are. Take action now, I promise your future self will thank you for it.