I eat well and exercise but I’m not losing weight. Why?

I eat well and exercise but I’m not losing weight. Why?


If you’re eating a good diet and exercising, most people should lose weight.  If you’re not, here’s a few things to consider.

1.  You’re not eating that good of a diet. 

Beautiful Young Woman choosing between Fruits and SweetsWhen I see the food journals of patients that tell me they eat a pretty good diet, all I can say is . . . ummm . . . eating Lara Bars and Chipotle burrito bowls every day is not part of a good diet.  Your diet has to be good, and ideally slightly below what’s referred to as your basal metabolic rate.  Allow me to go into that a bit more for just a sec . . .
Your basal metabolic rate is essentially how much energy (calories) your body uses on a daily basis just going about your normal, everyday business.  If you’re juggling four small children at home on a daily basis and almost always on your feet, you probably have a slightly higher basal metabolic rate than someone who sits at a desk in front of a computer for most of the day.

To lose weight, you need your calorie intake to be slightly lower than your basal metabolic rate.  But it’s not just about calories, it is also about the type of calories you’re eating.  For example, the effects of 100 calories of spinach will be far different than 100 calories from cookies.

Oh, and if you’re consuming less calories, you probably want to bump up your protein a bit to minimize muscle loss.  Remember the basal metabolic rate?  The more muscle you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate.

So if you’re not losing weight, number one is to take an honest inventory of your diet.  This is probably one of the most common causes. By the way, I can do that for you here.

2.  You’re not exercising correctly.

notexercisingSorry, walking on a treadmill is really not exercising.  Moving yes, but exercising, no.  To say walking is exercising is kind of like saying microwaving is cooking.

To lose weight, you need to exercise fairly strenuously.  This doesn’t necessarily mean bouncing around a room to P90X (though that’ll do the trick & P90X3 is my fav because it’s only 30 minutes), but it means doing something where you have to take a rest. Like, you feel like you’re going to die if you don’t take a rest. Think sprinting versus jogging.  If you do an all-out sprint, you have to stop, and relatively soon, but you can jog for miles without taking a break.

But here’s the great thing – according to studies, this all-out effort only needs to be done about 4-5 times a week for 30 minutes a day to be effective.  I’m not knocking cardio or hating on my the runner crowd, but it’s not the best for weight loss.  Oh, and doing something against resistance (eg some type of weight) will lead to more muscle mass and thus a greater basal metabolic rate.  Besides that, muscle loss hallmark of aging, and we certainly don’t want that.

So do kick-your-butt type workouts.  Obviously this will vary for you depending on your age and restrictions (i.e. a bum knee), but your goal is the same – do something where you work really hard for 30 minutes, and you’re done.

3.  There’s something else going on in your body.

evaluateIf your diet is spot on and you’re exercising like a champ and still not losing weight, it’s probably something inside of you now working correctly.  It could be hormones such as cortisol or thyroid.  Maybe you have some degree of inflammation going on.  But if you’re doing everything right and you’re not losing weight, you need to go to a doctor who knows what he or she is doing to see how things are working underneath the hood.  Lab testing will be involved, as it’s the only reliable way of evaluating your physiology.

4. You actually don’t need to lose weight.

I can’t tell you how many people come to me wanting to lose weight who actually have no weight to lose. Yes, America is fat. Many people are fat. But not ALL people are fat. Let’s not get crazy. I’m not going to go into a long soliloquy here about self-acceptance but that is the key issue, not the number on the scale. Love yourself for who you are, always. Your body does a lot for you, every.damned.day. Stop looking at it and telling it that it’s ugly because it doesn’t look right in skinny jeans. And just think about all the amazing things you could be doing with your life if you stopped obsessing about not having a thigh gap.

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