Losing weight tops the New Year's Resolution chart year after year, and polls show that most Americans would like to lose weight. Though millions of people are spending time, money and energy towards this goal, weight loss seems elusive.
Here is my hunch on why you aren’t losing weight.
- You don’t realize how many calories you are eating.
Calories are sneaky. They hide in foods that are marketed as “healthy” or “diet” foods and they find their way into your body without you realizing it. Many people underestimate the amount of calories they eat in a day, and overestimate the amount of calories they burn exercising. They even overestimate the amount they need to eat to create a calorie deficit. Hidden sources of calories for you may be beverages; snacks (a.k.a. mini-meals); pre- or post- workout shakes, bars, or smoothies; or condiments. You may want to take one weekday and one weekend day to journal your food intake to see just how much food you really are eating (and drinking).
- Your exercise routine needs some tweaking.
Our bodies like consistency, but they also like variety. If you have been doing the same exercise routine since you graduated from college, it might be time to switch things up. Cross training works wonders for the body because you use different muscles, challenge yourself, and prevent that frustrating weight plateau. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can also be a great option for calorie-burning. Using the acronym FITT can help guide you to vary and increase the Frequency, Intensity, Time (Duration) and Type of exercise.
- You eat out regularly.
Eating out often means extra calories because of the portion sizes, habit of cleaning your plate, extra fat and salt used in preparation, and the view that this meal is “special” so you choose foods that you normally wouldn’t prepare at home. It can be hard to get the recommended amount of non-starchy vegetables when restaurant meals are usually carbohydrate- and protein-heavy. That naturally results in a more calorie-dense meal overall compared to what you can make at home. Reduce the number of meals outside your home to two per week and you’ll find that you’re not just losing weight but saving money too!
- You have trouble saying “No.”
"No" is a muscle that, for many of us, is weak and limp. For our "No" voice to grow strong, we need to practice. When you are offered food (especially the calorie- and sugar-laden food that people usually like to share), practice saying, "No, thank you." Put aside the worries about hurting their feelings or whatever thoughts usually lead you to accept the donuts, candy or 500-calorie coffee beverage. This is your body. You have the right to say no. And, by saying no, you’ll be saying "Yes!" to your health.
- Your emotions are hungry.
Whether you realize it or not, you may be eating for reasons other than hunger. Common hunger impostors are anxiety, boredom, stress, fatigue and habit. Don’t underestimate the power of these little gremlins demanding to be fed. Slow down, relax and tune it to figure out what your body is asking for. Most of the time, the answer won’t be food but rather rest, connection, fun and loving care. Take time to reflect on the different factors that may be thwarting your weight loss goals and what steps you can take to create a lifestyle that promotes your health and wellbeing.