Losing weight isn’t the only goal for fitness. There are a lot of goals, and often, you will have many at the same time. Others include just feeling healthier, fighting the onset of age, achieving advanced athletic competence, or just getting that better self-image you always wanted.
However, for many in the developed world, where sedentary lifestyles are common, and food is plentiful, obesity is often the driving force behind pursuing fitness, at least on the outset. The problem is that a lot of times, people will work out like crazy and still not seem to lose weight. This can be heartbreaking, and there can be a number of factors at play.
Before we get into these reasons, let’s revisit why exercise is supposed to cause weight loss, what causes fat to form, and so on. You’ve probably heard this all before, but it bears repeating given the context.
Fat and Metabolism
So, what exactly causes body fat? To defeat something, we need to really understand it. Know your enemy, as they say, right? Well, our bodies (most creatures, in fact) have a really neat feature we’ve developed. In the past, when we lived hunter/gatherer lifestyles, we faced frequent periods of starvation. Perhaps it was just a week of bad hunting and slim pickings, perhaps it was bad weather, or perhaps it’s a long winter.
To avoid starving, our bodies have developed the ability to store calories as fat cells, which the body can hold onto basically indefinitely, and metabolize when there’s a severe strain on the food supply. We would eat all we could, we would pack on some fat (though much less due to life being so hard), and we’d make it, if malcontent, to the next time we could kill some food.
Here’s the problem. Food is plentiful in developed parts of the world, even if you’re poor, for the most part. The poorer you are, the less healthy your diet is likely to be as well. Most of us might work all day, and not want to move when we get home. We’re drained. So we sit, pack in calories, and put on weight.
We’re secretly unfulfilled, so we get bored with our Netflix binging lifestyle, and we eat out of boredom, adding to the pounds we pack on.
Exercise is intended to cause the body to burn off the calories you eat, and gradually burn off the stored fat on your body as well. If you maintain a calorie deficit of proper scope, you should be able to take the weight off and keep it off. The problem is, with one exception, you’re probably doing something wrong if you’re not losing the weight.
It’s okay; even us pros make these mistakes sometimes.
You’re Not Eating Enough
This is an easy mistake to make. Knowing that exercise makes your body “eat” your fat, it’s best to force it to do that hardcore. Barely eat, and eat bland, simple food. That ought to do it. Only, this makes it worse and can be dangerous to your health as well.
See, that same mechanism in us that stores spare energy can also be kicked into over-protective mode by not eating enough food. Your body will burn that fat eventually, but it’ll fight to hold onto it longer, thinking it’s being starved. You’ll suffer untold medical problems before you lose the flab, and you certainly don’t want that.
You’re Not Eating The Right Foods
You may still be consuming some things you shouldn’t, and it’s easy for these habits to creep up on you even after you initially kick them. Oh well, a Pepsi with lunch won’t kill me. It’s hot today. Well, that’s alright, but it becomes a few, and you’re back to drinking sugar.
You may be eating too much processed food as well. The more organic your diet is, the better. Now, let me clarify that by organic, I mean things that are either butchered or harvested, and then you simply prepare them. No preservatives, no fillers, no bizarre complexes included.
Processed foods won’t kill you, but they’re not conducive to weight loss. You also may be overdoing carbs or drinking too much alcohol.
You’re Eating Too Much
Don’t starve yourself. But keep portions reasonable and balanced. Space your meals properly, and don’t snack all day. Aim for healthy snacks as much as possible. Don’t binge eat; don’t go for seconds when you’re not feeling hungry anymore. The “full” feeling we all tend to seek out is actually something you should stop short of achieving. Stop when the feeling of hunger is gone.
You’re Not Exercising Right
Your exercises may be wrong for your goals. Are you getting enough cardio? Are you lifting weights? Are you doing enough reps close together, and are you on a regular schedule? It could just be that what you’re doing isn’t enough for the calorie deficit, which will change as you lose weight, remember.
You’re Not Hydrating
Your body will try to retain water when you don’t hydrate, and water adds to your weight. You may be losing the fat, but you’re still heavy because you retain too much water. Proper hydration also helps exercise be more effective, and it can also help your body metabolize the flab more efficiently as well.
You Actually Are Losing Weight
This one isn’t a mistake; it’s just a sign of how tricky the human body is. Muscle weighs more than fat, so if you’re building muscle, the scale might not be giving you the whole picture. Weight also fluctuates over even the course of a day, let alone over a week or a month. You may gain and lose weight depending on how much liquid you’ve had in a small period of time, when you last ate, you name it.
Weight loss also isn’t a steady curve with most people, usually having leaps and plateaus on the graph. Bodies aren’t computers, they’re a bit more complicated than that, and they’re just not as predictable as we wish they were.
Chances are if you’re working hard, but the weight remains, you need to rethink your dietary habits and possibly your exercises. Something isn’t going according to plan. We can help, just follow us on Facebook.