In principle losing bodyweight, ideally fat mass is simple. It’s calorie in and calories out. Maybe you’ve been successful in the past but now things stall. Or you’re never been successful with weight loss. In this article, I want to highlight 4 reasons why you aren’t losing body fat.
I also have a YouTube video on my channel covering the topic if you prefer this medium.
You bought this meal plan from your favourite influencer and it’s not working for you? Well, chances are this is the same plan this person sold to thousands of other people like you. It’s a cookie-cutter plan, that might work for some but that’s already it.
These cookie-cutter plans don’t take into consideration any personal preferences or lifestyle factors. Nor do they care at all if there’s a big celebration ahead. They tell you to eat chicken, broccoli and rice and to shut the fuck up.
If it’s not working, they’ll tell you that it’s your fault. But it isn’t, you need a better plan. There’s always room to adjust to what you love eating or an upcoming wedding. There are techniques you could use to help you stay on your weight loss plan, while still having a piece of cake. It doesn’t have to be rigid, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be rigid. Every meal plan should be as individual as the person following it. On my meal plan, you’ll always see pizza. Not because it’s a secret weight-loss tool. It’s just food that I really love and that’s important to me.
What is true for a diet or meal plan, is also true for your training plan. If your training plan is full of fancy exercises and focuses a lot more on “burning” calories and “toning” your muscles instead of compound lifts that focus on building muscle mass, you might have an issue. Of course, a training plan that is more general can work for many, just beware of what people try to sell you.
This is something many people might benefit from, during a weight cut, a training program or for life in general: accountability.
The lack of accountability can easily hinder your weight loss or training progress for that matter.
There are a couple of methods you can use to help you create accountability. Depending on where you are on your journey, you can take measurements. This is often than helpful when you are new to lifting weights. In this case, you might not see any changes on the scale, as you are adding in a similar speed fat-free mass as you are losing fat mass. But your measurements might significantly improve. So, measure your chest, waist, and arm circumference once a month.
You can also take weekly pictures, this makes long term changes visible too. If you don’t feel like doing this, ask a person you can trust. And if that’s not an option, don’t worry. You don’t have to take any pictures at all.
Jumping on the scale is a way to create some accountability too. There will be fluctuations, so, if you can, weigh in daily, naked, at the same time of the time, after the bathroom without anything in your stomach. And now you take the average of your weight on a 7-day basis. This shows trends and gets rid of weird weight fluctuations.
If you never dieted, you might not really know how much you eat. Tracking your calories for a couple of days, or weeks or maybe for months – depending on what works for you can be extremely helpful. Weighing everything out is a bit tedious, but it helps you to see how many calories are in foods. It can also show you that you are completely getting your calories wrong. You might think you are only eating 2000 calories a day, when in fact you are eating 2800. Give it a try, for at least 14 days, and track it in an app. There are plenty out there.
People can be great in terms of accountability. Telling a close friend what you are up to and your friend asking how it’s going can be make or break for many. The simple fact that someone important to you cares about your journey can make this easier when times are difficult.
Of course, you might hire a good nutrition or diet coach. Here you will get not only accountability via check-ins but also feedback. A good coach will adapt to your lifestyle, and you explain everything you need to know while you are working together. The fact that you pay this person some money, can create another layer of motivation and accountability towards yourself.
Extreme plans diets/exercise
I addressed extreme diet plans or even crash dieting in the past. They are not a suitable way for sustainable weight loss. What they will do, is sell you a promise of quick weight loss. They seem to empathize weight loss, but fail to address fat loss. Fat loss is likely what most people tend to go for. If you are on a very restrictive, especially in terms of calories, weight loss plan, chances are that you will not be able to adhere to this in the long run.
It is very likely that you will get extremely hungry, very quickly and go off-script. This could reinforce a negative loop, in which you might think you aren’t good enough. Heck, I’ve heard from coaches who tell this to their clients. They explicitly tell them, that it’s their fault, that they just don’t want this enough. If you are on such an extreme plan, you’re likely not the problem, but the diet plan.
Find a weight-loss regimen that takes more time than 4 weeks. Depending on your situation, fat loss is a long-term journey. And in order to get some solid long-term success, you need to start planning for long-term sustainability.
Create a diet plan that has a moderate deficit, which doesn’t feel restrictive in food choices. You can eat a Big Mac every day and still be in a caloric deficit. So, you can make it work for you – whatever that means to you and not some influencer diet coach.
Extreme training plans tend to go along with extreme weight loss plans. If your training plan focuses solely or mostly on cardio, chances are that you are not on a sustainable journey for weight loss. There are plenty of studies out there that show how important resistance training is for overall health but also how it helps to build or at least retain fat-free mass during a caloric deficit. You really don’t want to lose all your muscle, just to be lighter on the scale. You want to lose fat mass to look and feel better. The number on the scale will sooner or later become irrelevant to you.
Cardio still has a place in a sustainable training plan. You shouldn’t ignore it either. Some form or cardio can really help you to either increase the deficit or give you a chance to eat a bit more and still be in a deficit. Either choice is fine and depends on your lifestyle and how few calories you have to consume to be in a deficit.
Pick the form of cardio that you enjoy and can make part of your lifestyle on a regular basis. Maybe that a run every day. Maybe you just go for plenty of walks throughout the day. It could be that you like to add a few HIIT sessions to your weekly regimen. In the end, it is likely a combination of them. Do what works for you!
Not having fun / not enjoying the process
Lastly, it is hard to stay on track, no matter what it is in life if you don’t like the process. If every single day is annoying and terrible, how are you supposed to do this for weeks, months, maybe even years?
So, find ways to make the process fun and enjoyable. Then it’s a lot easier to stick to your long-term goals, not only on the easy days when you feel like it. But especially on the days when you don’t feel like doing it.
Find your why! Without a why, i.e., a goal or a reason, it is extremely hard to follow through with anything in life. Being deprived of calories will therefore be especially hard, as we are wired to eat. We get constantly bombarded with food, in commercials, at home, while walking through a street. Have a reason to go from where you are now to where you want to be. Make this process sustainable and don’t go from 0 to 100 in 2 weeks.
If you find your why, opt for long-term success and sustainability, find some fun in the process, you’ll achieve a lot more than you ever thought possible, in weight loss, training or life.
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