I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in the health and wellness world when I say I get asked one question WAY more than any other! And as you know I blog about A LOT of stuff! Not only is this the most common question but it was the first I was asked. One of my IG followers DMed and said “I work out and eat right but I still can’t lose weight. I’m SO frustrated! Why can’t I lose weight? What am I doing wrong?” Have you ever felt this way? I’m betting you have! I know I have!
You see… I also tried and failed for MANY years to lose weight! And even if I did lose it, I found it impossible to keep it off for more than 6 months or so. Throughout these challenges I’ve discovered some things that really prevented me from losing weight and keeping it off. And in talking to my friends and followers I think they’re pretty universal!
Where Does Lasting Weight Loss Come From?
A lot of people want to lose weight thinking that when they do, they’ll love their body and be SO happy. Many honestly believe this is the key to a better life.
Here’s the thing though… that’s all backwards! You don’t love your body because you lost weight, you lose weight because you love your body!
Love and Change
I know… it sounds crazy! When we think about love we often put restrictions on what it can mean. So, we think if you love someone or something you can’t want change. This just isn’t how it works though! I love my husband, I mean, like crazy love him! He’s my best friend and soul mate and for sure my favorite person on the planet. That’s all true. And it’s also true that I’d really like it if he didn’t sleep with 7 pillows (I mean who needs 7 pillows… it takes up SO much room)! And even though he loves me to the ends of the earth I know he’d like if I stopped hogging the blankets!
Point is, wanting change coexists with love all the time! You CAN love your body and want to lose some weight or get healthier!
Why it Matters
When you approach weight loss or healthy living from a place of WANTING to love your body or destination happiness you’re coming from a place of deprivation. You’re putting conditions on your body and basically saying “I will deprive you of love until you’re thin enough”. Well, that sets the tone for the entire journey. You feel deprived the entire time you’re trying to lose weight. You workout to punish yourself for what you ate (you know, work it off). Eventually you’re going to get tired of working so hard and still being punished and deprived and you’ll either quit or revert back to your old ways and gain all the weight back and then some.
In addition to this, you won’t be listening to your body which makes you more prone to injury and negative health consequences. Losing weight isn’t about deprivation and punishment, it’s about taking excellent care of yourself. And I’m just going to tell you, you can’t do that if you don’t already love yourself and your body!
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What Kind of Exercise is Best?
I’ll bet you’ve heard you should run or maybe lift weights. Is crossfit best? Does that count as a HIIT workout? You’ve likely heard a lot about exercise and what’s best for weight loss and most of it isn’t even true!
Ready to hear the BIG secret about what exercise is best? It’s pretty mind-blowing!
The best exercise routines are the ones you enjoy and will stick with! It’s really that simple. It doesn’t matter if hundreds of people on your Instagram are losing weight doing a couch to 5k. If you hate running, you’re not going to do it or stick to it. I know… I absolutely hate running! I’ve tried but it’s not my thing! You’re also much more likely to injure yourself doing a workout you don’t care for. I mean, you’re already ignoring your body trying to tell you to stop, so you’re likely to push through early signs of injury and fatigue as well.
Make an Adjustment
I recommend you make a little adjustment to the way you think about exercise. Stop thinking of it as punishment or a means to an end. Think of it as a permanent lifestyle choice. Exercise because it makes you feel good mentally and physically and it improves your health, health span and life span. Making this change in how you view exercise will help you find your ideal form and routine!
And don’t be limited to only one type of exercise. Mix it up! Your body responds best when you keep it guessing and try new things! Plus keeping it fresh and interesting will keep you from getting bored or complacent!
What Diet is Best?
I’ll bet at this point in the post you can guess what I’m going to say… the diet that’s best FOR YOU!!!
Let me just clarify that when I say diet what I mean is long term nutrition plan, not short-term fad diet to make your body lose weight. Nourishing your body well is a BIG deal! It impacts every area of your life including sleep, relationships, productivity, career etc. Nothing in your life happens in a bubble and nutrition affects it all!
The nutrition plan that’s best for you is they one that delivers optimal results and functioning. For each person this looks different. Tracking your food and how you’re feeling both mentally and physically is the key to creating your ideal diet. If you’ve done this but you’re still not seeing the results you’re hoping for it might be time to dig deeper and try an elimination diet.
What About Calories?
In my post about natural workout recovery tips I talk a bit about recommended calorie counts. But I think it’s really important to mention that weight loss experts are moving away from the calories in / calories out mantra.
You may not have heard this, so I think it’s important to explain a little bit here. While calories in / calories out is true to some degree it’s also overly simplistic. There are all sorts of factors that impact the way your body uses food as fuel. For example, your body won’t burn fat if you have insulin in your blood stream. So, that means it’s much harder to lose weight if you’re eating refined carbohydrates (like bread and pasta) or sugar, regularly. This is true regardless of how many calories your eating. And guess what… 0 calorie diet foods can also increase your insulin levels by tricking your body into thinking sugar is present. Plus, they cause more food cravings as well.
And surely, we all know that 100 calories of broccoli doesn’t affect our body the same way 100 calories of sugar does. So, calories in / calories out isn’t really how it works.
So, let’s just summarize by saying you need to eat the foods that make you feel best! Concern yourself more with how the foods you eat are impacting your performance rather than calorie counts. This is the key to long term weight loss. Oh, and let me also mention that when you realize a food makes you feel nasty, fatigued or causes breakouts it takes a lot less will power to avoid it. As you’re doing this, you’ll notice that “healthy” foods often make you feel amazing and “junk” foods are making you sick, tired and frustrated with physical symptoms you don’t want. And since you love your body, of course you’ll want to give it what it needs to feel it’s best!
What Other Factors Impact Long-Term Weight Loss?
You may have noticed a running theme in this post which is that you must love and listen to your body in order to lose weight and keep it off. So, there may be some additional factors besides those listed in this section that are impacting your weight loss. These are just a few things I’ve noticed are impactful for me.
Getting enough sleep is imperative to weight loss. Many studies are showing that it’s the second most important factor after nutrition! Sleeping an appropriate amount at night helps you make wise decisions about your nutrition and health. It also gives you the energy to get your workout in and helps your body reboot.
I find that staying up late is a recipe for disaster when it comes to health and weight loss. I’m far more likely to eat out of boredom at night and I’m less attentive to what I’m putting into my body. Setting a bedtime and morning routine is a great way to ensure you’re getting plenty of much needed rest.
Stress not only impacts your ability to sleep and is a likely cause of emotional eating, it also creates physiological disruptions. A little stress is ok and can be a huge motivator, but chronic ongoing stress is a recipe for disaster. It increases cortisol levels in your body which makes it near to impossible to lose weight. And in addition, it’s very hard to tune in to what your body is telling you when you’re distracted by worry and anxiety. Developing great stress management techniques is key!
Are you sick of hearing about water yet? Well then, just drink the stupid water!
Often signs of thirst are mistaken for hunger and no one’s body functions properly when dehydrated. Plus, the 2 primary means for your body to detox (sweat and urine) are both dependent on water consumption.
So, follow the simple rule of drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day! You can count all non-caffeinated, sugar and artificial sweetener free drinks as water (except juice). You can also add lemon, cucumber, berries or mint to your water to give it a little extra flavor!
It took me a while to realize that routines are SO impactful to my health and weight loss. I’m not naturally a routine oriented person and tend to struggle to create them. So, I get other’s hesitance in this category.
Having routines helps me stay on track and aware of what’s happening in my body. I typically eat pretty similar meals during the day, plan our family dinners in advance and ensure I have time to cook them (when it’s my turn). I also have a routine time that I exercise, which is first thing in the morning, so I don’t get busy and skip it. But one of the things I didn’t connect right away is how important my other routines are.
For example, I do my best writing and am most clear minded from about 10am – 5pm and I get another burst of energy from 8pm – 11pm. That means getting to bed before 11 isn’t likely and if I’m trying to write at 9am or 6pm I’m likely to struggle with focus and concentration. For a while I thought it was something in my diet that was causing those concentration issues. And, for a while I tried to force myself to be a 6am waking person. Getting myself into a good routine and being attentive to my body’s natural rhythm enabled me to work with it to create natural routines that work best for me!
Everyday we’re exposed to things in our environment that aren’t good for our health (or weight loss). Everything from indoor air pollution to artificial fragrances to hygiene products containing chemicals that have negative health impacts.
As you start paying attention to your body and how it’s responding, consider making some changes to more natural products. This is particularly important when it comes to artificial fragrance. Many chemicals used to create fragrance are endocrine disruptors. So, breathing them in causes hormonal imbalances that lead to a whole host of negative health consequences including weight gain!
If you’re trying to lose weight and struggling it might be because there’s a physiological factor at play. If you haven’t gotten a physical in a while it might be time to schedule one. Getting your thyroid and blood sugar checked along with having your hormone levels looked into could be very revealing. If you want to take it even further, see a functional medicine doctor. They’ll check your vitamin levels and do additional preventative medicine testing.
To find out more about my own journey with digging into these physiological factors check out my health journey!
Weight loss can be frustrating so it’s very important to pamper yourself and practice excellent self-care. Celebrating your small wins and scheduling time to treat yourself will help you stay motivated and maintain a positive outlook. Since all weight loss and health start in the heart and mind it’s important to take the time to nurture yourself. Plus, if you love your body and yourself you need to act like it! Be kind and generous with yourself!
Why Can’t I Lose Weight?
To be honest I think the best answer to this question is another question… “why do you want to lose weight”. This is likely the key to discovering what’s in the way of achieving your optimal weight. When I ask this question, in addition to wanting to find body love and happiness I also get answers about getting back to an old weight or looking good this summer. These “whys” simply aren’t enough. You’re talking about a huge life change and a surface reason won’t work. If you’re coming from this perspective the one thing I can guarantee you is that even if you do get to your “goal weight” you still won’t like what you see in the mirror.
Nothing… and I mean nothing can take the place of body love! If you can’t love your body where you’re at right now you won’t love your body when you lose weight either.
So, what’s the perspective that leads to long term weight loss… here it is…
Wanting to lose weight to take the best care of your body you can and achieve your best health because you love yourself and deserve it!
That’s the perspective that works… that’s where you need to start! And, if that’s really what you want, you can toss the scale because your success won’t be determined by an arbitrary number. You’ll know you’ve accomplished your goal when you feel absolutely amazing!