I get it, you have said to yourself; “I want to lose weight!” and you have started taking steps in the right direction to begin that process. After a couple of weeks of progress, you may find yourself in a situation where you look down at the scale and it just simply isn’t budging. You are staying true to the nutrition plan, you’ve been consistent with your workouts, but the weight isn’t coming off…What’s going on?
While there are a number of factors other than those that I list below, these are some of the most common situations/reasons that I have encountered with people that I work with. It’s also worth noting that in some cases more than one of the factors below may describe what you are experiencing. If that happens to be the case, start by addressing only one factor at a time. While there are some that you may be able to manage multiple at the same time, sticking to making a single change will ensure that you don’t get too overwhelmed with trying to juggle several changes at once. This will also allow you to more accurately determine which situation you fall into and when corrected, has the greatest impact on your progress.
You Are Focused Only On The Scale
This is a fairly common occurrence, especially when start incorporating resistance training into your routine. Consider the following factors before you throw in the towel, say this isn’t working and give up on yourself.
- How are you feeling? – more energetic, higher self-confidence
- How are your clothes fitting?
- Are you sleeping better?
- How do you look in the mirror?
- Has anyone commented on the changes?
You are likely going through a change in body composition and this is where having progress photos can really change your perspective on things. We look at our own bodies each and every day and given that, it is really, really, really hard to see the subtle changes that occur over time. Even over the course of 3-4 weeks, your body may change more than you think and without having a reference of where you started, it is tough to see those changes. Take those before and after or progress photos – they are super-important in this situation. You’ll have a more positive outlook on the process and keep yourself motivated along the way!
“Body composition is used to describe the percentages of fat, bone, water and muscle in human bodies. Because muscular tissue takes up less space in our body than fat tissue, our body composition, as well as our weight, determines leanness. Two people of same sex and body weight may look completely different from each other because they have a different body composition.”
You Are Micronutrient Deficient
You have likely heard of macronutrients. Macronutrients consist of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat, but are you aware of micronutrients and their importance to your body running as efficiently as possible? I am sure you have heard of what actually makes up most of the micronutrient category… These include Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Potassium, Iron, just to name a few, there are many more. Getting proper micronutrients on a daily basis really comes down to food selection. If you are eating enough calories, but those calories are coming from sources of food that are giving your body enough of those micronutrients, you will be deficient!
In some cases, getting 100% of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of every micronutrient simply isn’t possible and in this case, supplementation is necessary. Many of these micronutrients are available in pill or powder form, but trying to manage all them separately can be a bit overwhelming and tough to manage. One option that I would recommend is getting a good multi-vitamin. Another option that highly recommend is Shakeology. Shakeology provides 100% of several key micronutrients. It allows can help you with your weight loss journey when used as a meal replacement. Check out the Supplement Facts label below for specifics.
You Aren’t Really Tracking Your Intake
I am the first to admit that I occasionally find the process of tracking my nutrition a bit of a pain… However, I know that when I am tracking everything I eat, there is absolutely NO WAY I CAN FAIL. When you establish your caloric needs based on your health and fitness goals and begin tracking, you will almost be compelled to continue to hit those goals, this is especially true when you start to see the changes in your body develop.
When you just half-ass your tracking or use the “eyeballing it” method, you are bound to hit a plateau! Here’s the reason why; Humans are terrible at estimating.
Using a system for tracking is always going to be the best option. That system can vary from person to person and what works well in their own daily lives. Here are a couple of methods for tracking that you can implement in your daily habits.
- Pen & Paper – a bit more tedious, but it gets the job done.
- Smartphone app – works great on the go!
- Portion control – no need to track actual calories.
I prefer an app such as MyFitnessPal. It’s data for food content is community driven, so you may find some variations, so I always recommend that you double-check the entry with the product nutrition facts label before you choose an item from the extensive database of foods in the app.
The 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme programs rely on the portion control method through the use of a container system In fact, that same system can be used with any fitness program and a lot of people prefer it to the task of tracking your calories using the other methods mentioned. Order a set of containers then download the Food Tracker PDF below and start using this system today!
When you simply guess at the portions you eat for any food item (healthy or otherwise), odds are pretty high that you are going to guess wrong. Not only will you likely guess wrong, but you will likely be on the low end of what you think you are actually eating. Meaning, you think that portion of lasagna is equal to the suggested serving size, but it is likely 1/4 or more larger.
To prove my point, get out your favorite jar of peanut butter and check out the serving size. It is likely 2 tablespoons. Are you actually breaking out the measuring spoons and carefully leveling off each tablespoon before using it? Not likely… If you are like me, you are probably using a kitchen spoon and just eyeballing two scoops of those. Am I right?
What you thought was 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, ends up being 3 in reality – an extra 90-100 calories (8 grams of fat)! While that extra 90-100 calories won’t really impact your overall nutrition, when you compound this over the course of a single day, you may find that you have easily consumed an extra 400-500 calories and that is a number that will definitely affect your progress over time!
Measure/Track For Results
If you want to ensure results, you need to focus on tracking your nutrition and to one step further, you should be measuring your food as much as possible.
I Want This!
Your TDEE Is Not Your TDEE
Knowing your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) are important factors when it comes to weight loss or weight gain for that matter. Your BMR is the amount of energy your body needs to simply function, even if you were lying in bed all day. At a minimum, you need to consume the number of calories that are equivalent to whatever your current BMR happens to be. (Calculate your BMR here)
If you are consuming less than your BMR, this is obviously a bad thing and not something you want to make a habit or weight loss will likely be the least of your worries. Falling below your BMR can cause significant health issues and over a long period of time, you would literally starve to death.
What is TDEE?
TDEE is the total number of calories that you typically burn on any given day when daily activity is considered, plus your BMR. Most people don’t just lie in bed all day. Most people have jobs, they have daily activities that inherently increase the total number of calories that you burn. This number will obviously vary based on the different levels of activity that you perform, so the number may fluctuate from day to day. However, on average, our TDEE should be pretty consistent over the course of a given week.
So, how do you determine your TDEE? The Harris Benedict equation is a popular formula that like many others, gives you a factor to use based on your activity level over the course of a 7-day period. (Calculate your TDEE here)
The problem with the TDEE calculation isn’t as much related to the factors that are provided, but rather by the factor that most people put themselves into. Just as with estimating calories that you are actually eating, humans are pretty bad at estimating their true level of activity. While the categories can be a little confusing, it is important to choose the category that describes you best BEFORE you started any kind of workout program. As you have progressed within a given workout program and you feel like you have hit a bit of a plateau with weight loss, that is the time that you need to start accounting for that with your TDEE. However, if you are just getting started, you don’t want to overstate your activity levels otherwise, you will likely be at caloric surplus and ultimately gain weight instead of weight loss.
A Cheat Meal Turns Into a Cheat Day…Weekend
Sadly, I see this one A LOT! You have a really good week, Monday through Friday and tell yourself that you deserve a “day off” and decide to indulge in a cheat meal. However, that cheat meal turns into a cheat day, you feel guilty about it, throw your hands up in the air and say something like; “oh well, ruined the week, might as well ruin the weekend!” and you’ve completely undone the progress you’ve made for the week.
What’s that…? You don’t think that is possible?
Let’s assume your baseline caloric intake is 2400 calories/day or 16,800 calories for the week. You are operating at a 500 calorie deficit, which would give you about 1 lb of weight loss for the week (1 lb = 3500 calories – 5 x 500 = 3500 calories). This deficit would take that total down to 13,300 calories.
Monday – Friday you nail your nutrition resulting in 9500 calories of intake, leaving you with 1,900 calories on Saturday and 1,900 calories on Sunday.
On Saturday, you decide that you are going to splurge a little at lunch at get some ice cream for you and the kiddos. You opt for the Oreo Blizzard from Dairy Queen, but you keep it conservative and get the small, which is still 620 calories! This is on top what you already had eaten for breakfast and lunch (let’s assume roughly 800 calories)! Dairy Queen Nutrition Details
At this point you have consumed 1420 calories with still at least one more meal to have. You planned a meal at home with the family; let’s say; Chicken Bruschetta. At the last minute you get an invite to a night out with some friends for dinner and drinks. At dinner, you don’t really even consider the calories of the meal you ordered and have 2-3 drinks over the course of the meal, which adds an additional 1,200 calories for the day. You are now back the 2,400 calorie mark for the day.
After dinner, your friends invite you to grab some after-dinner coffee, so you stop by your local coffee shop and order some kind of cappuccino with several extras; roughly 350 calories.
Saturday Total: 2950 calories = 1050 over.
The self-imposed guilt that you feel the day after that binge, only leads you to say; “Well…this weekend is ruined, might as well enjoy myself!” Instead of simply putting the past behind you after a day like one detailed above, you continue the weekend of gluttony and have a Sunday that is even worse than your Saturday and you end up eating over 3000 calories!
At this point you have completely undone all of the hard work and effort that you put in for the previous 5 days and when you wake up on Monday morning, you feel even worse about the situation when you come to this realization. This is the point where you have to dig down and simply put that weekend behind you and get back at it, start dialing things back in.
One weekend won’t ruin your overall progress, but you can easily see how when you aren’t consistent with your nutrition and constantly have these weeks of up and down, back and forth how you can hit a plateau or begin to regress instead of progress. I am certainly not trying to tell you that you can’t enjoy life and have the occasional weekend where you go a little crazy, that is not my point here. My point is that you are aware of how those actions can limit your progress and prevent you from reaching your fitness goals.
Need a Coach?
If you need to find someone that will hold you accountable, answer your questions, help you, and PUSH YOU for the entire duration of your workout! Luckily for you, that’s what me and my team are here for. If you don’t have a coach yet and want one, I’d love to be your coach and help you through a fitness program. I am available to help you reach your goals!