“I’ve been working really hard at this! Why I haven’t I lost weight?!”
I hear this question all the time. There isn’t just one answer to this seemingly simple question. But I’m going to attempt to offer some insight here that may help many of you out.
Here we go, how to fail at weight loss:
- Go the the gym. And nothing else. You’re burning more calories right? Wrong. Going to the gym doesn’t give you a license to sit the rest of the day. And definitely not one to continue eating as usual. Losing weight is 80% diet and 20% physical activity. You simply can not lose weight and continue with your afternoon sweet fix, sweet tea at dinner, Friday night pizza and wings, and coffee with extra whip cream every morning. At best, you can expect to burn an extra 200-300 calories at the gym, the equivalent of one slice of pizza, a small McDonalds fry, or 1-2 cookies. Depressing, I know.
- Skip meals. Sounds counterintuitive. Skipping meals means eating less calories, right? Wrong. Think of your body as a car that needs fuel to keep going. What fuel is to a car, calories are to the human body. Without it, we are like a car that has run out of gas or otherwise, a metabolism that simply cannot move. When you go more than five hours without eating, this signals the body’s metabolism to slow the heck down and conserve, rather than use, energy. You’re like a parked car. And guess what? Next time you eat, not only are you ready to eat the table, your body is in storage mode and now is going to store MORE calories at the meal than it would have if you were eating more frequently. You know “those skinny people” that seem to be eating all. day. long. And you probably hate them for it? This is why. They keep their metabolisms going 100 miles per hour. You can do the same, just not with junk food, ok?
- Continue to use food for comfort. This one sounds like a no brainer, but it is the number one reason I see people struggle to see ANY results at all in their weight loss goals. If this is your M.O. you gotta address it before you even think about anything else. Sure, food is readily available and as I mentioned in my previous post, create a fantastic dopamine response (aka feel good) in the brain, but it’s never going to help you lose weight if used as comfort. I’ve written lots around this topic and suggestions for overcoming it in previous posts. But remember this: let food be about food and your emotions be about emotions. Food was never supposed to be centered around your emotions.
- Don’t go grocery shopping. When working with a new client, one of the first questions I ask is “how often do you go to the grocery store?” And the second one is “do you make a list?” That can tell me a lot about their meal planning habits. News flash: fresh fruit, vegetables, greek yogurt, and grilled chicken won’t magically appear in your refrigerator. The old cliche “when you fail to plan, you plan to fail” applies here. Someone has to purchase this heathy food, prepare it, and get it in front of you, preferably on a kitchen table. Not on a coffee table in front of the television or on a desk in front of the computer. Again, food is about food – to be eaten in the setting of a meal at a table, not eaten all over the place.
There are lots more reasons why people fail like expecting massive results too quickly, trying to change their whole lives overnight, refusal to make important changes, genetics or just a history of significant dieting in general. I will plan to address these in future posts. But for now, I implore you to take an honest review of your own habits and decide to change what’s holding you back.
If you need some help and are interested in a free 30 minute telephone wellness consult, contact me here and I will get back to you in the next 48 hours to schedule an appointment with you.
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Jillian McMullen, CSOWM, RDN, LD