No matter how hard you try – it's just not happening

As you know, myfitnessroad.com's goal is to help Al find balance and happiness by realizing those all-important fitness and health-related goals.

Quite often though, there's need to analyze stubborn cases a little closer.

what's this page about?

I previously addressed the problem of 'weight loss' in a blogpost, and via social media. I highlighted that numerous fitness queries come from frustrated lady clients, who can't 'seem' to lose weight.

With that in mind, if you share this situation, let's try and help you identify the obstacles to your weight loss – by looking through the eyes of 3 different versions of Al. 

I call them: Ms Relaxed, Ms Blasé and Ms Insanity (in case you didn't see the article I mentioned).

Hopefully, by reading about their erroneous choices and decisions, you'll be able to identify the shortcomings in your own life – and address or make the necessary corrections or adjustments. 

Together with the options under 'possible solutions' (further down), you should be on track to devising effective and lasting solutions, or know what your next move should be – so that you too can finally achieve the transformation you've been dreaming of.

But first, let's consider the possible reasons why you're not losing weight, by...

DECONSTRUCTING 3 VERSIONS OF AL

Ms Relaxed

The name denotes her presence and demeanor. She doesn't openly declare any intention of losing weight. Never really gets going with any fitness plan, and tends to blame external factors for her condition. She keeps her weight loss aspirations secret.

Possible traits

Lethargy, procrastination, demotivation, depression, martyrdom, self-loathing, poor eating habits.

Fitness program adherence potential: low

Ms Relaxed is convinced that she does what she can for her health. But when looking a little deeper, it's evident that her physical activity level is very low. To make matters worse, she has an endomorphic physiology, meaning that she's a little more prone to weight gain than ectomorphs and mesomorphs are. (See Somatotypes for more on this.)

In addition, there's no planning, preparing or eating food which would support weight loss. She may even cite 'medical' reasons or her medication to excuse her ineffective lifestyle choices. In this way, she feels 'absolved' of her responsibilities, and maintains a largely inactive lifestyle.

When all is said and done, Ms Relaxed has a lot of work to do. She may even want to seek guidance or professional care, since she's also inclined to medicate her depression by falling prey to the vicious cycle of binge-eating.

Ms Blasé

Open about her need or desire to lose weight. At times even publicly declares her intent, but either she never starts – or she loses her sense of commitment along the way. 

Possible traits

Over-rationalization, procrastination, self-serving bias, fleeting motivation, inconsistent eating habits.

Fitness program adherence potential: moderate

Ms Blasé believes she's doing the 'right' things for her fitness and health, but admits she should do more. She exercises sporadically, and is inclined to under-estimate her calorie-intake – convinced that she's eating less than she actually is. (A common oversight by many weight-loss aspirants.)

Ms Blasé tends to allow her work and social engagements to dictate her lifestyle a lot of the time – which compromise her fitness priorities.

But, her biggest hurdle is her fickle approach to health and fitness. Ms Blasé needs to re-think her strategies and become more serious about her goals – if she's to achieve any appreciable change.

Ms insanity

She has no shortage of will and discipline, but is adamant that her weight loss goals be achieved on her terms. Never gives up, but is also destined to never hit the target – unless she changes course.

Possible traits

High-energy, high motivation, consistent, extreme sense of control, stubbornness, perfectionism, rigid eating habits.

Fitness program adherence potential: high

There's a lot of energy and trying going on here – but there's also much frustration.

The reason that Ms Insanity isn't losing 'weight' is probably due to metabolic adaptation – linked to a drastically reduced calorie-intake, and too much cardio. She only eats 'clean' foods and never misses workouts. 

However, by naively applying the 'more is better' approach – she has gone beyond the point of diminishing returns.

Ms Insanity is a high-achiever, making her an extremely 'driven' and stressed person. 

But prolonged periods of stress can cause elevated hormonal levels of cortisol and adrenaline, which can cause water-retention – appearing on the outside as extra weight.

Although Ms Insanity has the best prognosis of the three case-studies, she needs to be willing to trust more, and consider changing her ways – particularly her fitness program design and eating plan.

COMMON GROUND AND SHARED FAILINGS

The above analyses are not meant for purposes of criticism, but rather to reveal the often-used excuses and behaviors, for sake of awareness and constructive intent; to help you recognize those traits or habits in yourself – the ones that might be derailing your progress – and devise ways of addressing them.

Even though I made three distinctions, know that people often share (to varying degrees) shortcomings in vision, motivation and discipline, which usually translate into procrastination, laziness and/or lack of organization.

Yes, even successful folks have these innate tendencies which can cause resistance to change. But they've learned how to manage them and translate them into positive outcomes.

3 COMPONENTS FOR ACHIEVING A WEIGHT LOSS GOAL, AND GETTING FIT

 A red button with the words Lose Weight on it

You may have identified with some of the cop outs and self-defeating behaviors mentioned so far. Or at least there are a couple which resonate with you. 

For a moment though, let's put them aside and consider – in simple terms – the 3 essential requirements for achieving a fitness goal.

You don't need to buy any secrets, books or guides.

Just make sure that you:

  • Know and internalize your reasons for wanting to change
  • Commit to a realistically achievable goal
  • Be consistent

It's no more complicated than this. Why then do so many people fall short? 

For the most part, 'life' tends to get in the way.

It needn't be like this. There's good news if you're prepared to make a decision, up your game and get organized.

(Read more on the how to get fit page.)

what, you have no time?

This is without doubt the most commonly used excuse.

I hope you realize that you're actually saying: "it's not important enough." This means that on your list of priorities, fitness doesn't rank high enough to be part of your life.

As renowned family medicine specialist, Eric J. Crall MD, puts it: 

"Not enough time is a euphemism for not enough desire."

Think about that for a second – and then read on.

OKAY, SO YOU'LL GET DOWN TO DOING IT. 
BUT WHEN?

Here's another human failing we all share: we think we're going to live forever – and that there's always 'tomorrow.'

I know, none of us has enough time at any given moment. But putting things off until you have more time... 

Sorry, it ain't gonna happen.

It leads to the plight of procrastination, cynicism and eventually – total indifference. In case you're wondering, these behaviors apply to both perfectionists and laggards.

If you're someone who continually neglects your health, take a moment to think about what Edward Stanley said:

“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”

Are you also someone who's consciously willing to wait for a nasty surprise in later life?

I KNOW, YOU'RE ONLY HUMAN

Nobody is guilty or wrong, per se, because they feel lethargic or unmotivated. We all experience these emotions and behaviors at various stages of our lives. 

I myself struggle at times to keep all my ducks in a row. What I do know (and advise those I coach) is that it matters more what you do most of the time, not what you do some of the time. 

High levels of fitness, health and overall wellness don't require you to be perfect. Humans are fallible.

We need to be able to live our lives, knowing that there's room for the odd mistake, especially when we face tough challenges and adversity. We learn by our mistakes  – and we can grow stronger because of them.

But let's not make a habit of repeating the same ones.

3 POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS TO STUBBORN WEIGHT LOSS

Carefully consider the following options as you up your game and get going with your weight loss initiatives:

1. For those who are convinced that they're doing 'everything' possible

If you're currently 100% committed to your fitness goal, eating and training to support that goal, and totally convinced that you're doing 'everything' right, but aren't losing weight – I would strongly urge you to consult with your doctor as a next step.

Chronic stress, hormonal levels, thyroid function, underlying conditions and/or medication can all influence your weight. A routine medical check up will help you eliminate some of the guesswork.

If you're not fitness-savvy, I'd recommend discussing your check-up results, blood work etc with a qualified fitness coach – to see what adjustments you could make to your fitness program.

2. For those who need help in getting organized

If on the other hand, you really want to get into shape, but know in your heart of hearts that you're erring; if you just can't manage to stick with a regular program, nutrition etc because of work, social, personal or family issues – approach someone about your issues. 

There's nothing to be gained from ignoring these. 

Sometimes getting fit and healthy can seem to be the missing link to overall happiness. But if you have problems on the home or social front, you will not easily sustain a healthy balance.

If you're not sure where to turn first, simply fill in the contact form, and talk to me – no obligation.

3. For those who are already disciplined – and who've had 'some' success

You may be exercising, watching your nutrition intake and made some progress – but stuck at a particular weight. If so, I invite you to consider the nutritional alternatives below in working to get your weight loss moving again, and on track to your desired outcome.

It is possible to coax your body into fat burning mode by stimulating your metabolism with techniques that your physiology isn't used to.

Keep in mind though, that results vary from person-to-person.

An aspect usually taken too much for granted by the fitness industry, is your 'somatotype.' It influences to a large degree, the success you'll have with different programming and weight management strategies.

Although there're many angles to weight loss, below are three protocols which I've used personally, and which several of my clients have reported success with.

FAT LOSS ALTERNATIVES THAT DON'T SIMPLY REDUCE CALORIES

I know, conventional wisdom says that to lose weight, you must reduce calories. And you've probably tried this.

If you're able to relate to some of the frustrations discussed above, and dieted without success, you could try incorporating one of the following alternatives:

Calorie cycling

An eating protocol where periods of lower calorie consumption are alternated with periods of higher calorie consumption. (More suited to disciplined individuals looking to shed those last 5-7 lbs.)

There are several designs you can use here. You can simply do lower calories every other day, or you can do two days on and one or two days off.

The idea behind this method is to disrupt your body's 'homeostasis' thereby jolting your metabolism so that your overall energy expenditure is higher – and increasing the degree of fat burning.

In the example below, we have a moderately active 35 year old female (5 ft 8 in, 160 lbs) looking to shed lose those last few pounds. According to the Mifflin-St Jeor formula, her total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is 2277 calories . (See how this is done on the Calculate BMR-TDEE page).

Since her goal weight of 155 lbs is not far off, she opts for a small calorie deficit of 10%, which gives a target TDEE of 2050 calories.

A typical week could look like this:

Calorie cycling – A Typical Week

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
2050 cals 1720 cals 1540 cals 2340 cals 1925 cals 1975 cals 2800 cals
155g p 155g p 155g p 155g p 155g p 155g p 155g p
205g c 172g c 154g c 234g c 193g c 198g c 280g c
68g f 46g f 35g f 87g f 59g f 63g f 115g f

(*g = grams, p = protein, c = carb, f = fat)

Although her daily calorie consumption varies significantly, her macronutrient ratios are constant, and she's maintaining a weekly average of 2050 calories.

Carb cycling

This approach is similar to calorie cycling, in that the goal is to keep your body guessing.

But instead of cycling lower/higher calorie days, carb cycling alternates days of lower carb intake  with days of higher carb consumption. There's less up and down in calorie-count but is is more 'interesting' with the macronutrient variability than the calorie cycling option.

Again, we can use single or multiple days of low carb before higher carb days are introduced.

Protein ratios are kept constant throughout, while fats and carbohydrates are decreased/increased. (These two macronutrients should be inversely proportional to one another – meaning on low carb days, fats should be higher, and vice versa.)

This next example shows a very active 30 year old female (5 ft 6 in, 155 lbs) aiming to reach 145 pounds quickly. Her TDEE is 2484 calories (again, courtesy of the BMR-TDEE calculator). 

As this person is eager to reach her goal weight soonest, she chooses a more aggressive calorie deficit of 20%, which gives a target TDEE of 1987 calories.

Her week might look something like this:

Carb cycling – A Typical Week

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
1400 cals 1400 cals 1700 cals 2250 cals 1700 cals 2450 cals 3000 cals
145g p 145g p 145g p 145g p 145g p 145g p 145g p
40g c 40g c 135g c 325g c 135g c 385g c 535g c
75g f 75g f 65g f 40g f 65g f 35g f 30g f

(*g = grams, p = protein, c = carb, f = fat)

THE KETO DIET

The ketogenic diet is one which is based on a low carbohydrate/moderate protein and high fat style of eating.

Although not easy for everyone to adapt to, because of the challenge of cutting carbohydrates – the keto diet does afford the possibility of weight loss to individuals who struggle with dietary compliance (especially if sedentary).

It does this by providing a consistent sense of satiety in kerbing an otherwise needy appetite.

THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT (AND OVERLOOKED) FACTOR TO WEIGHT LOSS

Whichever weight loss option you choose, nothing is more important than consistency.

This means following a fitness program (nutrition and exercise) consistently, tracking and monitoring it closely for at least a month. (You can read more on the how to diet and fitness plan.)

This way, you get to learn about your body's tendencies and adaptation to what you're putting it through. You also get to see where your metabolic set point is – and how to adjust it to continue losing weight, or to maintain your condition. (More about this here: Understanding the BMR-TDEE Calculator)

There's no one-size-fits-all solution. Success with fitness is a very individual and personal thing. Because when you combine all our unique traits and genetic tendencies and current conditions – no cookie cutter diet out there is going to 'cut it' right off the bat.

As Walt Whitman put it: "It's all about you." It starts with you and ends with you. In simple terms, you get to decide if you want to get into better shape or not.

IN CLOSING

What I hope you'll take away, is that you're not a failure for not having achieved your intended goal. 

In fact, you deserve credit for reading up on weight loss, if it's with the intention of doing something about it. This means you haven't given up. And that's most important!

Even if it's 3 steps forward and 2 backward, that's okay. If you mess up, get over the indiscretion and fix it, so you reduce those mistakes over time.

Don't become paralyzed by overthinking things when it comes to your health and fitness – just start, today!

You can always improve and optimize things as you move along.

But keep moving!


 

NOTE: The aim of this page is to discuss the topic of "weight loss", providing practical tips and information from a fitness perspective. A purely clinical approach is not my intention, nor my area of qualified expertise. Please seek professional help from a qualified practitioner before commencing with any fitness program or diet plan.