Losing fat or weight can be a challenge. It takes a lot of motivation because there are so many factors that may be hindering you. Something that many people find helpful is identifying each little hurdle that’s holding them back, and then conquering each of them individually.
Here are some of the common reasons that people find it difficult to see the progress they desire.
19 Common Reasons You Can’t Lose Fat
1. You Don’t Have Goals
“I want to lose a bit of weight and tone up.” This is not a goal, this is something you ask Santa for. Be specific, realistic, and set a deadline. “I want to lose 10 pounds, take 2 inches off my waist, and improve my mile time by 30 seconds by July.” Now that would be a goal (minus the running for me).
2. You Hang Out With the Wrong People
Being overweight is now socially acceptable, and being at a healthy weight is quickly becoming a minority. If your friends and family are all overweight it becomes easy to get “comfortable” with your current body composition. If none of your friends like to exercise or practice sound nutrition habits it is going to severely decrease your chances of success.
3. You Think You’re Not Eating Enough
With food being as calorically dense as it is today, I could fit 2,000 calories on one plate without you even knowing it. The most common response I hear from overweight people is that they hardly eat anything, and I believe them. There are tons of “sneaky” calories in food and drinks today. Most people don’t think about their soda, salad dressing, or ketchup having calories. When in reality one serving of ranch (which isn’t much) is about the equivalent of jockeying a treadmill for 30-45 minutes.
4. You Have Bad Habits
What’s your vice? Drinking, smoking, staying up all night, video games, social media, tv? Everyone has their guilty pleasures, but limiting these types of things can improve your success not only with fat loss, but life in general. Once you have admitted to yourself that your bad habits are the limiting factor in success you can make small changes, one day at a time, to reducing their occurrence.
5. You’re Stressed
This should probably be number one on the list. After all, when you’re stressed you don’t want to exercise or worry about nutrition. You’d much rather order pizza and binge watch Netflix, or maybe that’s just me. Stress will mess with your eating, sleeping, and activity level which can set you up for fat loss failure. If that wasn’t enough, stress can wreak havoc on your hormonal profile. By elevating cortisol and reducing testosterone, stress can make your body a fat storing machine. Reducing stress is easier said than done, but it’s of the utmost importance.
6. You Don’t Have Any Fun
Fitness should be fun and enjoyable. If you don’t enjoy going to the gym find other ways to keep yourself active. You could play a sport, plant a garden, ride a bike, or just walk the dog. If you find something enjoyable you will continue to stay active, reduce stress, and rely less on food for happiness!
7. You’ve Crash Dieted
If you’ve gone on a very low calorie diet (less than 8 calories per pound of body weight) in the past you are fighting an uphill battle. I’m sure the diet worked, and you looked great at the end of it. But what you’ve done is taught your body how to maintain a weight on that tiny amount of food. This means if your diet had around 1,000 calories/day, and you stayed on it until your weight loss stalled out, your new maintenance calorie level is 1,000 calories/day! If you were to eat anything over 1,000 calories you will store excess as fat. That’s no way to live, and if you feel like this is you I would suggest you check out information on reverse dieting or metabolic damage.
8. You Don’t Have Any Muscle
Muscle tissue is very metabolically active and takes a ton of calories to maintain. Without it your maintenance calorie level becomes a lot lower, and a lower maintenance level means a higher chance of fat storage. More muscle = more food. Take care of your muscle!
9. You Think Tracking Food Intake Is the Devil
I’m not sure when “counting calories” became such a scary term, but it’s about the only foolproof way to diet. Independent of all other health factors, a calorie deficit is the ultimate determinant in weight reduction. Meaning calories out vs calories in really does matter.
10. You Always Say Yes
I’m not saying you have to become a hermit, but in today’s society the fear of missing out (FOMO) is real. You don’t want to miss an epic night out on the town, a few drinks during the game, or that all you can eat breakfast buffet. Learning how to say no is important for your health, finances, and even the relationships that really matter. I promise you’re not missing out on much.
11. You Aren’t Sleeping Well
What’s the number one thing you could do to improve nearly every health and performance metric?
12. You Diet Hop
I’m the polar opposite of a diet zealot. I could care less whether you eat Paleo, low carb, vegetarian, or IIFYM. Pick which ever one you please, but you have to stick to it. If you want to eat a low carb diet you HAVE to stick to it for it to be effective. It can take your body weeks to adjust to using ketones in lieu of glucose, and every time you take in “just one little treat” you are setting yourself back in a big way. Low carb/high fat diets work 9 times out of 10 for fat loss, but high carb/high fat diets work 0 times out of 10 for fat loss.
13. You’re a Know It All
Everyone knows about nutrition. After all, we all eat food every day, but just like driving your car to work every day doesn’t make you Jeff Gordon, eating food doesn’t make you a nutrition expert. I can’t tell you how many people come to me for help with nutrition, but spend the entire time telling me everything they know about the subject. You need to have an open mind. Like I’ve said before, every diet works, but which diet works best for you?
14. You’re Too Comfortable
Comfort breeds complacency, and complacency breeds mediocrity. Get uncomfortable.
15. You’re Doing the Wrong Types of Exercise
You know by now that you need to prioritize muscle, but you also need to do what is fun and enjoyable. If you dislike the gym find ways to strength train at home or find other activities that can stimulate muscle growth. Try to avoid endurance heavy cardio sessions (>30 minutes) seeing as they aren’t conducive to muscle preservation. Instead, use the resistance or incline of a cardio machine, or pick up the intensity for shorter bouts of cardio.
16. Your Genetics
Genetics should never be a cop out. There is no genetic reason for someone to weigh over 400 pounds sans a medical condition. What genetics will influence are a person’s muscle shape, vascularity, bone structure, as well as their preferred site of fat storage. If you’re the person that stores their fat in the lower abdomen and love handles, that’s never going to change. The same goes for the person with wide hips and narrow shoulders. Like I always say, play to your strengths. Fat will usually come off of your problem area last, and there’s no point in trying to spot reduce.
17. You’re Lacking Motivation
We all know how motivating that upcoming vacation, wedding, or reunion can be. So what can you do if you’re out of vacation time or don’t have any events on the horizon? Sign up for a competition of some sort. As humans, the fear of embarrassment is one of the most motivating forces around.
18. You Have Too Much Information
Paralysis by analysis — You’ll never know what works best for you if you don’t try anything. Just choose a nutrition strategy or training program and run with it. If you’re the indecisive type or the type that can’t get started on anything just hire someone. There are lots of good coaches and trainers out there that will take all the thinking out for you.
19. You Have Unrealistic Expectations
I despise The Biggest Loser. It is easily the worst thing a person needing to reduce a little belly fat could watch. Fat loss takes time, and lots of it. You won’t lose 10 pounds in the first week, or month for that matter, of dieting. There’s no need to get discouraged when it happens to you. You’re perfectly normal, and perfectly capable of losing fat.
This article has been re-published with permission from MasonFit.com.
Mason Woodruff is a strength coach, writer, and sports nutritionist. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and is an NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).