Weight loss: such a hot topic because 1/3 the population thinks they need to do it, 1/3 of the population will try to tell you exactly how to do it, and 1/3 of the population really does need to do it. Those statistics are legit-ish. Right? #accordingtotash
Simple math (hold up – math is NEVER simple) tells us that to lose weight, we need to be eating less calories than we burn on a daily basis. Well..yes and no. Simply put, yeah that’s true. But our bodies are like these weird and amazing machines and we’re all different. So aside from “simple” numbers, there’s actually more to it than that.
Diet (aka nutrition, never a diet, I don’t endorse diets) and exercise work hand in hand. But honestly, 80% of any body transformation is going to come from the food you’re eating and how you’re fueling your body. It’s like that saying, “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” You can be busting your butt in the gym every single day, but if your nutrition isn’t mimicking that same work ethic, chances are you’re not going to end up seeing the results that you want. But that, my friends, is a blog topic for another day.
“you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.”
If you’ve been putting in the work and staying consistent with both your nutrition and activity – but find yourself getting frustrated because the scale isn’t moving, it could be as simple as re-evaluating a couple things and changing one, two, or three tiny little habits in your life.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Remember when we were kids and our parents used to try and make us take a nap? And we fought it like we all fight each other today on Facebook? Guys.. we didn’t know how good we had it. Sleep is amazing. Sleep is rejuvenating. Sleep prepares and repairs our body to get us ready for the next day. And getting a good night’s sleep just feels really dang good.
But sleep is more than just laying down at night and closing our eyes. If we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies will start to do all sorts of wonky things, including producing more hunger-causing hormones, as well as cortisol (a stress hormone). Cortisol is something that can actually trigger our brains to crave more foods, which may lead us to snack more and reach for things like sweets and processed sugars. Inadequate sleep can also lead to inadequate levels of growth hormone and insulin levels, which can lead to even bigger problems like heart disease, feelings of sluggishness throughout the day, and more.
If you’ve been following a nutritious eating plan and exercising consistently but aren’t seeing the results you’re expecting, it may be time to analyze your sleep patterns. Aim to turn off the phone and electronics within an hour of going to bed, and shoot for 7-8 hours of sleep consistently every night.
(If you wear a FitBit to bed it will give you a detailed report on your average hours of sleep each night, plus break them down into deep sleep, REM, periods of restlessness, and more. I also recommend investing in a pair of blue light blocking glasses if you are going to be staring at a screen for long periods of time throughout the day. Blue light can harm our eyes and mess with our body’s ability to prepare us for sleep. It does this by blocking the production of the hormone melatonin which makes us feel tired and helps us sleep. Check out some of my favorite blue light blocking glasses here).
Not Drinking Enough Water
Water is KEY. Everyone should be drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water each and every single day – and more if you’re adding exercise into your daily routine. But the truth of it is most people aren’t taking in enough water on a regular basis. Not only does staying hydrated keep our skin youthful and us looking younger (this one is high on my list), but adequate water intake can also play a role in our weight and body composition.
Drinking enough water helps boost our metabolism, remove waste from our body, and actually helps us get rid of any excess water we’ve been holding on to. Sounds counterproductive, I know. But when we drink more water, it triggers our kidneys to release any water our body has been retaining. Therefore, more water in = more water out. Kind of 😉 If your weight hasn’t budged in about a week, try increasing your water intake over the period of a few days and see what happens when you step on the scale.
I want you to take a real long hard look at yourself and be honest with this one. If you’ve been tracking your calories or macros but still feel like you’re not losing weight – have you really been tracking your calories and macros? I know this sounds hella rude of me, but bear with me a sec. In the world of tracking calories/macros, there are three types of tracking:
Eyeballing: Not measuring the scoop of peanut butter but dipping out what looks to be a tablespoon. The problem: one tablespoon of peanut butter yields about 95 calories and 8 grams of fat. If you’re keeping an eye on your macros but not measuring appropriately, that one eyeballed tablespoon might really equal three, so you just tripled your calories and fat for that serving without realizing it.
Omission: Eating something without tracking it at all. For example: grabbing a handful of peanut M&Ms from the candy jar and eating them as you leave the room. Ohhh it was just a few, so they don’t count. The problem: they do count. And if you do that a lot, those omitted handfuls can add up.
Honesty: Measuring, weighing, and writing down (or tracking in an app like MyFitnessPal) everything you ate; even on the days you go over, even on the days you’re under, even on the days where you’re not sure what you’re doing and you do it anyway. The problem: tracking behaviors and accounting for every morsel of food you put in your mouth can lead to obsessive behaviors when it comes to weight loss and body image. But, it can also be a useful tool when you’re working on a goal or hoping to make a lifestyle change.
The point with this: You could potentially be adding hundreds of calories to your day without ever accounting for them or even realizing it. Meaning your calorie deficit has really turned into a calorie surplus day after day and you’ve never even realized it.
If weighing yourself is something you’re wanting to continue, then at least keep these things in mind:
- Daily fluctuations are normal. Your weight most likely will vary day to day. It’s normal. Don’t get hung up on the number every single day. Instead of weighing yourself every day, opt for checking your weight no more than once per week.
- Be Consistent. Weigh yourself at the same time of day (preferably first thing in the morning), without clothes on, before you’ve had anything to eat or drink, and after you’ve completely gone to the bathroom. Ahem. After you’ve pooped.
(Amazon sells this Smart Scale that syncs with your smart watch and your phone to help track body weight, body fat, and more).
Remember this valuable tidbit: There are SO many factors that can influence what that number shows on the scale, and very few of them actually have to do with how much we weigh. Things like time of day, hormones, water retention, how much salt we’re consuming, if we’ve gone to the bathroom, how much sleep we’re getting. And those are just a few. And none of them really have anything to do with our true body weight, do they?
You may have heard the saying that muscle weighs more than fat, right? It’s not so much that muscle is heavier than fat, but that muscle is more dense. Meaning muscle is going to take up far less space in our body than fat does. You could have 5 pounds of muscle and 5 pounds of fat, and they’re going to weight the same, right? Because 5=5. But that 5 pounds of muscle is more dense than the 5 pounds of fat; meaning it’s taking up less space in your body than the 5 pounds of fat did. But.. you could step on the scale after burning 5 pounds of fat and gaining 5 pounds of muscle and never know you did a thing because guess what? That scale isn’t going to budge because 5 still equals 5.
Sometimes it’s a matter of looking at other ways to compare results; like taking measurements or paying attention to how our clothes are fitting, or even comparing side by side photos. But, if you’ve been exercising, paying attention to your nutrition, and making lifestyle changes and you still feel like you’ve hit a plateau, it may be worth looking at those three common daily habits that could be to blame.
Disclaimer: I may have used some affiliate links in this post, which means if you click on any of my affiliate links and make a purchase, I will get a commission straight from the retailer at no additional cost or price to you. All of the opinions in this blog are always mine, and I would never recommend something I didn’t like!
Natasha Funderburk is a wife, #boymom, NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Consultant, and ACE-Behavior Change Specialist. When not watching her son play baseball, she can be found on various writing platforms, coaching her clients to live their best lives, drinking all the coffee, and conducting living-room dance parties.