I walked through the gym the other day on my way to my office. Passing by one of our temporarily broken rowers, I overheard two ladies talking. One woman was insisting that the rower was broken, adding to it that even if it was, she didn’t care because her friend [inset any name here] lost 30 pounds doing rowing only. The bystander friend oohed and awed and started looking for another rower. My heart hurt a little bit knowing that there are thousands – scratch that, millions – of people out there doing the exact same thing: looking for a one-dimensional answer, or rather, trick, for weight loss.
Everyone wants a magic weight loss pill. Sometimes this is an actual pill, but sometimes it’s a trending diet, a row machine or a cleanse. The thing is, none of these things work. Ever. Sure, you can get some temporary results, but real weight loss is lasting. Moreover, the solution for sustainable weight loss is multi-dimensional and it starts with belief and a lifestyle change.
Real weight loss starts on the inside out, not the outside in. You have to make a decision to want to honor and respect your body. You have to be ready to take ownership of all of your excuses, your justifications and your dreams.
In an effort to help break the one-dimensional misconceptions that are steering people so far away from real success and are leading them to paths of frustration, yo-yo weight loss and gain and low self-esteem, here are the top ten reasons why you are not losing weight:
REASON ONE: [You don’t eat enough calories.]
Yes, I know that sounds counter-intuitive. Most people think that by starving themselves they will lose weight. Under-eating confuses the body and makes it think that it is in starvation mode, thus activating storage hormones. Yes, the numbers on the scale may change, but your body composition is going down the drain. When under-eating, your body will hold onto fat and instead use muscle for fuel. Not only are you holding on tightly to your fat, but you are also sabotaging your natural metabolic rate which is dictated by the amount of muscle mass that your body has. Sacrifice your muscle and your natural calorie burn goes down…meaning that you are now even more prone to adding fat to the fat that you are already storing. Not eating enough calories does one thing: it makes you a fat making machine.
REASON TWO: [You don’t zone train.]
There are a lot of exercisers who just get on a machine and go until the machine tells them how many calories they have burned. Unfortunately for them, the machines aren’t always accurate. In fact, they are rarely accurate. Moreover, simple calorie burn at one easy level isn’t going to get you the results that you want. Sure, you may initially lose weight, but it’s what happens in the weight loss plateau that really matters. You have to know how to break the plateau, otherwise you will find yourself discouraged, disheartened and back on your way to weight gain.
Zone training is the way the get the results you want. You won’t ever have the body you want by training at your 100% maximum capacity all the time, nor will you get it if you never get your heart rate higher than 65% exertion. The body responds best to variable training, so get a heart rate monitor to track your heart rate zones.
REASON THREE: [You don’t sleep enough.]
When we don’t get enough sleep we suck. Our attitudes, our energy, our metabolism … everything drags. The human body was made to rest. It needs rest. Major body replenishment happen as our bodies sleep, among them, the delicate balancing act of leptin and grehlin. Leptin, our appetite satiety hormone, is produced during sleep. Not enough sleep, not enough leptin, and, as a result, weight gain. Grehlin on the other hand makes you feel hungry; it grows your appetite. Those who don’t get enough sleep naturally have higher levels of gremlin and lower levels of leptin. For optimal health, and, more importantly, sustainable weight loss, it is imperative to have appropriate levels of leptin and minimized amounts of grehlin.
Sleeping more really does help you lose weight.
REASON FOUR: [You don’t drink enough water.]
Proper hydration (and by that I mean drinking just plain, real water) makes a significant difference in your natural metabolic rate. When dehydrated, the body naturally retains water, meaning that the scale will weigh in higher than it really should. Furthermore, a properly hydrated body is able to naturally detoxify itself; flushing toxics out of your body is a key component to great health. If your pee isn’t clear (or very light in color), then you need to drink more. It’s as simple as that.
REASON FIVE: [You are too stressed.]
Stress wrecks havoc on our bodies, both physically and emotionally. Mostly, when the body is stressed it releases higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which causes the body to store fat. Cortisol tends to favor the belly as one of its top fat storing places, which typically then makes us all the more stressed. The secret to stress management is that it can in fact actually be managed. You can choose the pace of life at which you live and to not stress what you can’t control. Take yoga, stretch in the mornings and at night, and slow down to take some deep breaths when you feel anxiety or stress creeping up on you. Stress is an enemy to sustainable weight loss, so do everything you can to minimize it.
REASON SIX: [You self-sabotage.]
We are often more afraid of success than we are of failure. So fixated on chasing the finish line of a weight goal instead of pursuing health itself, we find ourselves unsettled when we get close to the goal. It’s not the destination of weight loss that matters, it’s the journey along the way because that journey is life. Having the perfect weight or perfect body will never fix life’s problems, nor will it guarantee your happiness. Many weight loss candidates think that life will finally be “good” for them when they finally reach that weight, lose those last ten pounds or fit into their smaller pair of jeans, only to find that once they are close to their goal, the anticipated happiness isn’t there. You cannot find happiness in external things, even in your physical health. To avoid self-sabotage and backsliding from the progress that you make along the way to your goals, find real, sustainable joy in your life from the inside out rather than the outside in.
REASON SEVEN: [You don’t take a day off.]
The human body, every human body, needs rest. It doesn’t matter how motivated you are or how badly you want to lose weight, you simply can’t get around taking a day off. That being said, taking a day off doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to sit on the couch and do nothing all day. Be active. Go for a walk, take a yoga class, play with your kids outside.
If you are a serious over-exerciser, not taking a day off or at least a day for very low impact and low exertion activity, then your body will never have the needed opportunity to repair itself. It is when the body is repairing itself and rebuilding broken down muscle tissue that your metabolism is at its highest. Furthermore, taking a day off can inspire your motivation to a whole new level. Yep, it’s that simple. Rest can mean better fat loss, more sustainable motivation and a higher metabolism. It’s a win-win.
REASON EIGHT: [You eat too many processed foods.]
If it comes through a window, has a shelf life of more than a few days or has more than five ingredients, it’s not real food. Our bodies are complex machines and they thrive on real food. Eating too many packaged and processed foods challenge’s the body’s natural digestive processes and floods the body with synthetically created chemicals, most of which we still yet don’t know how will affect the body long term.
For optimal heath you need to eat optimal fuel. We are what we eat, so eat real food.
REASON NINE: [You obsess over the wrong things.]
Your body does not define you, nor will having the perfect body at the perfect weight bring you true, lasting happiness. Focus on what matters. Find what makes your heart come alive and go chase your dreams. Stop obsessing on how you look compared to someone else, on how a certain mirror warps your reflection, or on how others might perceive you based on how you look. It is in our obsession with the external, fleeting things of life that we lose sight of the things that truly satisfy our souls. If you want long-term weight loss, then obsess about the right things.
REASON TEN: [You don’t believe that you will actually succeed.]
Doubt. Everyone has it. It’s a stranger to none, and only a catalyst to a few. Often considered the lucky few, those who embrace fear as part of life are the ones who live great, abundant lives. We can all be that lucky because it’s not luck, it’s a choice. Choose to believe in yourself. Choose to outlaw doubt in your mind. Choose to live with confident abandon in your pursuit of a well-lived life.
One thing is for sure: if you don’t believe, you won’t achieve.