How often have you stepped on the scales after a week of near perfection, to see limited to no progress? All of the workouts completed with a washing basket to prove it, loads of steps, the dog is knackered and every meal was Instagram photo worthy. Yet you just cant see to get that dusty little fucker in the bathroom to validate your hard work.
Frustration is probably an understatement. It is demoralising and soul destroying not to see your hard work pay off and I want to share a few tips on what we can do to prevent this. After all, this is the reason most people give up their current plans and decide to do something else.
In a world of Amazon Prime, next day delivery and every movie imaginable at the touch of a button, it is not surprising we have high expectations on timescales. I would even be surprised if most people have read this far down the article.
We often expect things to happen much faster than our bodies will allow. If we look back to how we got into this situation in the first place, it has been a slow process. Gaining weight happens over months and years, not gaining 3 lbs every single week. Yet when it comes to weight loss we expect it to be a much faster process.
Before making drastic changes to your diet and exercise regime, I would always recommend doing exactly what you are doing now for at least another week. If you haven’t seen a weight change in a month, then maybe you need to make some changes.
Bottom line: Chill out and take your time. There is no race to reach your goal and there are no prizes for reaching it faster.
Tighten up the tracking
When we first start a plan the excitement is high, motivation is through the roof and we are carrying out everything with pinpoint accuracy. Weighing foods, measuring steps, crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s. After a while this excitement starts to fade and so does the accuracy. Extra food starts to creep back in and some workouts start to get missed. It is natural, we are only human and our lives are hectic.
It may be worth going back over the plan and recalibrating our eye for portion sizes by weighing some meals, get back to tracking steps accurately and being held accountable for your actions.
It is very easy for things to slip with the business in life and from time to time we need to reign that back in. Calories start to increase and we are burning less and less. Before we know it, we are not in a calorie deficit and our bodies have no reason to lose body fat. This is very easily done, especially for smaller females, as the margin for error is even less.
Bottom line: Every couple of week of months go back to being strict with your measurement process. Weigh a few meals, track your steps accurately and get a friend or a trainer (like me) to keep you accountable.
Use multiple methods of measuring progress
We are all guilty of letting the scales dictate our mood and rely solely on them to measure progress. I think it is because they are convenient, most people have them available and it is easy to compare against previous days.
I don’t know how to say this politely, so I am just going to say it. The scales are lying little bastards! They are not an accurate measure of body fat, short term progress or consistency to a plan. They are purely measuring your weight at that given time. Remember, weight and body fat is not the same thing.
The scales don’t know or care if you have eaten more carbs, eaten more salt, eaten later than usual, have drank more water or whether you have been for a shit. All of these things can affect your weight without affecting your body fat levels.
I would highly recommend using multiple methods to measure progress (try saying that after a few drinks). Progress photos, body measurements, clothing, strength or run time can all be used to measure progress. Use as many methods as you can to see if you are heading in the right direction.
Bottom line: Don’t rely solely on the scales as they are easily manipulated without giving a true measurement of progress.
Be honest with yourself
There are times when we are in a flow, we find our groove and things just slot into place nicely. We are almost enjoying exercise….almost. Meals choices become easy and we are making sensible decisions without even thinking about it. We just throw a glance over at the scales are the numbers are dropping.
On the other hand we have days where everything seems like hard work. Choosing the apple over the Mars bar is not happening. Getting to the gym or out for that run is way down the priority list and everything is a bit of an effort. Times like this is when we still get frustrated with our lack of progress.
Even know we know we arent ticking all the right boxes, we feel like we should be losing weight. If we were being completely honest with ourselves, we should accept there will be times progress will come easily and other times when it just isn’t happening.
Bottom line: Don’t expect the results if you are not putting in the work.
Increase the calorie deficit
As we all hopefully know, the only way to lose weight is to be in a calorie deficit (eat less calories than we are burning). If we are not seeing progress, we may need to adjust a few variables to ensure we are in a calorie deficit
There is a reason I have put this one last. Most people are very quick to slash calories, forcing more and more exercise and very quickly become run down. Until you have carried out all of the previous 4 tips, I wouldn’t bother adjusting your calories.
The number of calories that you should eat to lose weight is not a fixed number. This is calculated from your height, weight, age and activity levels. All of which change over time (apart from you height). As we lose weight, we need less energy to maintain our weight, we become more efficient at exercise (burning less calories), we are carrying less weight (burning less calories) and therefore the amount of energy we need is lower. There may become a time when the amount of calories needed to lose weight at the start is now too high to continue with weight loss.
You have two options. You either lower your food intake or increase your energy output (exercise or daily activity). I would recommend playing with these variables slowly and carefully. Don’t presume that slashing food intake and running a marathon a day is going to mean faster results. It is usually a one way ticket to being miserable and frustrated.
Bottom line: Your energy needs are not a fixed number and will need to be adjusted over time. Only make adjustments slowly and carefully. Ask for help if you need it.
I am hoping these 5 tips will help point you in the right direction and shed some light on why the scales are not moving. As a bonus tip I would also add we all need to lower expectations. Losing 2or 3lbs every week is not going to happen. Even losing a pound every week is unlikely for most. Whatever your timescale for losing a certain amount of weight is….double it! Take it slow, steady and learn from the process.
If you need help with getting results you just can’t seem to get on your own, then drop me a message and lets have a chat about working together. I have options to suit every budget.
The brains, brawn and beauty of Dackattack (basically it’s just me). A personal trainer with a private gym in Norwich, dedicated to giving out simple, actionable advice that will give you outstanding results.