Why am I not losing weight?
This is a question I hear a lot. We all struggle with different diet issues. We all want to fit into the skinny jeans. Many of us are fighting this weight loss battle and feel like it’s hopeless. It isn’t. What I have found is that it really comes down to what your food habits are and whether or not you’re doing resistance training.
First of all, before I dive into food, let me tell you this. If you want sustainable weight loss that will last, you have to boost your metabolism. The easiest way to do that is to lift some weights. You can pick up a strength training program like P90X or Les Mills Pump (obviously, I’m in favor of Pump – I really appreciate how attentive they are to teaching you proper form and telling you what lower back pain means, things like that). If you need to follow along with someone but are limited on time, you can pick up a program like Ten Minute Trainer. You can leave a set of dumbells in your bathroom and do calf raises while you brush your teeth, triceps dips and push-ups on the bath tub, shoulder raises, biceps curls, weighted lunges, weighted squats – these exercises don’t take a lot of space. You can save time by doing your bicep curls or overhead presses while you do your lunges or squats. The point is – 3 times a week or so, you should be lifting weights. Muscle burns fat. Proven. Word up.
So then it comes down to what you put in your mouth. It’s totally true, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. When I say bad diet, that doesn’t mean over-eating (though that’s another problem area but we’ll get there). I mean that the quality of the calories you are feeding yourself is not ideal. If you are eating 1200 calories a day of M&M’s and ice cream, you may lose weight but you’re going to feel like crap. If you’re exercising on top of that 1200 calories of M&M’s and ice cream, though, you’re not going to burn fat. You’re not fueling enough and the fuel you are providing your body is crap. Not to mention, sugar promotes insulin production. Insulin tells your fat cells to store fat. Ew, ew, ew.
Let me give you a visual of how your ideal meal should be laid out – snacks too!
You can even buy these plates at apartmenttherapy.com. I wonder how my husband would feel if I swapped out all of our plates with these?
Most people will look at this and immediately say, ‘but I hate veggies, they make me gag.’ Well, you know what? BUCK UP AND EAT THEM. I hate veggies too. Does that stop me from eating them? Heck no! I eat them, pretty much with every meal. If I really can’t stand them (broccoli makes me want to kill myself), then I eat them first and eat them fast. Then I let myself enjoy the rest of my my meal. BUT NO MATTER WHAT, I EAT THEM. EVEN IF I WANT TO KILL GREGOR MENDEL FOR CROSS-GERMINATING THE DAMN MUSTARD GREEN PLANT TO MAKE THAT DARN BROCCOLI. OH WHAT – HE’S ALREADY DEAD? WELL, I STILL RAISE MY MIDDLE FINGER IN SALUTE.
Okay, enough caps-lock yelling at a dead guy. ANYWAY…
At first, this plate might be panic-making – I’m supposed to have meat and veggies available for every meal??? Well, protein comes in multiple sources. It can come in the form of nuts, lentils, protein powder, peanut butter, eggs, fish, meat, poultry, tempeh, soy, quinoa, Greek or Icelandic yogurt, cheese, peanuts, beans… there are many possibilities. So that plate can turn into a burrito with a whole grain tortilla (notice I didn’t say whole wheat – wheat is another insulin stimulator – bad!) with avocado (healthy fat), lettuce, tomato, beans and chicken – just make sure you keep track of your portions. You can make an on-the-go meal in the form of a protein shake with protein powder, some spinach leaves and a banana (the banana will cancel out the spinach’s flavor – trust me!). That plate can also turn into a banana with nut butter (protein and healthy fat) and unsweetened coconut shreds sprinkled on top (carb!). Okay, that last one lacks veggies but fruits in moderation are important too. The point is balance. Protein and carbs. Meat, grains and veggies.
When you balance your plate and include protein and fibrous carbs (veggies – holla!), it takes your body longer to digest and it keeps you fuller longer. AND, your body has to work harder digesting it which means more calories burned with digestion! HOOTY HOO!!!
So, earlier I talked about calories with exercise. First of all, the quality of the calories you put in your body if you’re an exerciser (and you should be) really matters. If you’re running on sugar, you stand a good chance of getting hypoglycemic. You may not get the results you are looking for because of insulin-production. And if you aren’t eating enough of the right things or eating enough period, there’s a chance you could end up overtraining due to lack of adequate fuel or even starvation mode.
If you are female, your body needs AT LEAST 1500 calories to function. If you’re eating 1200-1500 calories a day and working out, you’re not eating enough calories to trigger fat loss. You’re body is going to want to cling to fat to keep you alive. My best rule of thumb is – calculate your calories. Here’s a website that uses the Harris Benedict equation to give you an accurate basal metabolic rate – how many calories you need to be alive: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/ Once you get that number, click the link to calculate your daily calorie needs. Be honest with your activity level – if you underestimate, you risk falling into starvation mode. Then, to lose weight, remember that
1 lb = 3,500 calories
3,500/7 = 500 so to lose 1 lb a week from diet, you need to subtract 500 calories from the calorie amount you calculated with your activity level included. This way, 1 lb of weight loss comes from your diet, and 1 lb of weight loss comes from working out – eating enough to fuel workouts where you can push at high intensity insures that weight lost will be from FAT. I know this is confusing and I still don’t quite understand it myself but look at the people I got this info from: Jillian Michaels, Shaun T, Chalene Johnson, Bob Harper, Tony Horton… they all instruct you to calculate this way. They’re all ripped. I followed their instructions and trusted them and it worked for me too. So, TRUST IT. And eat enough to support metabolic muscle tissue. You want your weight lost to be fat, not lean muscle tissue so go about this right.
Last piece – water. Your metabolic rate increases with drinking water. In a study conducted by Berlin’s Franz-Volhard Clinical Research Center, they discovered that subjects’ metabolic rate increased 30% by drinking 8 glasses of water a day. Drinking water also helps fill your stomach, making you feel fuller. So, I follow Bob Harper’s advice: as soon as I wake up, I drink 16 oz of water to get my metabolic rate up and at ’em! Before I eat, I drink 8 oz of water. It’s a pain in the ass, yes, but you know what? I want my metabolism as high as I can get it. Don’t you?
So that’s it in a nut shell. It isn’t really that difficult. It just takes developing the right habits. Picking quality foods to eat. Staying away from sugar. Eating within your calorie range. Tracking everything you eat and drink. It will seem like a lot of work at first because it’s new, but before you know it, you’ll be doing these things without even thinking about them!