You have been exercising five days a week, cutting down on carbs and calories, and avoiding Haagen-Dazs like the black plague. Yet you still aren’t losing any weight. So what is it that is preventing you from losing weight when you seem to be doing everything right?
Losing weight is one of the top resolutions made every New Year, yet only about 20 percent of people are successful at shedding and keeping off the pounds. Furthermore, as many as two-thirds of Americans are on a diet to improve their health yet few are actually able to decrease their size.
Here are the top five reasons you are still not losing weight and what to do about it.
Sometimes you just have to admit that you are your mother’s daughter; or your father’s; or both. If both of your parents are obese, the odds that you will be obese are much more likely. Research indicates that your genes will account for at least 50 percent and as much as 90 percent of your stored body fat.
You are not destined to look like your parents though (blame them for something else), your challenge to lose weight will just be much greater. If an obese woman loses just 5-10 percent of her body weight she will greatly reduce her chances of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.
Underestimating portions and calories
It is difficult to count calorie intake by eye and is time-consuming to do so, especially when you are hungry. Underestimating is often a huge culprit and a reason why you may not be losing weight. Women and obese people are shown to underestimate calories more than others, often doing so when the meals are the largest.
To remedy this problem, start dedicating yourself to the use of measuring devices – spoons, cups and scales – as your guide. Once you have started to become more aware of your calorie intake, test your choices against the portion guidelines at mypyramid.gov. Then go blame your parents for your poor math skills.
Overestimating calorie burn
When you rely heavily on workout machines to provide you with total calorie burn you can end up overestimating your actual calorie burn. This often results in overeating afterwards as your thought process is “I will be burning more than I consume.” But if you are not burning as much as you think you are you may be in for a surprise.
To prevent over eating after a workout, stop rewarding yourself for your hard work with food. Instead try reducing the amount of calories you think you are burning by 10 percent to see if that has an impact on your weight. Treating yourself with a smoothie (250 calories) is the equivalent to an hour of light weight training or a half hour of aerobic activity.
As we age our metabolism slows, making it harder to lose weight. Sitting in an office chair all day logging long work hours doesn’t help much either. While we are inactive, this also means we will lose muscle and increase body fat.
To fight the effects of a sedentary lifestyle make it a point to move around more throughout the day in addition to regular exercise. Walk over to the water cooler every hour, talk to coworkers, fold your laundry standing up and blast some pushups in between emails. If you can avoid sitting all day at work and while at home, you may be able to burn an extra 350 calories a day just fidgeting around.
Muscle building is correlated to calorie burn more than fat. If you don’t already, start on a light weight lifting regime at your local gym. You don’t have to be the next Arnold but consistently weight lifting will make a difference in how many calories your body will be able to burn in addition to burning calories while you are working out.
Alternate work out sessions at the gym with weight training and cardio exercises, this way you are building strength that includes the calorie-burning effects of cardio.
In the United States we all seem to be obsessed with the science of dieting when studies have shown that less than five percent of us are actually able to lose weight and keep it off for two years. Rather than relying on your diet, instead make it routine to change the ways you eat for the rest of your life. Cutting out fast food and replacing them with healthy meals at home is a great way to maintain a healthy weight. While it is true that losing weight is more difficult than putting it on, a conscious lifestyle can make you healthier and happier.
Daniel E. Lofaso frequently covers topics on health and fitness. He is a regular writing and contributor to Sweat New York, a gym in Westbury, Long Island.