Did you know that the term, “fitness” peaks at the beginning of January in Google search results? There is strong evidence to support this is because of so many people making a New Year’s resolution. However, the trend quickly trails off. Is this because people are losing interest or because they’re not losing weight fast enough? That one I can’t answer, but I might be able to help you identify your own issues.
Identify Why You’re Not Losing Weight
The first and perhaps most important thing to consider is that muscle weighs more than fat. If you’re completely out of shape like me, it doesn’t take much effort to begin converting fat stores into muscle. As a result, the scale might say that you’re not losing weight. However, your clothing might still fit loosely.
Before I go any further, let me just say that you really should focus more attention on measurements. For example, the scale says I’ve only lost five pounds in January. However, my cargo shorts keep falling off if I don’t wear a belt. This is because my waist is much slimmer than it used to be.
If you’re having trouble losing weight, here are seven questions you can ask yourself. These are things I constantly look at when trying to get into shape and start feeling like I am failing.
1. Have I made positive changes in my diet?
Those who know me understand that I am proving that you can eat the foods you love while still losing weight. Unfortunately, I tend to fall off the wagon and fall right into a vat of chocolate. Sure, I’m thinner than I was last year at this time, but I should have lost more than 30 pounds so far.
Positive changes to diet include healthier foods and snacks. While I still believe you can enjoy sweets, it needs to be done in moderation.
Here’s an example of what I intend to eat today:
- Breakfast: 2 Blueberry Nutrigrain Bars = 240 calories
- Lunch: Left over 1.25 servings of Kung Pao Chicken from Trader Joe’s = 300 calories
- Dinner: 2 servings of Progresso Creamy Tomato with Penne soup = 340 calories
As you can see, my actual food intake is going to be around 880 calories total. This includes a wide assortment of vitamins and nutrition. Unfortunately, it’s not my meals that are slowing me down. It’s my snacking throughout the day.
Without enough physical activity, it’s difficult to offset the extra fats and carbs I get from things like Veggie Chips or peanut butter cups.
Have I consistently increased my physical activity?
If you want to lose weight and promote health, you need to increase your physical activity. Not only does this help improve muscle density, but it also increases stamina. It’s not all about losing the weight. It’s about keeping yourself from having a heart attack.
When I first moved to Los Angeles, which I plan on returning to Colorado in the very near future, my heart was having issues. I found myself under constant pain like someone was punching my heart repeatedly. At one point, I was considering checking myself into the hospital. If I am considering going to a hospital, you know there is something wrong.
Here it is, two months later, and I haven’t felt those pains in quite some time. The only thing I changed since moving to LA is the fact that I walk far more than I used to. Since I’ve added more cardio to my weekly routine, my heart hasn’t given me a single problem.
Anything that gets you up and moving is ideal. Walking, cleaning the apartment, taking a stroll around the neighborhood or even playing the Xbox Kinect for 30 minutes is far better than the alternative. Get more out of your day and make plans to get more physical activity in some form.
Do I drink enough water?
Water does a lot for the body. When you’re not losing weight fast enough, you might be retaining this liquid. This is also true if you take in a lot of sodium.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of debate among the scientific community about how much you should drink. Some state that at least 80 ounces is the golden number while others have this long and convoluted formula. Because I don’t see myself drinking two and a half gallons of water a day, I’m sticking to the 80 ounces rule.
In reality, 80 ounces is actually quite a bit for me. Since I track everything I consume, I see that last week I only drank 15 ounces of water per day on average. Sure, I have a lot of coffee and tea. But it’s not actual ordinary water. And that is one of the keys to maintaining a healthy body.
One thing you can try is keeping a 32oz water bottle next to you at all times. Personally, I try to keep mine full while sitting at my desk. Already, I have drunk far more water per day on average than when I am without it. This is because I am constantly drinking something while working. It might as well be water.
Do I break exercise records every week?
Breaking personal records is a great way to stay motivated and give yourself a shot of confidence. When you achieve something your body has never been able to do before, it can be exciting. I remember when I was first able to lift my body up off the floor without using my arms. It was pure ab muscles. Yes, I geeked out about that for days.
No one is expecting you to become the strongest person alive. But when you can surpass your own abilities, it’s a pretty amazing feeling. This is one of the reasons I try to preach a lot about setting personal record goals. Not only does it help you get healthy, but it also improves your mindset and self-confidence.
Even if it was just a single push-up beyond your record, it’s still an achievement. Perhaps you add five minutes to a cardio workout. Maybe you added an extra block to your walk around the neighborhood. You don’t have to shatter your own records to feel good about them.
How often am I too tired to cook food in the house?
This is one that a lot of people get sucked into, including myself. After a long day, it’s hard to actually cook for yourself when it’s ultimately easy to go through a drive-up window or have a pizza delivered. Unfortunately, this may also contribute to not losing weight.
Consider this. Not only is cooking healthier foods better for losing weight, but it also helps you burn additional calories. It’s a physical activity that could raise your heart rate by five to 10 beats per minute. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it will contribute to burning fats over time.
It’s the same principle why people use standing desks.
And don’t try to tell me that healthy foods are not as tasty. Some of the things I whip up are exceptionally good, especially if I have a full spice rack.
Do I take my goals seriously enough when I get up in the morning?
Not everyone takes their goals seriously when they get up in the morning. I know there are days when I just want to hit the snooze button repeatedly and stay in bed. However, this feeds into not losing weight.
One of my goals is to get up in the morning and start the day with a bit of resistance training and cardio. It helps burn away some calories while getting the blood pumping. And speaking from experience, I tend to feel and work better throughout my day when I do this.
You need to be serious about getting healthier. Don’t be one of those people who come out of the gate strong on January 1st then decide it’s too much work by the end of February – which is when the trend for fitness always drops off in the United States.
It’s going to take longer than two months to reach your goals…well, that is if you’re completely out of shape like myself. If you only need to lose five or ten pounds, this might be perfect. For me, I’m in it for the long haul. This year I will be dressing up as Captain America for Halloween, damnit.
How often do I use excuses when it comes to healthy choices?
Making excuses for yourself is a sure-fire way to make sure you will not lose weight. For instance, not going out for a morning walk because it is raining shouldn’t prevent you from getting in some cardio. What’s stopping you from taking 20 minutes and dancing around your apartment?
It’s too easy to give up on trying to be healthy, especially if it’s something new to you. It will take a lot of hard work to reach your goal, but you need to refrain from making excuses why you can’t.
You may be tempted to throw in the towel when the scales reads that you’re not losing weight. Remember, muscle weighs more than fat. Constant activity will cause the muscles to become more dense. Quit making excuses and keep your focus.
If you’re not losing weight, it may be because of a lack of commitment
Motivation and commitment are the two biggest problems most people have when they think they’re not losing weight. This is clear when you examine the search term I mentioned in the beginning. It’s your seriousness to improve your life that is the biggest factor. I know it can be difficult to place blame squarely on yourself. Unfortunately, that is where your problem will most likely originate. Have faith in yourself and know you can do this.