Not Losing Weight? Two Reasons.

Warning: This is not a softly written article. Beware if you are sensitive to directness in regards to losing weight and weight loss.

The New Year’s resolutions are all but forgotten and we are almost into the month of March already. Before you know it, shorts and bathing suit season will be amongst us. The weight that you wanted to lose so far this year has probably stayed with you and more than likely increased.

Which diet are you going to do next? Which exercise routine that promises amazing results in just 15 minutes a day are you banking on to get you into the best shape of your life?

The bottom line is this and I will not sugar coat it. America as whole is fat. Not only is this country fat, but we are making obesity and not being fit more and more acceptable each day, which in my opinion is unpardonable. But if you are one of those who is “struggling” to lose weight, and I use that term lightly as struggling implies great effort, and not seeing the results that you want, here are the two biggest reasons why.

Your Diet Sucks! Seriously… How much crap do you eat everyday that you don’t need? How many sugary calorie bombs do you drink a day? If you go on a diet plan, then how compliant are you in sticking with it? Do you even track your calories consumed each day?

Stay away from paying to lose weight diets. As I said in We Need A Diet Revolution Not Diet Resolutions, “If a diet program is selling you the notion that you can lose weight by following their program and buying their books and their replacement meals and other food products… trust me, the only thing they are wanting to make lighter is your pocketbook or wallet.” Diet programs like that are not designed for their “members” to lose weight. They are designed to make money from their members.  Such is the nature of business.

As a society, we are programmed to eat, trained to eat, and cajoled to eat nearly every minute of the day. Watch any network television show for an hour in the evening and count just how many commercials are for foods that are designed to do nothing but to expand your waistline. Even if you are eating healthier, the chances are that you are eating too much.

Going the fat-free food route to weight loss is probably the worst weight loss approach that you can take. That line of thinking and going fat-free is now as outdated as disco and bell-bottom jeans. It is a proven fact that the body needs fat for brain function and regeneration of tissue. But fat-free foods are the most sinister of things you can eat, and here is why… in order to make up for the loss of flavor since the fat is removed, manufactures dump loads of sugar into foods to compensate. So the chances are if you on a fat-free diet, and everything you eat has a reduced fat, or fat-free label on it, you are consuming enough sugar each day to put a ten-year old into a food coma.

Then there is just the over consumption of sugar in general. It is hard to escape as sugar is hidden in everything from condiments to that Starbucks whatever double drink that you have to have every morning as part of your routine. Sugar itself is not bad when appropriate and in reasonable amounts. When you were you younger, how often did you eat cake or sugary foods? If you grew up in the 70’s I would venture to say not too often, as those types of foods were typically only to be found on special occasions. Now? Today? Snack foods are eaten daily in this society and worse is that you really cannot escape it.

There are merits to a more protein-focused diet with lesser carbs to it. But when it comes to carbs, the calorie is a calorie, is a calorie adage is not true. The body will breakdown, use, and store the carbs from fruits or vegetables a lot more efficiently than the carbs from ice cream for instance.

Here is the deal when it comes to your diet and losing weight as plain and simple as I can make it for you. Watch what you eat. If you think what you are eating is not good for you or will not help you lose weight then don’t eat it! Eat normal foods and by normal foods think of what a typical family dinner might have looked like 30 years ago. Look at pictures from 30 years ago… not too many fat people. When it comes to calories, and how many to eat per day, it is simple. Consume 100 calories per every waking hour per day. Most people are up for 16 hours a day, so limit your calories to that or less. That number changes if you have to compensate for exercise but still the average is 100 calories per waking hour. Going under that and starving yourself does no good either because when you go into starvation mode, the body will fight you tooth and nail to hold any and all of the weight and food stores that is has available. 1200 to 1400 calories per day is probably sufficient 99% percent of the time.

When it comes to diet and what you eat, ultimately it comes down to you. There are no easy ways, there are no magical fat-burning foods that you can eat that will overnight cause you to lose 30 pounds. What you eat and put into your mouth is always, always your decision and your choice.

Do you want to look hot in your bathing suit or do you want to eat that cake and ice-cream dessert? It’s up to you.

Your Workout Sucks! To be clear, I am an athlete and my workouts are not considered normal by any sense of the word. When I am training and deep within a training cycle, I can be spending anywhere between 10 to 20 hours a week exercising. I fully admit that this is a little extreme, but if I don’t pay attention to my diet, I can and will always gain or not lose weight like I should or maybe want to.

For the more normal person, when it comes to exercise, if it takes you longer to drive to gym and get changed in order for you to sweat it out for 15 minutes on the elliptical, then you are never, ever going to make headway. Never.

I applaud any effort that anyone is making in the beginning while taking on a new exercise routine. You should always start small and you should always start slow. But if you have been at it for a few months and are still posting status messages to twitter and facebook about your awesome 15 minute workout that you burned a whole 150 calories doing then shame on you.

Here is some perspective… if you only burn 150 to 300 calories in a workout, what have you really done? You have burned off the equivalent of those two cokes you drank that day. You have burned off the same number of calories in that huge sugar and flavoring loaded super special coffee that you drank that morning. You are not even burning off lunch! This article, Mountain Dew Math, crunches the numbers of what just casual soda drinking alone does to your body and how much you have to really do to burn off all of those excess calories.

But what if you go to the gym and really crush it for those 15 minutes and do a high intensity workout on said elliptical? Will that be any better?

No.

Which burns hotter and longer? A fire that you throw a lot of small twigs on and flares up or a fire which you slowly add larger pieces of wood to as is builds? Of course, it is the slower burning fire that burns longer and hotter. The same applies to exercise and weight loss. If you want to burn fat and lose weight with exercise, then there are two words you need to burn into consciousness, and they are aerobic and zone, or Zone 2 in sports parlance. This article written by Dr. Phil Maffetone sums it up nicely but the bottom line is in order to be efficient at burning fat, you must use low intensity training in which the body uses fat for fuel for those effects to carry over.

Worst workouts of all… if you go to the gym and sit on the bike or elliptical for an hour and can manage to read the paper or a magazine… you might as well go home. You will more than likely burn more calories making the trip from your couch to your refrigerator to get your next snack.

If you want to lose weight, then you need on average at least one hour per day, everyday of the week in order to get there if not more. The more sedentary you are during the workday, the greater the need to increase your time exercising.

But what about the old guideline that said you only needed to work out 20 minutes or so at least three times a week?  News Flash! That mode of thinking (as well as going fat-free) is more than thirty years old. What we eat today and how we eat today completely outpaces that notion – making it no longer valid.

The Bottom Line

People do not lose weight for these two reasons: 1.They under-report or underestimate how much and what they eat. 2. They overestimate and inflate their time spent and level of effort exerted when it comes to exercise.

We eat more than we think we do and we exercise less than we think we do. Period.

When it comes to be successful if weight loss or being more fit is your goal, there just are not any shortcuts. There is no quick fix and there is no magic pill, drink, shake, or exercise routine that will do it for you. You have to be aware, 24×7 of what you eat and you need to exercise with an earnest effort at least an hour a day if not more. Here is a challenge, if you are struggling to lose weight, cut out television for a month. Or at least instead of spending 15 – 30 minutes a day to workout, then spend two hours a day working out and only 15 – 30 minutes watching the television and then tell me what happens.

P.S. As a life coach, I tend to favor using the carrot when working with clients to motivate and inspire action, but I am also not adverse to employing the stick when warranted.  This article definitely falls into the stick category.

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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  1. […] is an important follow up to yesterday’s article, Not Losing Weight? Two Reasons. In that article a very important question was asked that may be easily overlooked, “Do you even […]

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