If you’ve clicked in here, you must have tried losing weight and for that, we congratulate you.
We know you are struggling.
You’ve just started a diet… You’ve probably even started doing some jogging and exercises.
You’ve been reluctantly limiting yourself from certain foods in hopes to see some progress.
But after two weeks, you don’t see any changes in your body.
You’ve started wondering what it might be that you are doing wrong.
Now you feel hopeless and want to quit.
Before that, you make a final check on the internet to find an answer to your “failure.”
Lucky for you, we might have it here in this article.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes that you might be making that prevent you from losing weight:
The most common reason for the scale to stay at the same place or even go up might be that you are overeating.
“But I’ve been on a diet the last two weeks; that’s impossible.”
This is a common trap that most beginners fall for.
Even though you started eating “healthier,” it doesn’t mean that you will lose weight.
The primary condition to lose weight is for you to be in a calorie deficit.
Weight Loss VS Weight Gain
What this means is that you have to eat FEWER calories than you actually need.
Sure, you may have started making healthier food choices, but are you sure you are eating the right amount?
If the answer is no, you might be consuming more calories than you burn, which means you are NOT GOING TO LOSE WEIGHT.
What To Do?
You can start to track what you are eating in a more systematic way. Using a food diary mobile app is a fast and easy way to understand the number of calories you are eating in a day.
Or if you are old school, a journal works fine as well. You can get the total amount of calories of the food you are eating from either:
- Nutrition labels behind the food packaging
- Food databases such as MyFCD (Malaysian Food Consumption Database) refer to (1)
- Trusty ol’ Google search
Some of you might be saying, “I have been tracking my food strictly using the app you told me to use but I am still not seeing results!”
Well, you might be underreporting or even missing out on a chunk of calories from the licks and bites.
Don’t worry, many people have fallen into these traps before, even us as personal trainers. It is quite common to choose the lower calorie item from the food list especially when you want are hungry (so you can eat more).
In fact, underreporting caloric intake and overreporting physical activity is so common that in this study of over 200 participants (2), they were underreporting their caloric intake by almost 50%, which is more than enough to cause you to tip the scale of weight loss to weight gain.
And to our defence, the margin error for nutritional facts of food companies are allowed up to 20%! This means we might be eating more calories than we actually think we are and that’s not even our fault.
So take your time when it comes to tracking calories and understand that it too is a process that requires trial and error (and time) to learn and master.
2. Drinking too much
No, we are not talking about water.
From our experience as personal trainers in Penang, most people overlook beverages because; “How much can a cup of kopi peng interrupt my goals?”, I hear you say.
The answer: A lot.
We often see our clients ignore the consumption of beverages that might lead to gaining weight such as:
- Sweet drinks
- Fruit juice
Yes, you read that correctly, even too much fruit juice can cause you to gain weight. This is because of the additional calories from these drinks that you aren’t tracking. Let’s assume each drink is about 150 kcal and if you take only one of each a day, that’s over a thousand extra calories for that week!
And, the most common one we hear with our clients, the weekend alcohol.
Alcohol is famous for its delicate taste and social status.
But did you know?
Alcohol actually has hidden calories… Which are quite a lot, and EMPTY!
One gram of ethanol has seven calories. (which is more than carbs)
Now, if you do the equation, if you drink two beers for the night, that’s around 450 calories extra for the day.
450 calories, out of which ZERO go towards constructive processes like the calories you get from other foods.
Need we say more?
What To Do?
Well, the obvious answer is to cut off these drinks and change them all for plain water. But that would be boring. So a better way is to educate yourself about the number of calories your favourite drink has and then incorporate them into your day without going overboard.
Another way that has been shown to be quite effective is to swap out your sweet drinks with other low- or noncaloric beverages. This meta-analysis (3) showed that this smart substitution can help reduce weight gain or facilitate weight loss.
3. High stress levels
Being overburdened by work, chores, meeting deadlines has a price.
When your cortisol (stress hormone) levels rise, you might experience difficulties in doing specific tasks such as focusing.
What do you think happens with your body when it’s being put into an enormous amount of stress? Well, this study (4) suggests that job strain and weight gain has a relationship.
Even if you are training and following a proper diet, your performance and recovery will suffer if you have a high amount of stress.
You might not lose any weight, and you may experience other problems such as headaches, tiredness, lack of concentration, muscle cramps.
Most importantly, high levels of stress may lead to emotional eating which gets you even further from your weight loss goals.
What To Do?
Well, this is a tough one to handle as we all have many responsibilities to juggle such as family, building a career, a home to take care of and of course, yourself.
Out of the many things that we have control over, you have the most control over yourself.
Although we are no mental health experts, we suggest practising:
- Self-awareness – so you understand yourself and the amount of stress you can actually handle
- Gratitude – being grateful for what you have can alleviate a lot of stress from chasing for more in life
- Stress management – actually learn how to cope with stress and recover well enough so you can take more
- Communication – having a healthy social life and relationship with the ones around you helps with your stress simply because we are all social creatures and we crave human connection
- Mindfulness – being aware of the present moment and the thoughts of the now helps take your mind off the past and the future which induces an anxious mind
Fix your mind before you take care of your body! Take a look at how some of our clients with high stressed jobs tackle this problem.
4. Decreased Physical Activity
Not enough physical activity can slow down the process of losing weight. In fact, it might even stop the whole process.
If you are the type of person that goes to work by car, then to the restaurant, and comes back home, then guess what, you probably lack physical activity!
When was the last time you checked how many steps have you made throughout the day?
If you are not even close to 8-10k, then you have something to work on!
Having enough physical activity not only adds to your caloric expenditure but also helps with getting blood to flow properly in your body, which is important for almost all your bodily systems and functions.
What To Do?
Don’t worry, most people around us don’t even know where to start when we want to begin a healthy exercise routine. This is why personal trainers like us exist.
Getting professional help from a personal trainer is a great way to begin your fitness journey and not to mention a great investment as well.
Read this article to see how you can actually save money by hiring a fitness professional to assist you.
And if you are not ready to work with a professional, consider starting small like increasing your daily steps.
Here are some simple tips for making more steps:
- Park as far as possible from the supermarket or office
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
- After a meeting or being seated, for every 45 minutes, take a 10-minute walk to recharge
- Walk to the office or nearby stores if possible
- Implement some cardio or sporting activity into your weekly routine
5. Not Giving Your Program Enough Time
Sometimes, getting obsessed with the scale might have the opposite effect.
It’s an excellent thing to track data by weighing yourself every day; however, some people feel bad if they see the scale has gone up.
Most of the time, that could just be water going in and out of your body. So, for example, going to the toilet can instantly reduce a few hundred grams from your total weight. And that is just one of the many ways that water can fluctuate in your body.
What To Do?
Give yourself and the process enough time to take effect and follow the plan that your coach has created for you.
A weight-loss journey is not only about the scale, you can still see progress in many other ways such as:
- Better energy levels
- Improved mood
- Higher quality of sleep
- Getting stronger
- More focused and efficient at tasks
- ..and many more health benefits!
So don’t worry and trust the process (and your trainer).
You will definitely see the benefits if you are dedicated and consistent enough.
Don’t give up that easily, and don’t let a scale scare you from achieving your goals.
The most important factor for losing weight is for you to be in a calorie deficit if you are a healthy individual.
Being put under pressure raises our stress levels, which may slow down the process of losing weight.
Being physically active is vital for maintaining overall health and losing weight.
Be patient, find something sustainable that feels seamless, and the results will surely show!
(1) Health Ministry of Malaysia. (1997). MyFCD. Malaysian Food Composition Database. https://myfcd.moh.gov.my/myfcdcurrent/
(2) Lichtman, S. W., Pisarska, K., Berman, E. R., Pestone, M., Dowling, H., Offenbacher, E., … & Heymsfield, S. B. (1992). Discrepancy between self-reported and actual caloric intake and exercise in obese subjects. New England Journal of Medicine, 327(27), 1893-1898.
(3) Malik, V. S., Pan, A., Willett, W. C., & Hu, F. B. (2013). Sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain in children and adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 98(4), 1084-1102.
(4) Kivimäki, M., Head, J., Ferrie, J. E., Shipley, M. J., Brunner, E., Vahtera, J., & Marmot, M. G. (2006). Work stress, weight gain and weight loss: evidence for bidirectional effects of job strain on body mass index in the Whitehall II study. International journal of obesity, 30(6), 982-987.