“Why Isn’t It Working?”

I read the forum on LoseIt.com and a common title for new threads is “I’m stuck!” or “I’m doing the same, but now I’m gaining!” Rather than comment to each of those threads, I thought I’d throw out my thoughts and ideas here. As with all my ideas, feel free to take them or leave them. I won’t be offended either way. Pour yourself a mug of water, grab an apple or ounce of almonds, and relax. (This won’t be too painful.)

I’ve said all along (as have numerous other people, far more educated than I am), the basis of weight loss is consume fewer calories than you burn (or burn more calories than you consume, it works both ways.) If you want to lose one pound per week, you need to burn 3500 calories more than you consume.  That’s it. Right?

Well, yeah. Sort of.  But there is more. There is always more.

So let’s say that you are eating at a moderate weight-loss level, yet above your BMR/RMR (Basal Metabolic Rate/Resting Metabolic Rate) and you are well-hydrated. You are also more active than you have been in the past. And the freakin’ scale stays the same, or worse, starts moving the wrong way!

What else can affect your weight?

  • Medications. For example, I am using naproxen for my knee, and it caused a 3.5 pound gain in two days.
  • Hormonal changes.
  • General illness.
  • Lack of sleep. I can’t remember where I read it, but people who sleep less than seven hours a night those weight at a slower rate than those who sleep more than seven hours.
  • Routine. If you always exercise in the same pattern, your body will develop more efficient movements to match, which in turn will burn fewer calories.

And stress. Stress can throw your entire body out of whack. And before you think I have lost my gourd, let’s look at what stress/negative emotions can do to our bodies. Stress can cause flair-ups of irritable bowel syndrome (as attested to by some of my students!)  GERD (heartburn) can be attributed to stress, as can  nausea. Insomnia. Lethargy. Hair loss. (See? I’m just under stress, not getting old!) Acne. It can cause chest pain that mimics a heart attack (and could precipitate an actual attack if the person.) Personally, when I have increased stress, my eczema break out on my hands and in major stress I can have an asthma attack.thargy

Our minds are our most powerful machine and that machine has the levers to control every function in our body. Why should we think it can’t limit our ability to change our weight?

So, what to do about it? If possible, reduce the stress in your life. (Yes, I know. Easier said than done.) But try to reduce the stressors that are under your control. And stepping on the scale is one of those. Stop weighing yourself for a few days. Keep eating and drinking the correct amount. Don’t stop that, because that is what will get you to your goal. But stop looking at the scale. A watched pot never boils, is how the old saying goes (although, my variation is a watched oven never bakes … until you remember to turn it on!) Ignore the scale, especially if you have been weighing yourself daily.  Stop for a week or two. If you eat properly, your body will continue to live with the calorie deficit which will drive your weight loss.

Just eliminate one piece of stress from your emotional load, and that may be just enough to bounce you back on track.

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One comment on ““Why Isn’t It Working?”
  1. shirleyann says:

    Thanks for this post Trevor! For the past 4-5 weeks I’ve been stuck in the same 5 freaking pounds! I’ve been up and down…though it seems more up, but fluctuating between the same 5 pounds. I know I’m eating well, trying to get more exercise in, but stress and lack of control of things have been my problem I think. The house is a mess, I’ve been forgetting what all needs done, I have no schedule or plan for the day, and it drives me crazy!!! And all of that has been so stressful for me; makes me think that getting organized may help me from being so stressed. (And maybe keep my ADHD self back on track with a lot of aspects of life!) Have a great rest of the week!