Doctors hear this complaint often: “I’m dieting all the time, but I can’t lose any weight.” For many people, losing weight is a frustrating endeavor. No matter how hard they seem to be trying, nothing changes. What is going on? Identifying the problem is only part of the solution.
6 common reasons why we don’t lose weight
- Many of our social interactions include food.
- Restaurants portions have increased (particularly fast food).
- We are less active than in the past.
- We find it unacceptable to be hungry.
- We misunderstand how weight is maintained.
- We forget the extra food we eat everyday, or we think we ate less than we did.
Simple truths about weight loss
Many people think weight loss is like emptying a bucket with a ladle. A scoop out of the bucket today, tomorrow, next week will eventually empty the bucket. Not so with our bodies. When we decrease our food intake, our bodies try to absorb and store more calories the next time we eat in excess of what our body needs. So, even though we are cutting down most of the time, we will not lose weight if we get extra calories part of the time.
The simple rule of weight loss is that you must consistently burn off more calories than you take in. Any type of weight loss diet can work as long as calorie intake is consistently reduced, every day. A diet that is balanced with small quantities of vegetables, fruit, grains and lean meat or fish is the healthiest. Exercise helps, but unless you are an athlete, you will have to cut calories, too. And remember, it’s OK to be hungry when losing weight. Once a goal is achieved, every day is for maintaining. If you go back to eating more and exercising less, the weight will go right back on.
Factoring exercise into your weight loss plan
You can exercise more to lose weight, but beware of this idea. Most people don’t realize how much exercise is needed to lose weight without cutting calories. Plus, exercise increases appetites. If a dieter can avoid eating any more than was consumed before the diet and can burn off an additional 500 calories every day, that person can lose a pound a week. One mile, walked or run, or five miles on a bike, burns 100 calories. If you can do five miles a day—every day—and not eat any more no matter where you are or what you are doing, you can lose a pound a week. Or, you can cut 250 calories per day and do two and a half miles to accomplish the same thing.
Everyone can lose weight. Not everyone can or should be skinny, but everyone can reach a normal, healthy weight. It requires an acceptance that we cannot eat all we want, whenever we want. We can enjoy food and the occasions in which food is served, but our food intake must be balanced with our activity to achieve and maintain a normal weight.