If weight loss is as simple as diet and exercise, what's stopping people? Well...
|I know what you might be thinking. Who am I to say? All bodies are different, and every experience is unique and valid.
I lost close to 100lbs and did so at my own risk. If you take any advice here, you do so at your own risk, too. Is it worth it? In my humble opinion, YES.
Now let's explore 10 Reasons Why You Can't Lose Weight!
1. You don't know how to lose weight.
Weight loss is hard. I get it. Advice on the Internet about weight loss is as ubiquitous as grains of sand on the beach. Much of it is unhelpful, too, such as unsolicited advice from commenting randos (I also like to call them "concern trolls") online or in real life who say presumptuous things that amount to this: "get off your butt and move, lazy! It's not time for McDonald's."
Doesn't it suck when these people tell you what you already know? Or when they accuse you of participating in bad habits that you've already broken? In fact, it's bad enough that they don't mind their business and choose to conduct themselves with no manners. I know you're not stupid, but you must either be patient or ignore these people. Many of them mean well, but the way some of them articulate their "concern" is hot garbage, and I understand all too well how annoying that is.
That said, they have no business impeding your health either directly or indirectly, but here's the thing. You can't stop them. You can't make them go away. You can't impede their choice to make their opinions known.
You can only control your actions, including reacting and interacting with such people. I generally choose to ignore them and mind my own business. That's lesson one.
Lesson two, ignore all "miracle cures." ALL. OF. THEM. All dietary supplements are just that, supplements. No pill, cleanse, juice, oil, vinegar, vitamin, grainy sawdust bar, or vegan-fair-trade-non-GMO-candy-cookies-N-cream-fiber-probiotic-FODMAP donut on this planet is powerful enough to burn visceral body fat by itself. Adjustments to eating habits and exercise still need to be addressed regardless of whether or not you try that brand new green tea enema you heard so much about on TV.
As with my advice, you take supplements at your own risk, especially if you don't take them as directed. Abuse of dietary supplements can result in side effects, hospitalization and, in the worst-case scenario, death. It's also worth noting that most, if not all, over-the-counter dietary supplements are not evaluated by the FDA, adding to the risk factor. If you want to stick it to pharmaceutical companies and save a ton of money, drink water and eat real food instead.
Lesson three, rather than obsessing over the scale, which is probably yo-yoing anyway, look up a better number, your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). More on that toward the end.
Lesson four, drink more water.
Maybe you don't know what to do from beginning to end, but that's okay. No one does. Weight loss is a journey for a reason. Trial and error plays a huge role in it. Depending on how much you need to lose, and what kind of diet you're okay with settling into, it could take years. Relax. Start today by implementing minor, realistic improvements instead of trying to tackle the whole problem all at once. One of the personal lessons that I learned, as listed above, can get you started, or you can find your own.
The first step I ever took was drinking water instead of soda. What will your first step be?
2. You don't want to lose weight.
To whom do you owe optimal health? That is the question, and I can't answer that for you. You answer that for you. I also can't decide that you want to lose weight, and I won't shove the consequences of not doing so down your throat either. Who doesn't know that type 2 diabetes correlates with obesity at this point? Let's keep things fresh today. The laundry list of scary diseases is a stale topic.
Now here's the type of thing the general public might not consider right away: Back when my BMI was hovering around the 38-42 range, I struggled with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), a common comorbidity of obesity. Longevity, commonly preached by the missionaries of weight management, is hardly an incentive when you go through each day numb at best, wishing for a swift, painless death otherwise. That's what MDD feels like.
Now, what if there is no known mood disorder muddying your thoughts? You still might not want to lose weight. Maybe you have a romantic partner who thinks morbid obesity is sexually appealing. Maybe you're comfortable with the way you look. Maybe you've taken on "fat" as an identity and see no practical reason to lose it. Well, that's your business, and you're entitled to it, but it's certainly one reason you can't lose weight.
3. You're in denial.
Most of the time, you don't feel sick or pain. You hate going to the doctor because they always seem to comment on your excess body fat. They might even bring up your weight if you come to them complaining of something seemingly unrelated, such as a sinus infection. The weight, while present, might not seem urgent enough to address in most situations, so it's all too easy to conclude that it isn't a critical issue. You'll wear fitting clothes, stay away from mirrors, and go about your daily business as usual. Out of sight, out of mind is where your weight sits comfortably.
The delusion you've built around yourself may only waiver when underlying conditions occur. For me, it was heartburn. For you, it could be chronic fatigue, bad back, shortness of breath, bombs in your bowels; the possibilities are endless.
You can't lose weight if you're not being honest with yourself—Check in with your body. You're not obligated to check in with a doctor or your personal social media platform at this time. You're not even obligated to keep a journal. I didn't. I checked in with my body, though. I made a mental note of every ache and discomfort there was, however slight, then I contemplated how to alleviate them. I was honest with myself. I forced myself to be self-aware, even though I didn't feel like it, and you're NEVER going to feel like it.
But you can be honest with yourself while everyone else minds their own damn business, and that's a beautiful thing.
4. You've been lied to.
I wish I were joking, but there are controversial and questionable influencers online called fat activists. These so-called activists lie to you as much as pharmaceutical companies do, if not more, because many of them are most likely poorly educated and don't realize that they're lying. They call themselves the fat acceptance movement and demand that you nor I comment on their bodies or their health, ever, for any reason, unless you're a black woman. That's not a joke, by the way. That's that fat acceptance movement, and it's a mess.
Anyway, I suspect these women (they're mostly, if not all women, by the way) are not aware of their lies because they are in denial. They use "flawless bloodwork" and "flawless vital readings" as proof of optimal health; however, they're still at elevated risk of myriad diseases, injuries, mental health problems, and stigma, so you tell me where exactly the "health" begins.
Fat activists believe that weight does not affect one's overall health, the same way flat-earthers believe the earth is flat. The claim that morbid obesity is as healthy as weight in the "normal" BMI range is, well...
It's misinformation, plain and simple.
It's misinformation DESPITE the BMI range being an imperfect measurement.
It's misinformation DESPITE the stigma against individuals with obesity and the unfortunate ways in which concern trolls pervade our business.
"Health at Every Size" taken to mean "All Sizes are Healthy Sizes" is a damn lie, though. It's misinformation, and unfortunately, you may have bought into it. Heck, I don't blame you. It's a very tempting thought. An easy way out, if we're being honest. Fat isn't the problem. Society is! How convenient.
If that's what you subscribe to, you might feel comfortable, even righteous, sitting around all day, while your joints and muscles soften and slowly deteriorate from inactivity. While you sit, perhaps you'll engage in emotional binge-eating glued to the couch in front of Netflix, or participate in mukbang challenges for online clout. What's there to lose? What could be more satisfying than eating nonstop for a living? It's amazing that there are people who actually profit off of that.
Public binge-eating, cheered on by the online masses, is sanctioned suicide. Sanctioned suicide that's crowd-funded, no less. Popular mukbangers who struggle with morbid obesity on platforms such as YouTube and TikTok don't receive money to buy mountains of food out of thin air. They have sponsors and ad revenue generated by clicks from a massive global audience, and God only knows what else. I couldn't recommend public binge-eating as a business venture less if it were act of prostitution performed on a bed of fire ants.
Anyway, you've been lied to. When you see very public displays of morbidly obese folks (usually women) binge-eating that draws in millions of views, what you're witnessing is slow, crowd-funded, sanctioned suicide, which is probably somebody's fetish, and I don't apologize for viewing it that way.
5. You're too busy to lose weight.
Stop me if you've said or heard this one before: "I want to lose weight, but I don't have the time." Really? How is that even possible? This sounds to me like you struggle with time management as opposed to time itself. There are 168 hours in a week, and all you might need is a minimum of 90 minutes per week of moving with an elevated heart rate. That's 1.5 hours out of 168. Is that really impossible? Really?
Say you really are that busy, though. If your schedule is really that packed that you don't have so much as 90 minutes to give the entire week, find ways to incorporate exercise into your busy routine. Again, a little stair climbing goes a long way. I lost my first 25lbs climbing stairs at work. It's great for building stamina and it didn't negatively impact my routine in any way. It fit seamlessly, in fact.
It might be worth your while to look into intermittent fasting, too. In theory, fasting 12-16 hours should reduce the number of times you need to find food, which seems like a dietary habit that should save you time, if anything. It's not likely that you're too busy. It's most likely that you haven't found what fits into your routine yet.
6. You find weight loss boring.
This struggle is all too real to me. I think exercise, especially at the gym, can be painfully dull. I'm a very introverted person, so gym time is all business for me. Even with my music, 30-minute minimum is all I can do before I wave the white flag and take back my day, because holy crow am I bored.
On the other hand, hiking is something I can do for hours. Being out in nature and away from the general public is a privilege and a gift that I wouldn't trade for anything.
If you can find an exercise, any exercise, that inspires you to move, that's the one you should do. It could be yoga, lifting, climbing, sports, palates, crossfit, whatever. If no exercise inspires you, try bringing a device with music, audiobooks, or a streaming service to a gym and hop on a treadmill. Essentially, watch TV while you exercise if the boredom is that bad. Just make sure you're walking fast enough to keep your heart rate elevated. I understand that not everyone has access to these amenities, but if you do, I strongly advise that you take advantage of it! It seems like a fluke, but powerwalking on the treadmill while watching your favorite show is lightyears ahead doing nothing.
You also must find the healthy foods that you DO like and make those foods a regular part of your diet if possible. I see people dismiss healthy eating for the silliest reasons, i.e. "I hate kale. I don't want to eat kale. Kale sucks. It's so boring, and it has no flavor. It's like eating cardboard. I can't live in a world where I only get to eat kale. I'd rather die than eat kale. If kale were more like bacon, I'd eat it."
Relax. Not one soul on this earth urgently needs to eat kale, regardless of their size.
Such an intense focus on any foods you don't like can turn you off from trying anything healthy whatsoever, and that's a real shame. A real waste of time. Maybe that's why you don't have enough time. Dwelling on the wrong details is a time sink to be sure. Forget about kale if you don't like it. I'm not too fond of kale either. I don't eat it now, and I didn't eat it while losing weight either, so clearly, I didn't need it. Instead, I found avocados, bananas, broccoli, green beans, onions, garlic, ginger, carrots, celery, and countless other healthy plants that I do enjoy eating and cooking alongside my meat, eggs and rice.
Avoiding boredom with diet and exercise is as simple as this: Be positive. Do and eat the healthy things that you like. Get those 30 minutes of elevated heartrate exercises in, and mind your calories, but otherwise, think positive. Do exercises that you like. Eat the healthy foods that you like. Take however much time you need to find these things but do find them. It's important to like that. You should be making a lifetime adjustment to your eating habits, not committing to a temporary fad diet.
To put it another way, you're doing it right if you're changing your lifestyle for the better. You're doing it wrong if you're tormenting yourself.
7. You're too set in your ways to lose weight.
You, like most people, are a creature of habit, and you have a routine. Weight loss challenges that routine, because to implement that into your life, you must start adopting healthy habits, and losing unhealthy habits. That takes effort that you're not ready for. Not only that, weight loss has lingered in the back of your mind for so long it's become part of your routine, too.
There is that part of you who would love to address the issue of losing weight. Getting it over with sounds great, doesn't it? Easier said than done. You've had your habits for so long now. The thought of changing them all at once must be overwhelming.
Here's what you do: don't change everything all at once. Change one thing at a time.
It's best to treat weight loss as a longitudinal problem. Understand that it's not something that anyone can fix overnight. It took me four years. There's no telling how long it will take you, but you could approach weight loss by addressing one unhealthy habit at a time. For example, do you drink soda every day? Replace it with a different drink, preferably one with no sugar or artificial sweetener. Water is best.
Break weight loss down into a collection of small goals that follow the S.M.A.R.T. format (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-based). Make those goals as small as you need to, if that's what it takes to incorporate them into your daily routine. You do need goals, though. Without anything specific to strive for, how can a meaningful change occur?
8. You have an illness or injury.
This is a multifaceted problem deserving of its own list. Although my lack of formal education in medicine makes it difficult for me to give more than the most general of insight here, I do understand that any illness or injury can make the weight loss process that much harder, depending on the nature and severity of that which ails you. Naturally, you don't want to exacerbate any underlying condition, so ideally, you could consult a healthcare professional and find out which dietary and exercise options work best for you.
I gained twenty pounds during the winter of 2014 into 2015, relentlessly bombarded by upper respiratory infections that had me sedentary: bronchitis, sinusitis, every head cold under the sun. All I wanted to do was sleep, but I had to work, and go to school, and this, that, and the other thing, so it took me forever to recover. I had to have spent a solid two-and-a-half months sick that winter. It's hard to stay active when your head constantly feels like a bloated, leaky water balloon.
If absolutely nothing else, drink water. That's the advice I'm most confident giving here, or anywhere on this list come to think of it.
9. You're exercising too little.
Ah! Were you wondering why you haven't come across this on my list yet? Maybe you weren't because it's come up in almost every point I've made, hasn't it? This gets its own section for emphasis, really. You are, most likely, exercising too little. Most people exercise too little. If you insist that you exercise enough yet continue to yield undesirable results, try adding an extra 30 minutes of exercise to your week just in case. See if that tips the scale. Gradually add a little more and a little more until you hit a sweet spot. It's there. You just haven't found it yet. Keep in mind that it's not enough to simply move. You have to increase your heart rate, even if only slightly. That's what separates exercise from movement.
10. You're eating too much.
CICO (calories in-calories out) is important. Even if you don't keep a journal of everything you've eaten, you might want to consider doing so if you have lots of snacks throughout the day. I don't snack throughout the day, therefore it's easier to track calories in my head. I also measure my ingredients while cooking. That can make a difference, too.
How do I identify my caloric needs, though? BMR, that's how.
So what is your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) anyway? It's basically how many calories your body burns at rest (non-exerting or non-exercising) in a temperate environment. One's caloric needs go up or down depending on how much exercise one gets in a week. Caloric needs also depend on biological sex (male or female) and age. Even room temperature and fasting periods can affect BMR. Everyone can benefit from knowing their BMR, not just folks who need to lose weight.
It might seem difficult, if not overwhelming to track so many numbers: activities, calories, BMR, heart rate, etc., but with advancing technology and improved fitness apps, it's easier than ever to get these estimates for your needs. Google was my friend during weight loss.
If you type "BMR calculator" on Google, the first thing that should pop up is just that, a BMR calculator. If that makes you nervous, I'll show you the mathematic formula you can use yourself provided by garnethealth.org.
• Men: BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years)
• Women: BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years)
Convert pounds (lbs) to kilograms (kg): weight in lbs / 2.2046 [weight in pounds divided by 2.2046]
Convert inches (in) to centimeters (cm): height in in x 2.54 [height in inches multiplied by 2.54]
Here's what it looks like when I do this on myself:
Weight in pounds: 124lbs
Weight in kilograms 56.25kg [124 / 2.2046 = 56.24603103]
Height in inches: 59in
Height in centimeters: 149.86cm [59 * 2.54 = 149.86]
Age in years: 33yrs
BMR (Women) in kilocalories: 1289.11kcal [447.593 + (9.247 x 56.25)+(3.098 x 149.86) - (4.330*33) = 1289.11303]
According to the formula provided by garnethealth.org, my BMR is 1289.11kcal. Kcal refers to kilocalories which is a term used interchangeably with dietary calories.
The BMR calculator on Calculator.net clocks my BMR in at 1,173 calories per day, meaning that is the minimum number of kcals or calories my body needs to function correctly at rest. I don't spend all day resting though, which is how I still have caloric needs at around 1,408 sedentary and 1613 for 30min exercises done 1-3 times per week.
Now please note, that kcal calculation of 1289.11 is my BMR. My number. Your number is different. You must calculate your own number based on your own data to determine you own needs. That's the big secret to how weight loss is so different for everybody. It truly is a personal, unique journey. Aside from CICO (calories-in, calories-out, otherwise known as diet and exercise) and staying hydrated, nothing else is universal. Find your own numbers, then forge your own path with healthy food and exercise choices that you enjoy. Stay far, far away from miracle cures and questionable activism. You got this.
Once more, if you choose to calculate your BMR and make dietary and exercise decisions based on any information contained in this text, you do so at your own risk. I'm not a doctor, and this isn't medical advice. I'm just a woman who successfully lost weight and hope that you can, too.