For the last several years, I’ve been asked questions thru e-mail and in person about the particulars of losing weight. Being mostly skinny all my life, I never really gave it much thought because in my case, losing weight is easy. I just don’t eat as much and I keep exercising the same or a bit more. Simple right?
Do we make weight loss harder it should be?
Isn’t it just as simple as:
- Food in moderation (calories in vs calories out)
- Decent amount of exercise
That sounds easy but to the people I’ve spoken it, it’s much more challenging.
10 Reasons Why Losing Weight Is Harder Than You Think!
Losing weight might be difficult because it extends just beyond the simple act of eating. According to the people I spoke with, many other factors that influence your ability to shed those pounds.
1. Major lifestyle change: As simple as it might sound to just eat less and exercise more, those two things could be monumental changes to a person’s current routine. It sounds easy when you say it but the act of making it part of your life requires some significant effort. Changing habits is hard. Changing behaviors and how you interact with your surroundings is not an easy task.
The Solution: Start off with minor changes like getting up from your desk and taking a short walk. I use the Fitbit to keep a conscious effort of my activity or lack thereof to at least make me aware of my behaviors. Making many small changes over a long period of time leads to a significant effort.
2. Willpower: People fail because they do not have the willpower. The issue here is that willpower is a short-term solution. It takes willpower not to eat a cookie but it takes something much stronger and forceful to make a lifestyle change that includes weight loss. I do not know a single person that has achieved a major life goal thru willpower alone. They WANT whatever it is. The drive of the WANT is much stronger than the drive of the WILL. Most people are not really ready to make the change. They must want it more than will it.
The Solution: Forget willpower. Write down the reasons why you want to lose weight. Do this in private. Do not post this yet (maybe never). When you want something so bad, you will subconsciously do everything you can to obtain that. You must find your reason to want to do this. A good read is The Body Fat Solution by Tom Venuto. He dedicates an entire chapter to this very subject.
3. Emphasis on frequent eating: There is too much food available to the average person on a daily basis. People are told they need to eat 5-6 times a day (small but frequent meals; grazing, etc). The fact is, you just don’t need that much food depending on your situation. Do you really need 75% of your calories in a day while sitting at a desk job with only 25% left over to spare when you are home or at the being a bit more active? We shifted from 3 square meals a day to 5-6. Are you really that hungry? Do you really need all that food?
The Solution: Find a nutrition program that fits your lifestyle. There’s many options from simple no-brainer healthy eating like Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle to the Carb Nite Solution.
4. Portion control: Over decades the size of a meal has changed. From bigger plates to bigger portions at restaurants. It now takes a conscious effort to not overeat. Maybe your mom always told you to eat what was put in front of you. That makes it harder to control portions when you are given way to much to begin with or you are not in control to begin with of the amount of food you serve yourself. Portions of food have grown over decades and so has the unconscious population. This is part of the larger problem of the obesity epidemic.
The Solution: Become conscious of what you are eating and in what amounts. Initially you might want to track your food. But the very first baby step is to become aware of the problem before making monumental and sweeping changes. Next time you order out, look at the amount of food that is served. Does that seem like a lot and is it more than you need to eat? Cut your plate in half and save the rest for later.
5. Constant attention to everything you eat: Losing weight is made harder when you have to pay attention to every bite of food you consume. People want to be able to eat without having to go thru some complicated formula to figure out what that slice of cake or salad with ranch dressing is going to cost them. Sometimes doing things correctly still does not induce the change in your body you might expect.
The Solution: There’s no way you can just keep doing what you are doing and expect change. But after your initial observations of the foods you eat and in what amounts to become aware of the problem, you don’t need to constantly track every bite of food. You do need to be aware. Over time, your attention to detail will become less and less as you’ll learn how to eat for your specific situation. As much emphasis is given to counting your calories, I do not know of a single human who is successful long term that doesn’t initially do this to get a baseline. I know of several that once they figure out an eating pattern, do not count calories on a daily or monthy basis.
6. Urbanization: The sprawling of neighborhoods has changed how people eat and shop. Instead of going to the local market every day or several times a day, now people shop once or twice a week and load up on food. They buy more than they need. Furthermore the elimination of sports at school because of funding, dangers of a particular sport and fear for your child’s safety (no more walking to school) has made society less active.
The Solution: Find a sport that you and your child can enjoy. If you have no kids, join a gym or a something that involves a group and activity. Walk when you can if it’s feaisable.
7. Frequent weigh-ins: Using the scale as a measure of success and having daily or multiple times per day weigh-ins raises your expectations and dashes them just as quickly if you do not get the results you expect. Society has become accustomed to instant gratification. Send a text and expect an instant answer. The 5 year weight loss statistics are abysmal! Healthy weight loss is a journey. You don’t gain 100 lbs in a decade and expect it to come off in 30 days with a six-pack of abs to boot. But that is exactly what people want and expect. If they don’t lose a 1lb a day, they fret over what’s wrong, why they failed, what supplement they need to take or put forth more effort and revamp their programs. Weight gain didn’t happen overnight and weight loss won’t happen over a weekend.
The Solution: Weigh yourself once a week at most and track the results. This includes body compositon analysis. Do it on the same device and roughly the same time of day. Over time, you will get a very nice visual representation of if your efforts are working or not. There will be less freakouts and more attention to if your efforts are working or not.
8. Food is delicious: And so is wine and beer! One of the reasons weight loss is so hard is that many people like to eat and drink tasty food. It is natural to be resistant to change. Most people do not want to stop eating the things they love. Personally I cringe at the “avoid all processed foods” catch-all phrase that is tossed about. The goal is not to force yourself to eat things you don’t like.
Solution: Get yourself a bodybuliding cookbook. My two favorites are Metabolic Cooking and Muscle Chow. Learn how to make easy and delicious healthier versions of the foods you like to eat. I don’t eat things I don’t like so why should you?
9. You have to make an effort: People are great at making excuses. They underestimate how much they eat and overestimate how much physical activity they do. Most people just are not willing to invest the time and dedication required. They are too busy with life and so they turn to quick fixes. That opens up the opportunity for companies to cash in and promote quick fix weight loss products. They make weight loss sound complicated so that the quick fix solution makes it easy. Get the results you desire without changing your lifestyle (poor eating, lack of exercise).
The Solution: Stop making excuses and find the reason(s) you want to do this. Write down 1 thing you are going to do today to make a change. If that is:
- get up from my desk every 20 minutes and walk to get water
- walk around the block every hour
- drink one less soda
- add 1/2 the sugar to my coffee
Write down 1 thing, carry that piece of paper. Look at it every day. Tape it to your monitor. When you have mastered that one thing, add another. Pretty soon it will be a list and it those activities won’t be much of an effort anymore.
Recommended App: Lift is a simple way to achieve any goal, track your progress, and get the support of your friends. Check out Lift.
10. Doing this alone: Many people start off a weight loss journey in isolation. Their friends and family may not support them and may even be a negative influence.
The Solution: Having access to a social support group is the key to success. There’s many options for this but one of the best ones that I’m proud to be part of is the Burn the Fat Inner Circle. I’ve been a moderator there for years and it’s a group of like minded individuals that create a very positive atmosphere for social support regarding weight loss. I think that’s why it’s called the #1 weight loss support community.
Be Fit, Stay Strong!
Marc David – CPT
PS - Did I miss something? Drop me what you think I missed in the comment section below.