You’ve either just begun trying to lose weight, or you’re a few months in. You notice nothing is happening.

Don’t panic.

First of all, you may actually be losing fat, while gaining muscle, so the scales aren’t shifting for that reason. If you know for a fact that you’re not losing fat, and that your clothes are just as tight (or tighter), then there’s still no need to fret. All you need to do is make some small adjustments to get your body into optimum fat burning zone. Changing your weight and your habits requires dedication, self-discipline, perseverance and resilience – but it’s worth every drop.

6 Reasons You Are Not Losing Weight

1. You’re retaining water: I currently have a lot of water retention around my ankle after my Achilles injury. The scales tells me I’ve gained seven pounds, but at least some of that is likely to be water. The answer? Ironically, it’s to drink more water. To flush out water retention, I need to drink more.

The same applies after a flight, before menstruation or simply because we aren’t drinking enough (our bodies almost ‘panic’ and hold onto fluid in case they don’t get enough). Most of us only get a half or even quarter of the recommended 2 litres (8 glasses/4 pints) that we should. Start your day with 2 glasses of water and then get most of your water in before lunch to maximise the chance of hitting that goal.

2. You have unrealistic expectations: Remember that diet you did 10 years ago and you dropped a stone in 2 weeks? Well, it may seem good from afar, but I’m pretty sure that you piled those pounds back on (and some), you didn’t change your habits at all and your shape stayed pretty much the same. With the Motivation programme, most women can expect to lose a healthy and realistic 1-2 Ibs per week (2-4Ibs on our stricter programmes, or men are often lucky to drop weight at this quicker pace).

You will change your habits – for life (meaning longer term weight control and, finally, learning the root cause of your weight problem). And, best of all, you’ll be leaner. Most of our success stories will mention that they have the best shape they’ve had in years. Get inspired here.

3. Your muscles aren’t being challenged: We know, for a fact, that if you want to burn fat, it’s crucial that you activate that metabolism trigger, which is muscle. It could be a hill walk, a cycle or – if you can’t get outside – some simple hand weights at home.

Whatever it is, aim to start getting 30 minutes each day.

Climbing the stairs, gardening and housework all count. Do this for 2 weeks and you will notice a difference – not just in your shape and muscle tone, but also on the scales because muscle burns more calories than fat, even while you sleep! In fact, each pound of muscle burns three times as many calories than fat. Read our 5 tips to stay on track with your new habit here.

4. You’re not really keeping track: Keeping a daily diary is one sure way to know whether you’re actually being compliant with your weight loss programme. Studies show that most of us underestimate our food consumption. The reasons people give for not keeping a diary is that it’s too much hassle, yet it only really takes a few minutes a day (and surely having your clothes fit better is worth that time!). Others fear that they’ll be judged for deviating from their plan, but at Motivation we are not judgmental. We know that noone is perfect and that slips are inevitable; it’s the getting back on track that counts.

Research backs up the food diary theory: those who record their food lose, on average, double the amount of weight than those who don’t. Read our 10 tips on keeping a food diary here.

5. You’re still eating too many carbs/not enough protein: Toast for breakfast (because you couldn’t think of anything else); a baguette at lunch (you left your salad at home) and chips or pasta for dinner (because you were starving). No wonder you aren’t losing weight! It’s imperative that you cut those carbs right down to really get control over your blood sugar (and, thereby, your appetite).

The best two ways to do this?

First, get organised (that means always prepping and packing your protein and salad for lunch) and, second, always have a mid-morning and mid-afternoon protein snack, such as some grapes or olives with cheese or a protein bar.

6. You’re just not disciplined enough: Sometimes we do well for a few days, but then everything falls by the wayside by the end of the week. The problem here is a lack of motivation. You’re gung-ho on Monday, and you’ve forgotten your WHY by Friday.

The answer?

Get motivated.

Try on your swimsuit, write down your targets, measure your progress. Set it as a challenge. Practice saying ‘no’ to sugar and alcohol as the norm, with allowances to deviate just here and there. If needs be, get up early to prep your food and do your exercise (it’s easier with brighter mornings now).

The other key is to set small, achievable goals that will boost your confidence and motivate you to keep going. Read more about goals here in our blog post, Enjoy Greater Weight Loss with the Right Type of Goals.

Other Factors that Could Apply

We haven’t included every reason here, due to space restrictions. Other important factors that explain slow or non-existent weight loss include not getting enough sleep, excessive stress and alcohol consumption.

There are also some medical conditions that can drive weight gain and make it much harder to lose weight. These include hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and sleep apnea. Some medications can also make weight loss more of a challenge.

If you think any of these apply to you, please discuss with your GP about the options available to you.

Sometimes it can seem overwhelming when you see a list of recommendations and you wonder where do you start. 6 Reasons You Are Not Losing Weight is not intended for you to try all 6. Read through the list again and make a mental note of one or two of them that you can gently work into your daily routine. Then over time, revisit the list and incorporate the others, one by one.

Blog Post by Maebh Coyle