Troubleshooting fat loss can be a tricky business. We try to eat right, exercise regularly and still…nothing. What gives? Here are a few reasons why you might not be getting the results you seek, despite your efforts.
1) You are impatient.
This is the #1 reason you haven’t seen results yet, guaranteed. And of course, each person’s definition of “being patient” is different. Some people get antsy after implementing a new nutrition plan after a week, while others have been at it for months. I get it. It can be frustrating. But, the bottom line is that nothing works better for fat loss than consistency. And I’m not talking about crazy measures like hours of cardio and drastic calorie-cutting. I am talking about consistent, tight nutrition at 90%+ compliance, plus intense weight training & sprints for months, or even years. THIS is what it takes.
If anyone tells you there’s such a thing as fast AND sustainable fat loss, they are lying. There is only one type of sustainable fat loss, and that is slow, steady gains made over years and with consistent effort–not only doing, but investigating. You have to get to know and understand your body, metabolism and what works for it. This takes time and introspection. Be patient. And if you are still waiting, wait some more. And do some more work. And ask some more questions. There is no “dieting,” there’s only eating. And it goes on forever so take the time to figure it out. Be patient, learn and ultimately win (or lose!).
2) You can’t out-train a bad diet.
And unfortunately the amount of exercise you do (volume, minutes, miles, etc) is inextricably linked to the degree to which you are hungry and crave treats. The bottom line is that the more exercise you do, the further out of control hunger and cravings can get, and the more willpower you need to harness to keep from eating crap. Besides, the influence of food and exercise on your physique is not a 1:1 ratio. Food impacts your fat loss outcomes much more than training. Weight training changes the shape of the body, but fat loss happens in the kitchen.
3) You can out-train a GOOD diet.
Believe it or not, too much cardio can keep you from achieving results, even with a great nutrition plan and compliance. How? Your body is primed to hold onto fat reserves (blame our ancestral genes), so it doesn’t give up fat easily. Calorically, you might be operating in a deficit, but the outcome of your efforts are not apparent. The reason for this is hormonal.
Low calorie, low carb dieting PLUS lots of cardio can put us in a cortisol-dominant state. Excess cortisol does two things: 1) It can increase muscle loss, effectively making you fatter in terms of body fat % (body composition is muscle to fat ratio). Cortisol is a catabolic hormone, so it breaks down fat, yes, but also muscle (picture a traditional marathon runner–skinny arms & legs and if any fat exists, it’s usually around the middle–this is the skinny cortisol look). 2) Cortisol can put in a water-retentive state and also affect our ability to use insulin correctly. In this article from Metabolic Effect, Jade writes about the ability to “stress yourself into obesity” where the effects of high cortisol impact your ability to ultimately burn fat, and you are left with a more “puffy” cortisol look. Though the long-term effects of a high-cortisol state can take months or years to develop, many competitors or ex-competitors deal with this, even though it seems unbelievable, especially when many are operating in a caloric deficit day after day.
So, if you are bumping your exercise, be sure to adjust your nutrition accordingly–calories and clean carbohydrates should be bumped too.
4) Your attitude sucks.
And I say that in a most loving way :) And as someone who has experienced all sort of messed up, self-inflicted negative talk over the years. The reality is that what you think and say out loud about your fat loss process is exactly what you get. Think eating healthy is hard? Think it sucks? Well, you won’t be surprised then, when you experience just that. Think you have no time to exercise? Then you certainly won’t find time with that mindset. Think your body is disgusting? That’s a choice you are making to see it that way. Someone else may look at your physique and kill for it. Your attitude determines your reality–bottom line. If you can change your attitude about the fat loss process, you can change your experience of it.
5) You want someone else to do it for you.
The entire dieting industry is based around you needing to have the “right plan.” Do the paleo diet! Do Atkins! Do intermittent fasting! Do the latest network-marketing-protein shake! Do the Twinkie diet!
We think that if we look long enough and try everything out there that eventually we will stumble across the right plan. The truth is that the “right plan” is YOUR plan, not a plan that anyone (including me) can give you. We like the idea of simply handing the reigns over to an expert or coach. It takes the onus off us. We get to do what they tell us and if it doesn’t work, we get to blame them!
No, no, no :) Fat loss does not happen by giving up ownership of the process to someone with seemingly more knowledge about food or exercise than us. It only happens when we take 100% responsibility for everything that happens. And besides, who knows more about you than YOU? Certainly not me, or any other coach. When you take 100% responsibility for your actions, your thoughts and the outcomes, you are finally free to get it right once and for all. However, this takes effort. It takes introspection and it takes courage.
Do this systematically. Start with a diet plan that is effortless for you (probably what you would naturally fall into), and then change one thing. That’s it. Move from cereal in the morning to protein shakes. And just do that for a few weeks until that too becomes effortless. Then make another change. Same thing. Continue on, all the while monitoring your results, keeping hunger and cravings in check.
Take 100% responsibility for everything. Stop blaming other people, circumstances, your busy schedule or your lack of knowledge. If you don’t know something, go find it on the web; you’re 2 clicks away. Stop complaining and start taking action.
6) You want to have your cake and lose fat too.
I get this. I have done this plenty, and I still do it. I’m a huge baby sometimes. Wahhhh, I don’t want to give up cream in my coffee! Wahhhh, I don’t want to give up my sugar-free fro-yo! Wahhhh, I don’t want to give up my Sunday night cheat! The bottom line is that, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” (Tony Robbins) You don’t need to drastically change things up all at once, but you do need to change something. Choose 1-2 non-negotibles, things you can’t and won’t go without for quality of life purposes, and then throw the rest of the crap out. And of course, be mindful that even your non-negotiables may still impact results. Take responsibility for that. Be consciously aware of that. Do your best.
Bottom line? Start owning your process. Start telling yourself the truth. And start being (even more) patient. When you see this process as a never-ending education in you, there is nothing to “give up” on. There is only you, the food, the workouts and TIME. The secret to fat loss is that there is no secret. Just hard work, commitment, consistency and introspection along the way. Don’t give up, simply move through rough patches and keep on keeping on :) ox Jill
Related: Is your nutrition and training regimen sustainable? 6 ways to know