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Working as hard as you can but still can’t lose any weight?

Posted by: Patrick Catanzariti on May 30, 2016

Working as hard as you can but still can't lose any weight?

The scenario

A common scenario I have come across with many female clients on their journey to get in shape is that they find themselves in a position where they have hit a plateau and seem to be stuck and really just don’t know what to do next. This is often a person who has a healthy diet and consistently works hard with exercise 5-7 times a week, sometimes with more than one session per day. They are working as hard as they can on both diet and exercise and yet they are not seeing any changes.

Have you ever heard the quote “More is not always better, sometimes it’s just more”? The human body is amazing at adapting to stresses applied on it and to give one of my more extreme examples I had a client come to me who did weights every morning and cardio every night while only eating 900 calories per day and could not lose any body fat.

How people get into a situation like this?

By making a change in their lifestyle with the goal of losing weight quickly and basically firing at all cylinders from the get go. They jump right into a restricted diet plan and turn up the exercise frequency to their maximum they can handle in hopes of getting fast results. The problem here is that yes, this may jumpstart you into some results for a few weeks or more, but eventually results will slow down to nothing. This can be why you are left in a situation where you have no variables to get you moving again.

How to get out of this situation?

The worst thing many people do at this point is give up and this is setting yourself up for weight gain, leading you probably to gaining more than where you started from. You must use a slow approach at reducing your exercise frequency down week by week while at the same time increasing your calories per day. Through this process you shouldn’t expect to gain weight (although it may be a small amount for some), but instead people will often maintain or even start to lose weight. It seems illogical to many that exercising less and eating more will get results moving but often this is the case.

Why does this happen?

The body’s hormones have put you into survival mode and it’s basically a point where you will not lose weight despite having a restricted diet and exercising at a high frequency.

How to do it right?

Once you have built your calories back up slowly close to maintenance level and reduced your exercise down to somewhere in the 2-4 times per week range you are ready to attack a fat loss phase, this time doing it right and in a way that is not only sustainable but in a way where you can bust through any plateaus you come across.

Your focus should be on one small change at a time and monitoring your results for a week or two. Only add in a new change and move to the next step when progress stalls. You may need to further drop your calories every few weeks as well as increasing your cardio by time or frequency depending on how much weight you have to lose. Try making one change with a few examples below one a time then monitoring your results.

  • Reducing calories by about 10%
  • Adding a cardio session for 20 minutes once per week
  • Switching sugar for a natural sweetener like Natvia

This is a healthy and sustainable approach that should be used for a fat loss phase. If you find yourself restricting yourself to eating low calories and exercising daily or more you are using the wrong approach. The only time this would be necessary would be at the very end of a fat loss diet where somebody is looking to get to very low body fat levels. This, however, is not most people and therefore an extreme approach will never be needed for the average person. Again, remember the quote “More is not always better, sometimes it’s just more”. Start with a small change and build on that over time for continual progression towards your goals.

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