February 21, 2011

Why You Can't Lose Weight

While I would love to believe most people exercise for the health benefits, or simply because they enjoy it, the truth is most people exercise for weight control.  Yet, one of the most common questions I hear is “I exercise regularly, so why can’t I lose weight?” 
There are several answers to this, but the truth is despite metabolism, genetics, gluten, high carbs or low carbs, etc..., you can only lose weight by burning more calories than you consume.  Probably the most significant thing you can do is to keep a food diary (and an honest one).  Write down absolutely everything and how much you eat, and I am sure you will be surprised.  Most of us are unaware of how much we really take in.  I do not think my clients are liars, but if they really ate as little as they tell me, they would be skinny or bedridden.  Serving size is crucial.  Read packages and recipes; you will be shocked at how little a serving really is.  Write down everything, including “tasting bites” and drinks.  And yes, food eaten while standing up still counts.  Liquid calories such as juice, wine and soda really add up.  It is time consuming to write a food diary, but there are free apps and websites that make it easier:
This schematic gives an illustration of some common serving sizes:

Exercise intensity is another key factor for weight control.  If you can comfortably sing or read through your entire workout, you are probably not working hard enough.   See the posts from Feb. 13, 2011 and Sept. 20, 2010 on how and why to amp up your intensity. You will burn more calories during, and more importantly after your workout. 
The last factor which I discussed in my post of Dec. 18, 2010 is NEAT (non-exercise thermogenesis); burning more calories when you are NOT exercising. 
Monitor your nutrition, increase your exercise intensity, and boost your NEAT.  Then you can watch the scale head in the direction you want.

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