It’s the new year and I’m sure you’re inundated with fitness and nutrition advice.
For those of you who have hit the new year hard and are trucking on but nothing is happening, I have outlined 5 reasons you may not be progressing despite your best efforts.
The Top 5 Reasons You’re Not Progressing
1. YOU NEED TO CHECK WHAT YOU’RE EATING
2. EXERCISE IS GREAT FOR YOU BUT NOT NECESSARILY FOR FAT LOSS
3. GET YOUR GOALS IN ORDER
4. CONSISTENCY IS KEY
5. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT (JUST KEEP GOING!)
1. You Need To Check What You’re Eating
If you are aiming for fat loss then diet is 80% of the equation. This means that if your diet is perfect then you’d be progressing (unfortunately it’s as simple as this). So, if you’re not progressing then this is the first place to look. Eating clean, becoming vegan or going keto isn’t enough on its own. You need to ensure that you are keeping an eye on energy balance (i.e. how much food you’re eating vs. how much energy you’re using). Yes, unfortunately, you can still overeat even if you are eating clean, on keto or vegan.
If you are tracking your intake and not progressing then most likely your calories are set too high or you’re not tracking accurately.
QUICK FIX: Focus on your diet. Once you’re progressing you can optimize other factors such as sleep, stress levels and exercise. These are all important and have their own independent benefits but it all starts from nutrition.
2. Exercise Is Great For You But Not Necessarily For Fat Loss
You may be tracking your exercise or calories burnt (or even worse, assuming that you’re burning a shit load of calories from exercising and eating what you want!). In general, this is a big ‘no no’ for a few reasons. The main one being that exercise just doesn’t burn that many calories (it makes me sad too). This means that unless you are a professional athlete and literally exercising hard for hours a day, your exercise is likely only burning a few hundred calories i.e. the equivalent of a small snack or an extra handful french fries. If you’re tracking your exercise then it’s even more dangerous as you now have a number (which is also horribly inaccurate) and it can be very tempting to eat these extra calories. This is also a horrible precedent to set and can get you into a real pickle when it comes to long term sustainability (I’ve been there where I ate extra food knowing I’d be able to exercise it off later – bad bad plan).
QUICK FIX: Note down the exercise and keep it consistent week on week (i.e. the number of steps and sessions or time spent running or whatever). Don’t track exercise calories or ‘eat them back’.
3. Get Your Goals In Order
Your goals may not be as good as they could be. Are your goals the real issue? By this I mean, you may be progressing but just feeling like a failure because you’ve set your goals incorrectly. If you’re aiming to drop 4lbs a week and only dropping 1lb are you a failure or is this actually the perfect speed of progress? (hint: it’s the latter). Likewise, if you set your goals as too vague then you may have trouble sticking to them or knowing when you’ve completed them.
QUICK FIX: check out my article here on setting smart goals.
4. Consistency Is Key
You are not consistent enough. This is a big one. Being ‘good’ all week then going off track on the weekend can stunt your progress faster than anything. What I’m saying is that any progress you’re making in the week can be completely undone at the weekend. This is especially likely if you’re having cheat days and… how shall we put it… going in hard. This also applies day to day, if you’re on track all day and then ‘relaxing’ in the evening. That extra bag of chips can easily rack up your calories and take you out of a deficit.
QUICK FIX: Be consistent. You can’t hide anything from your body. Be honest with yourself and reflect on whether anything is slipping through the gaps and where you can reign it in a little.
5. It’s Not Your Fault (Just Keep Going)
If you are measuring your progress by weighing yourself (and you are sure it’s none of the above points) then it’s possible that your scales are not reflecting progress. This can happen for a number of reasons. For example, if you’re weighing in only once a week then you may not be getting an accurate reflection of progress. In addition, scales alone may not show a bigger picture. The scales are a representation of your entire body mass, including clothes, fluids, foods, fat, muscle and waste products. The general trend over weeks and months should be generally downward as the only one you’re losing consistently is fat BUT because of the relatively large fluctuations of all the others, you may well find that they are MASKING your progress.
QUICK FIX: Use multiple forms of progress measurement alongside daily weigh-ins and take the averages. Also – be patient! This takes time.