When we’ve been following a workout routine and trying to eat healthy, but haven’t seen results in the form of weight loss, it can be difficult to stay motivated.

Remember that weight loss is a process, one that requires time and effort. First of all, understand that we are not the alone. Many people find it difficult to lose weight, often at different stages of their weight loss transformation. Just because you are not losing the weight you want, does not mean that you cannot.

There are many small changes you can make to help you lose weight. Often, you just need to make a few minor adjustments to your current approach.

Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

There are a few things that might be stunting your weight loss that you may not have considered.

If you want to lose weight, fixing your diet is a good place to start.

You’re following a diet and exercise plan that isn’t tailored for you.

“Every individual is unique”, says Bruce Y. Lee, the executive director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins University.

“There has been a lot of unhealthy dieting and exercise programs that people try for a short period of time”, Lee says. The reason that one diet or exercise plan doesn’t work for everyone is because we all have different lifestyles and our bodies have different needs.

He believes that you shouldn’t rigidly follow a diet or exercise plan, but rather try different things until you find a combination that works for you.

  1. Eating healthy foods and
  2. Healthy portion sizes needs to take a front seat.

Lee states that in addition to working out, weight loss is also determined by what one eats. However, many people do not give enough consideration to what they eat and how much they eat.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to watch what you eat. You won’t be successful if you don’t pay attention to your diet because there are two reasons why.

The correct food fuels your body to perform at its best. If you don’t have the right fuel, it will be hard to even make it to the gym or go for a run. You’ll be tired, and you won’t have the energy to workout.

Second, both diet and exercise play a role in weight loss, according to Lee. He says it’s not productive to try and figure out which one is more important and compares it to asking “which is more important, your arm or your leg?” His suggestion is to focus equally on diet and exercise.

He suggests that in order to not be intimidated by healthy eating, you should keep a food diary and write down everything you eat for a couple of weeks. This will help you figure out where you can trim unnecessary calories from your regular diet, as well as unnecessary dollars from credit card bills.

You’re only exercising at the gym.

Though your gym time can help with weight loss, following some tips can make the experience more beneficial. However, making long-term changes to both lose and maintain weight require more than just time at the gym–it necessitates a different mindset as well. According to Lee, continuing to do something is key to its success.

This means that you don’t have to stop going to the gym, you may just have to change your mindset. There are plenty of opportunities to get meaningful exercise in your day-to-day life, like taking the stairs, walking instead of driving, or adding half an hour of vigorous playtime with your kids to your daily schedule.

Collectively, these activities will help maintain your fitness and weight, even if you miss going to the gym as often as you’d like.

The number on the scale is moving—but slowly.

Losing weight and then keeping it off can be difficult, as many people who have tried to do so can attest. A perfect example of this are the contestants on the show “Biggest Loser.” When these individuals lose a large amount of weight – usually around 100 pounds – over the course of seven months, their resting metabolic rate (the number of calories their bodies burn just by being alive) decreases significantly. Even more concerning is the fact that this decrease often persists for years after the weight is lost.

What researchers have found is that the resting metabolic rate for those who had been on the show was lower than it had been before. This made it harder for them to keep the weight off. The key to sustainable weight loss, according to Lee, is time. You have to retrain your body slowly so that it can sustainable over the long run.

Your weight loss goal might help improve your lifestyle and create long-term changes, rather than being solely focused on the weight itself.

You’ve hit a weight loss plateau

Plateaus happen: it’s all in how you handle them.

You will only achieve your goals if you are patient and don’t give up. According to Lee, you need to retrain your body to go slowly.

If you find that your weight isn’t decreasing, it may be time to change your diet and exercise habits. Here are some potential reasons why your weight loss has halted.

If your waist isn’t growing, that means your abdominal fat isn’t increasing, and that’s a good sign you’re making progress. Although you may be disappointed, there are other indicators that show you are getting healthier. Carrying excess weight around your abdominal area, known as visceral fat, is the most unhealthy type of weight.

Even if you’re not seeing a reduction in your overall weight, you can still measure a loss in belly fat, which indicates that you’re getting healthier.

Your Gut Health Is Interfering

The importance of your microbiome for your health and weight is becoming clearer through recent research. A review published in 2020 found that probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics may help prevent weight gain. People with less diversity in their gut microbiomes were more likely to have a higher body mass index, according to the review.

Prebiotics are the fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. You can increase prebiotics in your diet by focusing on fruit and vegetable intake. Embrace variety (green beans one day, kale the next, and then a tomato salad) to give your gut a range of prebiotics that will keep it happy.

Genetics Aren’t Working in Your Favor

It’s a tough reality: The odds of choosing the body type or shape you want and effortlessly landing there with the right diet are slim. When it comes to weight, “genetics matter a lot, although people don’t like to hear that,” says Jason R. Karp, Ph.D., the author of Lose It Forever. He calls out research on Swedish twins who were raised together or separately. “The results of this and other twin studies have shown that genes account for about 70 percent of the variation in people’s body weight. That’s a pretty large influence,” says Dr. Karp.

The set-point weight range is the range that your body is essentially happy at. If you try to reduce your weight too far below your set point, your brain will respond to weight loss with powerful tools to push your weight back up to what it considers normal.

If you don’t want to gain the weight back after losing it, you’re going to have to continue to eat fewer calories, says Karp. This means dropping no more than 10 percent of your body weight every six months; for a 160-pound woman, that would be 16 pounds in six months.

If this knowledge is difficult to accept, remember that it can also be highly positive and without cost. It can give you the chance to be more forgiving to yourself for your body type, rather than being critical because you have not reached a goal weight or appearance, or because you lack willpower. You can use it as justification to practice healthy habits that make you feel good, regardless of what size clothing you end up wearing. A study published in March 2021 in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found that weight-inclusive interventions can improve cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar, as well as body image, self-esteem, and some mental health conditions.

You’re Getting Older and Losing Muscle

Muscle mass decreases by 3 to 8 percent every decade after age 30, which causes a decrease in calories being burned. This is a big problem, because, as the Mayo Clinic says, muscle burns more calories than fat. Injuries are also more common when there is less muscle.

Post-menopausal women are more likely to gain body fat and need fewer calories, and the natural changes in fat tissue that come with aging can prompt the body to gain weight.

You have the power to change your eating and activity patterns, which is necessary to lose weight and keep it off long term. Work on creating healthy habits instead of focusing on the scale. Although you can’t control how quickly time passes, you can control your health habits.

Fat loss dietitian and 40+ fitness model, Rhoda Lucas, says that anyone at any age can lose weight and keep it off as long as they develop the necessary habits and have a plan for what to do if they slip up and start gaining weight again. Some effective habits include eating nutrient-dense foods, limiting consumption of empty calories, and doing resistance training regularly to rebuild lost muscle. Rather than fixating on the number on the scale, focus on creating healthy habits.

Your Medicine Cabinet Is to Blame

All medications have the potential to cause weight gain or interfere with weight loss. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York: insulin to treat diabetes, certain antipsychotics or antidepressants, some epilepsy therapies, steroids, and blood-pressure-lowering meds like beta blockers. These may cause weight gain because they alter metabolism in some way, change appetite, cause water retention, or contribute to fatigue.

If you’ve gained weight unintentionally, talk to your doctor about it. Don’t stop taking your medication just because you’ve gained weight. In some cases, your doctor may be able to switch you to a different medication or adjust your dose. If that’s not possible, connect with a registered dietitian who can guide you toward healthy choices in your diet.

You Underestimate Your Portion Sizes

Portion sizes on the packaging can be pretty random. While there’s been a move to adjust serving sizes on packaging to be more realistic, it’s still an outside guide that has no relationship to how hungry you are or what your body needs.

Rhoda Lucas recommends to plan out what you will be eating for the day. This can be done either by logging what food you are eating into a food diary to see how many calories you are consuming and making necessary adjustments to portion size, or by working with a registered dietitian to create a meal plan that is easy to follow. Rhoda has created the Elegant Eating Meal Plans that take the guesswork out of portion size. There are also many meal-planning apps available that can be of assistance.


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About Rhoda ...

Rhoda is an award-winning dietitian, mature age model, and CEO of Sayvana Women.  

She is the creator of the Elegant Eating Solution, an affordable program that helps women avoid weight regain and feel great about themselves, without restrictive eating.

Elegant Eating is based on the science of protein leverage and follows the unique R.E.M.A.P approach to successful aging.

Learn More About Elegant Eating and How to Get Started

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