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A lot of times while I'm at the gym, doing the best exercises for weight loss, people will come up to me and ask, "Chica, how did you get so fit?" I always tell them, "Diet and exercise." They're usually disappointed because what they wanted was an answer like, "I did nothing," so that they can do nothing too. That's just not how it goes. In fact, the people who do nothing to stay thin are less helpful than me, because at least I have something to say. What's the mysteriously thin person going to say? "I got good genetics! I just eat whatever and stay thin. I wish I knew more science to explain this better!" Well, lucky for you I know enough science to explain why your diet isn't working so that at least you have the option to take control of your life.
You're starving yourself.
If weight loss were only about calories in/calories out, then all you'd have to do is restrict your calorie intake and just do cardio regularly for a half a year. The weight would come right off! Except not all weight is equal. You want body fat to drop off, not muscle. Because of this, you need to actually eat to maintain the muscle you have (between one to one and a fifth grams of protein per pound of body weight for women, and one to one and a half grams of protein per pound of body weight for men). Not only that, but not eating enough might be why your diet isn't working because you're inadvertently slowing down your metabolism. Womp-womp!
You're dieting rather than changing your lifestyle.
"Is yo-yo dieting bad for you?" Of course! Diets don't work. A lifestyle change, rather, is an adjustment that lasts. Instead of going low-carb for a few months and then going back to whatever you were doing before (and, as a result, gain weight all over again) try permanently cutting out refined sugar, which is the worst thing your body can process, and adding regular exercise to your life.
Don't indulge in weight loss wishes and dieting dreams; choose to live a healthy life and you'll end up with a healthy body. Don't show up at work or school hoping you packed enough food. Actually figure out how much food you need and pack that much! Be prepared for things going wrong by packing some snacks too. Just remember not to eat them because you're bored or nervous!
You're trying to do someone else's diet.
The human body is dynamic, so there's no one diet to fit all of us. That's why I've already said three different ways that you need to make eating healthy and exercising regularly a permanent fixture of your life. Otherwise, you might just be trying to lose weight because you want external validation, which is problematic in and of itself. While I'm the first to admit that I can suffer from vanity, I'm also aware that being healthy is more important than having a "healthy-looking" body found in tabloid magazines across the world. Everyone has fat and there's nothing wrong with that. We need fat! What we don't need is high blood pressure, diabetes, and poor cholesterol. Scientists have been studying weight loss for decades and one of the few things they've reached a consensus on is that eating well and exercising regularly are the best ways to stay healthy.
You're not getting enough sleep.
Aside from the fact that being tired may lead to you making poor eating decisions, sleep plays an important part in regulating your metabolism. Sleep deprivation is stressful, which means that the amount of the stress hormone cortisol you have in your body spikes, and that leads to you holding onto fat in your body.
Stop staring at the scale.
This is a biggie. Muscle weighs more than fat, so you may be gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time, which would make it look like you're not dieting successfully. Don't worry though, everything's okay! Everything's actually better than okay because 10 pounds of muscle burn 50 calories at rest while 10 pounds of fat burn 20 calories. Keep on strength training!
You're not actually tracking calories.
Part of eating healthy is keeping track of what you're eating. Not following meal portion control tips and keeping an eye calories per serving might be why your diet isn't working. This gets easier once you're in the habit of eating healthy, are sticking to a healthy meal plan, and are prepping your meals in advance. Until then, use a pad and pencil, or your smartphone, to add up how much you're consuming, and don't go over your limit.
You're not letting yourself indulge.
Depriving yourself aggressively is stressful, and stress makes people make poor decisions. Let yourself indulge! Some people say you can have one indulgence per day, others every couple of days, or even weeks. Do whatever works for you. What separates a diet from a lifestyle change is the amount of pressure you put on yourself. It's a well-documented phenomenon that if someone is trying to restrict their food intake and they then accidentally break their diet, that they respond by binge eating because, hey, the day's already ruined, might as well go all in! That's not a good attitude. That's literally the description of someone being under a lot of stress, breaking, and then having a meltdown. What's the point of your goal if accomplishing it means compromising your quality of life that much? Hmm? Hmmmm?! That's what I thought!
You're going for it all on your own.
Humans are social animals. That means we do everything together. Why not diet together, too? The benefits of recruiting friends and increasing social support for weight loss and maintenance have been well documented. 95 percent of dieters with group support achieved their goals versus 76 percent that went for it on their own. When we're talking about something as challenging as a lifestyle change, we need as help as possible!
Exercise to keep calories burning!
Not only do you burn calories exercising, but exercising keeps your body burning calories. As reported by WebMD, the longer your cardio, the greater the amount of time your body spends burning calories at an elevated rate. That's why it's better to do moderate cardio that you can do consistently throughout the week rather than high-intensity cardio that takes you out of commission for days at a time. You can do HIIT; just make sure not to make this another reason why your diet isn't working by letting yourself be undone by HIIT.