Maybe you’ve been losing weight steadily, but despite keeping with your good habits, you’ve hit a plateau. Or maybe you’ve been religiously working out as part of your new year’s resolution, and haven’t seen the scale budge an inch. It’s a problem many of us have faced at one time or another. You’ve been hitting the gym according to plan, including getting up early and going after work. You’ve passed up on the break room cupcakes, the buffet lunches, and studiously avoided the finger foods at the last bridal shower you attended. You weigh your food, you’ve eaten more kale than you ever wanted to. And yet. And yet, when you strip down and step on the scale in the morning, the dreaded happens: you’re the same weight you were yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. And of course, sometimes something even worse happens: your weight has gone up.
What’s a dieter to do?!
It’s extremely discouraging. After all, you’ve passed up on sleeping in, digging in, eating out and binging on chips and Netflix, all with the certainty that “no gain” is achieved without “pain.” Of course, the gain you’re looking for is actually loss—weight loss—but the proverb, you were certain, would hold true. And yet, you’ve gone through all of this discomfort, countless inconveniences, deprived yourself, and for what? Nothing.
Here are a few reasons you might be doing your best, but the scale isn’t showing it.
You’ve replaced fat with muscle.
One of the first (and best) reasons you should consider is that you may have replaced fat with muscle. In other words, you are losing weight—as in pounds of fat. You also happen to be gaining weight, as in pounds of muscle. That’s great! Muscle burns more calories than fat, so your weight loss will actually proceed faster overall. Your plateau is just a funny little spot where everything evens out briefly. You’ll be back on your weight loss kick in no time. Just keep up the good work!
One way you can combat the despair related to this is to measure your waist regularly rather than sticking to the scale. If you’re swapping fat for muscle, your waist will be shrinking even if the number on the scale is the same.
You’re taking in more calories than you think
No one wants to hear this, but it’s the most common reason you’re not losing. “I’m measuring portions,” you say—but are you? Are you measuring correctly? And more importantly, are you measuring and logging EVERYTHING? Because that’s really the crux. It’s great that you’re measuring the green salad and chicken breast you had for lunch, but are you stealing bites of your husband’s dessert? Licking the spoon while baking brownies? Finishing off the kids pizza crusts they left on their plates? Our appetites and bodies are very tricky, and find all sorts of ways to get extra calories without us consciously realizing it. Maybe you’ve started having extra cups of coffee with cream without thinking about it, or you’ve developed a taste for more salad dressing. Measure EVERYTHING for a week. Every crumb that passes your lips should be recorded.