February 23

3 Reasons Your Weight Loss Plan Isn’t Working

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No matter what you do, your weight loss plan isn’t working.

You track every morsel of food and every ounce of water. You’re trying to force yourself to sleep for nine hours, and you tear muscle fibres every time you hit the gym. 

You even power walk to and from the supermarket, feeling and looking like Rocky Balboa in one of his training montages.

You control everything, but the scale says no. Not today, Rocky.

Your Weight Loss Plan Isn’t Working. Why?

Have you ever written out an action plan, started taking action, fallen ‘off-plan’, decided that plan’s not going to work and sat down with a pen and paper to write another plan?

Do you anticipate, strategise, and motivate yourself by setting rules and to-dos?

If you can relate to anything above–you, my friend, are trying to control too much. Let’s find out how the need to control everything sabotages your weight loss plan.

#1. You Think You Need to Control Everything

Our article on compassion highlights how we naturally default to judging ourselves harshly. We think negative self-talk is motivating, that it keeps us in line.

It’s also natural to think that being compassionate towards yourself is the same as giving yourself a pass every time you mess up, and if you beat yourself up, you won’t lose control.

There it is. Lose control. It’s all about control.

If you don’t control every facet of your life, down to the granular details, how will you succeed? I get it; you need some control over your weight loss plan. But setting goals, planning how you’ll achieve the goal, and executing on the plan is different from creating a plan that’s doomed to fail.

What does that look like?

A Plan Doomed to Fail

  • Wake up at 5 am (I usually get up at 6:30)
  • Drink 2 litres of water before breakfast
  • Breakfast of egg whites and grapefruit (I usually have an omelet with veggies)
  • 45-minute HIIT class followed by a green smoothie before the kids wake up
  • 8,000 steps by lunchtime
  • Lunch of kale and 3 walnuts (no carbs allowed!)
  • 16,000 steps by the end of the workday (anything less, and I have to run on the spot until I hit my goal)
  • Dinner of cabbage soup and regret
  • Extreme ‘hunger’ by 9 pm 
  • Midnight snack of 7 packets of Monster Munch and a tub of cookie dough ice cream (and a side of failure–might as well start again on Monday).

With the best intentions, this is a shitty plan. It’s full of controlling behaviours and food rules.

Solution: A Better Plan

Here’s a better plan for making changes.

  • I’m going to try to get to bed 10 minutes earlier. Once I’ve got that down, I’ll try 20 minutes.
  • I’ll have a small glass of water before my morning coffee
    • Once I feel confident enough, I’ll start including a protein source in my breakfast.

And that’s it for two weeks.

Once two weeks are up, I’ll add more to my plate (figuratively).

A better plan sets a realistic goal. To get to sleep slightly earlier and drink a glass of water before you have your morning coffee. Small changes that don’t require you to sacrifice a lamb or give up the foods you love are realistic, achievable, and won’t lead to feelings of failure.

# 2 You Think Externally

We often try to control external factors and see them as change markers.

  • Counting calories
  • Scale weight
  • Food rules
  • Worrying about what people think

We think they keep us on the right track. And for a little while, they probably do. 

But what happens when you do everything ‘right’ and don’t lose weight? What happens when you’re out and forget your Tupperware? What if nobody notices you’ve lost weight?

People trying to sell you shit want you to believe that you won’t manage your eating habits without their program. You will just gorge on food with complete disregard for your health.

Of course, you’ll eventually break the rules and eat the foods you’re restricting and feel shame.

External cues are fleeting and often misguided. They lead to perceived failure, and we’re never satisfied with the progress we make.

Solution: Tune Into Your Internal Cues

Many internal cues give us a richer picture of what’s happening in our bodies. I’m just going to stick with one for now.

The Hunger/Fullness Scale

We’re so used to being told, “This is how many calories you should eat today,” that we follow blindly, hoping we’ll achieve weight loss goals.

In reality, our energy expenditure fluctuates daily depending on our activity levels, hormones, sleep, how much we ate the day before, etc. We might be more hungry or less hungry on a given day.

Just like we know when we need to pee, we also have the ability (and I say ability because we’ve lost it somewhere along the way) to listen to our hunger and fullness cues.

Hungry? 

Yes.

How hungry on a scale of 1-10? 

About 6.

Cool. Start eating.

Stop.

How full are you on a scale of 1-10? 

About an 8.

Maybe you could stop eating before you’re stuffed? 

But there’s still food left on my plate!

That’s OK. Throw it away or save it for tomorrow. 

Oh, OK.

I admit, that story is reductive, but, it’s so simple because it works.

Check-in with yourself. Are you hungry? Then you should eat. Eat slowly. At some point in the meal, ask yourself if you’re full. If you are, stop eating. I know your food rules tell you this is how much food you need, and to waste food is a sin, but silence those devils and tune in to your internal cues.

It’s OK, you’re allowed to.

#3 You’re Hugging the Cactus

Imagine hugging a cactus. The spines would prick your skin and hurt, causing you to recoil. 

Now imagine instead of letting go of the cactus, you squeeze harder. The more you squeeze, the more it hurts.

Sounds crazy, right?

Well, every time you:

  • Start counting calories again because it worked last time even though you put all the weight back on
  • Step on the scale and shout at yourself for not losing weight
  • Exercise to punish yourself for eating foods you’re not supposed to
  • Weigh and measure your food and only eat exactly what’s on your plan

You’re effectively hugging the cactus.

Control can become toxic. It can lead us away from our internal hunger cues, stop exercise from being goal-oriented or fun, and encourage us to talk negatively about ourselves. Sounds pretty shit, doesn’t it?

Solution: Let Go of the Cactus

It’s human nature to fall back on strategies that have worked in the past. But if they’re not in line with your values, are they worth it? 

Should you take Tupperware to a restaurant when having dinner with your friends? Should you turn down the odd beer with your spouse because it doesn’t fit your macros? Is there any point in weighing yourself every day if you have such an emotional connection with the scales?

Only you can answer those questions, but I’m willing to bet you would rather be able to lose weight and hit your goals without having to sacrifice all the foods you love. Right?

You can.

It’s OK to let go of things that aren’t serving you anymore. It’s OK to listen to your hunger cues and not finish your meal. It’s OK to eat a Snickers bar if you want it. You can be flexible and adaptable.

Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Definitely.

Your Weight Loss Plan Isn’t Working; You’re Not Broken

Many of the reasons your weight loss plan isn’t working might be your need to control everything.

I’ve outlined a few solutions, and you can start using the hunger and fullness scale right away. But you don’t need to venture into new waters alone. You might need a guide to help you navigate away from food rules and external control towards permission to eat what you want and internal cues.

I can be that guide. Reach out today and lose weight without restriction and guilt.


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