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When you want to lose weight, like more than half the adult population does, you make a plan, a routine - "I'll exercise, I'll eat, I'll sleep well.. and Voila! I'll reach my goal." But this is just a plan, a plan in your head. Executing it is much more complicated than that. You need to experiment and find out the types of workouts that suit your body, keep varying it so your body doesn't get used to it and eat healthy, the type of food that will help you get leaner. More protein, less carbs, less fat, more water.
Let's say you manage to get both those right. You go about your plan for a month, but you notice you haven't lost weight. You think at first that it's just been a month and maybe you need to exercise more and your body needs more time. You do that even. And six months later, you are still where you started.
Why Could This Be?
Well, here are 4 reasons why you might not be losing weight despite hitting the gym regularly:
1. Eating To Compensate For Exercise:
How do you reward yourself for exercising regularly? By going out to your favourite restaurant and eating the food you've avoided, a drink to wash that food down, perhaps? Well, that's what 80% of us do. And this isn't healthy. At first you deprive your body of all the energy that it was used to, and then you burn more calories than you used to. At this point your body is already confused and coping with the change. To confuse it further, you provide it with the energy you deprived it of. And then you go back to step one.
You're basically compensating for the calories you burnt. This means you lose no weight despite including exercise in your daily routine. Your body needs to experience a calorie-deficit to use the stored up calories.
So, that occasional splurge or treat might not be such a good idea after all.
2. Resting Metabolic Rate Reduces:
Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) is the energy the body uses up for basic functions like breathing, blood circulation, brain functioning, repair and growth of cells, etc. while at complete rest. This RMR is different for each person. The factors on which it differs are weight, age, body composition and gender.
When you diet to lose weight, you are depriving your body of the energy it is used to. This deficit reduces your metabolism, further reducing your RMR. But when you exercise to lose weight, your general metabolism increases and RMR is generally maintained.
A good balance of both, diet and exercise is required to maintain RMR, otherwise it reduces and you see no change in your weight despite hitting the gym regularly.
3. Less Activity Elsewhere:
If you're on vacation, you hit the gym every morning, but come home and plop on the couch or bed all day doing nothing; that's not going to help you lose weight. You need to be active throughout the day, do your chores and walk around more. Compensating your exercise time by just lazying the rest of the day is one more reason you might not be losing weight despite going to the gym.
When you exercise every morning, your body kicks start your metabolic rate for the day, and lazying with that kind of kick start is not possible. But if you do, then yes, that's why you aren't losing weight. Walk around, stay active. Take the stairs. Ditch the motorcycle or car.
4. Replacing Fat By Muscle:
A better-sounding reason why you might not be seeing a change on the weighing scale is because the fat of your body is getting replaced by muscle. There are two types of masses that put together comprise the total body weight - fat and fat-free mass (water, muscle and bone). What we aim for is losing the fat. Just doing that might be bad for your body, you also need to build the fat-free mass.
Chances are if you're weight training, this is what is happening. You are building up your muscles. So this makes you leaner and smaller, but the number on the weighing scale doesn't budge much.
This is a good thing. This means you're burning the fat that is stored in your body and building up your strength at the same time.
Losing weight should not be your goal; it should be building strength, endurance and getting fit. And this can't be achieved just by diet and exercise till the desired goal is reached; it's a change in lifestyle. You need to make a vow to yourself to make better choices. Better choices in the food you eat, the type of exercise you do, what you do with your free time, all of that matters.