Here’s an e-mail I recently received from a frustrated reader:
“Help! I’m drinking green smoothies every day, I eat healthy and work out like crazy, but the scale won’t budge! I’m not losing any weight! I’m hungry all the time. What can I do?”
A daily green smoothie is an excellent first step toward weight loss. However, it is not a magic potion, so it’s important to look at the rest of your diet, as well as your lifestyle for reasons why you aren’t losing weight.
A daily green smoothie won’t undo a fast food lunch, or counteract a chocolate bar indulgence. I know these are extreme examples, but they are actually pretty common.
However, there are times when you do everything you can to lose weight and the scale just won’t budge. It is extremely frustrating. I know, because I’ve been there before!
So here’s what could be going on:
Watch out for hidden calories, especially in foods that we don’t typically count as meals – lattes, a slice of cake at the office party, that piece of chocolate you had yesterday, even the creamer you put in your decaf coffee. That glass of lemonade that you never thought twice about could potentially end up on your hips.
Even one indulgence during a week of healthy eating could stall weight loss for that week. Just one piece of cake at your niece’s birthday party could add enough calories to your diet that you won’t lose any additional weight until you burn off every one of those extra 500 or so calories.
If you don’t follow one of my meal plans, then you will need to be hyper-vigilant about tracking absolutely every bite of food that enters your mouth. Apps like Cron-o-Meter or websites like FitDay can help you figure out the calorie content of the foods that you eat.
However, calorie counting is a chore, and in my experience, most people stop tracking religiously within a few days. Then you’re back in that gray area of not knowing exactly how much you are eating, or what it is doing (or undoing) to your weight loss efforts.
Really, following a delicious, sustainable meal plan is the way to go – to really know that you are on the right track.
Here’s the second big reason why your scale might be stuck on the same number for days or weeks at a time – you’re not exercising (or not exercising enough).
Exercise boosts your energy while toning muscle. This burns extra calories and sets your body into fat-burning mode. Sure, weight loss is partly (maybe mostly) diet, but exercise is also super-critical to shedding the pounds and getting to a healthy weight.
You don’t just want to be skinny. Skinny doesn’t equal healthy. Instead, you want to have a low body fat ratio, and toned muscles. Toned muscles boost your metabolism and helps you not only lose weight, but keep that weight off long term. That’s one of the reasons why fad diets don’t work long term. You need to do more than just diet.
Now you don’t need to run out and get a gym membership or choose between being a mom or fitting into your jeans. Just 15-20 minutes of vigorous exercise a few times per week will get you started. I have a bunch of quick and effective workout routines in my RESET 28 program.
Being Too Strict – i.e. Starving Yourself
So you might think that the stricter you are with your diet, the more weight you’ll lose. But that’s not how it works, and being too strict could actually sabotage your efforts.
Sometimes people think that just drinking green smoothies (or any other liquid diet shake or fast) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner will dramatically accelerate weight loss. It doesn’t.
Others think that skipping meals is the answer (it’s absolutely not) or working out for two hours each day (your’e just spinning your wheels at that point).
Do not do any of these things. Do not do a green smoothie-only diet. Do not skip meals. Do not become a slave to the gym.
You want balance, and you want long term weight loss. Since liquid diets and skipping meals are temporary solutions, what do you think happens to any weight loss results you get from doing these methods? That’s right, temporary tactics lead to temporary weight loss. When you stop drastic measures, your weight will just come right back on because you haven’t learned how to effectively keep that weight off for good!
Another thing to be conscious of is hunger. If you are hungry all of the time, you simply are not eating enough to fuel your body. Constant hunger is NOT a good thing when you are losing weight.
Sure, you might think that hunger means that your body is burning fat (not necessarily). Hunger is your body telling you that you are not consuming enough fuel (calories) to sustain itself. That could lead to low energy, skipping workouts, and tearing into the very next box of cookies you see.
Besides setting yourself for failure when you are faced with cravings, severe dieting can force your body into starvation mode, where it stores energy rather than burn it. If you want to lose weight, you don’t want to be storing anything!
So if you are hungry all of the time, eat more whole foods (not cookies, not pizza, not pasta).
Maybe It’s Not Related To Diet & Exercise
Now there are some causes for stalled weight loss that have nothing to do with diet or exercise. Certain medical conditions and prescription medications can cause weight gain or make weight loss nearly impossible. Those with PCOS or thyroid disorders can relate.
If you are managing a chronic illness or taking a prescription and nothing you do seems to work, and you are not cheating – not even for one day – then consult your doctor to see what your options are for losing weight.
Your mental and emotional health is also something that could be sabotaging your weight loss. Depression, anxiety, stress, anger – all of these negative moods and emotions cause cravings, lead to food addiction and can make it difficult to lose weight. If you haven’t already, seek help in dealing with things in your life that throw you off balance so that you can focus on your health.
Tracy Russell is the creator of RESET 28: A 28-Day Program For Energy, Weight Loss & A Healthy Glow, and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She has been helping people take control of their health and well being with green smoothies, a whole foods diet, and fitness since 2009.