It doesn’t matter who you are, there’s going to come a point where your results don’t go to plan. Unfortunately it’s par for the course, the human body is a beautifully complicated and stubborn thing, whilst you can largely control what is going on, there will always be times where it unexpectedly fights back and stalls you.
Here’s a quick go to guide on what to do to make sure that you’re back on track as soon as possible.
Firstly are you sure you aren’t making progress?
Have you measured yourself under the same conditions, e.g. clothes, time of day, time of the month (ladies), have you been to the toilet, have you eaten? There far too many confounding variables to mention but make sure that you have kept everything as similar as possible to make sure your results are valid.
Has it been long enough for the expected change to outweigh the likely fluctuations in your measurements? Take the example of your scale weight; day to day your bodyweight could easily fluctuate by 1-2 pounds, so looking to see if you’ve lost a pound after your first week is asking for a dodgy measurement.
Have you checked your other measurements? For example if you want to lose fat and your body fat percentage has gone down, your pictures look leaner and your waist measurement has dropped but your weight is the same, then clearly you’re doing OK.
OK, so you’re sure things have stalled, what next?
Next on the list is this: take a long hard look at yourself!
The basis of all fat loss programmes is a simple in that you need to be burning more energy than you’re consuming. If you aren’t losing weight then the truth is that you aren’t creating enough of a deficit to elicit the results that you want. So either you aren’t active enough or you are over-consuming.
It is possible to under consume, but you will still be losing weight. This could be another article entirely, but just take my word for it on this one.
The first thing to address is your activity levels. It’s all good and well eating less, but that doesn’t necessarily make you healthier. I could tie you to a post and leave you outside for a week and you’d lose weight, but that wouldn’t make you healthier. It’s almost always better to be a bit more active than to reduce the amount of food you eat.
Are you doing some kind of exercise (anything that makes you sweat) at least three times per week?
If you’re up for it and you are sure you can recover adequately, anything up to 6-7 hours per week is fine.
Do you do any activity outside of the gym (doesn’t make you sweat) on a daily basis like walking to work, walking the dog or cycling to the shops?
Are you generally active throughout the day or are you generally sedentary?
Get a pedometer app on your phone and work out how many steps per day you take. A bare minimum should be about 10,000.
Be as active as you can and keep eating the right foods, generally you’ll find that alone is enough to get you to where you want to be. You have to remember your body wants to be active, slim and fit, you just have to get out of your own way and treat your body how it wants to be treated.
Having said that, it’s still very possible that the above advice won’t work for everyone. If you have a bad relationship with eating then you may be overcompensating for all of the good work that you’re doing in and around the gym, by eating more than you need.
Do you eat high quality nutritionally dense, unprocessed foods most of the time?
Meat, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, pulses
Whole grains, starchy vegetables, fruits
Olive/hemp/flax seed oil, coconut oil/butter etc., nuts, seeds, avocados
Lots of vegetables
Do you eat slowly (more than 20mins per meal) every time you eat?
Do you eat without distractions?
Do you often snack/skip meals?
Do you feel physically hungry between meals?
Do you eat for reasons other than hunger?
Happy, sad, stressed, bored, anxious, excited
Birthdays parties, Friday night drinks, stressful day at work etc.
Once you’ve developed a positive relationship with food, where you can indulge on occasion but control yourself to make sure you aren’t overdoing it and sabotaging your results AND you’re doing enough activity AND you’ve been doing it long enough that you’ve already made a good amount of progress….
…then you can move on to counting calories.
Food – For those who are counting calories
Have your calories been set by someone who knows what they’re doing or by your free app?
Do you personally prepare all of your own food?
Do you measure everything every time before you eat it?
Do you use a set of digital scales, are they accurate to the gram?
What do you eat/drink which is not on your plan?
Do you add in extra oils/sauces/flavourings etc.?
Do you vary the amount that you eat based on your activity level day by day?
Are you getting the right amount of protein/fats/carbs for your body composition/body type/activity levels?
If you are measuring your food out, but missing some of the points above, like for example you spend all day on your backside watching TV then you can save yourself a lot of aggro and suffering by chucking away the scales and going for a walk.
I’m sure there are some people out there who are an exception to the above structure but I have yet to meet any of them. For 99.9% of the world this is all that you need to know.
The difficult part of the process is identifying what your limiting factors are at any given point and implementing the above steps successfully at the right time. This is something that can only come from experience, trial and error.