Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

It seems like I hear some version of this question each and every day. Just this past weekend, it was posed to me by Angela.

  • Angela is a forty-something year old woman, with two kids and an executive position at an insurance company.
  • Angela is 5’6″ and weighs approximately 170 lbs.
  • Angela doesn’t want to weigh approximately 170 lbs.

Maybe, some of you can sympathize with her story.

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

Angela’s Story

All the way through high school, Angela was an average, healthy weight. Not thin; healthy. She participated in gym class and enjoyed playing tennis. In university, she fell victim to the dreaded “freshman fifteen”. By the time she graduated, it was more like 20 lbs.

After graduation, she lost most of that weight by exercising at a health club and watching what she ate.

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

Next came the babies…

After the birth of her two children, Angela found herself reunited with that extra 20 lbs. Throwing herself back into that same exercise and nutrition program, Angela managed to lose most of that 20 lbs….And then gain it all back….and then lose most of it again…..and then gain it all back plus a little bit extra.

This takes us back to the present day.

  • Angela has 35 lbs. of excess fat that she wants to be rid of.
  • And she feels completely lost.
  • She has read every diet book.
  • She has exercised like an Olympic athlete.
  • She has cleansed.
  • She has popped dietary supplements.
  • She has joined and quit three different diet programs.

Nothing works anymore. So she asks me, “Why can’t I lose weight”?

So Why Can’t She Lose Weight?

The truth is; when it comes to burning off excess body-fat, Angela has no idea what she is doing. But it’s not her fault.

  • The multi-billion dollar diet industry sets people up for failure. If every dieter was successful, who would buy the next best selling diet book? Who would buy the pills or the bars or the shakes or the… Well, you get the point.
  • The diet industry promises you easy weight loss. But when you fail, it is always due to your lack of will-power. So why don’t the diet gurus help you generate that will power?

Why don’t they give you a complete weight loss program involving:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise, and
  • Mental / Emotional / Spiritual Strategies

Starting on the next page, I will attempt to do that

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  1. Mark,

    I think I need a more all-encompassing title than mental strategies.

    I think that our conscious and unconscious thoughts are so tied up with our emotions, that they are virtually inseparable.

    Maybe I should call it mind-body, but that may be too much of a cliche.

    Any suggestions?

  2. ” Nutrition,Exercise, and Mental Strategies”
    This is true. Maybe include emotional as well?

    Nice post, I look forward to the additions!

  3. I agree, we need to take a new approach to healthy weight loss. It’s about lifestyle changes, not overnight pills or diets. Great post!

  4. this post is great! please keep updating people on how to do it. you’re totally right about how confused people are. i’ll be looking out for what you have to say!!

  5. There is a good book by Paul McKenna called “I Can Make You Thin”. Paul McKenna is very popular in the UK, I don’t know how well known he is over the pond.

    His approach is totally different to anybody else’s that I have ever seen. Basically, rather than counting callories or exercising, etc; it is about how to adapt your lifestyle to speed up your body’s matabalism so that you burn things of naturally.

    Many diets put the body into “famine” mode, where the body thinks that there is not enough food to go around. The body therefore stores as much as it can in case the “famine” lasts.

    Everytime you don’t eat when you ARE ACTUALLY HUNGERY, in order to keep the calories down; you are pushing your body deeper into “famine” mode.

    I have a great respect for Paul McKenna’s work. In fact, you’ve given me an idea for a posting on my own blog 🙂

    PS: In the UK, most of Paul McKenna’s book are on Ebay. Have a look in your country’s Ebay.

  6. Yavor,

    I have to disagree with you.

    On one level, you are right. If I fast or reduce carbs, I will lose weight. So will most people.

    But when I go back to my “normal” way of eating, I will gain the weight back, plus I will have lost muscle mass from the fast.

    Less muscle and more fat…a pretty bad combination.

    These are the type of people that I work with every day.

    Trying to find a lifestyle that works for them and helps them burn of fat and get healthy is a lot more complex than just dropping calories or carbs.

    Thanks for the comment

    Looking forward to hearing more from you.

  7. If people only find a way to eat less which works for them, they will succeed. Fasting, low-carbing, they all work. Just pick one that works for you.



  8. Health Habits is a good place to come for sound advice.

    I’d like to add to this discussion. I talk in depth on my blog about Water Retention. It is not well understood by western medicine, and is a huge contributor to heart disease, and heart failure. My newest post talks about how to tell if you are retaining water and what to do about it.

    If water is your issue rather than fat, you will be frustrated with traditional dieting, and the excess fluid in your system will over burden your heart muscle!

    Be well,
    Many blessings.

  9. What a coincidence!

    I was just reading a chapter in Gary Taubes’ book, Good calories, Bad Calories, about how a high carb diet forces your body to hold onto excess fluid, resulting in higher blood pressure.


    I have to admit that I don’t know very much about water retention. Could you throw a little info / science my way?

  10. Am I overweight? It is a common question. I found your article is very informative. I would like to say that simple free hand Yoga everyday for 15 minutes along with 30 minutes breathing exercises (Pranayam) is extremely helpful for quick fat loss. Actually pranayam improves metabolism and oxygen carrying capacity of your blood. I referred your websites to my clients becuase I found it is extremely useful.

  11. The attorney general has come out and said that by the year 2025 85% of all americans will be OBESE. Not just over weight.. OBESE. Also siad that if the current trend continues our children’s generation will be the first of a downward trend of average life expectancy. That is a downward TREND! Chemicals, additives and preservatives along with GMO plants. are the cause!

  12. I am so envious of her. I am 5’5” and would LOVE to weight 170. I have a bit more ‘bagage’ than that. I also have tried many, many things and nothing seems to be working for me either. I need help STAT. I just can’t be this fat girl anymore. I love your posts and look so forward to reading on about how I can FINALLY lose the fat that I need and want to. Thank you!!!

  13. I’m 26 years old.
    132 lbs
    I work out 6/7 days/week
    Lift weights in a high intensity for 40 – 60 min/day
    Sometimes I do Tabata work outs.
    I have a balanced diet with a lot of protein.
    around 1,300 cal/day
    I do eat sugar sometimes but nothing absurd.
    and I can’t get rid of 1 inch of body fat.
    I’ve been doing this for at least 2 years. And I just gained/didn’t lose.
    I only lose when I do atkins (but gain all it back once I eat a breadstick) or when I starve myself eating 800 cal/day.

    tried to raise my cals intake, gained even more fat.
    should I give up? haha

  14. Let’s look at what we know:

    You eat healthy & exercise a ton but can’t get as lean as you want. From this, I would say that adding more exercise isn’t going to solve your problem.

    We also know that when you drop calories very low, you lose weight, but we are not going to look at dropping calories below 1300 – the down side of doing that is greater than any long term benefit

    We also know that low carb takes the food off and when you increase it the weight comes back on – this tells us that like just about everyone else, your bodyfat storage is strongly affected by insulin.

    So, where do we go from here?

    If you can afford it, it would help to get a hormone panel done

    Estradiol (a potent estrogen)
    TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone)
    Free T4
    Free T3 (the metabolically active thyroid hormone)
    Free testosterone
    Total testosterone
    Total Cholesterol
    LDL (low-density lipoprotein)
    HDL (high-density lipoprotein)
    C-reactive protein
    Liver function
    Kidney function
    Complete blood cell counts
    and any others your doc can think of…

    But before you do that, take a look at nutrient cycling. In particular, try and consume the majority of your carbs before and after your workouts. That way insulin is going to put those carbs to work fuelling your muscles and not storing them as fat.

    I am working on a new diet ebook that will include this tip amongst others – should be out in a few weeks and will cost under $5. HH readers will pay less if they pick it up from the blog

  15. I think the word “fast” needs to be stricken from any dieters vocab. If you are looking for “fast” results you’re gonna fail long term. Understanding that losing weight at a moderate rate over time is the only true success. #WINNING

  16. This series is a MUST READ for anyone out there looking for real advice on healthy, long lasting, weight loss! No Gimmicks allowed!

  17. Doug, I think that some of the terminology describing the exact formula for your HIRT workout is confusing. For instance, Day 1, Workout A above in your sample workout, consists of 4 “Exercises”. But if I’m reading it correctly, some of them are 2 or 3 exercises grouped together. (Hang Clean TO Squat Thrust; 60 seconds rest between sets. What constitutes a set? 5 Reps of Hang Cleans? Or 5 reps of Hang Cleans followed by 5 reps of Thrusters? OR am I completely off base and is the whole exercise a Hang Clean/Thruster and one set is 5 reps of that compound movement. I think its the second option I listed but I’d love clarification, thanks!

  18. Great article! I agree with your methods & I think you put in some awesome videos! The article is helpful to all the people who feel frustrated with working out and not seeing more results. I like what you told one of the people who commented – Marina – about getting a hormonal profile. Thanks for the great read, can’t wait to share.

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