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You exercise, watch what you eat, use portion control, and most often can resist a Starbucks carmel latte, yet the scale needle still won’t budge. Why are so many dieters destined to regain lost weight or never lose anything at all? Here are 10 reasons why you are not winning the weight loss game and how to fix it.



Calories and portions.  Most people underestimate calories and portion sizes. One study found that women and overweight people miscalculate more than others.

Fix it: Use measuring spoons, measuring cups and a food scale to guide you then use a reputable site to plug in your food choices and calculate your calorie intake. Read every food label for serving size and calories. Follow the portion guidelines at mypyramid.gov for several days. Need more help? Visit eatright.org to find a registered dietitian in your area.

Over-estimating your calorie burn. Gym machines are notorious for overestimating the calories burned by exercisers. The 30 min. treadmill workout might burn 200 calories, but that won’t make up for your post-workout power smoothie.

Fix it: Exercise is an important in controlling your weight and maintaining good health, but stop rewarding your good work with food.

Distracted eating.  If you eat in front of the TV, chances are you’re over-eating. Distraction leads to more cookies and chips and if you’re eating out of a box it’s difficult to track of how much you’ve eaten.

Fix it. Make it a house rule to eat from a dish. No bags, cartons or fistfuls. Put it in a dish, sit down and savor the taste as you eatwithout distraction.

Depriving yourself: A long list of forbidden foods is setting yourself up for failure. Eventually you will eat something from your “can’t-have” list. Then you’ll think you’ve blown it and then eat everything on the “bad” list, telling yourself you’ll start over again tomorrow. Problem is, you can’t get it out of your system. It just doesn’t work that way.

Fix it. Stop depriving yourself and stop dieting. Focus on foods that are good for you. Ninety (90%) percent of the time try to eat a wholesome diet of ample fruits and vegetables, some whole grains, lean meats or other sources of protein.  

Portion control and consistency. You’re good most of the time until a special event comes up like vacation, dining out, celebrating a birthday, anniversary or holidays. National Weight Control Registry researchers found that those who eat similarly day after day are more likely to maintain weight loss than others. 

Fix it. Quit dieting and start making small changes you can live with. Find ways to celebrate that don’t involve high-calorie eating or take half of the restaurant leftovers home to eat tomorrow. Try to eat healthy 6 days of the week and set aside one day to eat while celebrating, but don’t go overboard.

You need more muscle.  Strength training is a powerful tool for turning weight loss into fat lossThe more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. It’s the only form of activity that pushes extra calories toward lean tissue growth. Muscle tissues consume calories all day long whether you’re running, reading or sleeping. No matter what you’re doing, muscle rips through more calories than fat. Men have more muscle which is why the burn calories faster than women.

Fix it. Start lifting weights. You don’t have to get big and bulky but building and maintaining muscle week after week, year after year makes a huge difference.

Poor genetics. If both parents are obese, you are much more likely to be obese. Researchers estimate that your genes account for at least 50% – and as much as 90% – of your stored body fat.

Fix it. It doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight, it just means the weight-loss challenge is 20%-50% greater. You don’t have to be super lean to guard against developing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. An overweight woman has a greater chance of reducing or getting off her high blood pressure or other meds, by losing even 5%-10% of her total body weight. Start moving every day. Grab a friend or co-worker to join you. Accountability increases your chance of staying on track.

Aging and Inactivity. As you age, your metabolism significantly slows down. Inactivity means we gradually lose muscle and increase body fat. However, losing weight and getting in to shape is not a lost cause but you will need to make an extra effort.

Fix it: Start moving and start strength training. Just moving burns more calories than watching tv or sitting in front of the computer. Make an effort to walk or jog for at least 30 minutes after work at least 4-5 days per week. Schedule it and stick to it.

Not all foods are created equal. A doughnut and a chicken breast have the same number of calories, but the chicken will decrease hunger and blunt cravings. The doughnut will provide less consistent energy and speak more to your fat cells than muscle. Quality of food of matters.

Fix it. Be active every day and fill up on low-calorie foods, such as broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, green beans and other non-starchy vegetables.

10. Your meds affect your weight. Many meds affect weight regulation including meds for diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and inflammatory disease. Some will make you hungrier and others stimulate your body to store fat.

Fix it. Ask your health care provider if an alternate drug or a lower dose could work, but don’t change your medications without discussing it first.

The biggest reason why people tend to re-gain the weight they lost is because as soon as they have reached their weight loss goal, they cease to do the things that helped them lose weight and return to their old lifestyle. In order to be a success you need to make a permanent lifestyle change.  There are no quick fixes. The absolute most important thing is to remain consistent. If you stick with it for the long haul and be patient, you will see great results.


Sherry Shelton is a full time professional coach and trainer with over two decades of experience in the health and endurance sports industry. Sherry is licensed USA Triathlon Coach, USA Cycling Coach, USA Track & Field Coach and a nationally certified Personal Trainer. She is Head Coach and Founder of Train Smart Coaching located in North GA. Sherry coaches athletes of all fitness levels and has been racing competitively for over two decades. Visit www.trainsmartcoaching.com for more information or email at coachsherry@trainsmartcoaching.com