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Paige Waehner

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

By August 31, 2011

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Of all the questions I get, this one is the most frequent: Why can't I lose weight?

There are usually one of two things going on in this situation. One: You are losing weight, it just isn't showing up on the scale or it isn't showing up where you expect it to. If you're losing inches, but not losing weight, that's a sign that you're losing body fat and gaining muscle, something the scale doesn't reflect.

The other part of that is that our bodies determine where the fat comes off. Maybe you lose some from your face or your arms or your calves when, all along, you really want to lose it from your abs or thighs. You may think this is a sign of failure, but all it really means is that your body is doing what it's supposed to: It's losing fat and it will get to those stubborn areas in its own good time.

Two: You really aren't losing weight and it's because of your diet, your exercise, your lifestyle or a combination of all of those.

I discuss these reasons and more in my latest FAQ, Why can't I lose weight? and I even offer some ideas for what to do about it in What to do if you're not losing weight.

Hopefully, you'll find some helpful suggestions if you're struggling with this issue and be sure to leave a comment about your own experiences. Do you feel like you can't lose weight no matter what you do? How do you monitor what you're doing to find out what the problem is? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

August 31, 2011 at 8:31 am
(1) Louise says:

After losing 125+ lbs in a year, I started gaining weight…sometimes, I would gain up to 20 lbs in 3 or 4 days (not exaggerating). I was still working out, still eating well, etc., but the scale was going up and up. Turns out, my hypothyroidism was not well controlled and my medication needed adjusting. That was 2 years ago. Unfortunately, I am still adjusting my meds, but at least it isn’t as extreme as before. I am able to maintain my weight loss now, instead of gaining it back. However, I am still unable to lose new weight…my thyroid is still off a tiny bit.

When this first happened, I was going crazy. I tried eating less (got down to 100 cals a day…still gained), working out more (2+ hrs a day of intense cardio), different vitamins and suppliments (don’t bother…save your money), etc. I thought it was me…I was doing something wrong.

So…my lesson is this: if you are losing weight, then it stops and you start gaining (without changing anything), go see your doc. It could be your thyroid. Don’t drive yourself crazy. :-)

August 31, 2011 at 8:32 am
(2) Louise says:

*1000 cals a day, not 100…eek!

September 5, 2011 at 10:30 pm
(3) l.knox says:

Iam on the road all the time its hard I can’t find anything healthy than a hamburger.do you have any suggestions for me. Also iam trying out p90 x does your body need sweat to lose weight in the ab area ?

September 17, 2011 at 12:28 am
(4) Leslie says:

Hi I am 21 years old and I have done every diet possible and excercise routine possible…since I was 16 and have not lost any weight! I look at my legs and they are still jiggly, i may have early spider veins, and I am tired most of the time. Almost everytime I come in contact or dust I get swollen glands…almost all the time. I have taken depression and anxeity medication in the pats i.e. depakote…which is extremely close to lithium. What can I do?

August 3, 2012 at 1:33 pm
(5) Kendall says:

I am 18 years old, 5’3″, and 118 pounds. I would like to lose ten pounds, but am having lots of trouble. I have tried everything. I have done intense 2-3 hour workouts five days a week and 1-1.5 hour workouts 2 days a week on a 1200 calorie diet with no results. I figured maybe my body was in starvation mode. So I upped my caloric intake to 1500 and workout for an hour to two hours six days a week. My workouts consist of weight-lifting, gymnastics, and Insanity by Beach Body. I have done the Insanity program twice through now. Please help me.

August 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm
(6) Knowledge Born says:

Many people desire to lose weight but how? There are many different ways however each person should at least set goals and drink plenty of water daily. Walking is really a simple task to do daily and doesn’t require that many miles. Just do something daily. Self discipline (A Daily Action Plan) is the key.

September 3, 2012 at 7:47 am
(7) Therese says:


The reason you can’t lose weight is because you can’t & more importantly you SHOULDN’T! 118 for 5’3″ with the amount of working out you do is great or even PERFECT – that is exactly what I weighed in my early 20′s & I was a size 3 & in great shape. You probably aren’t accounting for muscle weight when you look at the scale. Here’s a way to judge it; do you tell people your weight & they say ‘you do not weigh that much….’ if so it’s because of muscle weight!!!
I’m looking on here because I’m exercising several days per week, eating less, & doing all the little things you’re supposed to do to lose weight. I’ve been hard at it for 3 months & not only did not lose weight but gained. I’m also 5’3″ but am twice your age. I weigh 20 pounds more than you (just weighed myself this morning). I started out at 136 but am now 138! I think I will go see a doctor & insist they check my thyroid, because this is gotten just ridiculous – all the hard work & sacrifice for absolutely NO results!

February 5, 2013 at 8:40 pm
(8) Debbie says:

At 50 years old 5’3″ 135 pounds- I know I’m not really “fat”, but am not where I am comfortable- I feel best at about 125. About 12 years ago I found myself in this exact same situation- and I did weight watchers – lost 20 pounds in no time- like 3-4 months. Losing anywhere between 2-4 pounds a week. I exercised a little not crazy. I am now exercising intensely 6 days a week an hour a day. Eating around 1200 calories a day- more on the weekends but not crazy. I might lose 2 pounds then it’s right back. A couple of people have told me I am not eating enough but that just seems crazy to me- to eat more says I will gain more. I just know it’s making me nuts- I want to get back where I was…..HELP

February 26, 2013 at 5:47 pm
(9) Debbie says:

I struggle with weight loss because it comes off very slowly for me, and sometimes I even gain even though I have been very meticulous about weighing, measuring and recording every item that crosses my lips on its way to my stomach. I have been a food Nazi! I mostly eat good wholesome foods but leave some room on occasion for very minimal treats. I have passed that stage of my life where I want or crave treats, so I am very happy about that. I exercise for at least one full hour every single day without missing. I break it up; sometimes I ride the statioary bike vigorously, sometimes I do the Firm series workout, sometimes Biggest Loser or Jillian Michaels. On days when I feel like taking it easy I do Denise Austin pilates/yoga. Most days I am soaked with sweat during the workouts. I also incorporate strength training into my routines. I never miss a day, but I vary the intensity of the workouts as needed. I eat between 1300 and 1500 calories a day. I am 58 years old and I want to lose 60 more pounds (I have actually lost 20, but it has been over the course of severals months.) I am not in a race and I am doing this for my health, but because I am so carefu labout what I eat and so diligent about the exercise, I thought I would lose more quickly. It is very frustrating, but I am not giving up, as this is not diet. This is how I eat now and forever. However, sometimes it would be nice to be rewarded on the scale for my efforts. Three weeks can go by without the scale budging! I go to Weight Watchers for the support, but others are losing so nicely and I am not. What is wrong with me? I am 5′ 4″ and currently weigh 184. Make that 184.2. It never changes!

March 9, 2013 at 8:13 am
(10) hb8930 says:

Hi all….I am not able to lose weight……..5’4″ 180……..I think I have lost 2.5 lbs the one day when I weighed myself……..but it always goes right back to 180. I exercise 5 days week for 30-45 minutes…….with programs by Beachbody and Jillian Michaels. I have tried so many different weight loss methods over the years……it is tiring. I watch my calories……with myfitnesspal……….and average between 1100 and 1300 per day………usually around 1200. So…..I join all the frustrated people out there and look for any advice anyone may have on what I can do to change my weight.

March 13, 2013 at 9:29 pm
(11) Ralph says:

Hi I must say I like your articles and your style of writing. Dieting and losing weight is a struggle most of us have had to deal with. Wishing everyone the results they are looking for. Just remember we all are in this together, no one is alone.

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