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Why Isn't Eating Right and Staying Active Helping You Lose Weight?

Many people think that eating right and working out is the secret to having a slim figure. And they’re right… sort of.

On one hand, if you want to lose weight, healthy foods and regular exercise are essential. These steps increase your chances of burning fat significantly.

That said, they’re not a 100% guarantee that the pounds are going to melt off. Here are several reasons why not.

1. Too Many Calories

Physical activity uses up calories, which should force your body to burn excess fat for energy. Unfortunately, things aren’t so black and white in practice.

You may be overestimating how many calories you burn. Spending 30 minutes on an elliptical trainer may only burn about 150-175 calories. That’s less than a single glazed donut!

Don’t make the mistake of indulging because you’re working out. To lose weight, your body needs to use up more calories than it takes in, which means both healthier foods and smaller portions.

2. The Walk-a-Mile Myth for Weight Loss

Going for a walk every morning can produce amazing benefits. Exercise releases feel-good hormones that lower stress and provide pain relief. Some physical activity can give you more energy during the day and help you sleep better at night.

Just don’t expect to lose weight from it. Unless you’re speed-walking like you’re in a marathon, you probably only burn about 60–100 calories per mile.

Cardio exercises are a better choice for burning fat. Still, even high-intensity aerobics only burn about 240 calories in 30 minutes.

3. Stress

When you have too much anxiety, your body produces a hormone called cortisol. If cortisol levels stay too high for too long, you may notice intense cravings for sweets and fats. Stress is also related to belly fat, slow metabolism and trouble losing weight.

4. “Starvation Mode”

Sometimes, you have to fight against your own body to lose weight. This is especially true for fad diets.

If you drastically reduce your calorie intake or dramatically increase the amount of exercise you do, your brain may panic and shift into “starvation mode.” If this happens, your metabolism slows down, using less energy to compensate for the drop in calories. This makes it harder (but not impossible) to see big weight loss numbers.

This effect doesn’t mean you will never lose pounds. It just means that it’s hard to predict how much or when. On the flip side, exercise is consistently amazing for keeping weight off once you lose it.

5. Medications

Last but not least, some important medications can contribute to weight gain, such as antidepressants and beta blockers. Diet and exercise can help, but only to a point.

The Right Way of Looking at Exercise and Healthy Foods

You should never feel like a failure if your body doesn’t respond the way you want it to. By improving your lifestyle habits, you’ve already received important benefits that go way beyond fitting into a smaller pair of pants. The combination of physical activity and nutritious foods can lower your risk of serious diseases considerably:

  • Depression

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Cancer

  • Stroke

  • Heart problems

  • Osteoporosis

  • Back pain

Remembering these benefits can give you the motivation you need to keep going. Over time, you may reach your weight loss goals without even thinking about it.


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