Sounds like a dream come true: You eat healthy and you don’t lose weight. Even better: You eat healthy and you get fat.
The internet is full of stories how when you eat better you’ll automatically turn into a supermodel within a few months. But well…it doesn’t work for everyone.
Let’s just once not talk about people who drink coke instead of water when we talk about weight loss. Let’s talk about people who already eat healthy, but nothing life changing ever happens. For people who already do a lot and still can’t lose weight. It’s just never enough.
What’s the matter with that? What’s the reason? Is there a fat disease?
Well no. If you have already done the first step towards eating healthy food most of the time, but still struggle to lose weight, you might be making one of the three mistakes listed here.
Now it’s important to know, that eating healthy food is the foundation for weight loss and for a healthy life. If you just correct these three mistakes here, but don’t eat your fruits and vegetables, don’t expect miracles. You might lose weight, but you definitely won’t be healthier.
The Importance Of Writing It Down
Because I know how I overestimate my own healthy eating habits (I think I ate a salad for lunch, when I actually had 3 snickers…), I need you to make sure you’re eating healthy first.
How do you do that?
You make a food journal.
Might sound desperate and only for people who don’t have any other problems, but it works (that’s how I found out snickers is not a salad).
Even if it’s just one day. Take a pen and paper and write down everything you eat, and when you eat it. This way you’ll see how much you are eating and whether or not you’re eating only healthy food. If not – you’ll need to change that – no junk food, no sodas and no processed foods.
Did you do it? Alright, now let’s go.
Mistake #1. You only move when you exercise
For a while in 2010 I thought that doing 15 minutes of super intense HIIT every other day will help me stay in shape and finally get me some abs.
“Save some time and burn 9x more fat? Doing soldier workouts doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, but I’m in.” Nobody told me that this won’t really help if I afterwards sit all day long in front of a computer. Liars.
Turns out for me and for many others who sit all day long, it might be better to go for a walk.
You won’t just lose weight, you’ll also improve your immune function, prevent infections, cancer and cardiovascular disease and even better you’ll reduce stress – all of that works towards weight loss.
And don’t forget: small things add up over time. So even if it’s just 20 minutes in the morning, 20 at lunch break and 20 in the evening – you get 60 extra minutes of movement.
We humans are made to explore and experience new things. Not for sitting around, doing the same old crap, waiting or resting all the time to then out of nowhere do 50 burpees.
The Other Benefits
I’d take an hour long walk in the park over burning 9x more fat in a HIIT session any time.
Because that walk (or yoga, or whatever moderate intensity) is crucial for me to take my mind off of things, keep me away from getting crazy and to improve my back problems (which is one of my biggest pains right now, because like I said, I am at the desk all day long).
Make the time
I know for most people the biggest issue with moving/exercising for at least 1 hour daily will be lack of time.
But it turns out, movement is never really a waste of time. It’s important for your memory and learning ability. I must say, I come up with some of my best ideas while I move. Plus I sleep better, eat less and am less stressed.
If you still think: “Who’s got time for that?”, do the math. This is the one thing that always helps me when I do feel lazy or don’t want to exercise because “I’m busy”:
Answer very honestly: How much time a day do you spend sitting/just in one place?
For example: I sit around for approximately 8 hours a day (sometimes even 12h). I sleep around 8 hours a day.
This means I spend at least 16 out of the 24 hours I have in a day in one place.
That’s two thirds. That’s a lot. One hour walking doesn’t seem that much now, does it?
Mistake #2. You’re doing this:
When I made a food journal a while ago I noticed something that never occurred to me before.
I was eating healthy, but I was eating whenever I felt like it.
And that was all the time.
So yeah, as many “healthy sweets” and snacks as I wanted. Didn’t matter if I was full. I’d still eat.
“So that might be also causing my weight gain” I thought. (I know, I should become a detective)
Then I did a little experiment. I started eating only when I was hungry. In one week I not only felt lighter and better, I also lost 1kg. Which is about 2 pounds and is what I’ve been struggling with for a few months.
Turns out the solution was there right in front of me. Simple.
Something so fundamental and I had missed it.
Eat only when you’re hungry.
With all that information of what’s healthy, what’s not, how often I should eat and how much exactly of every nutrient I needed to maintain life, to gain muscle and lose fat – I had missed something so obvious. Let your body tell you when you need to eat. Not the other way around.
Don’t eat because everyone else says that you need to get enough of something. Or because it’s time for a snack. Because you’re bored or stressed or because it’s ok to overeat on healthy things.
I was trying to prevent something very necessary – getting hungry. I don’t mean starving and not eating for days. Just actually getting the feeling of hunger before I eat. I feel like this is a problem for most of us – we’re afraid to feel hungry even for a minute. That’s a big reason for overeating.
Eat only when you’re really hungry. If you’ve forgotten what hunger is: Make a 4 hour break between meals, keep your portion sizes small and don’t go for seconds. This will quickly remind you what it feels like and after 2 days you’ll know when you’re hungry and when not.
Mistake #3. You eat until you fall asleep
Mindful eating and exercise are very important, but you need to set a time frame. Otherwise you might end up eating until you fall asleep.
I like to eat until 6-7 pm. Not only do I sleep better, I also lose some weight without doing anything much.
You might not be able to control a lot of things and you might not have time to exercise, but you can do this.
When you know you’re not eating after 7 pm – you just do it. Doesn’t require time or money. All it requires is a decision. The decision that you will not eat after 7 pm.
Now I know there’s a myth this is because of the time of the day and because it’s all hormones or mystical powers that live inside of us…
Now, I am not aware of any magical hormones that get active in my body and come with their little torches to burn my fat after 7pm. I haven’t found any strong scientific evidence for this claim either.
The reason why not eating after 7pm works, from my own experience, is that I eat junk food mainly in the evening.
Can’t explain why – even if I had a smoothie, salad and oats during the day I would simply ruin this healthy day at around 9pm while digging into a bag of chips or ordering pizza. I just start craving all those things in the evening after dinner. Don’t know why and I don’t want to overanalyze.
But the fact is that making that decision upfront saves me 1) a ton of calories, 2) energy I could use on something more productive and 3) it makes me wake up feeling rested & lighter in the morning and ready to exercise.
Just try it, but be warned that you might feel a little hungry the first few evenings. On the bright side you’ll also feel lighter in the morning.
Start today making some changes or you won’t start soon (I’m telling you this again from my own experience). These are simple things that don’t require that much time and will help you lose weight. It will make a huge difference in the way you look, feel and sleep. If you need more information about what to eat, to eat healthy check out these posts:
These posts are mainly about how to eat for better skin, but the same advice goes for losing weight and for living a great life. Some other things you might want to consider if you’re not losing weight are your breakfast choices and your vitamin C status.
You can also take a look at my recipes for inspiration – most of them are perfectly suitable for weight loss (aside from a few with bread and butter).
Try this out and let me know how it goes! I’m sure you’ll be seeing results within a week – that’s how long it takes for me.
PS: Of course I could mention sleeping and not getting stressed out, but both of these are easier said than done. You can’t really control them, even if you’re super self-disciplined. Not saying you shouldn’t try, do it. But if that’s too difficult, start with healthy eating and the 3 steps here first. Everything else will follow.