Counting calories can be done in our own perfectly imperfect way, to help us be aware of what we need to eat to maintain, gain, or lose weight, and then we can use that knowledge to alter our food consumption based off our goals.
If you have been working out or dieting and haven't seen any results whatsoever it's time to assess what you are doing and why nothing is happening. There can be many causes for results to not occur to it's important to figure out what is relative to you and how you can fix it. Being stuck at the one set of measurements or body fat for an extended period of time even when you are exercising can be frustrating and upsetting, here are a few basic steps to overcome it:
Are you only weighing yourself to try and see a difference? This is not the most accurate way to track your progress. Sure, it's handy for a rough guideline, but muscle weighs more than fat. Try taking measurements or measuring your body fat percentage instead.
Everybody is different when it comes to how much they can eat in a day. It's important to know what your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is, there are many calculators online which will help you do this. For example, I want to lose weight I need to aim to be eating around 150-200 less per day. Usually this works out well if I average it out to be 1400 less over the whole week (200 x 7), that way you can factor in your lower calorie days for your rest days, and higher calorie days for the days you do a big workout. It's important to remember that even if you are eating 'good' food your body still can't process too much of it in one go.
3. Under eating
The opposite end of the spectrum is under eating. Your body is burning calories regardless of whether you are lifting weights in the gym or sleeping, it needs energy to function. If you are only going to feed your body 500 calories per day and you expect it to function as per usual - it won't. If you let yourself go into starvation mode you start to slow your metabolism and you will burn less calories as your body wants to keep a hold of these just incase you don't feed it again.
If you are stressed your body kicks your sympathetic nervous system into gear, this guy is best known for controlling your stress hormones (i.e. triggering your 'fight or flight' response), which is great if you're about to be bitten by a wild animal and need to get away quickly, but if you let it run on for too long you are doing yourself more harm than good. Cortisol is responsible for fat being stored around your mid-section, particularly on your lower belly. It's important to find ways to help yourself relax, these can be yoga, meditation, breathing exercises or going for a slow walk.
Drinking enough water can play a huge factor in weight loss. Water promotes fullness and appetite control and minimise your craving for snacks. Having enough water in your system every day also helps your body stop retaining water (similar to the under eating principle) and you will find the more water you have regularly, the more your energy levels increase. When you have water in your system your body is also able to disperse proteins, amino acids and other vitamins and minerals more effectively.
6. You're not eating healthy
Did you swap regular soft drink for the 'diet' variety, your regular butter for 'low fat' butter and replace having 3 cups of coffee a day with just 1? Chances are these are still holding you back. The difference between reduction and elimination when it comes to unhealthy foods and weight loss is absolutely incredible. Look for real food like fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains and don't drink your calories.
7. You need to be more active
When I first started losing weight I thought going for 3-4 long runs a week was all I would need to do because I had lost weight that way before… wrong. It's great to get some cardio in when you are trying to cut fat, but to help keep the fat off (and burn even more) you need to train strength - and yes, this may mean you have to pick up a dumbbell to burn your carbohydrates more efficiently.
8. You don't eat enough fat
Sounds backwards right? Well you actually need to be consuming good fats to lose weight. You want to be aiming for monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. They help raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol, improve your mood and immune system and can help give you beautiful hair, skin and nails. Easiest places to find these? Salmon, canola oil, olive oil, flaxseed, almonds, cashews, nut butters, seeds, and avocado.
9. You have too many excuses
"I'm tired today so I'll just do half the set". "I'm in a bad mood so I will just eat these even though I know they're not good for me." "It's fine, I will just have an extra cheat meal this week." "It's cold so I won't go for a run". "I just won't write this down in my food dairy". Any of these sound familiar? Stop. If you can't force yourself to stop making excuses maybe it's time to invest in a personal trainer who can help you along your journey.
10. Rest and recovery
When you sleep your body goes into repair mode and the proteins in your system are very active and trying to repair the tiny tears in your muscles. Proper rest and recovery ensures your body is functioning at it's optimum level and will help you have less pain the days following a workout.
11. Party lifestyle
The amount of calories that are in alcohol don't just contribute to your BMR for the day, but the lack of sleep will deny your body of the rest it needs. If you drink alcohol your liver is busy trying to process the toxins you have loaded it up with for up to 3 days after your night out instead of trying to process your carbohydrates, fats and proteins that are needed to sustain a regular workout.
12. Hormonal imbalance
If you are following all the above steps, feel like you have exhausted all avenues and you still aren't losing weight it can be a good idea to get your thyroid or adrenal glands tested to ensure that your body is dispersing the right hormones.