Are you counting calories and not losing weight? You are not alone, my friend.
Many women over 50 have been there before and it can be frustrating to try to lose weight while also trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Because of our age and stage in life as women in our 50s, 60s, and beyond, we have to work twice as hard for those pounds to fall of than we did in our 20s, 30s, and 40s. Yes…those were the days!
But fear not. If you decide that counting calories along with exercise and activity are your weapons to defeat the extra pounds, you can be successful. I’ve done it as a woman in my 60s, so I know what works and what is not effective, or may be sabotaging your success.
In this blog post, we will go through ten things that may be holding you back from reaching your goal of getting back in shape and shedding those pounds. Keep in mind that I am not a health care professional, fitness professional, or nutritionist. These are suggestions for you to consider in your journey through midlife to maintain a healthy weight. Always consult with a professional if you’re not sure how a particular activity will affect your health.
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10 Reasons Why You’re Counting Calories and Not Losing Weight
1 | You’re not keeping track accurately
If you’re going to count calories to lose weight, then every single bite you take and sip of beverage has to be included in your overall calorie count. That can be hard to do, my friend. It’s so easy to ‘forget’ to record that small bite of coffee cake, or the few sips of soda.
And guess what? Those little tidbits and sippies add up very quickly. I know. I’ve counted calories to lose weight in the past. When I’ve been successful it is because I was honest about recording every single thing I ate or drank. And when I was not successful it pretty much came down to too much cheating/not accounting for every bite.
Tips for Tracking Calories
1. Plan your day and decide in advance, if possible, what you’re going to have for each meal. It’s a shock to work your way to dinner and realize you’ve ‘spent’ almost the entire calorie allotment for the day.
2. Be as accurate as possible with portion sizes. Counting calories for the purpose of losing weight will not work if your portion sizes are larger than the calories allocated to them.
3. Don’t leave tempting foods/snacks sitting around where you can see them. Keep them hidden in the pantry and out of sight.
4. Choose your foods wisely. Yes, you’re counting calories but no, you won’t find success if you choose to eat carb-filled processed foods. Refer to the section in this post that talks about protein. Do that.
5. Remember to exercise! It helps to burn off calories and it is just plain good for you, my friend. Even if you can only go for a brisk walk, try to do something every day to be active.
6. Forgive yourself for getting off track, and start fresh the next meal, snack, or the next morning. It’s okay. Don’t give up.
2 | You’re not eating enough protein
Eating sufficient protein is key for weight loss. Protein provides satiating effects that lead to decreased hunger and cravings. It has a higher thermic effect than carbohydrates or fat so you’re burning more calories just by eating it! And because plant-based proteins like beans and lentils are low in the amino acid methionine, they provide a slower release of glucose into your blood stream.
It is recommend that you eat at least 25 grams of protein per meal to promote weight loss. That may sound like a lot but it’s actually not! Just one egg has 12 grams of protein – so if you’re eating three eggs for breakfast then you’ve already hit your quota with just that one meal!
It may take a little bit of planning, or perhaps using a food journal or app on your phone, but keeping track of your protein intake could help you reach your weight loss goal.
3 | Your portion sizes are too big
Similar to recording every single bite of food you eat, it’s very easy to eat a larger portion of food than you think. This is because you may not realize that you’ve eaten too much until it’s already been consumed. Oops.
If one serving of peanut butter is 1 tablespoon, try to make sure you’re consuming one tablespoon of peanut butter. Or, if you just couldn’t resist and took a couple of extra bites, then record those extra calories.
It’s not the end of the world if you consume more than you intended, but refer back to reason #1 for the inevitable result if you neglect to honestly write down what you’ve eaten.
Here’s a helpful tip: Take the time to portion out, measure, or do whatever you need to do in order to get the proper amount of food on your plate. Resist the urge to ‘taste test‘. Then, put the rest of the food away, or cover it, or somehow make it less visible to you. That will help to keep you from grabbing ‘just one more bite‘.
4 | You’re retaining water
If you’re retaining water, this means that your body is holding onto extra fluids and not releasing them as quickly. Retaining water can lead to a higher number on the scale because there’s more weight in the tissues of your body. It could also be due to salt intake: if you drink too much water and don’t have enough salt, your body will retain more water to try to balance the levels of salt in your blood.
So if you’re not losing weight while counting calories even though you think everything is going according to plan then it could be because of one or both reasons! You might want to reduce your sodium intake (try to only use half the salt you usually do) and also drink more water.
If your problem is retaining water, then try drinking some extra fluids to help flush out the fluid buildup in your body.
5 | Your metabolism is slow
When you’re having trouble losing weight while counting calories, it could also be because of your slowing metabolism.
As we age our metabolic rate naturally slows down – and this can make weight loss extremely difficult! The only way to combat a slower metabolism is by increasing the amount of activity in your daily routine.
It may seem impossible, but there is so much you can do! You just need to be creative about the ways that you’ll add activity into your day. One of the simplest ways for us as women in midlife to keep moving is to walk. Walk a lot, even in your home. Even better, walk outside where you can pick up the pace. Or, invest in a treadmill so you’ll never be put off by the weather.
Strength training, building up our muscles, is another key factor in keeping our metabolism working strong.
Do you track your workout goals and results? How about other tasks, goals and dreams?
Thinking about a goal is one thing; putting it in writing takes you so much further toward turning it into a reality!
These are the tools and resources I use to keep myself accountable & plan for the future. LEARN MORE
6 | Your sleeping habits are poor
It’s important that you get enough sleep each night. If you’re not resting properly, then your body won’t have the chance to recover and it will may hinder the weight loss. Be sure to go through these tips for getting your Zs:
- Create a healthy evening routine so that you prepare your mind and body for the upcoming rest.
- Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day in order for your body clock (circadian rhythm) to get used to a schedule. This will make it easier when you’re traveling or have other things that disrupt your sleep cycle!
- Avoid blue light on screens before bed – so turn off your TV or laptop!
- Try doing some yoga, meditation, relaxation exercises, or similar, before bed to relax and prepare for sleep.
- Read this post for many more helpful suggestions to get a good night’s sleep
7 | You have stress in your life
Stress can play a big role in weight loss. If you’re counting calories and not losing weight, it could be due to the stress that you have going on, whether it’s at home, at work, or with relationships. Look for ways to release any tension by getting enough sleep, doing yoga, meditating, taking deep breaths (inhale slowly, hold breath for a few seconds and then exhale), or exercise.
It’s important that you find ways of coping with stress so that it doesn’t keep hindering your weight loss efforts. If you’re not losing weight while counting calories, then try incorporating these tips into your routine:
- get enough sleep and stay on a schedule (as mentioned earlier)
- do something to release tension like yoga, meditation, deep breathing or exercise
Self care is so important as women over 50, and managing stress is right up there at the top of the list of things that can affect our health. When we stop, think, and take the action that is best for us and our well being, it can foster a number of positive outcomes, including the ability to get our weight under control.
8 | You’re on medication that inhibits weight loss
It’s possible that there is a medical condition or medication that could affect your weight loss. If you’re not losing weight while counting calories, then it might be due to something like hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels) or polycystic ovarian syndrome.
If you have one of these conditions and aren’t losing the expected amount of weight, then it might be time to talk to your doctor about adjusting your medications or getting tested for a medical condition.
9 | You’re not drinking enough water
Can a lack of hydration affect weight loss while counting calories? Yes, it can! Drinking enough water each day is important for a variety of reasons. If you’re not losing weight while counting calories and are also dehydrated, then this might be why that’s happening.
It’s recommended to drink about six cups of water per day, many experts tell us to drink 8 – 8 ounce glasses – so you pick. You also get fluids from water-rich foods, such as salads, fruit, and applesauce.
If the weather is really hot or humid where you live, you may need to drink more water.
10 | You’re building muscle
Now, this is not a bad result, girlfriend. But the reality is this: a pound of muscle and a pound of fat weigh the same – one pound. But, a pound of muscle is approximately the size of an orange, and a pound of fat is about the size of a grapefruit.
So if you’ve just turned a pound of fat into a pound of muscle, literally, you’ll have gained one pound, because muscle is more dense than fat, so your body will store 2 pounds of muscle in approximately the same area as that pound of fat that was previously there.
That’s a simplistic explanation, but I think you get the idea.
What can you do? Check to see how your clothes are fitting. That is a pretty true indication of how successful you’ve been.
Whether you are striving to see that number on the scale decrease, or the goal is to get the clothes to fit better, counting calories can be an effective method to lose weight if you are committed to the goal and totally honest with yourself.
If I was to offer one piece of advice it would be to be very, very careful and accurate and honest about recording every single thing that you eat and drink. Every single thing. Otherwise you’re just fooling yourself, and you’re the one who will pay the price by not achieving the goal.
For me, it’s about the clothes fitting well. I have put the scale away and no longer wake up in the morning wondering if I’ll feel good or bad about the weight today. Having said that, though, it is just as important to me to eat well, make wise choices, exercise regularly, and keep the clothes fitting comfortably.
It is a balance between accepting the midlife body and natural changes that occur, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle that keeps the weight under control.
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