Why you’re eating well and exercising regularly and still not losing weight

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Are you frustrated with not losing weight despite eating well and exercising regularly?

If you’ve been working at it for a while and still not noticing much progress, you might be close to giving up.

You might also be wondering “what the hell do I have to do to lose weight?”

That’s a fair question, given that the diet industry leads us to believe that all we have to do to lose weight is to exercise more and eat less, or even eat ‘well’.

But there are thousands, maybe millions of people like you around the world, who have been trying to lose weight by eating well and exercising regularly and still not succeeding.


Because exercise and nutrition are only 3% of the equation.

That’s right. 3%.

However, the diet industry fails to tell you this. Because if you knew, then they wouldn’t be able to keep pushing the latest fad diet, or pill, or shake to ‘help you lose weight’.

So if exercise and nutrition make up only 3% of the weight loss equation, what makes up the remaining 97%?

Glad you asked.

Having a diet mindset

If you’re tackling weight loss with a diet mindset, then you’ll find it harder to lose weight than someone who isn’t.

A diet mindset is born from the diet industry and it’s strongly linked to immediate results, low self-esteem, lack of flexibility, deprivation, and perfectionism. Hence the belief that you have to ‘exercise regularly’ and ‘eat well’ to make anything happen, and that results should happen quickly.

However, the diet mindset will leave you more confused, and overwhelmed than ever, causing you to:

  • put all your energies into diet and exercise, believing that’s all you need to do
  • try to out-exercise a bad diet (i.e. burn off excess calories you consume) or trading food for exercise
  • see foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’
  • take an ‘all or nothing’ approach
  • feel guilty if you don’t follow your diet to the letter
  • focus on the end result (weight loss) instead of the journey (changing your lifestyle and habits).

The diet mindset will also contribute to you having a poor relationship with food, and seeing exercise as a punishment for eating or a necessary evil, rather than a healthy way to look after your body.

Not doing the right exercise

For some people, exercising regularly may be every day. Some people might think it’s 3 times a week, while others might think it’s twice a day. The only real way you’ll know how much exercise you need to do, and what type (remember, just doing cardio won’t change your body shape), is to work with a coach. If you’re guessing and making things up as you go, there’s every chance that you’ll:

  • focus on performing cardio exercise, instead of resistance exercise — the only type of exercise that will change your body shape
  • do what other people are doing, instead of doing what will change your body shape
  • over-exercise, which will lead to increased levels of stress, and increase the likelihood of burnout and injury
  • choose exercise that you’re good at, or that you like, instead of the exercise that will help you burn fat, and build muscle.

‘Exercising regularly’ isn’t enough to guarantee weight loss. You need to focus on training, rather than exercising. Training is doing physical activity for the purpose of achieving a long-term goal, instead of moving for the sake of it (or to just burn calories).

While your training program shouldn’t be chopped and changed too much, it’s important to continue to tweak it according to your goals, your progression, or if you become injured. Sometimes this means adding something new, and sometimes this means taking something out of your program. But only a qualified coach will know what type of exercise is right for you and your goals.

Not recovering sufficiently from your workouts

If you’re not ensuring that you’re recovering from your workouts, you’ll be short-changing yourself. In order to perform your best at your next workout, you need to recover efficiently from your previous one. This means paying attention to your pre- and post-workout meals, refuelling your body with good nutrition throughout the day, and getting enough sleep and rest.

Results come to those who are consistent with their workouts, not those who go hard for a short time, and then give up because they’ve overdone it.

Perception of eating well is based on the diet culture

The terms ‘eating well’ or ‘eating healthy’ mean different things to different people. Many think that eating well means eating lots of vegetables, lean protein, and minimal carbs, while eating badly involves eating carbs, ice-cream or donuts (or any other food considered to be a ‘treat’).

The truth is that the term ‘healthy eating’ has primarily been born out of the diet culture. Diets have traditionally shunned foods high in calories, while glorifying foods low in calories, and labelling them ‘healthy’. However, research shows that having the freedom to enjoy all foods will actually give you better results.

If you love eating lean chicken and vegetables, that’s great. But eating well actually means eating a wide range of foods, rich in colour, textures and tastes — and that also includes ice-cream and donuts (from time to time).

Not eating enough

If you believe what the diet industry has told you, then you’ll probably think you need to eat less food, or ‘clean’ food, or fast, or detox, etc. But, not eating enough food will eventually cause your weight loss to stall.

The diet industry has led us to believe that cutting food groups, fasting, or living on soups and shakes is the best way to lose weight, because you’re reducing your calories. However, it fails to remind you that your body needs a certain amount of calories to function on a daily basis.

Obviously, if you reduce your calories, you will create a calorie deficit, which may lead to initial weight loss. However, creating too much of a deficit will have the opposite effect. Once you start adding exercise into the equation, your body requires more fuel in the form of food. However, that old diet mindset, will cause you to feel guilty for eating more food. Your emotions will tell you that you need to eat less — after all, isn’t that what diets are about? — and so you’ll either eat and feel guilty, or starve yourself and end up bingeing on junk food anyway.

However, working with a coach will take away the guesswork when it comes to eating. They’ll be able to tell you if you’re eating enough food, or if you’re eating too much. They’ll also be able to help you determine the foods that work for you to help you recover from your workouts and change your body shape. Remember, diets take a one-size-fits-all approach, and what food works for one person may not work for you. Eating mindfully and tracking your food and how you feel, will help you understand what gives you the best results.

Being aware of everything you eat and drink

Another common problem with people who say they eat really healthy is that they only focus on the ‘healthy’ food they eat, and forget about what they snack on during the day, how much alcohol they drink, and what they binge on at night.

No amount of healthy eating or exercise can offset the excess calories you consume by drinking alcohol every day, or bingeing on junk food. This is why it’s so important to be aware of what you really do eat and drink. When you are aware, you’ll be able to identify if there are any eating patterns that may be causing your weight loss to stall, instead of believing that you’re ‘just eating well’.

However, you don’t need to count calories like diets suggest you do. Being calorie-aware — knowing which foods are high in calories and limiting your consumption of them — is enough to keep your weight loss on track.

Focusing on quick-fixes and diets instead of your habits

Focusing on your exercise and diet may seem like the best way to lose weight — after all, it’s what we’re taught from a young age! However, doing so won’t address the reasons you became overweight in the first place. Failing to address your habits and focusing on diets and quick-fixes instead won’t lead to any permanent weight loss. In fact, it will just keep you stuck in the same diet circle, leaving you more and more frustrated.

Not dealing with stress

If you’re putting all your focus on eating and exercising yet living with chronic stress, you’ll always be fighting an uphill battle. Constant stress is a key reason why people don’t lose weight, even if they are being ‘perfect’. Stress and weight gain are closely linked for two reasons. The first is the release of the hormone cortisol that occurs when you’re stressed. This hormone increases your appetite, cravings for junk food and makes it easier to gain weight around your belly. Stress also increases the likelihood of emotional eating, consuming too much alcohol, and plays havoc with your sleep.

Not getting enough sleep

While we’re on the subject of sleep, did you know that it’s one of the most under-rated influences on your weight? If you’ve been focusing on eating well and exercising regularly, make sure you’re getting enough sleep, as poor sleep has been associated with weight gain. It increases your stress levels, lowers your metabolism, increases your cravings for unhealthy foods, and interferes with how well you perform during your workouts, and how well you recover from them.

Consuming too much alcohol

It’s not uncommon for people who diet to end up trading food for alcohol. After all, calories are calories right? And who wants to give up the fun of drinking? Unfortunately, the damage that alcohol can do to your weight loss efforts is not limited to the calories you consume. It increases your hunger, leads to poorer food choices, leads to poor digestion and nutrient uptake, reduces the likelihood that you’ll get to your next workout, reduces muscle growth, increases fat accumulation, prevents your body from burning fat, and leads to poor recovery from your workout sessions.

It’s okay to have alcohol now and then, but if you’re serious about losing weight, you will need to reduce how much you drink.

Not trusting the process

If you don’t trust the process, you’ll get impatient and make decisions based in emotion. Nearly every time, this will mean reverting back to a diet — i.e. restricting food and doing more exercise. This is what the diet industry has been touting as a solution for years. However, restricting food will only lead to the vicious cycle of bingeing. Then what usually happens is you restrict your food further, and ramp up the exercise as a way to ‘burn-off’ what you have consumed. This then leads to burnout or injury and you giving up altogether.

Learning to trust the process, even if your weight loss results are slower than you expect is an important skill to master, if you want to step off the diet rollercoaster forever, and lose weight without the grind.

Repeating the same mistakes

Many people who struggle to lose weight do so because they keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. We know that diets just don’t work. However, when someone goes on a diet, fails to lose weight and keep it off, they blame themselves instead of blaming the diet. Instead of wondering if there is a different way to lose weight, they believe if they are stricter with their eating, or exercise harder, then they’ll get a different result. But because diets don’t work, they get the same result.

This continual cycle of dieting and failing not only stuffs up your metabolism, but your mental health as well. Your confidence begins to erode and you think there is something wrong with you because you can’t lose weight, no matter how hard you try. The truth is that diets steal your health, and your happiness. They don’t help you lose weight. But the diet industry wants you to think that you’re the problem, not diets, so you’ll continue to buy whatever they’re selling.

Making your own decisions based on your emotions and what you think might work has kept you going around in circles, because you’ve been making them based on the lies the diet culture has fed you. However, asking a coach for help, who is emotionally removed from your situation will stop this cycle, because you’ll finally be doing things based on common sense, rather than your emotions.

No accountability

Do you have anyone keeping you accountable? Not building accountability and structure into your program may be a key reason as to why you’re not losing weight. When you tell someone about your goal, you have a 65% chance of being successful. However, when you make yourself accountable to that person, you increase your chances to 95%!

Many people are afraid of accountability, but it’s the difference between succeeding and going around in circles. Being accountable and taking responsibility for yourself means that you’ll be more consistent which gives you better results. It will also help you track data, which increases your awareness of any habits that are holding you back. Once you’re aware of these habits, you’ll have the power to change them. Working with a coach is the best way to build accountability into your plan. Doing so will mean you’ll have the awareness, and action steps to help you master your habits once and for all. Without accountability, you’ll always do the things you want to do, instead of the things you need to do. And this will only keep you stuck in the same cycle.

What to do to ensure you’re consistently progressing

Despite what you’ve been led to believe, focusing on eating well, and exercise isn’t the answer to permanent weight loss. That’s just 3% of the equation. You need to focus on the other 97%. This means:

Being accountable

Make yourself accountable to a coach who can help you achieve your goals by pointing you in the right direction.

Improving self-awareness

If you’re not aware that you are responsible for your own situation or outcome, you won’t know when to ask for help. We know it’s not your fault that weight loss is difficult. But start asking yourself why you keep falling for the diet culture. Do you have low self-worth, do you compare yourself, do you have low confidence? Start asking yourself questions instead of doing what is familiar. And if you don’t know the answers, get your coach to help you work it out.

Ditching the diet mindset

It may not seem like it but the long way (i.e. not dieting) is normally the short way to permanent weight loss. The diet industry makes diets seem like the faster, easier, sexier option to losing weight. The marketing makes it look like the grass is greener on the other side. But remember diets only steal your happiness and your health. If you don’t believe us, read about the price one of our clients paid for a quick-fix.

Not repeating the same mistakes

Trying the latest fad diet is not the answer. Nor is doing a little bit of what you think will work, based on diet culture and a little bit of what your coach says. What the diet industry tells you, and what your coach tells you are not compatible, so you will not get results trying to combine them. Instead, embrace something different. Because nothing changes, if nothing changes.

Focusing on habits

Focusing on habits sounds like a lot of hard work. But what’s harder is going around in circles, not making any progress, or spending years on diets, only to gain more weight. Focusing on exercise and eating like the diet culture wants you to believe will keep you stuck. Changing your habits will change your life.

Trusting the process

It’s important that you hold on and trust the process. Diets are known for their seemingly quick results, which is why they are appealing. However, these results are fleeting. Permanent weight loss only occurs over time. And while it may take longer than a diet, you know that you’ll only have to lose the weight once — not over and over again for the next decade or two.

Want to lose the weight?

The truth is, in order to successfully lose weight and keep it off for good, you can’t just focus on the 3% — diet and exercise — and hope it will work.

You have to take an holistic approach and see weight loss as a complete lifestyle transformation, not just changing how you move and eat. You have to be willing to embrace the 97%, even if it is foreign to you, or uncomfortable.

The good news is that at Imani Tribe Transformations, we help our clients focus on the 97% because we know that’s where real change happens. We build structure and accountability with every client, to help them build their awareness of their habits, and give them the proper action steps so they can lose weight without ever going around in circles or getting stuck.

If you’re ready to lose weight and keep it off for good, contact us today.


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