Why My Weight Loss Failed & What I Did Next
Trying to lose weight isn’t exactly fun. Trying to lose weight, doing everything right (like eating healthy and exercising regularly), and then still not seeing the numbers on the scale budge?
I’d rather get my fingers slammed in a car door.
Unfortunately, around 2 years ago, that’s what happened to me (the failed weight loss part, not the fingers slammed thing). I know, I’m a personal trainer and that means I’m basically a perfect human being who should never have any trouble with… well, anything. (I can just feel the eye rolls. 🙄)
And yet, somehow, it happened.
I’m sharing my story so you can see what I learned from this experience, which ultimately led to me losing 30 pounds just one year later.
Reason to Dislike Me
I started out telling you I failed at losing weight, and now I’ll give you a reason to dislike me (maybe I’m doing this whole “fitness blog” thing wrong).
Oh well, too late now.
So, I’m not the type of person who worries too much about losing weight.
I know this is a reason to dislike me because my own wife told me, “This is why people don’t like you.” (She’s very loving and supportive that way 🤣). She, like most people, has struggled with weight loss and has to work hard to keep the weight off.
Even though I’m the jerk who stays relatively lean year-round, it doesn’t mean that when I do attempt to lose weight that the process is any different.
It’s something I know to be true. And yet, last year, I didn’t follow that process like I should have.
When I set my weight loss goal — which was originally to lose 5-10 pounds — I determined how much to eat based on what should have “technically” worked (on paper).
That’s not the problem. You have to start somewhere. A calculated guess is the best you can do sometimes. The problem is what happened next: I didn’t lose any weight.
But that’s not all.
I didn’t lose any weight AND I didn’t make any changes.
After all, I was doing everything right. I was eating the “right” amount of healthy food. I was working out regularly. I was sticking to the plan and, according to the numbers, the plan was supposed to work. Why would I change anything?
I convinced myself that if I just kept going I’d start to see results.
No such luck. After 2 months I still hadn’t lost weight. So I quit.
Fast forward a few months and I decided to give it another go.
This time, going into it, I had a better idea of how much I’d been eating. I hadn’t been trying to lose weight anymore, but I’d been more mindful about my food choices. That meant I had a more educated guess on where to start.
I immediately started losing weight. Not very quickly, but it was already more progress than the last time.
After a few weeks, I decided I wanted to lose weight faster.
My two main options were to increase my activity or cut back on how much I was eating. Since I’m already fairly active and I wasn’t dealing with any hunger problems, I decided to eat less.
For help with that, I brought in my wife. After all, what’s the point of being married to a nutrition coach if not to lean heavily on her for weight loss?
Megan helped me make a logical choice about how much to decrease the amount of food I was eating (as opposed to me just starving myself because “I WANT IT TO GO FASTER!”). That was a process we had to repeat 3 times throughout the course of my weight loss as my body continued to adapt and progress slowed.
When it was all said and done, I ended up losing more weight than initially planned — around 30 pounds (something I didn’t even think was possible)! I even got a firmly visible 6-pack (something I don’t recommend, but that’s a story for another blog).
Counting calories isn’t something we do with our clients, but just to give you perspective, I’m going to speak in terms of calories for a second…
Between where I started the first time I attempted to lose weight (and failed) and where I ended up at the end of my successful weight loss phase, there was a 1,000 calorie difference.
In other words, when I first attempted to lose 5 pounds, even though I was technically eating the “right” amount of food, it was still too much. But telling you to eat 1,000 fewer calories isn’t the moral of this story.
The Real Moral
There are 3 things you can learn from this and apply to your own weight loss journey.
1. The best place to start is to track what you eat.
It’s not 100% necessary to know ahead of time how much you’ve been eating, but it does help. Had I known in my first attempt that the amount I was eating to try and lose weight was similar to what I had been eating beforehand, it would have saved me a lot of frustration.
2. The data doesn’t lie.
Whether you track anything ahead of time or not, you have to track your data (e.g. weight, measurements, food intake, etc.) as you go. If you aren’t getting results, either you’re not tracking carefully enough, or you’re eating too much.
The solution to that isn’t always to eat less. Sometimes the answer is to eat more (see "Add Food to Your Diet to Lose Weight"). Sometimes it’s to increase your extra activity (see “How to Use a Step Count to Lose Weight”).
The point is that you have to use the data to inform your decisions. No matter how perfectly you’re following your plan — and especially if you ARE following it well — if you don’t adjust your actions based on the data, the data certainly won’t adjust for you.
3. Get help.
I’m a trainer. My wife is a nutrition coach. I have a solid nutrition knowledge base. I should know better. And yet…
When I did it myself, it didn’t work.
I needed someone to examine the data with me. I also needed someone who wasn’t emotionally attached to the outcome who could help me make adjustments when necessary.
There’s a good chance I could have lost those first 5-10 pounds on my own (in my second attempt). That would have been a success, no doubt about it. But that would have been the end of it. I wouldn’t have made good decisions beyond that when I started to plateau.
One Final Caveat
If you follow the 3 steps outlined above, you’ll be golden.
If you only follow the first 2 steps, it’s still possible to lose weight, you’ll just have to be extra patient.
Notice I said I could have lost some weight on my own the SECOND time. Had I enlisted help the first time, it would have been smoother sailing.
Another reason I mention this is because I don’t want you to swing the pendulum too far in the other direction and start making adjustments every time your weight on the scale goes up a little (because it will) or even just stays stagnant for a few days (yep, it’ll do that, too).
So while it’s important to adjust your plan based on the data, in general, it’s better to wait at least a couple weeks before making any changes.
Believe me, that’s waaaaay easier to do if you have someone coaching you through it.
If you still want to try it on your own, be sure to sign up for our free download, “5 Myth Busting Rules to Take the Overwhelm Out of Weight Loss” so you don’t fall prey to any of the 5 common myths most people get tripped up by when attempting to lose weight.