The Honest Truth about Weight Loss


A little honesty goes a very long way when it comes to weight loss.  You can use all the excuses in the world as to why you've gained weight or not lost weight, but at the end of the day unless you're following the program set out by your consultant there are no excuses, just little white lies which help us to feel more comfortable about why or why not we're achieving our goals.

I watched a young lady consume a whole pie before coming into the gym (a regular occurence) and then look all shocked and horrified when she weighed in and found she hadn't lost weight. Oprah had a bunch of excuses as to why she can't lose weight, but on Twitter I have seen her posting little comments about 'celebrating with strawberry margaritas' and she mentioned on a post that she had just done an hours workout but was going to have a skinny latte ... or 2!!  Come on Oprah be honest with yourself -  the reason why you're having trouble losing weight is because you're consuming excess calories on top of a thyroid problem.  Thyroid problems MIGHT make it more difficult to lose weight, but not impossible.  So anyone with a thyroid issue - cut it out, you've turned something that can be managed into a dirty ol' excuse.  Oprah needed to be honest with herself and food, she just can't say no to things that might not help her get to her goal.

HONESTY WITH GOAL SETTING Are we being honest with our goals and our actual desire to achieve them?  Are we just 'saying it' because it sounds good right, or do we really want it? These are some questions we should be asking ourselves when we want to embark on a weight loss program:

  •  Am I the weight or am I as healthy as I want to be?
  •  Do I REALLY want to do anything about it?  Be brutally honest here, do you or don't you?
  • How much do I want to do something about it?  Ask yourself on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the absolute strongest desire to make a change.  If you find yourself at a 5 or even a 6 out of 10, ask yourself this: why isn't it a 10/10?  Why do I only 'kinda' want it?  Compare it to other things you've wanted and worked hard to get in the past?  How does this goal stack up?
  • What type of program am I prepared to follow? (gym? nutritionist? fad diet? diet program eg weight watchers? try to do it yourself?)
  •  What results do I want?  Do I want to fit a certain item of clothing?  Do I want to feel better?  Do I want a particular number on the scale regardless of how I look?.  This set of questioning is absolutely vital as it will determine what your progress is being marked by (eg, scale, callipers,  tape measure, clothing brand, health diary)
  •  What is the target?  Is it an honest realistic target or am I setting myself up for failure?
  •  Have I tried this before?  What stopped me from achieving?  What helped me to achieve? Why am I trying again?  Why did I not maintain my weight last time?  What can I learn from last time that I can bring with me this time?
  •  Who or what will sabotage my efforts?  Will I let this happen?  Am I prepared for it?  Can I stop these saboteurs somehow?  Who can help me with this?
  •  Am I prepared to follow the program prescribed 100% even if it means cutting out [insert your favourite food here]

 Now here's the absolute hardest question at this stage: If I am not prepared to do what it takes...why is that?

Lets start searching our inner self, why are we not prepared to stick to our weight loss plans?  It could be that we just don't want it bad enough, and the thought of giving up morning tea with the girls is worse than losing a few kilos.  Now here's the important thing...there's NOTHING WRONG with this.  There is nothing wrong by saying "Look I just don't want to do this right now" ... Now we're being honest with ourselves, and if this is the case, then great - feel proud of your decision and get out there and enjoy those treats without complaining about how we 'really should lose weight'.

The more we tell ourselves we want to lose weight without honestly believing it or wanting it, the more we end up being frustrated and feeling bad about ourselves when we 'fall off the wagon'.  If you've fallen off the wagon numerous times on your current weight loss journey, start asking yourself why?  No excuses, just the honest truth - don't be afraid of the truth.

Health and fitness consultants have heard all your excuses.  The best excuses always start with the client who says "I know this sounds like an excuse but..." or "I'm not making excuses but..." The 'but' does not automatically make it not an excuse.  Here are some common excuses with some possible more honest reasons - please note these aren't absolute reasons, just examples.

Talk to your consultant and talk to them honestly about what's going on.  Not liking the gym is an excuse if its really just exercise you don't like and this creates a type of barrier to your goals, but by telling your consultant you don't like exercise then together you can work through this more relevant barrier - once the barriers are gone, then you can move forward to what you want to achieve.  Hey, you may genuinely not like the gym, but like exercise, in which case it's not an excuse - it's an honest reason.

THE HONESTY OF YOUR TRAINER/CONSULTANT. Let's just turn the honesty back on our trainers for a moment here.  There is one big excuse that trainers use to make us feel better about weight gain.  The old 'well you've probably put on muscle'.  If all you're doing is cardio and dieting, AND you've put weight on, I'm sorry but this is not muscle.  This weight gain is either fat, water or glycogen.  An increase in water inside the muscle cell WILL show up as an increase in lean mass in basic electronic body fat testing.  But just as quick as it arrives, it can disappear - that's body water for you.  Test the honesty of your trainer - are they telling you what you want to hear?  Is this what you want?  If so, great!  If not then look for a trainer/consultant who can point out the hard truth but then point you in the right direction.  Here's a little test, that so called 1kg of muscle you put on, if you lose that 1kg overnight, its not muscle...or fat.

I never sugar coat things for my clients, if they're doing well they'll know about it, if they're not then we get to work on it.  It's tough being presented with the truth sometimes.

Ask your trainer lots of questions, why do they believe you've put on muscle, how do they justify this?  If you're using electronic scale body fat testing, can your trainer explain why you can lose weight but gain body fat percentage.  If not, find a new trainer - its your body and everyone needs to be honest about it or else it won't change.  Does your trainer know how to lose weight themselves?  Have they ever done it?  Do they know how hard it is mentally and physically?  Do they honestly know...because I know for a fact that we are not taught the complete ins and outs of 'weight loss' in most (if not all) standard nutrition and personal training courses.

FOOD/EXERCISE DIARY HONESTY. Did you eat it?  How much of it did you eat?  How many times did you eat it?  Did you go and try and "exercise it off"?  Many people undervalue the food and exercise diary.  The diary is the best tool that your consultant has to help you reach your goal.  Here's an example, a client gains 2kg in a particular week, and stands there scratching their head and throws the excuse out "I just can't lose weight"  On reflection of the food diary it shows that the client has skipped 4 out of 6 exercise sessions and has added 5 different 'cheat' foods into the week.  The food diary also shows that the day before the weigh in the client had a big cheat of bread and biscuits.  

A smart consultant can easily see 2 very clear things from this a) the client is retaining fluid and has not lost any body fat because they ate too many calories and didn't exercise them off.  It's got nothing to do with not being able to lose weight, it has everything to do with our client not following the advice of the person they have asked for help.  If you aren't honest with this diary then your trainer can't see what's happening with your body and at the risk of using an overused cliche, you really are just cheating yourself if you're not honest.

PORTION CONTROL HONESTY. "I just had a bit of icecream".  What's a 'bit' of icecream? Who cares what the quantity was, did you know how many calories it had? How many grams of saturated fat?  "There was some left in the jar, so I had the rest". How many calories did 'the rest' have.  "It was close enough to a tsp".  How close?  was it an extra half a tsp?  Did you know that half a tsp of peanut butter contains 2.5g of fat and is about 30 calories.  Now that doesn't sound like much, but over 7 days thats 210 calories which equals 21 minutes of exercise ADDITIONAL to your normal exercise...Did you do an extra 21 minutes?

If your consultant has given you a food plan with portions on it, they've done it for a reason. Lets take the example of Weight Watchers - portion controlled food.  Would you eat 2 weight watchers meals at once?  Probably not, so why does the rule change when its not packaged up for you.  Weighing food is not obsessive, it keeps us honest when looking at our food intake and re training our brains to understand sensible portions.  Try it right now...pour into a bowl your guess of what 40g of rolled oats looks weigh out 40g.  Now be completely honest with yourself and ask yourself the question - Am I being honest with my portions?

EXERCISE INTENSITY HONESTY. Exactly how hard are you working out?  You don't need to give yourself a hernia, but a bit of intensity is what is required for physical change.  You're on the treadmill and doing a power walk...are you puffing at all or are you just strolling reading a magazine calling that a power walk?  What is your heart rate? This is where Personal Trainers can help, A good PT will push you just over your comfort level, but not so much that you don't ever want to exercise again.  A good P/T session should make you come back the next day, curious to see if you can recreate the same intensity...and once that gets easy, another P/T session will take you a little bit further.

We've all heard of this wonderful 'fat burning zone'.  When working at low intensity levels the proportion of fat to carbohydrate burnt is greater, but working harder burns more calories.  You can work at the 'fat burning zone' for half an hour and perhaps burn 250 calories...50% of these may be fat - great 125 fat calories.  If you work a little harder and burn 350 calories in the 30 minutes you will be burning about 140calories in fat (40%).  So you burn more calories and more absolute fat calories by working harder.  Not only that, isn't it nice to be burning some calories after exercise - the more intense you workout the more likely this is going to happen.

Oh yeah, and don't forget about the 23 other hours in the day that you're not exercising - work intensely and you'll be maximising your fat burning capacity for those 23 hours.

Is your body changing?  Are you lifting the same weights as you were 12 months ago?  Are you still running at the same speed?  Perhaps you've been out power walking now for 6 months and nothing's happening.  When lifting weights ask yourself this...could I have done another 10 reps?  If the answer is yes, the weight is too the extra 10 reps or make the weight heavier to keep your body progressing.  Our body gets used to the exercises we do - at first the exercises are hard and our bodies expend a lot of energy to perform them, but then we become more energy efficient.  That run that used to burn 300 huffing and puffing  calories, may now only be burning 250 calories.  What will you do?  Will you run for an extra 10 minutes now, or will you run a little faster, or will you find some hills to run up?  Or will you do nothing different?  Ask yourself, am I working hard enough?  And if the answer is no... why not?

And here's the real doozy - more muscle burns more calories.  That is absolutely true.  But if you're not working hard enough then you will never experience this benefit.  So get to work and lift some heavy weights and build an awesome body which also has awesome function.

THE PAIN OF HONESTY. Honesty can be very painful.  The human brain wants things nice and comfortable, it wants to take a bad feeling and turn it good.  So when it has a problem some of us will get to work on it while others will become excuse factories and victims.  Excuses are nice and comfortable.  Excuses take the ownership away from us and make the problem external..."It's not my fault I can't lose weight...", "I'll wait till the weather is warmer...", "Christmas got in the way...".  Not only are we excusing ourselves from our inability to stick to a program, we are also excusing ourselves from finding a better way.  Honest reasons point us in honest directions "I just don't want to give up my favourite foods" is a more honest reason and leads us to seek out a solution of weight loss whereby we may not have to give up ALL our treats.

Weight loss is a complete self discovery journey, it has it's highs and lows.  The more honesty we give it, the more our brains will behave like small children, but in the end we will have more success.

Above all remember this - If you just aren't prepared to lose weight right now then admit it! You are a far stronger person if you admit you don't want to lose weight instead of using up yours and everyone else's energy coming up with excuses.