10 Reasons You’re Not Losing a Pound

09/11/2014 at 12:30 PM ET

Woman on her cell phone at the gym
Jamie Grill/Getty

We go to the gym for numerous reasons, one of the top being to shed some extra pounds. But sometimes we hit a weight-loss wall and our workout regimen isn’t, well, working anymore.

This can be for a variety of reasons and pinpointing the exact issue can be frustrating. Take a moment to think about your exercise routine. Here are 10 reasons why you may not be reaching your weight loss goal.

You do the same thing all the time
If you do the same thing every time you work out, chances are you aren’t seeing the results you want. As you repeat the same exercises, your body becomes familiar with the process and plateaus because it’s not being challenged. Switch up your workout routine to challenge your muscles in new and different ways to help get over the weight-loss hump.

You go too easy on yourself
If you find yourself thinking ‘that was easy’ after a workout, it probably WAS too easy. Yes, walking on a treadmill for 20 minutes is good for your heart and you’ll get some cardiovascular benefits. But if you want to change your body, you should be pushing yourself to run up an incline, lift heavier weights, or do an extra rep. Changing the intensity of your routine will ensure that you’re always getting the most from your sweat sessions.

You hardly move the rest of the day
Even though you’ve got a solid workout routine, you should continue to take those little steps every day to help reach your goal. Many people will work out for an hour and then sit on their butts for the majority of the day. You have to keep your blood circulating throughout the day to reap the rewards of that workout. Be sure to take the stairs when you can, park a little further away from the store or do some stretches when you feel like you’ve been sitting for a while. All these small tweaks will help add up to the results you want.

You give yourself a pass to overeat
After hard workouts, it can be very tempting to splurge on a carbolicious feast. You deserve a treat, right? Don’t take the bait; just because you’re exercising more doesn’t mean you should overeat. Remember, weight loss also happens in the kitchen. If you want to lose weight, it’s important to keep track of what you’re eating on a daily basis. However, you can have cheat meals scheduled so when the cravings creep in you don’t devour half a pizza. Working for those cheat days is also a great motivation.

You’re wasting time
Just because you go to the gym doesn’t mean you’re actually working out. You may dawdle while picking out the perfect playlist or TV channel to watch, but socializing can be the ultimate time suck. Finding friends at the gym is great and you and your exercise buddy can help motivate each other, but sometimes you’ll find yourself chatting up a storm. Your workout friends should work for you, not against you. You can definitely be social at the gym, just make sure your jaw isn’t doing most of the moving.

You don’t recover
As great as working out is, your body also needs time to recover. Working out too much can exhaust your body to the point where you’re hurting it more than helping it. If you overtrain, your muscles start to build up lactate and adenosine triphosphate, both of which can cause pain, according researchers at the University of Utah. Your muscles are hitting a dead end and asking you to stop. When your body isn’t functioning normally due to overexertion and lack of rest, it’s not going to burn fat like it normally would. So be sure to strike a proper balance. Your body will thank you!

You don’t know your target heart rate
How much you’re sweating isn’t the best measure of your workout intensity. The only way to know if you’re working your body to its potential is to work out at your target heart rate. In my new book, Strong Is the New Skinny, I emphasize using a heart rate monitor so you can make sure your sweat sessions are as efficient as possible. It eliminates guessing games and you’ll achieve the optimal workout each time. My favorite is the Polar FT7: it’s accurate, easy to use, and cost-effective.

Your routine isn’t balanced
Your workout should be balanced with the types of exercises you’re doing. It should include cardio, strength training, and stretching. All of these combined create a well-rounded routine, all working different muscles in different ways. Only focusing on one or two of these types of fitness will skew your goal.

You’re not having fun
Sometimes working out feels way too much like work. When this happens, switch up the pace and do something completely different. Try a pickup game of tennis, volleyball or whatever sport floats your boat. Even a round of tag! Making exercise a game puts you in a different mind-set. You’re not thinking about how much longer you have to go or how many reps you have left: your head is in the game, or the scenery.

You need an attitude adjustment
Speaking of getting your head in the game, that’s where it should be when you’re exercising. Go into working out with a positive and determined attitude. Try to leave your stressors at home so you can focus on the task at hand and not be distracted. If after the first 3 minutes you’re thinking “ughhh, 27 minutes to go,” your head isn’t in the right space and you’ll be struggling to make it to the end.

—Jennifer Cohen


Get healthy now with energizing moves, easy recipes, expert tips and tools, and advice on losing weight and feeling great. Find out how to manage conditions like diabetes and depression, stop allergies, prevent heart attacks, and more.

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Showing 9 comments

guest on

Stupid article.

Casey J. on

This is disgusting and the author and magazine should be ashamed. An article where every explanation of why a woman is failing at her goal of losing weight is because she is doing something wrong. “You are doing this wrong,” “you are doing this wrong,” “you are failing this way,” and “it’s your fault.” Gross. Absolutely repulsive.

Hilary on

I was over weight and tried so many things. Different things work for different people and I was lucky enough to find one that worked for me. I lost 18 pounds in one month without much exercise and it’s been a life changer. I’m a little embarrased to post my before and after photos here but if anyone actually cares to hear what I’ve been doing then I’d be happy to help in any way. Just shoot me an email at secretosdelara@gmail.com and I’ll show you my before and after photos, and tell you about how things are going for me with the stuff I’ve tried. I wish someone would have helped me out when I was struggling to find a solution so if I can help you then it would make my day

Anonymous on

No mention of gaining muscle which weighs more than fat and keeps the scale from moving. Your clothes tell the best story about your progress. If you are moving enough and eating healthy, don’t worry about the scale.

robandmelissaflintrobflint22 on

Lets be honest losing weight is really easy!! pff haha yeah right.

Less calories more activity. But your diet needs to be something u can stick too , not some crazyness like no potatoes ever again . Im doing the ethosien diet and i have lost 31 lbs in little under 3months.

Jamie on

Once you are within a healthy range, the scale might not move much. You have to rely on other factors other than just a number on the scale. Before and after picture, measurements, how your clothes fit, etc.

I didn’t read this article and take offense to it that it was saying everything you’re doing is wrong. I think to was more of information in why you aren’t seeing the number on the scale move. All the above is very true and can cause you to stall.

nancy on

It is a fine article and the author is being honest. Whose fault is it if you eat all you want and don’t exercise? I just went through menopause at 43 and have a pouch that was never there before. I also work at a desk all day. Guess what, I have to work out more and eat less carbs and watch tv less. It is MY responsibility

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