You’re exercising but not losing weight. You don’t understand it. You’re eating well. You’re doing everything right. But you can’t lose weight. What’s going on?
Health coach and personal trainer Char Aukland has some ideas.
No, it’s probably not because you’re getting older. It’s probably not because you’ve got the wrong genetics.
It may have to do with health factors you haven’t even considered. Like how much stress you’re experiencing. Or how much sleep you’re getting. Or even the thoughts you’re thinking.
In this week’s YBTV interview, you’ll learn why that stubborn belly fat isn’t dissolving, why diets don’t work, and why getting to your goal weight may not change your life like you think it will.
What You’ll Learn
Char Aukland was trying to lose weight. She was at the gym, she was kickboxing, but her weight wasn’t budging. Was she just getting older? Or was there something she was missing?
She thought she ate well. Sure, she’d grab a fry or have a taste here and there, but tasting wasn’t the same as eating, surely! “I saw eating as something that I sat down to do,” she says. “There were times that I had no idea that I was eating at all.”
Then she started to track what she ate using MyFitnessPal. She was shocked at what she learned. “I didn’t realize that I was eating all day long.”
Unconscious habits affect our health more than we realize. No wonder it’s hard to lose weight when all you focus on is diet and exercise. You’re missing out on other health factors like how you move throughout the day, how well you sleep, even what you’re thinking.
For example, did you know you can burn calories without exercise?
It’s called NEAT: non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
“It’s walking that extra distance from from the parking lot to the store, it’s cleaning your house, it’s doing laundry… It’s things that you don’t think of, but you’re moving. And it actually burns quite a few calories,” Char explains.
Another reason you may not be losing weight is a lack of sleep.
“Sleep is massive,” Char says. “When we don’t get enough sleep, it can increase our cortisol. Cortisol stores belly fat … to give us energy.”
Even worse, another cortisol-releaser is stress. So if you’re not getting enough sleep on top of a stressful life, you’ll find yourself feeling hungry more often, and more of what you eat will be stored as fat … the perfect recipe for weight gain.
But won’t a diet fix that? Surely if you restrict how much you eat, you’re going to lose weight no matter what.
“One of my pet peeves is the diet,” Char says. “The thing about dieting is that normally, people that do it think in terms of a result at the end of a certain amount of time.” They don’t think past the end of the diet. All they can envision is getting to their goal weight.
But once your diet is over and you go back to eating normally, you’re going to regain the weight.
Char knows this from experience. She went on a diet and got to her goal weight, but her celebration was short-lived. “I regained the weight because I stopped doing what worked. It wasn’t sustainable. I didn’t change my lifestyle. I [made] temporary changes that lasted temporarily .”
The experience taught her that health is about more than a number on the scales. It’s mental and emotional as well as physical.
When I got to [my goal] weight—to the number on the scale, that the magic number that was going to make everything okay—I realized that nothing was okay. I was just a smaller version of myself. And it was mind-blowing. I was sad, because I did all of this work, and I still felt the same. I was the same. My self-esteem was still low; I still felt inadequate.”
She realized that her eating habits had as much to do with her emotions as they had to do with her diet.
You can lose the weight, but in the end all that’s changed is your body, not the habits and not what got you to this point.
“There are things in the background that cause us to do all of these things, that get us to this point where we don’t want to be,” Char says, “and losing the weight doesn’t take away those driving forces.”
She’s currently working on a book that addresses the thought process of achieving transformation. “People want to feel better instantly, [but] it’s a process,” she says. “Not only is it a day-by-day process, [but] sometimes it’s a moment-by-moment process.”
“If you’re not happy with who you are at your weight, that’s coming from within,” she explains. “That’s you feeling like there is something wrong with you. Not something wrong with the outside of you, [but] something wrong with who you are as a person.”
No weight loss is going to make you feel good about yourself, unless you tackle the thoughts and feelings that make you feel inadequate.
Another area where mindset matters is aging. “If you think you’re getting older and there’s nothing you can do about it, that’s what you’ll experience,” Char says.
She sees men and women at the gym in their 70s and 80s who are fit and active, “so maybe they didn’t get the memo that age should have caused them to gain weight and slow down.”
Even though your metabolism can slow with age, you can adjust by tweaking what you eat, getting more sleep, and decreasing the stress in your life.
Char knows how to maintain fitness into the senior years better than most. She teaches a class for elderly clients, focusing on post rehab, injury prevention, fall prevention, and balance and core work.
She’s also a certified occupational therapy assistant and personal trainer who incorporates tools like bodybuilding and YouMap coaching to help her clients live their best life.
“Be patient with yourself,” she says. See your weight loss journey as a health journey. It’s a lifelong process. There will be ups and downs. But the reward is feeling great about yourself, no matter what your weight or age.
Jump to Topics of Interest
1:49 Food monitoring
5:07 The problem with diets
8:58 Health is mental and emotional as well as physical
10:56 Losing weight doesn’t change who you are
11:45 Char’s upcoming book
16:04 Personal training and health coaching
19:24 Be patient with yourself
Char is an Army veteran with a background in occupational therapy. As a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, she worked for two years on an inpatient psychiatric ward, where she ran groups to help patients learn coping skills. She also worked with lower extremity amputees returning from war. As a personal trainer, Char works at a country club and with private clients. Find out how you can work with Char.