Home » Expert Q & A » Eating Disorders » Eating Disorders: William Anderson

I'm Not Losing Weight Even Though I'm Doing Everything Right. Why? I Don't Want to Risk my Recovery.

  • sarah81 Asks ...

    My question is a two part question. Part one being I have a great exercise routine however am not losing weight. i food journal and track what I eat with my bodybug and am coming in with around 1000 calorie deficit from what I consumed to what I burned, which should mean I am losing weight, but I am not. Sometimes I have burned between 1000 and 1200 more calories than what I ate. So why am I not losing weight.

    The second part is now that I have reached this place, my recovery which was in a really good place I think might be beginning to slip. I am once again thinking about food, working out, all the time analyzing what I am eating, what I am not eating. Am I in a dangerous spot? if so how do i get out? I have been in recovery for close to 10 years, why now?

  • William Anderson Says ...
    William Anderson

    You have great insight about the potential danger of getting obsessive about these things, which gives you the ability to stop a problem before it starts. 

    It would be a great idea to reestablish contact with some healthy recovery people and strengthen your recovery instead of continuing to fear it slipping. You will instantly stop fretting and start working in a healthy way. I don't think you have anything to worry about if you take the right action. Rest assured that your experience and thinking is not out of the ordinary, but it needs the right attention. Call someone who knows what your struggle is. Many exercise and weight loss coaches do not. 

    Regarding the weight loss/exercise/analyzing/body bug question, I think you are right that things need to change. 

    The scale and the Bodybug are not good ways to measure how you are doing. First, the Bodybug is unreliable. It is not scientifically valid. Don't bother using it. If you want an accurate and scientific measure of your metabolic rate, see a doctor who can do a test on you called indirect calorimetry. For an estimate of your metabolic rate, you can use something called the Harris-Benedict Equation (HBE). The HBE will be a pretty close estimate unless you are quite overweight, in which case it can be wildly high. This is because the proportion of lean body mass to fat mass becomes so disproportionate as we become obese, and the HBE does not account for that accurately. After your average MR is estimated, you can get an estimate of caloric consumption for the exercise activities you engage in. That's the only way to get a somewhat close estimate of how many calories your body burns. The indirect calorimetry is the only way to get a truly accurate read on your metabolism, though it is expensive and difficult to obtain outside of being in a laboratory experiment. However, focusing on how much of a deficit you are experiencing today and weight loss can be counterproductive. In order to manage your weight comfortably for the rest of your life, the main task is to find out what habits you'll need to have for the rest of your life and practice them until they become second nature and easy to maintain without stress or great effort. Losing weight is nice, but establishing habits to easily control weight is the better goal.

    If you are using the scale on a daily or weekly basis to look for changes, what you'll see changing is the amount of water you're holding at that moment. Your actual total body weight can fluctuate greatly (5-10 lbs., depending on your size) between the extremes of hydration. You could weigh once a week and if you were dehydrated at the beginning and very hydrated at the end, the scale could go up a few pounds even though you did well and really lost a pound of fat. It would be terrible if you took the scale seriously and let yourself feel bad even though you were a raging success.

    You need to look at your behavior as the measure of how you are doing. You said you have a great exercise routine. If it's not too much and not too little and you are faithful to a regular habit, you need to give yourself a pat on the back everyday, every workout, and a round of applause. If you know what healthy eating is to maintain a healthy weight, you need to give yourself a pat on the back everyday and with every healthy meal. If you know what healthy "undereating"is to cause weight loss, you need to trust that, in time, it will show up on the scale. It always does. I have never had a client not lose weight using the healthy "undereating" of The Anderson Method.

    If you have any doubt about your caloric needs, see a real nutrition expert, a Registered Dietician. Don't forget that in order to control your weight, you need to develop the habits of someone maintaining your goal weight, not your current weight, and dropping a few pounds when they have to. Developing habits related to your current weight has no value. If you have a question whether or not your body is working right and burning what it should, make an appointment to see your doctor, and get everything checked out.

    You need to quit focusing on the scale as if it can tell you what you lost today. You need to quit looking at the Bodybug, getting trapped in a frenetic quest to see how much you can lose today. Like all addictions, there is never enough. You need to avoid the exercising-to-lose-weight game. Exercising to burn what you ate can become a vicious cycle, similar to other eating disorders. It can make you sick and miserable.

    Eat today what makes you healthy and exercise today in a way that makes you healthy. If you are certain about what those things are, quality and quantity wise, you'll feel successful today. You'll have done enough.

    I usually suggest that people read my book, The Anderson Method, to learn a reliable and effective way to lose weight permanently. It teaches the science and psychology you need to know if you want to control your weight. However, its goal is weight loss and it utilizes caloric tracking and logging what you eat. I'm not sure if that's the most important thing for you right now. I'd say you need to first feel more secure in your recovery and make it so you feel good about how you are living with your eating and exercise habits. Then, when you have some peace with that, healthy weight loss is absolutely possible.



Related expert answers

Featured Experts