Female Fat Loss: Five Reasons Why It's So Hard
This week, I received an email from one of our new friends on Instagram named Katie. She joined the Fat Loss Foodies' email list and, as so many of our subscribers often do, she wrote us back almost instantly!
Katie's email asked me one of - if not THE most - popular questions we get from women:
"Why is fat loss SO hard? Why can't I seem to master it?"
First off, if you feel like Katie does, welcome to the club!
Body change IS hard, and that's part of the reason so many people give up.
The Mistake Almost Everyone is Making
If you want to change your body, what do you do?
You eat less and exercise more. At least that's what almost everyone in the fitness & diet industry tells you to do. Burn more calories than you take in and you'll lose weight. Maybe. At least initially.
But then what?
After an initial strong start fueled by your exciting new meal plan, your energy and motivation suddenly tanks. You get really hungry, and You really want a cupcake. The scale isn’t moving. You see your friends going out for drinks and eating whatever they want. Meanwhile, you're eating a kale salad with lemon water and it friggin' sucks.
You start to think that all this hard work and healthy living-stuff is for the birds, and then:
This whole thing might have ended differently had you not chosen the path that has a maybe 5% success rate: you started a new diet that had you eating less and exercising more.
The road less taken but much more likely to end in your success is the road where you forge your own way based on a few basic principles of fat loss. It’s harder - I’m not going to lie to you - but it’s going to have a much happier ending: You with the results you want.
There is no diet program out there that is going to work for you because they weren’t written FOR YOU.
Read that again.
The best approach to body change is the one you create.
Every woman, every body is different, and thinking that a cookie cutter nutrition plan from the internet or a magazine will give you sustainable body change is like hoping you'll become a 5'10", blue-eyed, blonde when you were born a 5'5", brown-eyed, brunette.
It ain't happenin'...
Playing The Wrong Game
Most women who are trying to lose weight are playing the diet game. They're focused on "eating less and moving more" and weighing themselves to see if the number on the scale is going down.
Fat loss doesn't work that way. It requires a caloric deficit AND hormonal balance. Fat loss requires eating more of the right things more often to create a balanced hormonal environment where your appetite and cravings are in check. Once your metabolic hormones like insulin, cortisol, leptin, and ghrelin are in check, you will take in fewer calories without even trying.
At Fat Loss Foodies, we focus on balancing those hormones first. The calories will take care of themselves.
Playing the diet game may be the biggest reason women fail at body change, but why is it so hard? Here’s my take:
1. You're a human being living in a modern world.
Human bodies were created for survival. They are really good at storing fat and conserving energy. If there is ever a famine (God forbid), you will be really glad for extra body fat because that's what your body will use for fuel when food is not readily available.
But we aren't in a famine are we? At least most of us here in America aren't.
No, our problem is that we can now acquire food 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with very little effort, and then we spend 8+ hours a day sitting on our ever-expanding backsides staring into computer screens or smart phones.
Cheap, poor quality food + sedentary lifestyle = fat gain.
2. Fat loss is slightly harder because you're a female.
(Oh AWESOME! YAY! This article keeps getting better! Thanks Leslie Ann!)
As a woman, your body really likes to store fat, especially in your butt, hips, and thighs. Female hormones like estrogen and progesterone prime the female body for pregnancy every month whether you're having a baby or not. These reproductive hormones impact how your body looks, feels, and performs - and they also make it slightly harder to burn fat, especially in the lower body. The excess fat stored around the butt, hips, and thighs is different and more stubborn than fat stored elsewhere on the female body [Source].
Think about how your body is wired: for survival and for continuation of the human race. In research and examples from history where groups of men and women were exposed to harsh conditions and starvation, women out-live the men [Source]. (FINALLY. SOME GOOD NEWS.)
When compared to men, women do not require as high of a caloric intake and also store more body fat, which delays the effects of the body breaking down due to stress, starvation, and overwork. It is precisely these biologic conditions that make us better at survival that make us worse at getting leaner.
While you may not like that little bit of extra body fat, Mother Nature put it there for a reason: to protect you, to keep you alive, and to help make more humans. Cut yourself some slack, and then do you everything you can to convince your body that it is not in any danger.
3. Fat Loss is Hard Because DELICIOUSNESS IS EVERYWHERE.
Here in America, most of the "food" that is readily available isn't actually food. It's highly-processed food-like substances filled with preservatives, chemicals, and fillers - and it is freaking delicious.
And don't judge us, okay? We love kale and salmon just as much as the next fitness pros with a blog, but you cannot deny that foods like McDonald's fries, Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, Doritos, Cronuts*, and Shake Shack burgers are un-friggin'-believably delicious.
To make matters worse, most of these franken-foods are designed to make you eat more and crave more. The food manufacturers make them that way. They are part of "a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles — to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive." [Source]
In spite of the fact that modern society offers tempting foods and drinks at every step around every corner, all the weight loss gurus tell us to use our willpower and say no. We're supposed to "just say no" to Cronuts and eat clean all the time forever, they say.
Yeah - good luck with that. When given the choice between an egg white omelet stuffed with veggies and Cronuts, most people will choose Cronuts every. single. time. and wash it down with a Mimosa.
(Ugh. See? You have to choose eggs instead of baked goods and mimosas. We told you this is hard...)
4. Fat loss is Hard Because It Is a Long, Slow Process - And You Want Results NOW!
Fat loss doesn't care that you're getting married in six weeks or that you want your pre-baby body back before your baby can walk. It has its own timeline and it will take its own sweet time. There are some tricks you can employ to speed up the process a little, but mostly it boils down to consistency with the big stuff (food, training, sleep, recovery) over a long period of time.
Months. Years, even.
Fat loss is not a sprint. It's an ultra-marathon.
First, you must supply your body with enough calories from the right kinds of food to balance the hormones that make you hangry. This will balance hormones like cortisol, leptin, and ghrelin so you aren't hungry and craving junk food all the time. You won't have chronically elevated levels of insulin from taking in too many calories either (especially from sweet, carb-heavy foods). You keep the stress hormone cortisol in check by getting enough sleep, doing efficient (not MORE, LONGER, HARDER!) exercise, and incorporating restorative activities like walking and yoga.
When you're living a fat loss lifestyle, you feel - dare I say it?? - GOOD.
All of this creates a caloric deficit that you can maintain almost effortlessly over a long period of time. Slowly, your body starts dipping into fat stores for fuel because you've stopped supplying it with loads of excess calories, especially from sugar (carbohydrates.) You do re-feeds (treat meals, reward meals, etc.) every week to reset your hunger hormones and convince your body it's safe, and then you just keep going...
Not 21 days. Not 6 weeks. Not 12 weeks.
5. Fat Loss Is Hard Because There Are People Hell-Bent on Keeping You Confused and In the Dark
Fat loss is hard enough when you have all the information, but we live in the age of the Internet. Literally *anyone* can start an Instagram account and call themselves a nutrition coach without any certifications or qualifications.
Unfortunately, most of the fitness and nutrition industry is an unregulated, free-for-all.
The truth is this: you don’t need pills, teas, shakes, or supplements to lose fat.
Everything you need for fat loss is actually at your local grocery store or Farmer's Market.
Yes, that's our sexy top-secret secret here at Fat Loss Foodies:
EAT. REAL. FOOD.
But no one is going to get rich off selling you more broccoli, sweet potatoes, salmon, apples, berries, oats, etc. At least not as rich as they'd get off selling you their pills, shakes, or books.
That's why it's in everyone's best financial interest to convince you it can't possibly be that easy. There must be something special, some secret, some voodoo trickery you just don't know about yet. If only you knew THEIR secret ("It's carb cycling! It's tracking macros! It's intermittent fasting! It's this special supplement!"), you could lose fat and keep it off.
There is no secret. You have to find what works for you and do it!
Whether you hire someone to help you or not, at the end of the day, you have to TAKE ACTION.
Many women stay in the "information gathering" stage but never act on any one protocol long enough to know whether or not it's is working for them. They read articles, they consult experts and bloggers and friends, but they miss one crucial step:
Fat loss is like anything else you want in life: You have to work at it consistently over a long period of time. You can collect opinions and information for years and have all the answers, but they're meaningless if you don't apply them consistently and find out what actually works for you and what you can live with. No one can do this step for you.
Four times a year, Fat Loss Foodies runs an online training program for women called Fat Loss Cooking School. In this 4-week program, you’ll learn the science of hormonal fat loss and we’ll teach you how to cook and eat real food for fat loss. It’s 100% online and self-paced, and you can learn more about the program here:
As always, I love hearing from you! Drop me a comment below or send an email to LeslieAnn@FatLossFoodies.com.
Thanks for reading!
Founder, Fat Loss Foodies
How to Maintain and Beat Weight Loss Resistance - MetabolicEffect.com
The Female Fat Loss Formula - MetabolicEffect.com