10 Considerations If You're Struggling to Lose Weight

It's normal to feel frustrated on a weight loss journey, especially if you're not seeing results despite your efforts. But the truth is that in order to successfully lose weight it's important to approach it in a healthy, sustainable way.

There are many common weight loss mistakes or misconceptions that might be preventing you from getting results, such as following restrictive eating plans or taking diet pills that promise significant weight loss in a short period of time. As such, you might need to reevaluate some of your existing habits in order to safely lose weight.

The secret to sustainable weight loss is that there is no "quick fix." It involves making certain lifestyle changes such as switching to a healthy, balanced diet that emphasizes real, whole foods. Of course, regular physical activity is also an important part of the equation.

But ultimately, everyone's weight loss journey is their own unique experience. Talk to your doctor about options for a weight loss plan that could help you reach your healthiest weight. If you're ready to take charge of your health and lose weight, take these 10 questions into consideration as you get started.

Are You Choosing a Specific Diet Type?

How often have you chosen a diet because it worked for a friend? Perhaps you were inspired by a celebrity diet or celebrity spokesperson. But while that diet may have been perfect for someone else, their needs, lifestyle, and even food preferences could be completely different from yours.

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Your individual weight loss plan does not have to be a certain diet with a specific set of rules to follow. Rather than approaching weight loss as a temporary, restrictive endeavor or a fast fix that deprives you of enjoyment, think of your weight loss plan as a long-term journey. The road to sustainable weight loss begins with a shift in your mindset. It's about setting realistic goals and making healthy lifestyle changes to support weight management and overall well-being.

Many fad diets that severely restrict calories promise rapid weight loss, which can make these eating plans seem appealing. But a reasonable and healthy weight loss goal should be about one to two pounds per week. Anything more than that is considered unhealthy and may result in weight regain once normal eating habits are resumed.

No matter what your weight loss plan may be, it should include regular exercise and choosing whole foods over processed foods as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Research shows that lifestyle shifts that prioritize physical activity and nutrition not only support steady weight loss and long-term weight management, but also health and longevity.

Your diet history, medical background, and emotional support system all play a part in determining a weight loss plan that works for you. By identifying your specific needs, you can devise a system to suit your goals, lifestyle, and budget.

Are You Setting Unrealistic Goals?

People are often highly motivated and full of excitement at the beginning of their weight loss program. It is often during this phase that it's all too common to set unrealistic goals for weight loss. Setting lofty goals that are unattainable in reality only leads to disappointment—and that goes for any type of goal, not just weight loss.

Setting the bar too high can actually lead to weight gain instead of weight loss. When expectations are not met it can take the wind out of your sails and result in decreased motivation and the tendency to fall back on unhealthy habits. This only brings you back to square one and can make it more challenging to start over and get motivated again.

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Learn how to set small goals that you'll actually reach. These smaller steps provide a roadmap for your weight loss journey. As you reach each small goal you get a boost of confidence to help you stay motivated on the way to your ultimate goal. 

Are You Using "Lack of Time" as an Excuse?

Being "too busy" to prioritize health and well-being is prevalent in Western culture, as seemingly endless to-do lists prevent many people from doing the things they know would be good for them. But making time to exercise and eat healthily can give you more energy, which will only make you more efficient and productive.

One of the most common barriers to weight loss is the belief that you don't have enough time. One study found that 41% of women said "lack of time" was the reason that they didn't eat better and 73% of women said they didn't exercise because their schedules were too busy.

The bottom line is that if you want to lose weight in a healthy way, you'll need to create windows of opportunity for activities that support weight loss like healthy meal planning and regular exercise.

You'll most likely find that once you make time for these healthy lifestyle changes, you'll feel better in both your body and your mind.

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Self-care is so much more than pampering yourself with a hot bubble bath—though relaxation activities are certainly important to well-being. Self-care is really all about making yourself a priority. So if you're having a hard time making space in your schedule for daily movement and preparing healthy meals, you may have to reprioritize some of your tasks.

Get out an old-fashioned paper calendar (or use the calendar on your smartphone if that's easier) and identify blocks of time that are not consumed by absolute necessities. Then create a schedule for healthy weight loss activities and put them in your calendar just as you would anything else.

Start by writing or typing in the most important, non-negotiable tasks first and then schedule everything else around them. It helps to treat them as if they are medical appointments that you can't cancel unless there's an emergency, since you wouldn't necessarily cancel that type of appointment. Don't cancel the activities that are part of your self-care routine and will help you feel better—unless of course, something comes up and you have to "reschedule."

Don't be afraid to put other priorities on the backburner or ask for help (see next item) from your support system so that you can take the time you need to make your health a top priority.

Are You Isolating Yourself?

Many people consider themselves alone in their weight loss journey, or that it's something to be ashamed of or to be done in private. If you are trying to lose weight to better your overall health, remember that you are not alone. Your friends and family may be willing to help you through your weight loss journey, or you could join a support group either in-person or online. The bottom line is don't be afraid to ask others for help.

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Get weight loss support from your family and friends. Start by identifying your needs and then approach others for help. That way, you'll be clear about defining specific ways in which they can help. Find friends at work, at the gym, or even in your neighborhood. Here are some ideas to help you get started.

  • Ask a loved one to help with childcare. If you have children and tending to their needs is preventing you from being able to find time to exercise, ask a friend or family member for help.
  • Ask a friend to be your exercise buddy. Tell them about your weight loss plan and ask them to join you for a fitness class at least once a week to hold you accountable and keep you motivated. Ask them if they could check in with you each week about what you did for exercise to stay on track.
  • Share your eating plan with someone in your household. Whether you're the one who does the majority of cooking at home or someone else is, it's important that other members of your household know about your eating plan so they don't tempt you by ordering pizza or greasy takeout multiple nights per week. Of course, the occasional indulgence is OK in the long term but when you're just getting started, it's important to have your family members or roommates on board. While they probably won't eat the same way you do (unless they choose to), they will be more mindful of what they do eat in front of you.
  • Join a weight-loss support group. Do an online search or ask your doctor or local gym or another community center for recommendations. Whether you meet in-person or online, sharing your experience with other people on a similar journey can help you stay on track to reaching your goals.

When it comes to beginning a weight loss journey and looking for support, your doctor can be a good place to start. Ask them about community resources and other tips they might have. Get a referral for a registered dietician or nutritionist with whom you could work one-on-one for ongoing support.

How Are You Calculating Your Nutritional Intake?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats each day for a healthy, balanced diet to support weight management. Monitoring your intake of daily nutrients to ensure you're getting enough of these foods not only keeps your health goals on track but also supports long-term health and well-being.

But for many people, simply eating more nutrient-dense foods is not enough on its own. In addition to regular exercise, some health and nutrition experts recommend counting calories. This will help you keep track of the number of calories you're consuming and burning to create a calorie deficit for weight loss.

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Monitor your food intake with a food tracker app or a weight loss journal. Simply knowing the number of calories you consume as a baseline can be helpful in determining if changes should be made.

If you choose to count calories, you'll may want to take in about 1,500 calories a day to support a healthy, sustainable rate of weight loss. But everyone's needs are different. The number varies depending on an individual's age, sex, height, weight, and level of physical activity.

If you're interested in determining your own daily calorie needs for weight loss, try this calculator tool. It can be used as a starting point for estimating a calorie target. You can also consult with a registered dietitian or your healthcare provider to assess your caloric needs.

Are You Viewing Foods as "Healthy" and "Unhealthy?"

Several studies have shown that people are more likely to overeat foods they perceive to be healthy. One study at the University of Michigan found that when a food was labeled "organic," people ate more of it. Though the "everything in moderation" principle is often key to a healthy lifestyle, when it comes to weight loss, portion sizes still matter.

While it's OK to eat organic (or not organic) cookies once in a while, it's important to monitor just how many cookies you're eating. The Nutrition Facts label is a good resource for evaluating how a particular type of food will fit into your diet since serving sizes are usually indicated.

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Remember that (barring any health circumstance that prevents you from eating certain foods), it's helpful to keep everything in moderation but to remember that even "healthy" foods may have more calories or fat in a given serving. Avocados, for example, are full of healthy fat but are also very high in calories. Avocados are definitely part of a healthy weight loss plan, but eating too many of them could slow your progress.

Keeping this in mind can help you (and your doctor or nutritionist) find a way to fit foods into your healthy diet. You can also use a food scale and keep track of your portion sizes. Additionally, eating slowly and mindfully can promote weight loss since you might eat less overall. Learn how to listen to your body's cues and stop eating when you feel full.

Intuitive eating helps develop healthy eating habits to support both weight loss and weight maintenance by helping you monitor your portion sizes and eat less overall.

Are You Sitting All Day?

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, is a fancy term for all of the non-exercise movement that you do every day. It can account for up to 15 to 30% of your total calorie burn. If you spend your day sitting at a desk and your evenings lying on the couch, the calories you burn from NEAT will not be as much as if you utilize time throughout the day to do some moving.

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You can burn calories without exercise. Boost your NEAT all day long. If you have a desk job, get up every hour and walk to the restroom on a different floor, refill your water, run an errand on foot, or climb the stairs in your office building. If you like watching television at night, fold laundry or dust furniture instead of just lying on the couch.

All of these "small" things can add up to better health. But you shouldn't rely on burning calories without breaking a sweat. Heart-pumping cardiovascular exercise not only promotes weight loss but also maintains heart health and lowers the risk of chronic disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 75–150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week is recommended for weight management.

For weight loss, adequate nutrition in addition to rigorous physical activity is needed. For your workouts, invest in a heart rate monitor to get a more accurate estimate of your workout time to reach your goals.

Are You Compensating for Exercise by Eating More?

It is normal for your appetite to increase when you start exercising. But one of the most common weight loss mistakes is to indulge in extra snacks and treats as a reward for the workout. Eating those treats may cause weight gain.

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To curb post-exercise hunger, eat a healthy snack before you exercise. Combine protein with a carbohydrate to satisfy your hunger, such as a slice of whole-grain toast with peanut butter.

Plan healthy, low-calorie snacks to eat after you exercise, such as a replenishing fruit smoothie blended with vanilla or chocolate almond milk that tastes just decadent enough to feel like a treat.

Are You Looking for a Quick Fix?

It's normal to lack the motivation or patience needed for a long-term weight loss plan, especially when you see advertisements for weight loss pills that claim to help you lose weight without any effort. And many trendy fad diets make the same promises. But those products and plans usually do not work. Always be wary of a "quick fix" to weight loss, since you'll likely regain the weight once you return to your normal eating habits.

In reality, it can be a slow process to adapt to healthier lifestyle changes. Remember the saying: "Slow changes make lasting changes." It's frustrating when weight loss results take a long time but knowing that's because they will usually endure can help you stay motivated.

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Your weight loss plan is ultimately going to be what works best for you, and if your diet is balanced, you will achieve a steady rate of weight loss. While it will take patience and persistence, you will get the results you want if you stay on track. Use the following tips to create a healthy balanced diet.

  • Skip the refined carbs, but don't skip breakfast! Research shows that eating a healthy, nutrient-dense breakfast supports weight loss. Choose complex carbohydrates sources like whole grains over refined carbohydrates like white bread, pastries, and many types of breakfast cereal.
  • Cut back on added sugar. Excess sugar is a major cause of obesity, which can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. The USDA recommends no more than 10% of daily calories come from added sugar. Read Nutrition Facts labels carefully to look for added sugar to cut back your intake.
  • Eat more lean protein. Fish, chicken, and other lean cuts of meat promote satiety to keep you full.
  • Get more daily fiber. Like protein, fiber keeps you fuller longer and also supports healthy digestion.
  • Embrace healthy fats. Nuts, oils, and avocados are not the enemy—just be sure to keep your portion sizes in check.

As for your exercise plan, while it likely won't lead to quick weight loss it will probably help you sleep better at night and feel better during the day, which are both important elements to living a healthy life. Look for and acknowledge the little perks along the way—and follow these guidelines to help you make lifestyle changes you can stick with.

  • Make time for daily movement. Even if you're short on time, studies suggest that just 20 minutes of brisk walking is great for your health.
  • Manage your stress. Research shows that stress can prevent you from reaching your weight loss goals and also contribute to weight gain.
  • Drink less alcohol. Alcohol is loaded with sugar and extra calories, which the body stores as fat.
  • Get more sleep. If you don't get enough sleep you simply won't have the energy to exercise, and research shows that insufficient sleep can inhibit weight loss.

If the scale isn't quite giving you the weight loss results that you want, then celebrate the fact that you ate a well-balanced diet during the day and remind yourself about the health benefits you gain from eating well.

A Word From Verywell

It's totally normal for a weight loss goal to seem elusive, but with the right shift in your mindset, you can always get back on track. Weight loss is rarely easy, but don't let the difficulty of the process deter you.

Considering why you want to lose weight can be very helpful throughout this process. Knowing your "why" is often a huge motivating factor, and it's something you can always refer back to whenever you feel frustrated.

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss, and what works for another person may not be the right plan for you. If you need to lose weight, focus on doing it in such a way that you're investing in your health for the long term. If you find yourself struggling, seek help from your healthcare provider. There might be a medical cause getting in the way of reaching your goal.

And remember, it might be uncomfortable to change your habits at first, but celebrating the small victories along the way can keep you motivated on your journey so that you stay committed to your new healthy lifestyle.

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Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Malia Frey, M.A., ACE-CHC, CPT
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.