Why We Can’t Lose Weight with Diet & Exercise Alone

What to Do When You Eat Healthy & Exercise but Still Can’t Seem to Lose Weight

So many of us reach a point where we can’t seem to lose weight – even when we’re eating healthy and exercising regularly. But WHY does this happen. Why does it feel like we can’t lose weight no matter what? And, most importantly, what’s the root of the problem here?

Throughout this course, we’ve explored the role of the mind body connection in our overall health. On the one hand, gaining emotional intelligence empowers us to better manage our emotions, rather than turning to food to cope. But, on the other hand, stress itself can take a toll on our minds and bodies.

The physiological processes of stress can interfere with our efforts to live healthy and/or lose weight. Plus, dieting also can put the body into a stressed state, leading to dysregulation and making weight loss even more difficult. Over time, it starts to feel like we’re caught in a vicious cycle and we just can’t lose weight no matter what we do!

So, when it comes to weight loss, what actually matters? Some people say it’s our diet. Other people say it’s exercise. What about those of us who do both, but still can’t seem to lose weight at all? Is any single component the MOST important for weight loss?  We’re tackling this conundrum in today’s video.

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If you’re enjoying this content, dive deeper by enrolling in my Food Freedom course! Through an evidence-based mindfulness perspective, we’ll explore your relationship with food and learn about the role of the mind-body connection in our health.

What Matters for Weight Loss?

If you’ve been going through the course from the beginning, then you know by now: There’s no one ‘right’ way to be healthy or lose weight, and it’s not a linear path. What each of us needs will be different from another, and our individual needs will change and vary as we evolve.

But, there are some consistent components that all of us can incorporate into our individual health approaches. How you incorporate these components is your choice, and you are the best expert in what you need! In general, though, consider how you can integrate and tend to the components discussed below on your personal health journey.

Diet & Nutrition

Abs are made in the kitchen genes.

Are abs made in the kitchen? Maybe you’ve heard this saying before, but it can be misleading. Truth be told, abs are determined by your genetic makeup. In order for most women to have visible abs, they’d need to get to an extremely low body fat percentage—probably using restrictive and unsustainable methods. For most of us, that just won’t be an option, nor would it be a healthy path.

If we hit a wall and can’t lose weight anymore, so many of us have been conditioned to think that we need to go on a restrictive diet. Even if we’re not aiming for weight loss, if we’re aiming for abs, cultural norms tell us that “if we just eat differently (or less), we can get the body we want.” Yet, this completely ignores the genetic component of body composition and weight.

But, this misleading adage about abs is nodding to a separate truth that’s often forgotten or mistaken. Our diets—a.k.a. what we eat regularly—will impact our body composition (and physiological health) more than exercise. Our intake of both macronutrients (the amount of protein, fat, and carbs) and micronutrients (the nutrient density of the foods) will impact the way our bodies retain or lose fat or water, and the way that our bodies metabolize food overall.

Remember, black-and-white thinking doesn’t serve us on this journey. Our diet AND exercise habits are both important and valuable. However, each of these components offers different benefits, and we can’t really substitute one for the other.

Abs are Made in the Genes

Exercise & Movement

Exercise does matter for our health, and it can also be a helpful component of a weight loss journey. Certainly, calories are real, and we must be mindful of our total energy intake and expenditure to ultimately lose weight.

But, it’s very hard to accurately gauge how many calories we burn during any workout. On top of this, it’s just as hard (if not harder) to gauge our calorie intake and absorption, which is greatly impacted by our metabolism. Altogether, the whole calorie tracking venture isn’t very accurate.

So, it’s almost impossible to work out an accurate ‘energy balance’ equation based on how much you exercise & what you eat. Pretty much, if you can’t seem to lose weight on a diet, working out really hard to ‘compensate’ for the calories you eat just isn’t a reliable approach. “Calories in, calories out” is not an exact science!  

That being said, exercise and movement are necessary to us as humans, and they’re important for overall mental, emotional, and physical health. Exercise stimulates blood flow to our hearts and brains; it impacts our metabolism, bone density, and muscle composition; research indicates that it can reduce symptoms of depression—among countless other benefits.

I would argue that all of these health benefits emphasize just how important exercise is, far beyond its potential impact on weight loss.

Inner Wisdom

Before any outer wisdom tools like nutrition knowledge and exercise details can serve us, we NEED to build up a foundation of inner wisdom. Most of us are not taught how to tune into our minds, bodies, and emotions at a young age. So, we have to spend some intentional time building up this faculty and connect with ourselves.

If you find that you can’t lose weight and you’re feeling unsatisfied with dieting, THIS is where I recommend most people start.

And, the biggest inner wisdom hang-up for most people is no surprise: STRESS.

Inner Wisdom & Outer Wisdom

Why We Can’t Lose Weight No Matter What:


By now, after going through the whole course, you’ve probably gained a sense of the major role stress plays in our health. Chronic stress negatively impacts the mind and body, which are very much connected.

And, as I’ve seen through the research as well as my own experience, stressing so much about food and health actually prevent us from achieving the health that we so desire.

If you’re struggling with a chronic illness, or an autoimmune condition, or if you can’t seem to lose weight and are feeling really frustrated—all of this stress about food and health only makes matters worst. Not only does stress feel bad to experience, but stress can also lower immune function, contribute to chronic pain, cause our bodies to retain fat, and so much more.

Downloads for Can't Lose Weight No Matter What

Stress Management Techniques

For some ideas and suggested stress management techniques, download this PDF and see what resonates with you.

I know, this work is really challenging, and I hope you appreciate all that you’re doing to really take a look at yourself and see yourself clearly! It can be frustrating when everything feels so abstract. But, I hope these concrete tools and exercises can help you reduce stress—both in the moment, and chronically.

Stress Management Toolbox

Cultivating Mindfulness through Meditation

Of course, one of the most effective and simple practices that we can incorporate for chronic stress management is meditation. Sitting down to meditate (or going for a walking meditation) is simple, but I know it often isn’t easy! It can be a challenging practice to cultivate and stick with, but be patient with yourself and keep an open mind as you dabble in meditation.

Throughout this course, you’ve encountered (and hopefully tried!) many different types of meditation and options that you can explore. If you find yourself struggling to sit still, I highly recommend giving the guided walking meditation a try. The perfect, stress-relieving combination of meditation and movement!

But, in case you’ve missed any previous meditations or would like a chance to download them again, you can find all of the downloadable guided meditations from the course linked below! Explore them to find out what you like, and keep coming back to practice.

Remember, the more we practice meditation, the more natural it will become. And, as we continue cultivating that nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment, we’ll see increasing benefits and stress reduction in our daily lives.

Guided Meditation Downloads

All Guided Meditation Downloads

Today’s Journal Prompt:

Choose 2 of the suggested stress management techniques discussed in today’s content, or select 2 of your preferred stress management techniques (one for in-the-moment stress, and one for chronic stressors).

  • How can you employ these stress management techniques? Brainstorm and come up with a plan for each.
  • In what situations can you set an intention to use your chosen in-the-moment technique?
  • How can you incorporate your chosen chronic stress management technique into your life?
Download today's journal prompt: Stress Management Plan
Additional resources for Can't Seem to Lose Weight

Food Freedom Course
If you’re enjoying this content, dive deeper by enrolling in my Food Freedom course! Through an evidence-based mindfulness perspective, we’ll explore your relationship with food and learn about the role of the mind-body connection in our health.

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