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So you’ve made the decision to lose some weight, you’re feeling nervous but excited and you’ve got no idea what to expect over the duration of your dieting phase. Will I be losing 1kg every week? How long will it take me to get to my goal weight? Should I start buying the next size down in clothing?

I often say ‘dieting is hard’ because it’s a process of going against what our body naturally wants us to do.

We get hungry, might experience some brain fog, feel less satisfied by our food and have increased cravings and food focus, lower energy and some of us experience irritability.

Dieting requires a level of mental toughness to be able to achieve the goals you’re after - you need to learn how to say no to certain things temporarily that detract from your goal.

That being said - if you follow the right process, should it be easy? Is it as simple and as hard as consistently eating in a calorie deficit? 

For some people, they can be doing all of the right things, but the scale, their tape measurements and their photos indicate that there’s not a lot of change occurring. So what’s with that? Here are a few things that can throw off your progress that you mightn’t have considered:

  • NEAT

Stress is one of those totally overlooked symptoms that can be detrimental to our ability to see our deficit in action. It causes inflammation, water retention and shit recovery - which can make us look bloated and puffy for weeks despite our calorie deficit.

Sleep goes hand in hand with recoverability, stress, water and inflammation. Poor sleep also wreaks havoc with our key fat loss hormones - so it can do things like make us feel hungrier and less satisfied with our food.

Food choices contribute to our levels of inflammation which again impact how we look and feel - I like to fill my diet with mostly whole foods, but having the mad sweet tooth that I do, I also include chocolate to keep me sane.

Tracking errors are so common and given that they’re errors, it’s not until someone points them out that we realise they’re occurring. If you’re entering your food in MyFitnessPal keep in mind that this is a public database where anyone can add inaccurate foods. Use Google, USDA or NUTTAB to ensure you’re entering the correct foods in (you’d be surprised how much this can contribute to messing up your daily calories).

NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) things like fidgeting, walking around our house, picking things up and putting then down is often affected by a calorie deficit over a longer period of time. Our body is very clever and tries to conserve as much energy as possible, so without us even realising it stops us from doing things like flicking our hair, or dancing to music we like. This will in turn decrease our energy expenditure and calorie deficit.

Patience is something a lot of us have in very small amounts. If we have a goal, damn right we’re going to do everything we can to get there as quickly as possible. But losing weight takes time, and we give up before we’re even able to make a big enough dent to see the results. You shouldn’t be looking for weight los every day or even week for that matter - compare yourself fortnight to fortnight, month to month over a minimum of 3 months if you’re really wanting to see results.

There are a few other factors that can play into slow weight loss. Certain people have lower thyroid function or hormonal issues that mean they require very low calories over an extended period of time to see the weight move, or may require additional support to make the process a bit easier. Our environment plays a huge role in our ability to lose weight.

From personal experience, my best results come from a very low state of stress, which has only increased as my business has grown. I’m currently experiencing a very slow rate of fat loss - I know I’m in a calorie deficit, but I know my internal and external environment is not contributing positively to my goal.

There’s a tine and a place for everything and dieting is no different. Sometimes it’s best to focus on your overall health before deciding to drop into a deficit as it’ll make the whole process a lot faster and easier.