When the Weight Just Won’t Budge, Try This

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

2869-443789_frustrated.jpgThis is perhaps one of the most frustrating situations as a dieter.

You work so hard–dripping sweat in the gym and loading up on fruits and vegetables.

However, when you check your weight on the scale, the numbers barely move. Sound familiar? I have seen this happen hundreds of time. You are not alone.

7 Key Points for When the Going Gets Tough

  1. Do not starve yourself. If you follow a very low calorie diet in attempts to speed up your weight loss, you may be doing more harm than good. When we eat too few calories, the metabolism slows and so do the pounds.
  2. Set small achievable goals. Take 10% of your weight right now, and work on losing that percentage of pounds.
  3. Reward yourself with non-food items. Every time you reach a goal, or just feel like you have done a good job with your health, reward yourself with a pedicure, or buy a new book. Whatever suits you.
  4. Remind yourself that slow weight loss is the best weight loss. Numerous studies show that when you lose 0.5 pounds to 2 pounds per week, you are less likely to gain this weight back in the end. This also means that you are likely losing pure fat, and not muscle.
  5. Do not focus on the numbers on the scale. Buy an old dial scale (non-digital), take it apart, and cover up the numbers with colored paper or inspirational words. As long as the scale is moving downward, you are achieving success!
  6. Find a buddy. If you can not find someone to support you in-person, join a support group online like sparkpeople.com. Or, try finding a local support group in your area.
  7. Keep a food log online or on your phone. This way you can hold yourself accountable to what you put in your mouth. It will help you focus on areas you can improve on.

Do you have any other suggestions for other frustrated dieters?


  1. vanessa

    I have lost a lot of weight because of back and hip issues, over 40lbs, sounds odd but it was the pain medication messing with my stomach and making my IBS worse so I wouldn’t eat and when I would it was only yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, all the bland foods. Now I’ve reached a point where I physically cannot consume more than 900 calories without feeling sick. I’m weaning off the pain meds and would like to drop another 20lbs but have gained 3lbs starting new job which requires walking about 1/2 hour in the morn and night to the train and back, carry a 7lb laptop on my back(in a backpack:). I have about 20lbs to go to my goal weight. Any advice on how to add more calories that are bland for my stomach’s sake but up my metabolism and balance, now that I am moving around more?


    12 POUNDS

    • kate

      You may have gained muscle!! Remember this!

  3. silver

    It could also be that you have reached the right weight for your body. Naturally your body knows when to stop, so it just maintains the current weight even when you try to lose a few more pounds. That is what I experienced. I lost 30 kg and now I am maintaining my weight even though I am more active and fit than I have ever been in my life.

  4. Natalie Dubovitsky

    Right on! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Counting calories and exercising regularly while keeping your caloric intake at the same level will always do the trick.

  5. Richard Perry

    If your healthy and not losing weight it means you have to modify or change your program.

  6. Spectra

    I always found that most of the reason I’d stop losing weight was because I was getting lazy about measuring portion sizes. Once I started measuring things more accurately, the weight came off pretty easily.

  7. Dan

    Before this last successful weight loss attempt, I would usually plateau at a certain weight and then gain the weight back. I was not tracking my calories, nor exercising enough. I would suggest tracking carefully everything that is eaten while not eating too much OR too little, exercise more without compensating at all with additional food. One could add more intensity, frequency and duration to one’s workouts- but keep the caloric intake the same. Remember to drink plenty of water to be able to flush the fat out. It is also helpful to eat plenty of fiber, such as from fruits and vegetables. The last successful time I lost weight I exercised every single day and counted my calories. I rarely plateaued and that one time was when I ate some restaurant food. Make sure all the dietary and exercise bases are covered.