How to Know If Your Weight Loss Isn’t Going Well


Have you ever read the Madeline book series? The picture above is from the book right after Miss Clavel realizes that “Something is not right” with one of her pupils, Madeline. She rushes to the little girl’s bedroom and determines that Madeline is ill. She swiftly takes action and calls the doctor. In the end, all is well after Madeline has her appendix removed.

How do you know if “something is not right” with your weight loss efforts?

It is an important thing to understand, because as many of us know, it often takes a lot of starts and stops to finally get to the point where you are losing weight successfully.

I’ve complied a list of six red flags to look out for when you are losing weight. If you find yourself nodding your head at more than a few of these, you might need to asses where you are right now and rush to make things better.

1. You are seeing no progress. Let’s face it, although the rate of weight loss for each individual varies, you should be seeing some progress. It does not have to be fast, but if weeks and weeks go by and you are still hovering within the same 2 or 3 pound range, it might be time to assess what you are doing.

2. Old habits start reappearing. When you start to lose weight, you often change some unhealthy habits. For me, one thing I had to change pretty quickly was eating fast food five, six, seven times a week. If you started out gung-ho and put a bad habit aside, watch out if that bad habit starts to creep back into your life. This can often be a sign that you are weakening in your resolve and commitment to your weight loss efforts.

3. Your goals are unattainable in the time allotted. Sure I would have liked to lose 158 pounds in a month, but that was not realistic. When I lost weight the final time, I set realistic goals instead of the unrealistic ones I had often set in the past. Unrealistic goals often equals unmet goals.

4. You are starting to say, “Well, I’ll do better tomorrow,” every day. There is nothing wrong with having an off day or two and then getting back on track. What can be a red flag is when you have an off day, then another one, then another one, etc. After each off day you say the same phrase, “Well, I’ll do better tomorrow.” If you never actually do better tomorrow, then that is a red flag that you need to pay attention to right away.

5. You are gaining weight. This may be a no-brainer, but if you are consistently gaining rather than losing weight, you are in danger of completely quitting your diet. I can’t tell you how many times I started out strong on my diet, lost a few pounds, and then began to see a gain. The gain was slow at first, but I ignored those extra pounds. I usually justified the weight gain by saying it was “hormonal” or “salt-induced.” Now that can happen, but when that temporarily weight gain does not disappear within a reasonable period of time, it is usually more than hormonal or salt-induced. For me, weight gain was most often a sign that I was on the edge of total diet failure

6. You quit believing you can do this. Assessment is always a good thing when it comes to dieting and weight loss. However, there may come a point when you quit believing that you can actually get to your healthy weight. If that happens to you, immediately assess the situation and ask yourself “What has changed and what needs to change?” It may be that your diet plan is sound and will work, but you need to focus on your behaviors and choices that are standing in your way of long-term success.

What signs have you seen in the past that your diet is not working? How do you know if “something is not right?” Diane

2 thoughts on “How to Know If Your Weight Loss Isn’t Going Well

  1. Kitty says:

    Those are all really good points. I think point 1 is very important. Yes, it is common to have a plateau during weights loss. I had one last fall. But, it often means that either what was working before isn’t working any more (for example, you are smaller and so can’t each as much and lose any more) or you have lost some intensity and focus.

    What would I add? If you are miserable while you are losing weight, and can’t wait to get off the diet…then your weight loss isn’t going well, even if you are losing. If I am miserable and can’t sustain long term doing what I did to lose the weight then my weight loss won’t last. Most people can’t stay miserable forever. Pick a way of eating that you can commit to for the long term. I just got to my goal weight last week (losing 61 pounds). I’m now eating about 150 calories a day more but haven’t otherwise changed my eating. I can do that because I lost weight eating a way where I could be happy with my food choices.

  2. kate curran says:

    For me it’s mindless eating. I’m eating when I’m not hungry, I’m eating when I’m bored or nervous or any of a dozen other emotions. Bottom line, I’m eating when I’m not hungry.

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