Losing All Faith in Exercise!!!

Updated on April 18, 2012
R.M. asks from Evanston, IL
19 answers

Ok, I know exercising is good for you blah blah blah... But I am really losing faith that it does much to help with weight loss!! In the past I have always lost weight by cutting calories only (to 1200 a day) and avoiding junk. I lost real weight which stayed off, not just water weight. I consider myself moderately active but I have never formally exercised on a regular, committed basis beyond some crunches and squats, until about 2 months ago. In Feb I had a goal to drop the 5 pounds I acquired over the holidays. I decided for the first time that I would commit to cardio exercise. I am tracking my calories so I know I am not eating more to compensate or anything like that... eating right around 1400-1500 calories and exercising almost daily, both cardio and strength training. Well guess what I have not lost a single pound and my pants are tighter on the thighs if anything, probably because they have a lot more muscle than they did before. I do not look skinnier or feel skinnier. Yes I feel "better" when I work out but I would also feel "better" if all this freaking work would yield some results on the scale. I don't really have that much more energy, it is a minimal difference. I know muscle weighs more than fat but isn't that just something that people say when they can't lose weight despite working out? I guess I am frustrated that I am putting forth so much effort and not feeling like I am getting anything in return even though I KNOW there are good things occurring on the inside from being physically active. Has anyone else ever felt this way?

ETA I got the 1200 cal recommendation off of my fitness pal... it takes into account your height, weight and activity level... The it allows you to eat more if you input cardio... I usu burn about 200 cals of cardio so then that puts me at 1400 cals to eat for the day.

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answers from Washington DC on

Try doing more weight training than cardio, and eat more protein...it keeps you full longer and it really does help with weight loss.

I find the cardio exercises make me hungrier.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Get on Facebook and 'Like' Go Kaleo. I've learned so much from her, and while she is Vegetarian (maybe even Vegan), and I am more Primal/Paleo, she is so knowledgeable about nutrition & fitness. She would say that 1200-1400 calories is starvation & you will not lose weight until you eat MORE.

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answers from Redding on

its not about weight loss it's about inches.
muscle weighs more than fat.
being toned is what it's all about.
building muscle burns fat.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Yup. That's why I stopped weighing myself and I use a tape measure instead. The scale will make you crazy.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I feel the same way in a sense I feel your pain.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Don't feel like the Lone Ranger....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

First I'm not sure what your typical calorie intake should be but lets say you should be eating 2,000 calories a day EVEN 1,800 a day to maintain your weight. Dropping to 1,200 calories a day is HORRIBLE and is probably the reason you aren't losing weight. Your body is going into starvation mode so instead of burning fat your body is holding onto it because it's scared you will never eat again. Please read into how to healthily lose weight. In all reality you shouldn't be eating less then 100 calories of your maintenance calories. You shouldn't be losing more than 1 lb a week, if that. It's not healthy to lose any more than that.

Like someone said before, focus on weight lifting not just cardio. If you do want to lose weight with cardio, try doing some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) although I've read that this is not something you should do until you can squat 1.5x your body weight.

Some books I would suggest:
Mindless Eating - it's all about how we can trick ourselves into eat less and eating better
Which Comes first, Cardio or Weights? - Answers some questions we all have about working out, and disproves myths, like the "fat-burning zone".
The New Rules of Lifting for Women - This is a weight lifting guide for women. I do not personally like it, and I practice Strong Lifts which is a male oriented program, but the beginning chapters talk about why women should lift, and why they should lift exactly like men.

You said you do some strength training, I'm curious how much you lift? Are you just doing 15 reps of 5lbs, 10lbs? Yeah, your legs will get bigger. I squat 45lbs - 60lbs 3 times a week and my legs haven't gotten any smaller, but they certainly jiggle less! Good luck with your goals. I would suggest joining www.fitocracy.com for more advice.

ETA: The person below me said to use a tape measure. Yes please! if you are gaining muscle mass your weight will not reflect properly since muscle weights greater than mass. I avoid the scale at all cost unless I'm trying to calculate the difficult of body weight work out.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

What Grandma T said.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Yes I have felt that way!!!

It works, it's just harder the older you get. I've had to adjust my work-outs and diets every few years since my twenties. It's harder than ever at 41 to keep weight off and to lose weight, but the same recipe works. You just need to exercise more effectively. I'm amazed you can so easily eat only 1200-1500 calories though-it's very difficult to do...be sure there aren't hidden calories sabotaging you AND be sure you're eating enough natural healthy fat, or your body loses it's ability to burn fat efficiently (super low fat diets are sabotaging). And yes, muscle weighs more. I weigh MORE at this age (like 15-20 pounds more!) being the same size (same jeans) as when I was younger, because NOW I need more muscle weight and exercise, to maintain that size. And I am a bit fuller in the thighs too because of that muscle-though I can still wear those jeans. And imo, cardio does very little for weight loss (that's why you're able to maintain your low calorie intake and not increase-you're not bumping your metabolism or burning enough with your muscles-when you are, you're going to be HUNGRY-the next weight loss challenge-the hunger that exercise causes -SIGH!). Cardio is for your heart health and you get to sweat, but cardio alone will not take one pound off for me. I need major muscle work mixed into the cardio- BUT STRANGELY, very long fast walks are the best way to shed a belly, so the cardio does need to be there, it's just not enough on it's own.

So consider that you're not really losing weight on your cardio days. I learned this the hard way trying to lose baby weight after my first when I RAN two miles a day including big hills pushing the heavy jogging stroller and lost nada. It was time for me to start weight training-which was never necessary in the past....stinks. Also, I used to be able to kind of coast and still maintain...not anymore. One week missing exercise and I'm a mess with a belly and exhaustion all over again. Two weeks-eeeek major rehab needed.
Unfair but true. Change things up and tighten your balance between diet and exercise. There's always room for improvement.

**actually, your calorie intake is so low, you may have slowed your metabolism by starving it. Just eat healthfully and build muscle. Don't use a scale, just gauge how your clothes fit.



answers from New York on

I had to get on the scale at the doctor's office a couple months ago. I freaked when she said I weighed xxx. I had 8 extra pounds on me !

I always gain during the 'winter blue months". BUT, I thought I had 4 extra pounds on me, not 8.

I have found for me that walking 45 minutes a day w/ a friend (for motivation) is the only way I can lose weight and keep it off. If I ride a bike, do the eliptical, do classes, etc... my clothes get tighter because I gain muscle weight.

I eat lots of raw veggies and 2000 calories a day...and, If I walk less than 4 days a week, I gain weight.

Today, a lady asked me if I wear a size 4 jeans. I almost fell over ! I am a true size 8. I could never fit into a 4, let alone a 6.

Her comment was a reminder that I am too harsh on myself and that skinny jeans are GOOD.

Crunches for my stomach are great --and light weights for my upper body.

Try not to stress out over it. The stress alone will cause you to hold on to weight. Keep excercising and eating well. Give yourself another month of excercising. Eat 4 or 5 small meals a day. Drink water when you are hungry. Keep up the good work !


answers from Kansas City on

no, muscle actually DOES weigh more than fat. your pants are tighter and your legs are bigger because you're building muscle. talk to your dr. -it's not always about the number on the scale and it sounds like you're pretty small to begin with, so again, talk to your dr because from what you're describing, i'm not sure i'm getting where all this frustration is coming from. you're talking 5 lbs. it's just not the end of the world. talk to your dr to get real MEDICAL FACTS. good luck!



answers from Austin on

My doctor friend just posted this today: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theglobe...

Another great reason to stay committed to being physically active.

Personally, I feel better about myself when I work out even if I don't lose the weight because I feel stronger and to me stronger means I will live longer (with healthy diet). Also, you didn't mention how long you workout. I tend to burn minimum of 300 calories within a 30 minute cardio workout. Perhaps increase the intensity and/or duration? I just read an article that states you should commit to 40-60 minutes of exercise to really see a difference.



answers from Chicago on

Throw your scale out the window, it's going to make you crazy!

You have to build muscle to burn fat. As fat weighs more than muscle, you might look like you have "gained" weight if you go solely by the scale. DON'T go by the scale!

Get out a tape measurer and measure yourself. Or use a scale that tells your fat percentage. I guarantee your total body fat has gone down.

Look, heart disease and other illnesses don't read a scale. Are you healthy? Your total health is worth much more than a number on a scale! Don't pay attention to something that only reads how much gravity is pushing down on you. Instead, focus on your total health. Skinny and dead is no good to anyone.



answers from Chicago on

A personal trainer told me this once. Weight loss is 95% diet and 5% exercise. You do need the exercise and the bigger your muscles are the more fat you will burn, but the biggest change is by changing your diet.

I feel the same way a lot of the time.


answers from Austin on

I am a dance teacher so I am naturally weight and health concious. I like and prefer exercise that is natural--gardening, walking with friends, cleaning my own home (no maid services ever)...



answers from Los Angeles on

That is frustrating & I know how you feel. After the birth of my daughter in Jan last year, I got on a very concentrated fitness effort. Kept my diet about the same, but hit the gym 5 times a week and WORKED HARD, and I was breastfeeding for the first 9 months. Over a YEAR, I lost only 12 pounds and 1 size. Then I got allergies in December and bronchitis in Jan/Feb this year and gained it ALL back. HOWEVER, regardless of what the scale says, I do notice the benefits that my year of exercise have brought - I can carry my 50 lb 5 year old in from the car like it's no problem. I can chase him at the park & catch him! I ran a 10 minute mile last summer for the first time ever! I ran a 5k at Thanksgiving without walking any of it! I am stronger, faster, and healthier, even if the scale shows me that I'm back at my starting point from 15 months ago! I'd rather measure my health in terms of capability - what can I do now that I couldn't do before - vs. in terms of overall weight.
I guess my thought is - YES! I can totally relate to what you're feeling, but stick with it! Make your activity a lifestyle change that you can do forever to keep your ability to do the things you love for the rest of your life... Maybe that might help alleviate the sting of the scale not budging!



answers from Miami on

Did you know that if you do not consume enough calories you can put your body in starvation mode which will hinder your ability to lose weight? Unless I missed it, you didn't mention how much you weigh so how much you weigh depends on how much calories you need to just stay alive. Take in too much, you won't lose weight, take in too little, you still won't lose weight. Starvation mode is when you are not giving your body the calories it needs to maintain the task of staying alive. Our bodies NEED calories but there needs to be a balance. Our bodies also need exercise and while something is better than nothing, cardio along with some kind of strength training (lift weights, resistance bands) will help shed the pounds. You need to feed your body breakfast, lunch, and dinner and at least 2 snacks during the day. That is 5 meals. You should not skip meals because this puts you into starvation mode. Your body says, "Oh, she's not going to feed me so I'll hang onto every calorie and store it as "fuel" (a.k.a. "fat") for those times she doesn't eat. You cannot look at burning 200 calories as an excuse to eat less. In fact, with exercise, you jump start your metabolism and you actually burn fat/calories faster and more efficiently than if you starve yourself. No, it's true that muscle does weigh more than fat but fat burns faster when you are building muscle. Try to cut out things like soda and bread. Eat more grains, fiber, salads without a lot of dressing; cut out the processed foods and limit dairy like fattening cheeses and yogurts. Greek Yogurt with Agave syrup (just a little) or just plain with some berries mixed in is a good snack. To see results, you're gonna have to work for the results you desire. Also, age has a lot to do with it. After the age of 40, your body really seems to hold onto the calories, too. Which is why exercise plays such a key role to weight loss.



answers from Colorado Springs on

Yes. Talk to your doctor.

And, after that and with your doctor's approval, think about working with a trainer. Losing pounds and inches can be more frustrating as we grow older (and I don't even know how old you are). Muscle does really weigh more than fat, by the way. But muscle weight is the kind of weight you *want* to have.



answers from Savannah on

pull out the tape measure

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