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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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March 06 2013

9 More Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

By Mark Sisson
219 Comments

It's not really about the scale...A few years back, I wrote an article explaining 17 possible reasons why you’re not losing weight. It was a troubleshooting guide of sorts, aimed at helping people identify some of things they may be doing (or not doing) that’s causing their stalled fat loss. The etiology of obesity and weight gain is multifactorial, and can be complex. Additionally, we’re all unique human beings. So it can be difficult to pin down one simple cause – or even seventeen simple causes. While unwanted fat loss comes effortlessly to most people that eat according to the Primal eating strategy – as the success stories and hundreds of thousands of positive user experiences indicate – sometimes we inadvertently sabotage our best efforts, stray from best practices, or don’t fully grok what we need to do to become efficient fat-burners. So let’s take a look at nine more possible reasons, shall we?

1. You’re engaging in too much mindless eating.

If you asked most people what made them overweight in the first place, it was that sneaky, tricky combination of eating and, well, doing everything else but focus on the food. It’s eating while watching TV. It’s eating while driving (I’ve seen a man eat a bowl of cereal on the 405). It’s eating while cooking (not tasting to stay abreast of the dish; full-on eating). It’s popcorn at the movies. It’s beer and wings and more beer during the game. In other words, it’s mindless eating. Eating that feels like breathing, like something you just do. You take a few chews, rarely enough to qualify as real mastication, and down the hatch it goes, with a follow-up handful close on its heels. Since increased frequency of eating (i.e. mindless eating or snacking) is strongly associated with the United States’ steadily increasing average energy intake, it’s plausible that mindless eating leads to eating more food.

Be more mindful when you eat; practice mindful eating. Eat food with others, sit down to dinner, take the time to appreciate the food you’re eating. Just because you’re scarfing down grass-fed beef and pastured eggs doesn’t mean you can get away with mindless consumption.

2. You’re eating too many “pleasure foods.”

Paul Jaminet really has a knack for coining phrases, doesn’t he (“safe starch,” anyone?)? A lesser known one is “pleasure foods.” These are things like nuts, dark chocolate, and raw honey – all foods that have gotten the stamp of Primal approval in the past, all foods that are calorically-dense and easy to overeat. This is hard to grasp, because these foods also confer some health benefits. Nuts are rich sources of micronutrients like magnesium, vitamin E, and selenium, and multiple studies suggest that nuts help weight loss. Dark chocolate got an entire post devoted to its impressive polyphenol content (and its fatty acid profile isn’t too bad, either), while honey is quite possibly the best sweetener around. At the very least, it and its bevy of bee-related compounds outperform other sweeteners like maple syrup and plain sugar and result in fewer metabolic issues. All that said, these foods are delicious, packed with calories, and can be overeaten, particularly because they have the reputation as “health foods.”

If you’re not losing weight, moderate your intake of these foods.

3. You’re eating too little.

It’s well-established that prolonged dieting – taking in fewer calories than your body expends – will eventually lead to a downregulation in the basal metabolic rate. This is simple stuff, really. Reducing your food intake will lower your body weight, usually, but it’s not a simple matter of dropping them lower and lower as you lose weight. The body isn’t a passive thing that you’re merely adding to and subtracting from. Instead, it’s a living, breathing, reacting, adapting entity that responds to the lowered caloric input by lowering its energy expenditure. Since you can’t lose weight forever (you’re not just going to waste away into nothingness), perpetually lowering your caloric intake will eventually work against your desire to lose weight.

Instead of sitting at a chronic caloric deficit, consider cycling your caloric intake. Eat less one day, more the next. You might also look into periodic refeeds, which may be able to kickstart a stalled weight loss.

4. You’re under “hidden stress.”

In the previous article, I explained how stress can make us gain weight, or stop losing it. Cortisol – which we release as a part of the stress response – inhibits weight loss, catabolizes muscle, worsens insulin resistance, and promotes the storage of fat. Although back then I was referring to the obvious sources of stress in our lives, like bills, traffic, jobs we hate, bosses we hate, relationship strife, there are other “hidden” types of stressors that result in the very same physiological responses as obvious stressors cause. Foremost among the hidden stressors is the lack of nature exposure. In the literature, researchers often speak of “forest bathing,” or spending a day or two or three in a forest setting to reduce cortisol, enhance immune function, and improve glucose tolerance. I prefer to look at this a different way. Instead of nature exposure being a positive anti-stress agent, urban living is an active stressor. Spending a day in the woods is a return to normalcy rather than an “intervention.”

If you’re not doing this already, take a day or two out of the week to get outside, preferably amongst unkempt, wild nature. It needn’t be a forest or a craggy cliff. The beach, the desert, or even a park will do just fine. In a pinch, you can even listen to nature sounds and look at nature scenes on your computer.

5. You’re too focused on diet to the exclusion of all else.

When you realize the wool that’s been pulled over the collective eyes of society regarding nutrition, it’s easy to become obsessed with your newfound knowledge. It’s easy to stay up late, night in, night out, perusing nutrition blogs, reading comment sections, devouring PubMed articles. You’ll hear about some arcane but totally essential nutrient and think that it’s the Answer. Am I getting enough magnesium? What about boron – I need some boron, right? How about vitamin A? Should I go for the preformed retinol or rely on the conversion from beta-carotene? Should I drive fifty miles out of town to get goose liver, or should I just take a vitamin K2 supplement and call it a day? Choline – that’s the stuff! Nothing but liver and egg yolks from here on out!

Diet is the obvious primary arbiter of body composition, but there’s more to life than worrying about what you put in your mouth. It’s counterintuitive, and there aren’t any randomized controlled trials showing it, but you might have more success just enjoying life, getting some exercise, and hanging out with good people instead of micromanaging your nutrient intake. Relax.

6. You’re getting too much exercise.

Although regular exercise is a necessary component of a healthy lifestyle, and smart training that includes lifting heavy things, walking lots, and sprinting occasionally can speed weight loss and improve body composition, there is such a thing as too much exercise. After all, effective exercise is effective because it’s stressful, because it challenges our physiology and propels us to rise to the occasion and improve ourselves by getting stronger, faster, and with more lean mass and less body fat. Taken to the extreme, exercise becomes a chronic stressor and a steady source of cortisol release (which as we discussed above makes us insulin resistant and promotes the accumulation of belly fat). Chronic stress in any form can also induce a hypothyroid-like state, where metabolic rate is lowered and weight loss slows or stops altogether, and exercise-induced chronic stress is no different.

Try to stick to the 4,000 calories a week (soft) limit, especially if you find your weight loss stalling.

7. Your macronutrients and training are mismatched.

For most people who stay reasonably active, doing lots of low-level movement as well as some lifting, a low-carb Primal way of eating is generally the most effective way to lose body fat. It tastes good, it’s easy to stick to, and, most importantly, it works. But some people like to push the envelope. They like waking up early and going for a run, then coming home at night and hitting the weights. They’re avid CrossFitters. They like seeing how far their bodies can go. They’re concerned with performance, above all else, and they want to maximize every last drop of physicality their bodies can muster. In that case, more dietary carbs are probably called for – especially if they’re trying to lose weight at the same time. Certain activities just require glycogen. I do plenty of activities that use up glycogen, but I’m not doing them day in, day out, so I don’t need to eat a lot of carbs.

If you are, if you’re doing WODs every day and playing in a basketball league on the weekends and doing jiujitsu twice a week, you’ll need to replenish those glycogen stores more often or else risk that chronically-stressed state that stops weight loss.

8. Your eating schedule is too disordered.

I tend to get hungry at different times throughout the day, and I have no issues eating meals at different intervals depending on when hunger strikes. That seems to be pretty typical. Although many Primal eaters relish the freedom from having to keep snacks on hand in order to stave off hunger and enjoy the fact that they can skip a meal or two and just rely on their hunger signals, there is a considerable amount of evidence that maintaining a regular eating schedule can improve the metabolic response to meals in some people. Women in particular seem to benefit most from a “regular meal pattern.” In one study of lean women, an “irregular” meal pattern resulted in lower postprandial energy expenditure than a regular meal pattern. In another study, lean women who ate meals on a regular schedule had better insulin sensitivity and improved blood lipids. And in one other study of healthy obese women, regular mealtimes increased postprandial thermogenesis, insulin sensitivity, and blood lipids.

Sometimes, you might need a little order to your eating, whether you’re IFing or not. And that’s totally fine.

9. You’re actually at a healthy weight and your body is “keeping” you from dropping any more.

I know, I know: your body is a huge jerk and he says mean things to you. But sometimes the body knows best. Sometimes, our current body composition is where we’re supposed to be, even if we only have a four or a two-pack (or none at all). Recall the natural bodybuilder who, upon dropping from 14.8% body fat to 4.5%, also dropped his metabolic rate, his body temperature, his heart rate, his testosterone levels, and his moodiness. Recall that women deposit fat differently than men and actually need some body fat for optimum fertility and health. Instead of obsessing over a few more percentage points on the body fat scale, think about how good you’re feeling, how your health issues have cleared up, and how you enjoy movement more. And if you want to alter your body composition, focus on addition – lifting heavy things, sprinting – rather than subtraction. You might be right where you’re supposed to be.

One final point: Note that I’m not saying eating too few calories or exercising too much or focusing too much on diet to the exclusion of all else will make you gain weight. I’m saying that it can lead to or exacerbate a stall in your weight loss. It’s a small distinction, but an important one.

That’s it for today, folks. Anything look familiar? Anything jump out at you? What have I forgotten? Be sure to skim the last article after reading this one to make sure it’s not something I’ve already covered.

Thanks for reading!

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219 thoughts on “9 More Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight”

  1. I especially love #9. I huge turning point for my life was accepting that I am never going to weigh 100 pounds. I’m 5′ 7″ and have a… “solid” build. My life has been radically happier since I stopped focusing on being lean and started focusing on being healthier and more accepting of my body. Which coincidentally, led me to be leaner 😉 Well would you look at that!

    1. Also… don’t forgot to mention that you can climb a rope and do pullups.

      Two things only people who are healthy and fit can do!

    2. Susie – way to be! I can definitely relate. I’m 5’7″ as well and also have a “solid” build. Sometimes I get caught up comparing myself to my much thinner (read: twiggy) friends, but when I really look at what I’m doing in Crossfit and Paleo, I feel better knowing that as long as I’m happy and treating my body right, I will get lean and be just right for me.

      Also, you were the first to comment on both of the new articles I read today (here and PaleOMG). Small world!

    3. Me too! This was good to hear today. I look so much better than I did a couple of years ago but the number on the scale has not changed much and that has bothered me for months. I’m going to work harder on building muscle and feeling better. I just kicked my sleeping pill after four years, so winning the insomnia battle is huge. I just need to keep focusing on all the positive stuff. THANKS!

  2. Right on with number four. The more you align yourself with nature’s intention (specifically spending lots of time outside and eating well), the less you’ll need to worry about any sort of number on a scale.

    1. I agree. I have Metabolic Syndrome, Insulin Resistance, PCOS, Fatty Liver Disease and High Cholesterol. I am totally BORKED! lol It’s gonna take me eons to fix all the wrong.

      1. I hear ya. I don’t have Fatty Liver, but everything else. I’m in a bad place now, but I’ve seen really good results on Paleo/Primal. So good, that I have gotten pregnant, gained 70lbs, and had to start over again while sleep-deprived and taking care of an infant… Twice now… But I know it works!

        It takes about a month for my fertility signs to improve, and three months for my lipids to improve. I can pretty much count on feeling like a different person five months in, even if I am still obese. Just being on the trajectory to better health feels pretty great, even though the finish line may be another 18 months off.

        1. My wife was the only one out of the women she works with that kept up her production of milk after going back to work and losing weight. She is now leaner and fitter than prepregnancy by figuring out she needed 2500-2800 calories a day. All the other women had to switch to formula and haven’t lost their “baby”. All the older women tolder her she would never have a flat stomach again. She proved them wrong.

      2. I have PCOS and after 3 years of Metformin, Spirinolactone & Yaz, I decided to heal myself through paleo/primal and natural anti-androgen supplements. My menses returned after quitting the meds and eating a bit better. But I struggle with continuing to exercise and eating primal all the time, I fall off frequently, but am still trying, but when I’m paleo/primal I feel so much better and trimmer. Hang in there.

    2. Nora Gedgaudas’ book “Primal Body, Primal Mind” is very good at sorting out all this stuff. And yes, Bella Porter, it is icky to be ‘broken’, but Gedgaudas has pointers on how to make the fix happen. I highly recommend the book. It’s been helpful for me, anyway.

      1. I second your recommendation. Nora’s book has been enormously helpful to me. It’s extremely well written and researched.

  3. I think #4 is the biggie for me right now. Living in Ohio means I don’t get much outdoor time during the winter. I did get a nice workout this morning though, 30 minutes of shoveling heavy, wet snow from my drive way had me work up a good sweat. Not much sun exposure though.

    The wife and I like to take walks and we have a ‘Rails to Trails’ pathway we use when it gets nicer out. Can’t wait to be able to have our daily walks again. Since the path was a former rail line it is pretty well isolated from civilization (mounds and hedges/bushes/shrubs/etc line it when in town) and when we get outside our little burb it is out amongst the farm fields. I find it very relaxing.

    1. HilliardJoe,

      It could also just be from generic stress — I also don’t get much sunlight (especially in the winter), but I know that my stress levels tend to run pretty high.

      I think I need to move to the country haha.

      Rob Wolf cleverly called stress/lack of sleep (and the resulting cortisol increase) “cock blocking your fat loss.”

      Don’t think I ever forgot that, hahha.

      1. My sister used to choose to watch The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Dwayne The Rock Johnson guest-starred in an episode and the twins’ mom was coming onto him. Somebody did something to interrupt/intervene .. I just remember the general idea .. and then I wholeheartedly took the chance to exclaim, “She’s a rock blocker!”
        Only laugh I got was a soundless neurotransmitter one in my own head. As long as we meet our own personal standards of clever, the brain can putter on happily enough, even if our etymological eruptions are corny.. or a kernel zeiny.

    2. That is a great path…know that and the park well, too. I had a similar workout today, shoveling that heavy whit stuff. I just kept telling myself that it was good I was lifting heavy stuff and later my daughter and I played in the snow and pretended we were cavemen. 🙂
      Mark’s post was very timely for me today!, I need to pay attention to several of the points…

    3. I also live in Ohio and have to echo your statement. It’s been friggin cold lately! I can’t take my normal lunch time walks outside!

  4. I fundamentally disagree with glycogen need. Glycogen can be depleted if you are active for a long period of time, but even during a marathon, strict removal of all carbs (experimental) has been shown to INCREASE blood glucose during a race.How? If no carbs are eaten? The human body makes what it needs from fat. Yes, your body produces the blood sugar you need as long as you are an efficient fat burner. Just agree to disagree Mark.

    1. I definitely jack up the sweet potato and fruit intake after resistance/strength/lifting sessions, but I’m with you on the endurance side–I can easily go for lengthy mountain bike rides in a fasted state and be completely comfortable just burning fat. My general rule of thumb is post lifting, more carbs, less fat, resting or running/walking/biking/swimming, more fat, less carbs. I’ve leaned up big time that way.

    2. The human body cannot convert fat into energy quickly enough for it to be a primary source of energy if the exercise is intense enough. Don’t get energy quickly enough, your brain and muscles start to decrease performance.

      I’d be interested to see who these marathoners were in the studies. I’ve known many a marathoner who felt sluggish, then turned to some quick glucose and immediately felt significantly more energetic.

      1. I find this interesting, I was gaining weight despite following a pretty strict food diet. I had not watched my blood sugars since I was pregnant so for curiosity I went out and bought a meter and some test strips. I found my blood sugars were HIGH and it was from not eating enough, after any type of excersize my numbers would climb to the 150 range and sometimes in the morning it was in the 150 range, NOT GOOD! So now I started watching my numbers there coming back down to the 80-100 range where they should be and once in a while a 70. I have learned a great deal in the last two weeks just carrying a glucose meter and I still am learning. I have to force myself to eat more and I find even vegetables can quickly cause a quick increase in glucose numbers so for now I am eating them sparingly. Hopefully I can start losing some weight once I get my numbers in line.

    3. Completely agree. Our body will supply us with the glycogen we need without an extrinsic supply. I carb deplete before triathlons and wod daily with a paleo/primal diet. I feel great, am in the best physical and mental state of my life, and throwing my hat in the ring for the worldwide crossfit open. No carb loading/supplementing needed.
      E. daniels PA-C

  5. I love these posts! This is something I work on with my clients – if they haven’t been losing weight after making lifestyle changes, we look to the hidden reasons they might be stalled. One thing I wanted to mention that can also inhibit weight loss are medications. I have a couple of clients of anti-depressants and that can have an impact as well.

    You have hit the nail on the head with this post as well as your previous one!

    Thanks so much for the blog,
    Cortney Chaite

    1. Just from some personal observations, it seems many (most??) behavior or mood improving drugs encourage fat formation.

      1. You are right in some cases. I would stay away from the topic unless you have a lot of experience with psychiatric medications. People make all kinds of comments and assumptions without really having any first hand experience or knowledge. Furthermore, it would be terrible to encourage someone to go off a specific medication to lose weight. This should only be considered within the care of a Dr. You have no idea what kind of damage that could do to their emotional well being. I’m saying all this because I have first hand experience and am extremely fit and active and eat primally despite being on a medication that people claim to gain weight on. Everybody is different.

        1. I was making an observation based on extensive personal contact with the mental ill and 2 very close family members. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t encouraging anyone to ditch their medication just to lose weight. 😉 What interested me mostly is the inter-connection between drugs that alter mental states and metabolism.

        2. My personal experience with depression and with severely dysfunctional friends and family members with personality disorders and mood instability disorders corroborates Chris Kresser’s research and clinical experience. He’s done a whole series on depression at http://chriskresser.com/depression , and he concludes that there’s almost never justification for prescribing anti-depressants. So yeah, I think anybody who takes them is extremely naieve and very lazy, frankly; there are other, free, better options for treating depression than pills.

          On the other hand, there’s plenty of evidence in favor of prescribing anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers for people like Bipolars/manic depressives, Borderlines, Schizophrenics, etc, who are a danger to themselves and others. So yeah, sometimes pills are the way to go. Most psych meds are a harmful scam, though.

        3. Julie B, that’s a little harsh don’t you think? Calling people who are on antidepressents lazy? I can buy the naive, because I was on Prozac for 15 years before I found a natural doctor who got me off of it. People in the mainstream are told what to do by their doctors and believe them becasue it’s what you are supposed to do. It’s only when you find someone who knows different that you can take action.

        4. But also, weight gain is listed in the drug monographs as a side effect of many psychotropic drugs, including, I believe, all the SSRIs and MAOIs, most of the tricyclics, and Xanax.

          It’s not a judgement. It’s just a fact.

  6. Regarding #9 … depending on what weight chart you look at, I am 20-50 lbs overweight (42 yo female). I am clinically obese, with a body fat percentage probably in the upper 30s, maybe lower 40s. My weight is stable, however, I’m healthier than almost everyone I know, and I’m a lot stronger than people think I should be – I’ve got some freaky serious strength in my quads, in particular – quads that are covered in cellulite and spider veins.

    But in spite of my health, what person could honestly tell me that I look good naked? With back fat, bat wings, a very big tummy paunch, and the aforementioned cellulite and spider veins. My “healthy weight” is also an unattractive one.

    It is not possible to reconcile even a reasonable expectation regarding what’s considered attractive in women versus how I actually look. But yeah, I’m healthy.

    1. 1) Are you healthy? How do you know it? Could you be healthier? Health/wellness is not a yes/no, it’s a scale.

      2) Could you be stronger? More mobile?

      I’m not going to push at all for you to lose weight to be more attractive. Obviously, I’m a random person, and what I say shouldn’t matter to you. I’m simply curious what your point is. If you lose 20 lbs., or if you became more attractive, would it make you less happy, less strong, less healthy?

      Also, would someone 35 pounds overweight would have a body refusing to let it lose weight? You may not NEED to lose weight, but with 20-50 lbs. extra, the body wouldn’t be fighting weight loss.

    2. While it is good that you feel healthy, just because your weight is stable doesn’t mean you are necessarily at the lowest healthy weight for your body. I’d say that you could still lose some weight, but I say that without any knowledge of whatever hells you’ve afflicted upon yourself trying to kickstart the fat burning again.

    3. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Taking good care of yourself is the most important goal so if you feel great, that’s what matters. Everything else is secondary.

      Grok on!

    4. I’m right there with ya! I do not deny that I’m “obese” by the numbers (5’8-1/2″ and 200#, but I work out as much as my 60 yr old body will permit with arthritic knees and hips, and VERY weak ankles, and I swim a minimum of 1/2 mile daily when Michigan weather allows me to use my outdoor pool. I also have thyroid disease, which I insist is a silent and permanent foil to weight loss. I have recently changed to Paleo eating, and consider myself in the transition stages. I’m tired of beating myself up mentally and emotionally because I don’t “measure up” to our American standard of fit, healthy and gorgeous. I am who I am. A favorite quote of mine is “All you can do is all you can do, but all you can do is enough.” (Art Williams, Jr.) Amen.

    5. I remember a few years ago my sister said to me, “I know I’m overweight but I’m healthy!” She then expounded on how most people she knows get sicker, and she’s fit and strong etc. and yet, just a couple of months later she was diagnosed with type II diabetes.

      I’m not saying you’re NOT healthy, but just feeling healthy and being physically strong, and not getting sick with colds and flus etc. doesn’t mean there aren’t other problems you may have related to being overweight.

      (For the record I’m overweight too, and need to lose a good 20+ lbs… and I also consider myself “healthy” but I try not to delude myself that everything’s 100% perfect internally).

    6. Health also includes mental health. This paragraph doesn’t suggest particularly carefree body image. 🙁

      My aunt and father have been at a “stable” and are obese weight, too. My father in particular is very strong and health despite the layer of fat. But he’s not really happy because there’s stuff he can’t do and hates having his picture taken. (Which pains me because I don’t see him as “fat man” — I see my Dad.)

      From personal experience on the “overweight but healthy” front, the cellulite goes away when you eat and exercise right. Your body will never be perfect, but it can be much closer to your mind’s eye if you commit to the lifestyle. You don’t need to “make peace” with what’s making you unhappy if you don’t want to.

    7. I dont know… ive kind of accepted that im going to b slightly overweight forever. Last year i started at 232, lost a lot of weight and for 5 months ive been sitting between 159 and 165. Im healthy and fit. I eat well and my crossfit times are at the top 5 of our group. Im strong. I have a “solid” build but 165 is not where i want to b. My bf% is 31. Id like to see my weight at 145 and bf 25%. And this belly has got to go!!

    8. Well, I mainly posted to just whinge about being overweight and therefore (based on popular culture) unattractive, while eating better and being stronger and healthier than I ever have in my life. I’d bet a big chunk of change that I’m even healthier than most of the young women I see who would be considered hot (hotness supposedly correlating to health, which in my experience often does not!). It’s just hard to reconcile that I am putting considerable effort into being healthy yet I can’t claim to be physically attractive.

      Life’s just not fair … I know that.

      Thanks for your replies, everyone.

    9. You could try following a Leptin-reset protocol. Sean Croxton (among others) has a good video about how leptin controls your body’s weight “set point”, and how everyone who is considered “overweight” likely has some degree of leptin resistance. Sean’s “Leptin: fat loss for smart people” video is a good starting point if you’re interested!

  7. I’m at #9 and happier than hell about it. I float between 195 and 198. I have a good system in place with my eating and exercise habits….if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. I’ll have to make a couple changes shortly when I start running every other day again. But, until then I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.

  8. In regards to number 2. I remember hearing some good advice (was more in regards to conventional junk food) but might still have some merit.

    Eat that food at your table. Take the time to sit and enjoy it. Particularly true if you’re using the 80/20 rule. Pretty easy to mow through a bag of cheetahs on th couch and not realize your getting more than your 20.

      1. Ah, thanks for that laugh out loud chuckle! Hilarious visual. 🙂

    1. I too love mowing down cheetahs. There is nothing more primal than killing animals. The rush! I had to pay off the Botswananian game official with a rhino horn to go over the 1 cheetah limit. Now if only I could get some bolts for my river boat!

  9. #6! I feel like over exercising has become popular, and not just for people who are doing excessive cardio. I’ve even seen crossfit gyms lately promoting hard workouts 5-6 days a week.

    1. Now we have “insanity” and other trends that are confusing, even to those of us who are no stranger to exercise. I do remember being my fittest and smallest when I did heavy workouts most days of the week, so the various messages are a bit confusing.

      1. But, was fittest and smallest healthiest? You can pretty much beat your body into submission with exercise. Work through nervous system overload and fatigue to get the results you want, at the expense of health/well-being, and diminishing returns.

        1. You definitely have a point there, LOL. Though it was just a few years ago I was at a different point in my life – I didn’t have (or wasn’t symptomatic) MS at the time. There’s no way I could do that now and I still do a LOT.

    2. Dani.. Agree 100%.

      My girlfriend is the latest to get suckered into this overexercising culture, even though she only sleeps 5 hours a night.

      I keep trying to tell her that exercise isn’t going to do much when she is chronically sleep deprived, but she’s a stubborn one. Too much time listening to bodybuilders and people passing on BS.

    3. This is true… when I started CrossFit I was going three times a week which I thought was more than enough for an overweight, unfit person… and now I go 4 times a week (to allow time for rest, and also because I do roller derby and I don’t want to overtrain), and I do feel that there’s this “push” to train every day they’re open rather than taking some time off each week.

    4. Crossfit has always pushed a 3 days on/1 day off schedule as far as I know. The founder is into “elite athleticism”. I assume working your athletes like crazy is the way there, I have no idea.

      When I started out, I tried to do their schedule as closely as possible (thinking that would also be effective for my more modest goals.) I was cranky and overtired a lot. With time, I also noticed that when I took significant amount of time off, I would come back the same or stronger. (There’s not much in the online community that discusses the importance of rest other than the 1 day.)

      Hitting this site pulled together all my personal observations on exercise. (I had also known of a few folks who only exercised hard once or twice a week a point of principal, but I had dismissed it as “not enough”.)

      If the point of Crossfit is to stay fit for life, my experience suggests reversing 3 days on/1 day off recommendation. Currently, I do a full Crossfit type work out (the Warm-Up plus some specific full body/old school weightlifting) 1 day with 3 days off. So roughly 2 times a week if I’m doing it right.

      The 3 days on/1 day off business meant (for me anyway) that Crossfit was the only “sport” (ran out of time) and that I wouldn’t have any energy to do anything fun anyway. Finding MDA seriously put some fun back into exercise. 🙂

      1. Very good idea, customizing your Crossfit attendance. We’re all different.

        Personally, I’m on a 5-days-off/1-day-on exercise schedule, and that’s +/- 2 days! Even when I was in college (40 years ago), I didn’t lift or run more than 2x a week. This was not from some fitness superiority, but just from a longer neccessary recovery period (the second day after a workout was a killer.)

        Does the CrossFit gym get paid more, the more often you go?

        1. I’m not part of a CrossFit gym but usually no – it’s a flat fee from what I’ve seen. Occasionally punch cards, but it’s not the usual thing either. (I’m a DIY because at first there were no CrossFit gyms near me and then I couldn’t justify the cost once I knew how to do it.)

  10. This winter is killing me! Mindless eating is so easy to do when it’s too cold/wet/miserable/dark to get outside and enjoy oneself. 🙁

    I have put on a few (just a couple, but still…) thanks to my love for almonds and dark chocolate and my utter boredom waiting for winter to *go away*.

    Come spring, I’ll have lots of action to keep me busy, but waiting for it without over eating the “paleo comfort foods” is nearly impossible.

  11. I can relate to #3 all too well. I went from consuming too little to just enough and more and dropping inches within a couple of weeks after increasing my food intake. I do recall being my smallest when I ate the *most* food (especially a high amount of good fat ironically enough).

  12. Here’s what works for me: No sweets (either artificial or otherwise), no grains of any kind, no snacking. Eat breakfast late in the a.m. and dinner early in the p.m.

    I never had to lose a lot of weight, but I recently eliminated all grains and grain products in the hope that it would eliminate a flare-up of IBS–which it did do astonishingly well. In the process I lost the last 10 or 15 pounds I needed to lose.

    I eat various types of protein and low or moderately low glycemic veggies plus a little whole fresh fruit, such as a small banana or a handful of blueberries. I do eat some starchy vegetables; I just don’t eat them every day. My drink of choice is water with lemon or unsweetened green tea. I also tend to eat smaller portions now but I don’t get hungry. In fact I frequently have to remind myself to eat.

    A lot of people will say this is too restrictive, too paleo, too low-carb, too boring, etc. For sure, it’s classic Atkins without really trying. It helps a lot that I actually like to eat this way. When my GI tract is happy, I’m happy.

    Hint: Get rid of the sweets first, including stevia, xylitol, whatever. Then work on eliminating the grains. They’re all a huge stumbling block in any effort to lose weight.

    1. Shary —

      These are all really good points. But you said you never really had to lose a lot of weight.. so I suspect your journey is going to be a little bit different from someone who was never healthy (for example).

      If you’ve lived a relatively healthy lifestyle your whole life, you can probably get away with a lot more than someone who hasn’t.

      I’m with you on the “When my GI tract is happy, I’m happy — hahaha.

      IBS Breathren, unite. Sigh..

      1. Alexander, you’re right. Weight loss wasn’t my priority. I eliminated sweets because, for me, they are very addictive, and I was concerned that I might become diabetic. I eliminated grains because of the IBS-D I’ve had off and on for several years. I don’t worry about fats; I know I get plenty. I don’t eat seeds or nuts right now because I’m still in the process of healing my plumbing.

        That said, I do think that this type of low carb, quasi-Atkins eating plan would work for most people needing to lose a lot of weight. One advantage is that the weight comes off rapidly, whereas most diets take forever to show results and people get discouraged.

        1. Hey- it doesn’t sound like you’re particularly low carb -Atkins with all the fruit intake.

        2. Sonia, I guess I wasn’t specific enough. I said I eat “a little” whole fresh fruit. That doesn’t mean I eat a lot of fruit or that I eat it every day. In view of the fact that I eat zero sweets and zero grains, the carb amounts I do eat average out to be very low. Even on the original Atkins diet you don’t have to avoid fruit indefinitely

      2. Alexander – You are so right. I have PCOS/insulin resistance and gluten intolerance so weight loss has always been an uphill climb for me. We all have a different load to bear.

    2. I love MDA and Primal eating, but after my last pregnancy and gestational diabetes, I needed to look at Atkins because I was still consuming too many carbs for weight loss. Primal alone gave me too many options for over eating. I needed to lose about 30 pounds total. Atkins has really helped me get a better picture of what I eat and why I eat since it strips it down so much. Primal keeps it healthy. Using a combination of the two works best for me in the weight loss department.

      1. Dee – Yes, totally. Dr. Atkins focus on weight loss (and his work with messed up metabolisms) really is outstanding. He designed a weight loss diet that works.

        Doing it Primally keeps you out of the Atkins bars/shake world, which was always the sketchiest part.

        The amount of carbs *do* count, as well as portions, as well as the kind of food you’re eating. People seem to really want one “simple” trick (all Paleo, all calorie counting, all low carb, etc) to weight loss. Depending on who are, it’s just not that simple.

        1. I was gaining weight eating paleo. After buying a glucose meter I could see even eating a few vegetables would send my numbers above the comfortable zone, and when I would go along time without eating it was the same thing, so no fasting for me at this point. I have found that I was not eating enough, and when my blood sugar was high in the morning it quickly came down with some bacon and eggs. So I find 1 carb will raise my glucose by 5 points. So yes they definitely count. Years of screwed up metabolism of not eating, low fat, high carb you name it takes a toll on the body, now hopefully I can turn that around.

      2. @rdzins – What kind of vegetables were you eating that raised your blood sugar? was it greens or more colorful veggies? (peppers, carrots, squash, etc)

        1. I was eating spinach and s mostly greens, I cut out the onions because they seemed to be more of the culprits. I think once I get my numbers in line, and hopefully lose a little weight I can bring them back in to the picture.

    3. I wish I could eliminate sweets as easy as I eliminated grains! When I first discovered Paleo and primal eating (being 27 yo) I was shocked and relieved at the same time: all my childhood and early teen years I was the “weird” kid who’d only want to eat the salad, meat/fish on the plate and refuse to touch the rice/wheat/pasta/bread/etc. Even with cakes I just scooped the cream with a spoon and left the buscuit layers untouched – must have been fun for my parents thing back now 🙂 Needless to say that all those years everybody from my parents and other family members to school and dance teachers/coaches/fellow students/friends tried their best to ‘fix’ that in me. I was always told how I was ‘not doing it right’ and how “unhealthy” it was. Unfortunately, they somewhat won (what can a kid or even a 17/18 year old do when adults are supposed to know it better!) But even though, I kind of ate all those things (esp. during my vegetarian try: all those brown rice things, quinoa, buckwheat, etc.) I always ‘couldn’t care less’ about anything that was grains. So dropping them all at once was the easiest and happiest thing to do. But how can I drop all those Parisian macarons, chocolates, home-made meringues, ice-cream, brown-sugar-marzipan, home-made matcha cookies (of course, I put sugar in them), honey and other delicious things which, unlike grains, I love and adore since childhood? I’ve tried (seemingly) everything. And I just can’t. My best achievement was eating sweets only every other day. Then I tried not touching sweets for two days in a row and on Day 3 when I could finally eat them, I ate loads. So, for now I continue not eating grains (and not missing them!) and eating desserts on a daily basis (dreading the idea of having to eliminate them). Sigh.

      1. The only way I can not eat sweets is to not purchase them.. Why are you buying sweets? Why can’t they be replaced with whole fruit to start with? Or bliss balls made with a few dates or dried apricots and blended nuts and cocao powder? I don’t understand binge eating because I bet if all that was in the house was fresh veg, meat, fruit, eggs and fish it wouldn’t happen and the habit would be broken?

        1. Meg, I agree with you! Out of sight, out of mind! The problem for me is when someone else buys them for me. For example, my mom bought me bags of my favorite candies for Valentine’s. Sweet thought, but it absolutely ruined everything I’ve been working towards since starting PB 2 months ago. I just couldn’t control myself Now the harsh cravings are back in full force, plus I noticed some terrible mood swings! This was actually positive reinforcement that I have to stop!

        2. O, Meg, thanks so much for your comment! I guess I failed to get my point across, though (maybe it’s the language; English is not my mother-tongue) I don’t understand binge eating either. Having a dessert after meal is not what I view as ‘binge eating’. Binge eating happened on Day 3 after I ‘ordered’ myself not to eat sweets for 2 days in a row… But even in this case our understanding of binge eating can be different. I don’t have a weight problem/over-eating problem (never had) and going Paleo and primal is what I am trying to do to be healthy/healthier and look better/younger as I get older (totally narcissistic; lol) and hopefully, live long(er) while being active(hehe). So, when I eat sweets, it’s not like I am gaining or not loosing weight that I want to loose, it is just that I know, Grok doesn’t do it and I can’t not do it. And I wrote my comment as a reply to ‘first drop sweets, then eliminate grains’ advice in an attempt to show that sometimes it’s the grains that are the easy part! Well, in my case they are! I thought maybe there is something to those cravings of sweets. I once read or heard somewhere that people who eat sweets may, in fact, lack chromium or something, but I am not sure and need to verify that. And in my world a delicious dessert can’t be replaced (as you, kindly, suggested) by a whole fruit. Fruit is not a dessert and, actually, should NOT be eaten after meal. I may eat a fruit (in between or before meals, because it’s healthier), but I will still be craving chocolate (and no, I don’t mean a supermarket chocolate bar which is full of crappy ingredients) or a good millefeuille and unless I have it nothing seems to be satisfying. As for dried apricots – my stomach hates them, as most of all dried fruits. But I do like dates with my green tea sometimes. As for nuts (which I will never be able to view as dessert!) – I am very careful with them and only eat them on rare occasion, because nuts are high in phytoestrogens – and those can mess up the hormones… eating them everyday did not prove to be great for me.

  13. Great post Mark! Especially bringing light to #2 and #4 which most of us “forget” about! As always, I look forward to your posts, thanks for sharing 🙂

  14. I am sure I have been under a lot of stress lately, but what I always miss and hardly ever get any reply to is peri/menopause. How about that? Is there really no way not to gain, or even to loose weight during this period? I have been weighing 20 Lbs less, but suddenly without changing diet I started to gain and what ever I try I can’t get it off!

    1. Your hormones play a key role in how your body decides what an ideal weight is for you, so the diet and habits that used to work probably won’t work anymore. If the weight isn’t focused in one area of your body, you probably aren’t going to get rid of it. If it is focused in one part of your body, you can most likely lose it but it isn’t easy, especially if you’ve already tried the obvious solutions.

    2. As your estrogen levels drop, your body will attempt to add fat, which actually secretes a small amount of estrogen. If you take off too much weight, the mistake I made at age 42, it will send you directly into early menopause, not good since it increases risk for cardiac disorders and osteopenia.

    3. Mina, I agree there isn’t much on menopause. I ended up gaining 30 pounds during my journey through that part of my life. I finally lost most of the weight just stopping the grains and beans. I write down my weight after I get up in the am everyday to keep it within one or two pounds. If I am up I watch my salt intake as well as look for anything that it out of the normal eating. I notice that I can gain weight on chicken but not beef. Just keep track of what you eat and weigh and see if that helps to see what takes it off and what puts it on for you. You are unique so we all have to find out what that means on our own. Have fun! It might take a lot of writing but you will see a pattern eventually.

    4. Here’s one for you. I’ve been primal for about three years, heading that way for about two prior. Five years ago, menopause got rid of any excess fat on my body overnight, and being primal has maintained that leanness with no effort at all. In fact, I had to be conscious to keep the weight on, which I’d never experienced in my life. Now, five years later, same lifestyle, a few pounds came back on as quickly as they dropped five years ago. Weirdly, though I only weigh about five pounds more, I have ballooned in size through my torso and thighs, unable to fit into most of my clothing. What is this? Can hormonal changes cause so much bloating with very little actual weight gain? I’m blown away and very uncomfortable!

  15. Numbers 1 and 3. I have a terrible time waiting to eat until I’m hungry, so I end up eating when I’m bored, angry, stress, etc. I have also made it a habit to cut out things when my weight loss stalls. I’ve gone from eating 3 eggs every morning to skipping breakfast every day and fasting one day a week. The problem for me is, I gain weight when I eat more. I am trying to focus on adding exercise and learning to respond properly to my hunger or lack thereof. It’s the hardest part of this process.

    1. Ross –

      Do you try eating some nice protein and fat every time you’re hungry? Any effect?

      The problem is that when you go ahead and add exercise, if you’re already hungry a lot, you’re going to be a hell of a lot more hungry.

  16. Great read. I personally struggled with #6 when I was younger and still do from time to time. I LOVE being active daily and getting lots of tough sweaty exercise in because you just feel so darn good afterwards — but I’ve come to realize that its not a good thing to never stop moving. It was a hard concept to wrap my head around as a young teenage girl with every magazine and article (mainstream) is telling me about all the working out I SHOULD be doing. Your body need a break and I’ve learned to find more of a balance. It’s something that I work towards on a daily basis and I have you to thank Mark for helping me see the light. Keep it coming!

  17. Mina, I agree with you. I am menopausal and the weight just sticks to me. I am so envious of the people who dropped 30 pounds just eliminating grains. Well, I eat only primal foods, move frequently and no weight loss. I feel good, but I still have a fat tummy. I do not look good naked!

    1. I’m right there – I’m to the point of calling to see if my thyroid is still working in case that’s been my problem. I’ve also chosen March to eliminate alcohol in case that was impeding my progress. I’m hoping it helps with the hotflashes (so far I’m sleeping better which is wonderful). “The Food Hospital” recommends adding soy and chickpeas to the diet for the hotflashes, as well as minimizing alcohol and caffeine. I’ve started with removing alcohol for a month.

      1. Your thyroid being low can mess you up. Mine was not working (at all really) years ago and I couldn’t lose weight to save my life, but my hair was falling out all kinds of other weird stuff (pre-primal of course). I will say though my Dr. has had to reduce my thyroid dosage since going primal.

        1. that’s it – I’ll make the appt to check it out. I’ve noticed that my tummy is flattening, but I’m not actually losing weight and I don’t think my horse work is enough to be increasing muscle mass (darn it).

  18. I think it’s interesting that the scale in the photo is stuck at exactly the same weight as I am. 235…

  19. Just a question. Has anyone noticed any difficulty with women who have had 2+ children losing weight with a Primal eating plan?

    I ask because I noticed that in 4 Hour Body, Tim Ferris noted that women who have had two children or more had little success losing weight on his 4HB plan (Think Primal, plus beans minus fruit).

    Keep it coming, Mark!

    1. I had two kids and lost weight after switching to a paleo diet from a vegetarian one. I’m only 5′ tall and was 95 lbs pre-kids. I gained 50 pounds with each one, thanks to Lyme disease complications keeping me from exercising, adding to my inflammation and pain issues, etc. I stalled at 115 lbs for 4 years post-kids. Then when I switched to paleo eating, I dropped 15 lbs in 2 months without thinking about it. It could be because I didn’t know what to eat from such a drastic change! 😉 But I think it was the paleo foods, better protein, good amounts of fat, that did the trick since I’ve kept it off ever since.

    2. It would be interesting to know if those women participating in the study were breastfeeding? Their bodies would be geared to store fat for producing milk. Plus, mothers who manage more than one child, don’t tend to get a lot of down time, so stress becomes a factor in not losing the weight.

      Rather than it being a hormonal issue with child bearing, I wonder if it’s more environmental?

      I’m currently pregnant with #2 (due in a few months) and 38 – yet I’m personally losing weight through diet and slow movement, more than I did when I was 10 years younger and pregnant with #1. I didn’t set out to lose weight, it just happened as a result of getting gluten and fake food out of my life, plus eating more protein and fat.

      On the Dr’s scales I’m putting on weight (or the baby is) but I’m personally losing it. I know this because apart from the baby bump, my shirts are swimming on me more, and that’s despite my bra-cup jumping a size or two!

      As I also have type 1 diabetes, my Dr is pushing me to exercise every opportunity I get, to stop an excess of glycogen carring over to the baby. But I’m listening to my body and taking it easy instead. There is nothing to indicate the baby is large or I am unhealthy, yet the Dr’s keep pushing me to meet their best practice advice.

      I believe the only reason I’m this healthy is because I don’t take the Dr’s advice. I listen to it, evaluate it’s merits, but listening to my body has been the best weight loss advice I’ve ever taken.

      Dr’s tend to panic when they hear you’re pregnant and type 1…I don’t though because I’ve done this before. My body knows what it’s doing and I could easily get stressed on what Dr’s or health guru’s advise, just because I happen to have circumstances which are the same as their study group.

      Which is why I appreciate MDA’s approach to dispensing advice about health. It’s not all or nothing, it’s a smorgasborg of choice individuals need to step up to and try. If it works, good, if not, try something else. 🙂

  20. I’ve been primal for a year and have lost and gained the same 5lbs. I finally realized that nuts & cheese actually increase my hunger and I tend to overeat them. So, I followed Mark’s 17 steps and eliminated both 4 weeks ago. I’ve been eating only meat, fat and vegetables and one fruit/day. No sugar, no alcohol either. As of today, I’ve lost an inch off my hips and chest and 2 inches off my waist. Regardless of the weather, I’ve made sure I walk for 3 hours/week and lift heavy twice. I haven’t cut calories, at least not mindfully. In fact, consistent exercise increases my hunger, so I eat until I’m full. It seems to be working.

  21. “Just because you’re scarfing down grass-fed beef and pastured eggs doesn’t mean you can get away with mindless consumption.”

    Read this while “mindlessly” eating eggs cooked in grassfed tallow. Lol

  22. Great list! Homeostasis is such a fascinating friend/bugaboo.

    May I also add the viewpoint of a peri-menopausal woman? I recently started balancing my hormones using bioidentical replacements … and gained unwanted weight. I was already flabby, and now some of my clothes don’t fit.

    However, my energy went way up, I truly LOVE playing hard now such as mimicking Ido Portal, and my sex drive went from nearly zero to WOW! My zest for life is through the roof. Yet, I am quite a chubby dumpling, and can pinch more than an inch.

    So for those in a time of hormonal flux such as puberty, menopause or andropause, I submit that losing weight is a different kind of challenge at these times in our lives. Focus on how you feel, that may be our greatest health-o-meter.

    Mark, I’d love to see you do more on hormones, maybe with Carrie as a guest writer, because it is a fascinating world!

    1. Julie, hormone balancing is a confusing world especially if you are pre-menopausal. Great that you got such good results, but you could be estrogen dominant which could be the culprit of your weight gain. You might discuss with your physician about decreasing testosterone which can convert to estrogen. Also, try taking advantage of your new energy with increased intensity and varied workouts. Good luck!

  23. We are doing a weight loss competetion at work. I was tops for the girls last round, but this round, the weight is coming off a LOT slower. 4, 5 and 8 could be part of my problem, but I often wonder if the pressure to repeat that I’m putting on myself is part of the problem…

    I have to keep reminding myself, the people that are losing a lot this round are probably losing the same 15 lbs they lost last time and gained back over the holidays. And how much muscle mass are they losing while I am building me some biceps and (hopefully someday) a six-pack.

  24. I did the 28 day challenge in January and began weight training once a week and walking more. The scale didn’t budge! I did lose inches though. Finally after 8 weeks of living the Primal lifestyle I have lost about 6 lbs. I was eating too much food the first month, I had a bad almond butter habit! I thought it would be a faster weight loss, I have a BMI of 33. Regardless of slow losing I feel great. I have Hashimoto’s thyroid disease and everything I read had pointed me to eating this way. I am trying to focus on feeling good and be patient with the weight loss.

  25. I was so guilty of #2 last night! Nuts, dark chocolate and raw honey. Was Mark peeking in my window?

  26. I enjoyed reading both articles, I don’t think I could’ve come up with 26 reasons! So lessons learned 😉
    However, I must say (surprisingly) I miss one very important reason, namely not drinking enough water! One of the most important things our body needs to work properly!

    1. I’m not sure how not drinking enough water would impede weight loss. Most people dealing with water and weight are trying to get rid of bloating. That is, the water that’s retained at a semi-high to high permanent level of carb intake. Drinking lots o water doesn’t really help that.

      Otherwise, drinking when I’m not thirsty just makes me pee a lot. I guess walking to the bathroom burns up extra calories or something.

      1. I have found that I don’t need that much water. In the very beginning (6 months B.P. – before Primal) I made sure to get my 6-8 glasses a day and I was running to the bathroom every half hour. My body now tells me when it needs water. Which isn’t very often so I guess my body is good at hydration. It doesn’t seem to matter how little water I have. If I drink some I have to pee within a half hour. We had no power/water/cooking ability the last two days and decided to just order delivery yesterday. I got a reuben sandwich with rye/pumpernickel bread (yes I ate bread! I admit it!). I chugged water the rest of the night. I couldn’t get rid of the thirst. And that water showed on the scale this morning. No carbs today and my body is already releasing the water.

  27. I’m with the menopause group who are mentioning the weight gain , but most noticeably the huge change in body shape without any gain. Back and torso fat the biggest culprits for me.

    I have exercised my whole life (pool manager/swim coach for 13 years) hiking, walking, kayaking, plus garden and yard work with remodeling thrown in the mix. Most days do some body weight exercises (have to be careful now with too heavy a weight and need to modify overhead exercises) squats, lunges and such.

    Also I have eaten low carb for close to 18 years with emphasizes on primal since Mark’ first book came out. I have moved around calories, meals and times, and composition to no avail. I know I’ve become the food watcher Mark described. Trying to enjoy the golden years but when I look in the mirror and try to dress this beast……

    Just feel we need to help the over 60 year old female more. Not enough information out there except the “take this drug/hormone/whatever and shut up”. What do you expect? you’re old and have lived your life. But you try to find clothing for the mature body that isn’t a printed sweatshirt or sweater. I can sport skinny jeans, but “the girls” need more support (yeah, they have “grown” or should I say doubled since menopause) and I don’t need to be flashing them to the world even though they are still fairly perky, it’s just not a pretty sight. You’ll say buy a bigger size, but it doesn’t work because it doesn’t fit elsewhere and looks like a sack or worse like I’m pregnant!

    In other words, I need help in getting this torso weight off. And NO I don’t drink alcohol or eat snacks. I also eat grassfed, pastured, organic whole foods. Thanks for letting me vent. It has been building for awhile.

    1. If you like reading, Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas. She doesn’t discount us elders (I’m almost 60).

    2. Dragonfly –

      How much are you willing to spend on clothing? If the real problem is that you’re not happy with the garments out there, then it can be solved if there’s money to throw at the problem.

      I’m about 99.9% sure you can find a bra with proper support, but it might not be at Wal-Mart. You may need to shop at a real lingerie store either in person or online. A specialty store would be used to accommodating weird band/cup combinations. (For the record, I have a hard time with bras, too My band size is very large compared to my cup.)

      Ditto with the clothing. I’m going warn you that it’s extremely expensive, but tailors can make you custom clothing. The upside to spending ridiculous amounts of $$$ on clothing is that the clothing should last a long time with proper care.

      Something to think about, anyway, if the real issue is that clothes shopping is no fun anymore. 🙁

      1. I’m going to second the bra fitting. I went from flat at the end of 6th grade to DD by the end of 7th. Mom got me a professional bra fitting, with a lady who also showed me how to measure myself and pick properly fitting bras from then on out. When I wasn’t nursing, I particularly liked the Wacoal brand from Dillards, but they are pricey. (Don’t get me started on my nursing bras fitting properly rant. I so wish I could give the industry a piece of my mind on that.) If you find a good solution to postmenopausal women losing weight, let me know. I know several ladies who would pay for the info.

    3. “You’ll say buy a bigger size, but it doesn’t work because it doesn’t fit elsewhere and looks like a sack or worse like I’m pregnant!”

      Get fitted at a real lingerie store. (not Victoria’s Secret or a similar place) It should have all sizes from 28-50+; AA-M (or whatever the max size is).. You might need a small band/large cup size like I do, one that isn’t carried by mainstream stores. (I’m a 34FF) A good bra should fit relatively tight around the back but fit the entire breast in the cup. So the solution isn’t simply “a bigger size” but the right cup/band combo.

    4. I’ve got the same figure type, all shoulders and back, with little thighs. It’s impossible to buy womens clothing for me which fits.

      Rather than hate my body though, I decided to appreciate it more by learning to alter my clothes. Learning to sew was less frustrating than trying on all the store clothes which never fitted.

      One recommendation about diet though, have you given up gluten? I found it messed with my hormones. Giving it up meant I saw the weight suddenly shift from the top half of my body. I don’t store it there anymore.

    5. I’ll agree with the others about getting a real bra fitting. I’m a 34F, also not a size one finds in typical lingerie lines.

      Here’s a secret that suits both lingerie and clothing goals: Nordstrom! They still do the old-school department store services that others have cut. They are WORTH IT.

      They will fit your bra, and once you know a few brands that work for you, you can look for them elsewhere if you like. And Nordstrom will alter clothing. Look into it if you have one in your area.

  28. Starting to think I’m #9 as well. I’m 5ft tall and have been as large as 145lbs to as low as 110lbs. Current weight is 120. And for the last year I’ve been obsessing over why I can’t seem to drop those last 10lbs. The answer might just be because I’m not supposed to. When I was 110lbs, I was a professional dancer and training 3 hours a day. Just hard to accept that this weight is healthier.

  29. As a woman in her child-bearing years, I have discovered I do best on an eating schedule. I don’t eat snacks, but I eat three squares a day every day. If I go so much as 20 minutes passed a normal eating time, my body lets me know. It’s like, “hey, um excuse me, don’t you know what time it is?”

  30. Thanks so much for this article! It came at such a timely time for me!
    It’s good to think of it as a Multi factorial problem because it helps me realise the few areas I really need to work on!
    1. Stress
    2. Sleep
    3. Irregular eating pattern
    I’ve just started a new job with crazy hours (just finished 80hrs in 6 days!) so these first three I’m really struggling with.
    Have made some healthy paleo meals and left them at work, as well as well as paleo snacks (mobile ones I can carry with me like a handful of nuts/punnet of blueberries etc) and am trying to fit in as much sleep as I can!
    5/6 mindless eating and pleasure foods was an issue for me last week because I was stressing about whether or not id be able to eat again that shift and I was snacking on bad foods whilst working and not being accountable for them.
    Will practice mindful eating again from today!

  31. I’ve been struggling to get the last 5 lbs off and I think its the nuts for me. I find myself eating to much if I eat them at all. I think I need to learn to eliminate them completely for awhile. Yogurt was another issue. Once I cut that out I was able to lose a little more fat.

  32. This was so timely for me.. I’ve been teetering on the edge of full on primal eating and low carb dieting. Then last night while I was spending forever in the kitchen trying so very hard to create something that was supposed to taste like cool ranch doritos but was chock full of processed crap I thought to myself…. WHY? Here I am spending forever doing this and now I have missed out on an evening that I could have spent time with my husband and my little bubbies but here I am trying so very hard to replicate some crap that is no doubt just going to lead to me wanting actual doritos in the end.. So that’s it.. I’m done.. True Primal starts TODAY!

    1. Good for you Jennapher. You are in the right place and ready to go. Screw the Doritos. In 3 weeks of true Primal, most of those cravings will disappear forever.

  33. I think I’ve suffered from a bit of #4 and I find that #1 tragically goes along with #4. Definitely those have been the hardest for me to overcome. And lack of sleep ties into #4 and subsequently #1. Great points these, I hadn’t considered #9. I often wonder about this because I’ve definitely added on muscle and likely some bone density from resistance training.

  34. I had been on primal for about 6 months without much success. I decided to get serious, so I moved from 80/20 to 95/5 but after 3 months of this, I was still gaining and losing the same 3 lbs (I needed to lose about 20lbs). Also I have some digestive issues (indigestion, bloating, constipation, abdominal cramping) that improved greatly after I eliminated wheat and dairy, but were still bothersome.
    I am currently breastfeeding, and I had resigned myself to not being able to go further with weight loss until I weaned when I read about ayurveda, and it suggested that eating regular meals would improve digestion, and help my metabolism. I switched from eating whenever I was hungry to eating 3 square meals at the same time every day, and I switched from body weight exercise to just yoga. With just those changes, I have finally moved past my plateau, losing 7lbs and 3 inches from my waist in the past 6 weeks. I still have a ways to go but my digestive issues are now completely resolved, and I am fitting into clothes that I haven’t worn for 3 years! A regular eating schedule has definitely helped.

  35. I had to laugh at #5. That is SO me. Or at least is has been over the past year. I appreciate the reminder to relax. Now that I “know”, it’s time to chill and just live it.

  36. Or….maybe it’s all the toxins in the environment these days. We need lots of detox, or the fat does us a favor and stores it away from our vital organs. Forgive me if others have made this comment~~don’t have time to read them all today! 😉

    1. “all the toxins in the environment these days”

      Only young people say this. The rest of us remember the unbreathable air of the ’70s (even inside, thanks to smokers) and there may be a few around who recall when street lights had to be on all day in major cities because the pollution didn’t let sunlight in.

      The fact is that we live in a much cleaner environment than our city-dwelling grandparents and great-grandparents.

      And if you’re really convinced that our bodies are being taken over by “toxins”, feel free to name those toxins and cite your documentation.

        1. +1. Growing up in So. Cal. in the 60’s I could not even see the mountain right next to our house. The smog was just horendous back then.

      1. Today, the air is cleaner but the food is much dirtier. GMO corn and GMO soy and dwarf hybrid wheat and pesticides galore.

        But that’s CW food. Don’t know how much of the crap makes it into Primal.

      2. Read the 100 Year Lie by Randall Fitzgerald and Fluoride Deception By Chris Bryson.

        There are worse things out there than Lead and DDT nowdays

  37. I’ve been doing interval training for a pretty long time – 6 days a week at the gym (Body for Life type of stuff).

    With the high-stress industry I was in, about 2 years ago I gained 30 lbs that I could never quite shake off. I went from never being able to gain weight and shot up from 165-195 – to the point where the middle of my thighs started touching and it REALLY pissed me off!

    Then I recently switched from lifting weights to the exercises you recommended and haven’t felt any pain since I started this new regimen. Next, I went from sprinting 3 days a week (every other day) to jumping rope – eight intervals for 60 seconds each (1/min rest in between each set).

    It also forced me to eat less (cause I’m not working out as hard) and still feel just as great!

    As of right now, I shed 15 of those 30 lbs I put on – the best I felt in almost 2 YEARS! Even better, I don’t have any pain in my body (joint or otherwise) and spend less time in the gym. Thanks Mark!

  38. Another great one Mark! Definitely struck a chord with 1, 2 and 6. I’ve definitely decreased my mindless eating but I still catch myself completely absorbed in something else while I’m eating. As for #2, my love of chocolate and nut butters might be the death of me. Combine those two and forget it! In fact, sometimes #1 and #2 go hand in hand (ie: mindlessly dipping my spoon into the sunflower butter jar over and over and sadly realizing it half way through). As for #6, I started CrossFit about six months ago. At first I went practically everyday and could feel myself running ragged and my weight loss was stalling. Now, I do 2 or 3 days and 1 day off where I do some steady state cardio and yoga.

  39. Mark, I switched to the Primal Blueprint way of eating last year and lost 10 lbs but then gained 10, lost 10, gained 10. I got nowhere (although, my energy is certainly better!) So, I decided to do something sacrilege and joined Weight Watchers again two weeks ago this past Monday. Since then, I’ve lost 2 lbs. Before you think me a defector from Grok’s camp, not true. I’m following Weight Watchers “Primal Style” or, as I like to a say – I’m following the Primal Blueprint while on Weight Watchers. Fortunately for me, Weight Watchers has stepped into the present and no longer allows for processed carbs to be low-point options. In fact, the only way I can stand this go around on such a gimmicky diet is that they encourage fruits/veggies, protein and healthy fats before everything else. They now ding you hard on the points if you eat wheat products, sugar and processed foods. Gone is the “low fat-low points” philosophy they used to espouse. For the past two weeks, I’ve had less than 5% processed food (I admit to eating some canned soup and frozen yogurt). I truly think it’s the mindless eating that messes most of us up. We think we’re eating less than we do. If you journal everything (EVERY.THING) that goes into your mouth, you’d be surprised how easy it is to simply take in too many calories. I can’t wait to be thin again and tell folks that I followed the Primal Blueprint while on Weight Watchers. Their expressions will be priceless. 🙂

    1. The best thing Weight Watchers did for me was teach me to pay attention to why I am eating, and portion control. I would eat because I was bored, or sad, or for a reward, or celebration, or grieving, etc. Food was the go-to for emotions. I had to break that. It’s still hard when emotionally, I want something unhealthy, but I know better.

  40. I always worry about #4. I’ve taken to setting myself a bedtime this month as well as taking time at least a few times a week to meditate for 10-15 minutes. I think this is helping with my overall stress levels and wellbeing.

  41. #9 – I have lost 43 lbs. in about a year and a half and my body seems to like it here, although I still weigh about 27 lbs more than I did when I married 25 years ago. =/ This discussion, however, has made me hungry!

  42. Whatever you do, don’t stop trying. I followed every bit of advice that floated past, but when I finally pried my stubborn fingers off dairy products, I started losing again after a seven-year stall. Also make sure I have a protein breakfast.

    1. I tend to think the reason why veganism works for people at the beginning is precisely because they are forced to pry those stubborn fingers off the dairy. Dairy is one of those foods that I think more people react to at a low level than medical community will admit.

  43. #2 is the reason why I plateaued and couldn’t lose weight for the longest time.I made some changes to my diet and have dropped 19lbs in the last 8 weeks and still going. Thank you for this great article!

  44. 4 and 5 for me… actually think I have finally hit 9… not sure how to feel about that.

  45. I think I am a walking example of #4. My husband had a bone marrow transplant in January and we have been in isolation ever since. Spending time in nature is challenging since he can’t even leave the room without an industrial filter mask! I appreciate the idea of listening to nature sounds. That’s something we will definitely try to relieve some of our stress!

  46. I went primal about 6 months ago and lost 13kg in about 11weeks… From there it’s been a battle and I’ve been yoyoing. I have Lupus, SLE, I’m on medication, deal with fatigue daily, pain daily, insomnia at times….. It sux. It is so true that stress, eating too little, and other factors mentioned (my memory is crappy too thanks to my Lupus, lol) I try my best…. If only I could kickstart the weight loss again, I’d love to drop another 7 to 10kg! Not exactly where I’d like to be but close enough 🙂

  47. What a great post. I’m going to have to think more on this and will probably have to write something up as well to help me process it all.

    I think #3, 5, 6, and 7 apply to me.

    Not sure I’m quite ready for refeeding yet!.. but I guess in life sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back to go two forward!

  48. As usual, I appreciate the MDA postings very much. However, I’m a little surprised at #3. Gedgaudas points to research that shows slightly lower intake as extremely beneficial, particularly in ‘jumpstarting’ the anti-aging capabilities of our own bodies. The information appears in Chapter 22. Our Primordial Past.

    What say you, Mark?

  49. Mark, I love your website and I love all the articles you have written. I am subscribed to your daily apple and read almost every article. I love learning about PB… but with that being said I STILL HAVE NOT TRIED IT! Why you ask?? What am I waiting for? I simply CANNOT GIVE UP CARBS. I love love looooooove bread. ALL kinds of bread. If I’m being honest, I look forard to the bread/butter at restaurants more than the meal sometimes. (eeeeeek, yup, that bad). I dream about bread (ok ok this is an exaggeration but you get the point). I also love pasta, rice and fruit (but not as much as bread). And, worst of all, I LOVE chocolate (and not just healthy dark chocolate)… I’m talking ALL kinds of chocolate, including, the devil, white chocolate. Chocolate cake, chocolate cookies, chocolate brownies… you name it. In fact, my boyfriend took me to Hershey Pennsylvania on Valentine’s Day just so I can get all the chocolate my little heart desires at the Hershey factory, etc…

    Sooooo, I’m a carb-lover and choco-holic. You’d think I’d be morbidly obese… but I’m also a marathon coach and probably engage in “chronic cardio” 6 days a week. After reading more of your articles, I’m starting to think that I “loooooove” bread/pasta/rice BECAUSE I run so much/train so hard (and I do interval training 2-3 times a week so not just monotonous training). What really backs up this thought is that I didn’t really care for chocolate UNTIL I started training for my first marathon (but the bread/pasta/rice obsession was always there).

    Soooo…. I visit your site and read your articles and think “maybe one day I’ll stop running/coaching marathons… start with your fitness program (walking/weights/sprints)… and then maybe, just maybe, I’ll stop craving carbsssss allllll the time… and then I can make a major life readjustment…” but, until then, the mere THOUGHT of giving up carbs is like being damned into a world of ETERNAL HELL. Seriously.

    But, alas, I still read along and learn… ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE LIKE ME OUT THERE?!?!??!?!

    1. Tara, I would say just stop eating one thing at a time and give yourself time to get ready – think about it for 2 or 3 weeks, research what it may be doing to your body, etc. Then when you are ready get rid of say, only grains and give yourself 30 days on that before going on to the next thing….. like beans. Get rid of the chocolate last, muhwahahahahahaha, it’s not as hard to find balance with that after the grains are gone. That’s how it’s worked for me at least. I try to note what I eat/drink the day before when I gain a pound or my knees hurt going downstairs – everyone has a cronic problem usually, unique to themselves. Then eliminate that for a few days before I try it again. You have your own chemical make up so you can find out what your body doesn’t like by the reaction you get after eating something that may be wrong for you. Eat as clean as you can w/o processing other than cooking foods, and when you add something new your body will yell at you or not. The carb craving/addiction withdrawls will come but muscle through and you will be happy to be a free person – woo hoo!!! Ok, enough rambling.

      1. Hi Tara, my latest mantra: Read Nora Gedgaudas, “Primal Body, Primal Mind.” If Mark’s “Primal Blueprint” didn’t answer your question(s), Nora’s book should. It’s really not always about weight. Cheers to you!

    2. Tara, I used to be like you when it comes to bread (pasta/rice I almost never eat and don’t crave). Bread, especially warm pita bread or crusty restaurant sourdough served with butter or olive oil, is something I try to avoid at all costs. Every once in awhile it’s in front of me and I either cave or I refrain, but the desire to have it never goes away. I ride a bike (a lot), so I do allow myself bread if I’m out riding and have no other food choice (which is rare). Instead, I’ll eat a couple of non-GMO corn tortillas the days I ride for extra carbs. That sometimes works in tricking me into thinking I’ve had bread when I haven’t.

    3. Just check http://www.weatbellyblog.com hosted by Dr William Davis.
      You are addicted to wheat, and if you think you LOVE bread (as I used to, being half-French who grew up on tons of it), no you don’t, you are just addicted. The gliadin protein in wheat binds to your opiate receptors in the brain and make you crave for bread. Go cold turkey with wheat and after a withdrawal period, you will find out that you don’t care any longer for bread. Easy to say, not so to do …

    4. Tara, I can relate about the addicted to bread/butter part. Then I found out I was gluten intolerant and read “The Paleo Answer” by Loren Cordain and Wheat Belly as mentioned above. (I also read Primal Blueprint later) That is what convinced me to go paleo/primal. Just knowing what the food does to your insides makes you think before eating it. I haven’t had one grain of wheat in 8 months and can turn up my nose at it.

      I found I still love the butter, probably more than the bread, and when I have a good workout, I look forward to a sweet potato loaded in Farm fresh butter as my once (sometimes twice) a week splurge!

  50. I truly believe in the hidden stress tip and the under eating tip! I notice that when I lack in calories for a little while, I tend to feel a bit heavier (and in my eyes look heavier too)… Of course no one else sees it, but I can tell. The second I start noshing a little more of the good stuff though, bring on the salmon, I feel a different in my weight, and feel lighter 🙂

    The stress tip also hits home. I do feel as though I have a lot of hidden stress and I know I am stressing when I start to feel heavier too. I just try to calm myself down and think about how my life is NOT going to end if X & Y don’t get done in time!

  51. #10 your intestinal biome is damaged and you need a more targeted dietary intervention (like GAPS) to rebuild your leaky gut and get rid of your small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
    #11 you have an intestinal parasite and don’t know it.
    #12 you are forgetting the importance of sunlight

    1. #13 something may be out of whack with your endocrine system, especially if you have been overweight for a long time. Endocrine system probs not limited to just thyroid, of course — could include adrenal and sex glands as well as pituitary, hypothalamus and others. A great resource is http://stopthethyroidmadness.com.

  52. #9 is probably the case with me. According to BMI scales, I’m slightly overweight. (160-165lb, 5’6″) I work out several days a week, and have a mostly clean diet (celiac, so can’t touch most grains; also never touch soda/anything deep fried). I used to weigh about 190lb, but after losing weight quickly, I stagnated at the “slightly overweight” range. Sure, I could probably afford to drop 10-15lb, but just not getting the constant cramps and headaches I used to before cleaning up my diet is worth doing what I’m doing now.

  53. Here’s a trick that works to shift off top-dead-center and restart weight loss. Each AM — skip breakfast and continue fasting until noon/lunchtime. Meanwhile, drink “ketosis essentials”, one scoop, (www.heathy directions.com)dissolved in a glass of water. Next, do your daily exercise routine. After all this, eat paleo-normal the rest of the day. Works really well.

  54. Stress can really hold a person back from their weigh loss goals. When you are stressed you try to find comfort in food or alcohol (for some)…so mindless eating=mindless calories.

  55. I totally agree on all the things that you have mentioned here especially in number 4. I truly believe that stress plays a huge factor why we are not losing weight. We tend to find comforting foods when we are stressed out to feel better which trigger weight gain than loss.

  56. Great points. The only thing I would add is that men if you are climbing into your thirties or forties it helps to get some blood tests for hormones. Men start losing testosterone levels quickly as they get into their thirties and if you have “low T” – as they say – it is extra hard to lose stomach fat. I boosted the testosterone and growth hormone naturally a bit after blood testing found lower than optimal levels and noticed huge improvements.

  57. Great read pleasure foods are always the hardest to lose. It just makes you feel awful about yourself and your diet

  58. I read an interesting quote from Lyle Macdonald which agrees that the metabolism is slowed down on low calorie diets but that this is NOT significant enough to stop weight loss, which contradcits what Mark is saying.
    Lyles quote,
    “In general, it’s true that metabolic rate tends to drop more with more excessive caloric deficits… But here’s the thing: in no study I’ve ever seen has the drop in metabolic rate been sufficient to completely offset the caloric deficit . That is, say that cutting your calories by 50% per day leads to a reduction in the metabolic rate of 10%. Starvation mode you say. Well, yes. But you still have a 40% daily deficit.”

  59. Wow, your blog is amazing! I’ve been reading for a while now and just thought I’d comment. Love the pics and am thinking of getting into this lifestyle… just working on an understanding first!

  60. One of the things that keeps me from being at my goal weight and mind you I am not too far off is my mindless eating at my kid’s bday parties. There are always pizza and cake and although I don’t eat much cake I do have a slice or 3. Actually now that I write this I am thinking it’s not mindless of me because I know.

  61. Hi Mark! Love all the articles you have written, they’re really informative and applicable!

    I have been eating (about 90%) dice a month ago, and I jumped straight in because I was already eating a ‘clean diet’ and controlling carbs. The first 2 or so weeks were great, I incorporated IF with a split of about 14/8, had constant high energy levels and was slowing losing fat. I have been sprinting 1-2 times a week and lifting (currently using Stronglifts 5×5 method) 1-2 times a week. Last week, somehow my energy levels dropped and fat loss stalled/slowed down quite a lot.

    My diet consists mainly of veg, meat, nuts, fruit and occasionally some natural Greek yogurt. I also take whey protein (sweetened with stevia) about once every two days, but don’t rely on it for my protein. So far I have cut carbs to about 40g a day after my fat loss stalled. My stamina had been great, but I realize that it’s slowly dropping.

    I’m really at a loss now, could anyone give any advice? Thanks!! 🙂

  62. Has anybody read “The China Study”? It has a lot of proof that eating a lot of animal-based protein leads to all our “western” diseases like heart attacks, diabetes and cancer. In the 80s in rural china, there was very few cases of cancer, and it was because their diet was mostly just vegetables and rice. No cheese, and milk and steaks.
    I am not a vegetarian, and I do love primal living, but I have cut way back on meat and eggs and dairy since reading the book. I try to eat nuts or a spoon full of natural peanut butter if I am hungry, and not meat.
    I am afraid I will never be able to go meat free, but I will try to get it way back.
    I am a powerlifter, 39 years old, 5’11”, 195 pounds, and I do have a weakness for the occasional burger.

    Does anyone else have the same dilemma?

    1. Here’s the deal: The China study is the type of study used to come up with promising new ways to research. It has no scientific validity other than to encourage more research. Even one of the original researchers abandoned the China study when he realized what the intent was to market it as “conclusive science”.

      There are many other reasons poor Chinese villagers aren’t afflicted with chronic diseases other than their diet. One of most obvious is that they simply do not live long enough to have chronic diseases. There’s no cancer because most of the poor die very quickly when faced with that or any other serious health issue. It’s called survivor bias and it’s one of the many issues with the China study.

      My advise would be to Google some criticisms of the China Study. (There are many out there, including one on Protien Power by Dr. Micheal Eades) Then start listening to your body. You are an omnivore and there’s great deal of evidence that humans are heavily carnivorous omnivores. You’re craving meat because you need it, not because of personal failure.

      1. Thanks, Amy.
        I think you are right, I should eat meat when I crave it, but not just eat it when everyone else is. What I mean is, I want to try to maybe go 1,2 days a week without meat. For one, it is cruel, of course, and I want to avoid delivering suffering to animals, but for another thing, a lot of meats are not healthy for us. I also believe cavemen probably had times when they weren’t able to get any meat, so they just ate berries, roots and vegetables. Who knows?
        I just think eating the bare minimum of animal proteins is probably a good idea. What about you?

        1. If you think the meat industry is cruel, you should take a look at the agricultural industry and how many gofers, squirrels, rabbits, hedgehogs, possums, wild boars, deer, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects die every day so you can eat your spoonful of peanut butter.

  63. Okay, I really liked the part about eating more carbs if you’re doing a WOD every day, because I started this a month ago. How do other Crossfitters add more carbs? Do you guys eat them before or after your WOD, or just steadily throughout the day? I have not found the right balance for this yet, but I am really enjoying adding Crossfit to my life. I want to stay true to primal too though. How many rest days does everyone else do?

    1. I do Crossfit 1 day, then 3 days of “active” rest where I go have fun. Anything more makes me cranky and tired. I also run out of time to actually have fun if I do more than 2 times a wekk.

  64. About #9 and some people’s comments above, I used to think I had a ‘solid build’ too for most of my life and that I just couldnt genetically get down below 110 pounds at 5’2. That all changed after I moved to Asia, stopped any kind of weight training or gym workout and started walking for hours a day + a diet of about 1500 calories with 70% of that rice, and 5-10% protein, I discovered my ‘solid build’ disappeared all within 6 months. My size of clothes didnt change at all however, (except for being looser in some strange places like around my knees, chest, or upper back), and I lost about 10 pounds, but turned to basically flab. Im skinny now and more ‘flat’ all over, like the waif-type skinny I used to think was genetically impossible for me, but at the same time Im also far more jiggly, squishy, and hesitate to go out in a swimsuit WAY more than I did 10 pounds heavier.

    If your body is anything like mine your ‘solid build’ is likely just a larger percentage of muscle to fat (it may be even just a few percentage points), which may make you look vaguely more ‘dense’ without actually being bigger in size – and it’s totally possible to lose but would you really want to? Given you’d lose strength, energy, and not get much difference in clothing size out of it.

  65. I’m in the #2, #3 and #9 camp. When I don’t eat enough (#3) I resort to eating “pleasure foods” because I’m hungry. I have had to admit/accept (a form of #9) that I need to eat more than I thought was “lady-like” or appropriate for someone my size. Oddly, when I eat enough, and when it’s good healthy food high in protein, low in added fat and moderate in carbs (I do not count them), my appetite quiets down, I feel better, less inclined to snack or eat pleasure foods and I have more energy. Meanwhile, I’ve thrown out my scale and decided to focus on becoming strong. The changes in the shape (but not size) of my body have been very pleasing to me. I accept that I am much heavier than I look, have fairly large bones (my wrists are on the high end of the scale) and that being a skinny waif maybe isn’t actually what I want out of life at my age of nearly 50. Being strong and unbreakable is good. Nobody is going to vote me off the island due to pathetic athletic performance.

  66. Confused…in the bodybuilder example in the post, surely “dropping moodiness” is a GOOD thing?

  67. At first, this was supposed to be so simple: just cut out refined carbs, eat plenty of protein, and get some exercise. Suddenly, it’s not that simple. The process is being hyper-analyzed and getting very complicated. I don’t have time to sit around and wonder which of the nine or combination of the nine is hindering weight loss. Makes me want to eat a Big Carl combo.

  68. I struggle with 1 and 2. I have trouble watch TV or Reading without feeling like I need to be eating at the same time. Also I have found I have a nut addiction. Can anyone relate? If I start eating nuts, I keep eating them and I don’t want to stop. I try to stay away entirely, because 95% of the time I don’t want to stop if I start! Does anyone have any idea why they are so addictive for me? Has anyone else experienced this?

  69. Nice post. I’ve been sugar free for the last five months and have lost a considerable amount of weight. I put it down to not only the lack of sugar but also you look at every bit of food twice before you consider eating it.

  70. Oh well, seems like all the fun stuff is taboo… 😉

    I won’t have problem N° 6, that’s for sure! I could certainly use more exercise.
    But I wonder: If someone really does exercise too much… is that person really having weight problems (apart from not being fashion-model thin)?

  71. Hidden stress… that’s me, except mine isn’t so hidden and is sleeping in her crib as I type this lol 😉

  72. I hit a plateau recently in my quest to lose body fat. I had not seen the point about too much exercise before and I do an aweful lot of walking everyday because I always thought it was going to help me with my weight goals (and save on bus fare :)). I think I am well above that 4000 calories mark a week. Maybe it is time to back it off a bit…

  73. Your first comment on mindless eating is so true. You should make yourself dedicate time to eating your meals and by this I mean actually put your food on a plate, sit down at the kitchen table and just eat, nothing else. No reading, watching tv, etc. Train yourself to eat in this manner and you will enjoy your food more and eat less.

  74. Hi everyone.

    I lived the primal lifestyle for 6 months last year, no cheating, I did it all to the letter. The results were….? I lost 2lbs of the 68lbs I needed to lose just to be at the top range for a healthy weight for my height.

    You will be surprised to hear that this did not put me off. My conclusion…? The primal way of eating was fantastic in switching off completely sugar cravings and maintaining my body weight. This meant for me that I had a very efficient metabolism and if I stuck to this way of eating all that I would need to do would be to ‘tweak’ it slightly for weight loss.

    It has taken me over a year, but now I have finally reached my goal by doing just this. How…? I increased my fat intake and I put in 1 or 2 IF days a week (not every week, but most). By increasing my fat intake I am able to feel full quicker and more sated. For me, as I’m sure everyone will be different, increasing fat was truly the key. I can now eat some of the things I used to love and I maintain my new weight with ease.

    My conclusion is that one size does not fit all and to win you have to be your own scientist. Stick with Mark’s rules, but do some tweaking. Isn’t life wonderful?

  75. This is a great addition to your article “17 reasons why you’re not losing weight”. I found both articles extremely helpful and thoughtful.

  76. Also if you’re not drinking enough. Water tricks your stomach to be full, so you don’t overeat

  77. Have to hand it to Mark, another well balanced and spot on article with easy to implement strategies. It’s refreshing to keep seeing a balanced approach to health and fitness without the zealot mentality!

  78. 10. You’re drinking too much wine.

    Lots of primal folks believe that since they’ve cut out the refined carbs then they can drink wine regularly without any downside, but this is bullshit. The truth is that the Universe is not that kind to us humans: you cannot get half drunk every night on two or three glasses of wine and expect to be a healthy person. Yes, wine has been consumed for about 5000 years, but would you trust 5000 years worth of semi-drunken advice? Forget it. After being primal for 4 years I had to finally concede that two glasses of wine per night, with a few days off here and there, was not cutting it. I could see the adipose layer building up despite (or because of?) my strict primal eating. Effects will vary among individuals but there’s bound to be a universal trade-off associated with alcohol consumption, and I’m not even talking about the obvious downsides that everyone worries about. If you drink alcohol regularly I recommend that you stop for a while and see what happens. It can’t hurt….and if it does then you know you had a problem.

    1. I like the excuse that wine has Reservatol in it. Yeah well so do grapes, so why not just eat the damn grapes!

      Also, i used to be able to drink, but now even if i drink a glass of wine (which usually goes hand in hand with arrowroot flour based birthday cake at parties), for the next few days i turn into a BALOON READY TO BURST everytime i eat. If I eat ONE BITE of something, even if its meat, i feel like i’m going to blow up. I think the combination of the sterilizing alcohol and the sugars in wine cause terrible bacterial overgrowth.

  79. I think a possible reason for women doing a bit better by eating on schedule is the “homekeeper” stereotype [or evolutionary role?].
    If primitive women spent most of their time around the camp or close to it, foraging, doing camp work, then they’d probably have some of their members preparing meals that they all shared from the tribe’s food stores.
    The men out hunting and probably roaming farther would be on the go and a full meal could impede their survival work (ever accidentally stave off a workout – a run especially – with a meal?).

  80. My girlfriend was victim to #3 for years at no fault of her own. As with many people it was simply a lack of understanding or information on the topic.

    When we moved in together I began to educate her on the subject and she has gradually upped her calories, (coming from real foods of course ;).

    She has also become hooked on coconut oil and (surprise surprise) since beginning all this has felt great and seen legitimate results in the fat loss department.

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  82. I have been easing my way into paleo over the summer. First, I removed all gluten and nearly all grain (no pasta, rice, bread or white potatoes). The only grain has been 1-2 times a week (GF crackers). I had also been speed-walking/running for 40 minutes daily.

    Two weeks ago, I added in circuit/weight training (40 minutes which includes stretching) following 20-30 minutes interval walking or running (keeping heart rate in 140’s). Some evenings, I will go for a bike ride (6-13 miles) or follow a DVD to help with particular issues, like knees.

    I have Hashimoto’s — in second year of treatment. I’ve lost weight a few times in my life, but it’s never been this hard.

    I am 41 yearsbold, 5′ 3″ and weigh 131 pounds. I lost 4 pounds (of something) the first week. No change in the second. I lost an inch off my waist. My muscles are more defined. My bloating and bowel issues have ceased. I would still like to lose 10 more pounds (at least) because I’m still too thick. I know what my body looks like when I’m really fit. Moreover, I want be continue focusing on putting in food good for me and enjoying an active life. I am also planning to start meditating.

    I definitely have my share of stress — not so fabulous marriage and two tween/teen sons I homeschool.

    Thank you for your list. I’m going to start by cutting back on the nuts and the evening snacking. I don’t think it’s excessive considering I only eat two meals, but perhaps it’s a culprit. I did make a couple fruit crisps which used almond flour this week of which I had one serving of each. And, I ate some dark chocolate. Gosh, it’s hard to change/give up so much at once.

  83. hi everyone i especially agree with #4 – im 49 4’10 asian and weight of 125 (very over my size) for about 2 years now my husband had been making me lunch consist of salad nuts and veges (during work) i intake every 2-3 hrs then at home i walk on treadmill, it did work i was so happy – then found out about green tea from dr oz, so i purchased thinking it would enhance my lost of weight, but it went the opposite direction green tea made me blotted, still thinking thats how the pill works, so i kept on taking green tea and my mid section got huge (looks pregnant), now im having the most difficulty just getting slimmer which brings me stress and frustration!!!

  84. Agreed! Mindless eating and pleasurefoods are habits hard to break. It takes decipline to really focus on what you are doing on a daily basis. But sometimes we often search for quick weightloss solutions. I always reccomend people have a health nutritional pattern or habit while on medications or any other weight loss supplements. Thanks for sharing, bookmarked.

    Cathie.

  85. Hi there. I came across your blog via a google search on why I’m not losing weight. I’ve been working out with a trainer for the past 2 months. I started around the end of July, two days a week for an hour. At the end of August we moved to 3 days a week for an hour. He has me doing what he calls “functional training”, which consists of a little of everything. Some crossfit type stuff like flipping tires and swinging a sledgehammer, some more traditional gym stuff like squats and lunges, free weights, and a little bit of boxing. It varies from day to day, but I’m really enjoying the workouts. I’ve also added more exercise on the ‘non workout days’, things like easy cycling, walking, and hikes with the family. On top of that, I’ve eliminated soda (diet, as well as sugary) and fast food from my diet almost completely, as well as working to limit my ‘bready’ carbs (not entirely successfully, but it’s been an improvement from before at least). I’m a 5’8″ male, started this program at 279 pounds and 39% body fat, we take a weigh and measure each week. I’m now at 275 and 35.9% body fat, which by my math means I’ve lost about 10 pounds of fat and gained about 6 pounds of muscle (is that correct math?). So, my question is, do you think I should be satisfied with these results in 8 weeks? I get frustrated when I step on the scale and it hasn’t even crept under 270 yet. I know that the weight is not the only goal, but I also know that at 5’8″ tall, I am going to need to lose 75-100 pounds or more to be at a healthy weight, no matter how you slice it. I realize that the diet changes I have made may not be enough to get me to the end goal, but I feel like they should have been enough, when combined with the increased exercise, for me to see some initial drops in weight. Gah, I feel all complainy, but anyway… I like your site, will keep reading. 🙂

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  87. Accepting you might be at a higher weight than you would like is a lot easier for people who don’t work on Madison Avenue, where everyone in your office weighs less than 115 lbs. I was right around 120 lbs until I turned 29, since then I have steadily gained about 20 lbs. 8 months ago I got my diet in order and started working out 30 min-1 hour everyday. I have seen absolutely no results at all and it is consuming my life and making me depressed.

    Sure it is easy to say that it’s no big deal to have that extra 20 lbs. Tell that to the 3000$ worth of designer jeans in my closet that I can never wear again. I have so many super skinny friends who eat bagels everyday for breakfast. I haven’t had a bagel in over a year and I love them. No matter how little I eat I can’t loose anything off my waist. FML

  88. Its hard to do these things working 40 hours a week. I have Endometriosis, undetermined possibility of PCOS, Hypothyroid problems, and a history of issues of “big boned” women in my family…I am 5’9″ and 185 pounds and I feel horrible all the time. I walk my dog at the park every other day, I don’t indulge in alcohol, I don’t smoke. I’m infertile because of my weight but I am not supposed to change because it might be right for me? I’m only 20. What if I can never have kids…I have done everything from diets to dieting pills to metabolism boosters to taking 20 different vitamins a day to try and boost all my systems. Nothing works. My sex drive is at an all time low and my boyfriend of 3 years and I cannot even enjoy sex anymore. I feel disgusting and have stretch marks. I am moody and depressed, but I don’t allow mindless eating. I eat small portions about 4 times a day and I am still not losing and I am in fact GAINING weight…I get 8 hrs of sleep, and I don’t eat before bed. The only thing I do that I shouldn’t is drink soda. I have to have the caffeine or I get severe migraines and I shake and get irritable. I don’t like tea, so that’s out. What is a person like me supposed to do? I eat ONLY organic foods. All my meat and veggies are all natural…

    I really just don’t know what else to do or how else to approach this problem nothing seems to work but its ruining my life.

    1. I have gained 65 pounds in 2 years….SIXTY FIVE…I went from size 5 Juniors to size 12 womens…..please anybody with the same issues let me know what I can do to be small again, not even skinny! Just small like…145-150?

  89. How do you feel about the Medifast Diet, and then after weight loss, converting to Paleo? I need to lose 50 punds, have hypoglycemia and high BP and Cholesterol. I am trying to figure it all out.

  90. Hi there, You’ve done an incredible job. I will definitely digg it and
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  91. I lost 57 lbs so far. trying to lose 53 more pounds. I eat all sorts of hours. due to my shift rotations at work. I think that’s why I am not losing weight. I work out 2 hours a day. nothing is changing.

  92. I have the same weight gain problem. Nothing works to loose weight. I have tried everything. Is There is something in the water that keeps us gaining weight?

    So now everyone is obese and needs medication to get from one day to the next. Obama Care is a joke! Our government has allowed this. Thin, healthy people have no where near as much illness as over weight people…

    Weird no diet, exercise or pill works to cure this strange weight gain issue so many people are having.

    Now there’s a new drug, for binge eaters. We are fat because we are being made fat and there is nothing we can do to stop it except remove all sugar and carbs from your diet. Then you will loose weight but you will also get sick. 20 years ago this did not exist. Everyone ate normal and the majority were thin, with no exercise.

    1. I could have written this post.
      I have done very well on the food portion of Paleo. Due to a heart problem, I can’t work out as hard as others, but I do push myself. Somedays, I can only do 10 minutes of hard exercise. I do some small weights too. I can’t walk as far as I used to, but am working on it.

      I look at pictures of people from a generation ago, they were all thin. None of them were doing Crossfit or going to gyms, or walking miles every day. It was rare to see an obese person.

      Of course, people who had jobs like farmers could eat anything they wanted. They just burnt it off.

      My ancestors were NOT farmers. They ate healthy meals, but they also consumed some goodies. Sometimes a slice of cake or some pastries with coffee after a meal. Lots of fruit. But they didn’t eat fast food or pizza. But they did eat pasta and such.

      I have only lost a few pounds on the Paleo. I don’t weigh myself every week. I let a month go by, then weigh myself.

      My job doesn’t allow for a lunch break or breaks. So before you shout, “that’s illegal”, it’s NOT in my state. We have to work a straight shift from 7am to close. If you want to complain about it, you’ll find yourself with fewer hours or no job. I have brought things I can pop in my mouth when doing my writing, such as small tomatoes, a very small container of egg salad, bags of cut up peppers, carrots, raw green beans, or celery.

      It’s amazing I am fat. I can’t remember the last time I had soda pop (has to be decades), bread, pasta, rice, and I’ve even cut out potatoes.

      I never drink alcoholic. I am not super religious, nor am I a recovering alcoholic. I just don’t care about drinking.

      Like you, I’ve wondered if there is something in the water. Are antidepressants winding up in the water?

      We are always told our metabolism slows down when we get older. But I think about my relatives, when they got older, they maybe put on a few pounds, but never like people today.

      So what is it? Why are we so fat? This is unhealthy.

      I’ve gone pretty strict with my eating. No honey, or any of the “Paleo desserts”. I have kept my food separate, don’t mix up a lot of things.

      Breakfast might be about 6-10 eggs. Or a few eggs and side of grilled salmon. Things like that.

      I noticed if I don’t get grass fed beef, the beef from the store makes me feel awful. I can’t describe it well, but it makes me feel edgy.

      So I will go to Whole Foods, get grass fed beef, chicken, duck, turkey, bacon, and a ton of green and other vegetables.

      I love things like kale, broc sprouts, eggplant, endive, escarole, mushrooms, cauliflower.

      So back to the original premise…what’s doing this?

      I started asking myself this and the only ONE thing I noticed that’s an assault on my body…is my job. The Stress.
      So before you say, “Just find another job”….it’s very hard to stay employed in my field now. And just trying to jump outside my field and just find some job that pays a livable wage, benefits, and doesn’t require going back to school (I already have 2 degrees and still am paying for one). When I went into my profession, there were a lot of jobs. But in the past 10 years, it’s become saturated, and that’s nationally.

      So the job became abusive. Having to do more and more in less time. More paperwork added. More restrictions. Longer hours. More managers who don’t know what we really do. Idiotic rules. You name it. Working nights, weekends, holidays, having to be available all the time. Looking back on the past 10 years and I only remember my jobs! But hey, I stayed afloat and kept a roof over my head.

      Are WE under MORE stress than people were a generation ago? Is this the variable X in the equation?

      Are stress hormones in the meat we eat? Are the animals being raised, even the so-called good practices, having an affect on us? Not even added hormones, but the hormones the animals produce…

      I really want to know. I’ve pretty much guinea-pigged myself a lot here and watched my blood sugar react to foods, etc. but I eat very Paleo, and I don’t pig out on nuts or berries. I might eat 5-10 strawberries or raspberries. But that’s not even daily.

      Too much obsession about the food, because maybe it’s NOT the food, maybe it’s MODERN LIFE. I can’t imagine a mountain climber being fat. It’s a whole different life.

  93. I gained 15 pounds on the paleo diet. I cannot digest all that meat, so I was having stomach issues. I cut out meat 85% and have lost 3 pounds. Listen to your body.

    1. So what do you eat? Just vegetables? If I just eat vegetables, I am always hungry. Sometimes, I do have a meatless meal, such as a salad or cut up vegetables, but it won’t keep me going for long. So what do you eat??

  94. I am 86 Kg (189 pounds) – i stopped most of the carbs.. fat.. I feed on millet most of the time. I take lot of fishes and pork(at times) with very less oil.
    I swim 1 hr a day- I am doing all these for past 20 days and I see very lil change in inches and no change in weight. please help

  95. Great article. I work in nutrition and mindless snacking is certainly a cause of weight loss in some people. I tend to recommend supplements because of their face value, but also because they motivate people to make the lifestyle changes that are conducive to good health.

    Also, hidden stress indeed is a major cause for lots of health and fitness problems. I recommend ashwagandha or theanine as supplements to reduce cortisol and stress.

  96. Number #4. So true, “Hidden Stress” is the thing, many of us overlook. And, keep wondering why we need to pop hormonal imbalance pills. In fact, every point you mentioned in this list freaking honest.

    I have seen my life changing after learning to deal with stress and it has worked for me. All we need is self-awareness and get to change the way we feel about them into something valuable.

  97. Thank you for this article. I have spent over 20 years undereating, and over exercising, and two years ago, i cut exercising in half, and started struggling to eat more food. My body is a mess. Fat has left a thick layer all over my body. I have circulation problems, and i just look awful. I am having trouble understanding why. And everything i have read, seems to put the blame on overeating, and under exercising. And i am not doing that. Just trying to be normal. Just so frustrating. Because where i was before was so unhealthy, and i don’t want to go back to that way of life. This article seems more realistic. Still not sure how to fix things. If i can at all.

    1. Jennifer, I’ve been in the business of health coaching and education for decades, and I can tell you that you aren’t alone. The dominant paradigm of eat less, exercise more has left so many people discouraged and, in some cases, in worse health than before they attempted weight loss. You mention you don’t want to go back to where you’d been – the way of life you’d been living. Great awareness right there. It’s your starting intention. It sounds like the question for you today is “What’s next?” I want to personally invite you to check out a page I put together for those ready or at least interested in looking at a different approach to health: https://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-101/ I designed it to have all the basic info you need to get started. BUT, no man or woman is an island. I’d encourage you to join the Forum and connect with others to get the support and community you deserve. And make good use of the comment board on posts, too. The most recent posts, in all honesty, are where conversation is most active, so hop on those discussions, too. Stick around. And ask as many questions as you have. Don’t hesitate to put out a request for some encouragement either. This is one supportive community. Grok on, and thanks for being here.

  98. in fact!
    The human body cannot convert fat into energy quickly enough for it to be a primary source of energy if the exercise is intense enough. Don’t get energy quickly enough, your brain and muscles start to decrease performance.

  99. Hello..
    I am 23 years old and i am suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and hyperthyroidism. I have 76 kg weight and its stuck despite of everything i have done.. I can’t walk alot and can’t run because of my knees restrictions. Could you please suggest me what to do 🙁

  100. This is just awesome!! Particularly n 9, I need to let go of my own body shaming since I was a little girl and just do what’s right for my body and mind! Thank you Mark for this eye opening article!

  101. Losing weight at an older age so hard because of the metabolic system slows down and that is why it is hard to lose all the calories from the body. But still there are ways to fight this situation. Like eating foods that helps to boost metabolism and doing yoga or cardio or any kind of workout daily. Thanks for posting this, it’s a very informative post.