Why Am I Exercising but Not Losing Weight? - Part 2: Other Contributing Factors


In Part 1, we explored the complex relationship between exercise and weight loss, emphasising that it’s more complicated than calories in versus calories out. In this second part, we’ll delve into other factors that could affect your weight loss journey despite your diligent exercise routine.

The Connection Between Stress and Weight Gain

In today’s fast-paced world, stress has become an unavoidable part of life for many people. While some stress can motivate, chronic stress can harm mental and physical health. One of chronic stress’s lesser-discussed but significant impacts is its role in weight gain. Understanding this relationship is crucial for anyone looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The Role of Cortisol

When we experience stress, our body’s natural response is to release a hormone called cortisol. While cortisol serves essential functions, such as regulating metabolism and reducing inflammation, elevated levels due to chronic stress can lead to many problems. One of the most noticeable effects is an increase in appetite. Cortisol triggers cravings for high-calorie, high-sugar, and high-fat foods, often referred to as “comfort foods.”

The role of hormones

Hormones like cortisol, insulin, and leptin play a significant role in how your body stores and burns fat. Exercise can influence these hormones, but the effects vary across individuals. This could explain why some people lose weight with training while others do not.

Emotional Eating: A Vicious Cycle

“Emotional eating” refers to consuming food in response to emotions rather than physical hunger. When stressed, many people turn to food as a coping mechanism. The immediate gratification of comfort foods can momentarily alleviate stress, creating a feedback loop that encourages repeated unhealthy eating habits. Over time, this can result in significant weight gain.

The Impact on Metabolism

Chronic stress doesn’t just increase our desire for unhealthy foods; it can also slow down our metabolism. A sluggish metabolism means the body burns calories slower, making it easier to gain weight. Also, stress can lead to poor sleep quality, adversely affecting metabolism.

Reduced Physical Activity

When you’re stressed, the last thing you might want to do is hit the gym. Stress can sap your energy and motivation, making it more challenging to maintain a regular exercise routine. Lack of physical activity further contributes to weight gain, creating a cycle that can be hard to break.

Reduced Physical Activity

When you’re stressed, the last thing you might want to do is hit the gym. Stress can sap your energy and motivation, making it more challenging to maintain a regular exercise routine. Lack of physical activity further contributes to weight gain, creating a cycle that can be hard to break.

Breaking the cycle

Managing stress is crucial for breaking this cycle and maintaining a healthy weight. Incorporating stress-reducing activities like meditation, deep-breathing exercises, and physical activity can help. Additionally, mindful eating techniques can assist in breaking the emotional eating habit.

The Importance of Quality Sleep

Sleep often takes a backseat to work, social engagements, and even late-night binge-watching. However, neglecting quality sleep can have far-reaching consequences beyond mere fatigue.

the science of sleep

Sleep is not merely a passive state of rest; it’s an active physiological process that involves various stages, including REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM sleep. Each step plays a crucial role in physical and mental health. For instance, deep sleep stages are essential for physical recovery, while REM sleep is vital for cognitive functions like memory consolidation.

The Physical Benefits

Quality sleep is a cornerstone of good health. It allows the body to repair tissues, build bone and muscle, and synthesise proteins. Lack of sleep can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections. Moreover, sleep deprivation has been linked to chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

Cognitive and Emotional Well-being

Sleep is not just for the body; it’s for the mind, too. A good night’s sleep enhances cognitive functions like memory, attention, and problem-solving. It also plays a significant role in emotional regulation. Lack of sleep can lead to irritability, stress, and even symptoms of depression and anxiety

The Sleep-Quality Connection

It’s not just the quantity of sleep that matters but the quality. Factors like sleep consistency, the sleep environment, and avoiding sleep disruptors like caffeine and electronics play a significant role in the quality of sleep you get. Poor sleep quality can be just as detrimental as sleep deprivation.

The Impact on Productivity

One of the most immediate effects of poor sleep is reduced productivity. Lack of focus, impaired decision-making, and decreased creativity are ways sleep deprivation hampers your personal and professional effectiveness.

Tips for Better Sleep

  1. Consistent Schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up simultaneously every day, even on weekends.
  2. Optimal Sleep Environment: Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep by keeping it cool, dark, and quiet.
  3. Limit Stimulants: Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
  4. Unplug: Keep electronics out of the bedroom to avoid the blue light that disrupts melatonin production.
  5. Relaxation Techniques: Incorporate calming activities like reading or meditation before bed to signal your body that it’s time to wind down.


Weight loss is a complex process influenced by various factors, not just exercise. If you are stuck in a weight loss plateau despite regular physical activity, it may be time to examine these other contributing factors. By managing stress effectively and prioritising quality sleep, you can create a more balanced lifestyle that supports your weight loss goals.

So, the next time you wonder, “Why am I exercising but not losing weight?” remember that the journey to a healthier you is not just about burning calories; it’s about taking a holistic approach to well-being.


I am not the plastic surgeon who promises quick fixes to transform your body. I am a coach on a mission with you throughout your body transformation journey.