Why Is Losing Weight So Hard?

Yummy, Calorie-Rich Things Are To Blame

Why is it hard to lose weight? I think it’s in the math. To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you consume right? Essentially, yes. There are a number of factors involved, but I’m going for simplicity here.

Let’s use this example:

You’re a 40 year old woman at 5’7, weighing 175lbs, and you spend most of the day at your desk, primarily sedentary. In this example, your body would burn about 1820 calories a day* 
*This is based on your Resting Metabolic Rate and general daily activity level.

This means that as long as you consume about 1820 calories a day, you will stay at your current weight. If you want to lose weight you will have to eat less than 1820 calories, or burn calories through exercise. It sounds simple enough, but when you take into account how many calories are in the foods you eat, it can quickly add up and put you over your daily calorie limit. If you’re on a schedule, meaning you want to lose a certain amount of weight before a specific date, then you’re going to need to be very strict with your calorie limitations; and it’s not a whole lot of fun..

If you want to lose 1 pound a week, you generally want to create a calorie deficit of 3500 calories (This is the theoretical amount of calories in a pound of fat. There is debate around this number, but I think it’s a good number to start with); which means you need to find some way to eliminate 500 calories a day for the week. If you’re busy and don’t have time for exercise, you can simply consume 500 less calories that day; leaving you with a calorie limitation of 1320 calories a day. Doesn’t seem like much does it?


Here’s a daily diet that is generally seen as healthy:

A bagel with cream cheese for breakfast (450 calories) with a cup of orange juice (110 calories)
Banana for a morning snack (105 calories)
McDonald’s Cesar salad with grilled chicken for lunch (360 calories) and water (o calories)
2 slices of Havarti cheese (210 calories) with 6 cherry tomatoes (50 calories) and 10 almonds for a snack (70 calories)
3 oz salmon fillet (140 calories), a baked potato (150 calories) and 1 cup of broccoli (30 calories) for dinner with a glass of red wine (85 calories)
2 chocolate chip cookies for dessert (150 calories)

That’s a pretty good day of eating; and while there wasn’t much processed food, treats, or heavy snacking, it would give you a total of 1910 calories** for the day, which is over the calorie amount you need to maintain your current weight; thus if you keep eating like this you will slowly gain weight rather than lose.


Since this diet is over your calorie limit for the day, you have two options:

  • The first, if you burn about 590 calories a day through exercise, you will be right on target at 1320 calories to lose 1 pound a week.
  • The second is to keep a closer watch on what you eat. Yes, calorie counting sucks, but it’s generally something that after doing it for awhile you will do without thinking, and you will simply know which foods to eat over others. In the above diet, you can switch out the orange juice and wine for water to shave off 200 calories, bring a salad from home with your own dressing (like oil and apple cider vinegar) to eliminate about 200 calories, replace the cookies with a cup of strawberries to eliminate 100 calories, and replace the cheese slices with some raw carrots and hummus to eliminate about 100 calories… and ta da! You’re at your daily calorie goal.
**All calorie counts are an estimate


Remember, the more weight you lose the lower your daily calorie requirements will be since your body wont be working as hard to maintain its metabolic functions. For example, if you begin at 175lbs, requiring 1820 calories a day to maintain your weight (as in the example we started with), if you lose 20lbs to get to 155lbs, your daily calories requirements will be at 1730 a day (and will continue to go lower the more weight you lose). This means you need to continually take into account your changing calorie requirements in order to avoid ‘plateauing.


Losing weight is so hard because we often don’t realize how high in calories the food we eat is. 210 calories for two slices of cheese? That is insane. To add to our high calorie intake, burning calories requires a lot of hard work that many of us don’t have time for. Want to burn 300 calories by going for a walk? It could take 2+ hours (depending on your weight, walking speed, etc). The bottom line is that if we want to lose weight we need to be educated on what we’re eating; both their calories and nutrient value; and try to get exercise in whenever and wherever we can, even if it’s only 10 minutes of jogging on the spot while you watch a YouTube video.

Good luck!

The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and should not be considered as any type of medical advice. The information provided in this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health condition or disease, and should not be substituted for professional care. Every human is biochemically different and what works for one person may not work for another. If you suspect or have a medical condition, consult an appropriate health care provider.

Sarah Soper

Registered Holistic Nutritionist with a passion for healthy food, sustainability, fitness, and non-toxic living.

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