What makes weight loss so hard?

Losing weight isn’t hard, but many people think it is.

Some want to make it hard. That’s the truth and it doesn’t matter who you are. it’s not hard, but you can make it hard. In fact the harder you think it is to lose weight and the harder you try to do it, the harder it becomes.


Let me explain. Weight loss really is a simple formula. The formula is to reduce your calories so that you’re getting slightly fewer than you’re burning. See? That’s not hard, but there are multiple ways people will make it hard.

  • Reducing calories by a lot instead of a few.

The logic seems sound. If you can make slow progress by a little reduction, then you can make fast progress by a big reduction. Sound logic, but it fails in the execution because it’s hard to stick to a a low calorie diet. You get hungry, frustrated, your thoughts get consumed by food, your cravings grow out of control and you can’t maintain your low calorie diet.

  • Reducing calories by cutting out foods or food groups. 

There are plenty of ways to lose weight that promise to be easy and effective. All you have to do is stop eating certain foods or whole food groups. Two approaches of food group restriction are the popular fat-free and no-carb diets. The problem with these diets is fats and carbs are necessary for good health. Cutting them out is a bad idea and even heavy restriction isn’t wise. It’s a lot like trying to sustain yourself on a very low calorie daily intake. You get hungry for the forbidden foods. You crave them, your thoughts get consumed by them and eventually you got to have them

Do you know why diets that restrict food choices work? If your answer is, “because when you cut out foods and don’t replace them with other foods, you cut back on calories.”

  • Losing weight by increasing exercise without changes in eating behaviors.

Creating a calorie deficit by increasing exercise sounds easy. You get to keep eating the way you’re used to eating. All you have to do is hit the gym. Yes, you have to hit the gym hard. If you’re sedentary or mostly sedentary, the first thing that’s hard about losing weight this way is getting started. It’s hard to know where to start and getting started isn’t without a lot of pain.

Exercising away the extra weight is hard for more reasons than just physical pain. It’s hard to find the time. It takes a lot of increased activity to lose weight if no changes to eating are made to enhance the effort. Most modern lives are already burdened with too much to do and too few hours in a day to get it all done. To make time to burn all those calories might mean getting up very early to go workout. It could be giving up lunch hours to walk or jog and evening relaxing gets replaced with more painful workouts.


After all this hard work weight loss progress can be disappointing. It’s not because muscle is turning into fat, because muscle and fat are different tissues and one cannot turn into the other. The disappointing progress is because your calorie burn isn’t as great as you thought. It’s been proven that over estimating calorie burn and under estimating calorie ingestion is common. It’s not uncommon for exercising and eating to increase commensurately or eating increases more than does exercise.

In addition to the above physical reasons why weight loss is hard, there are psychological reasons too. I’m not going to go into any of them in this blog because it would be too long. Just know that if you take a physical approach that’s user-friendly, your psychological challenges will be fewer.


Weight loss is not going to be effortless and it will take work. It won’t be one of the easier things you’ve ever done, but you can do it if you don’t make it harder than it really is.

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.