Solving the Mystery: Priorities for Fat Loss

Recently I had a message from someone who had great results on slow carb, losing quite a lot of fat, for a couple of months, and then things seemed to stop for a while. He had started losing a small amount of fat again, however he was very concerned about why it would stop all of a sudden, and stay that way for quite a few weeks. His eating habits hadn’t changed, his exercise hadn’t changed, so what could it be?

It can be a very frustrating experience. You might have experienced a similar result at one point or another, and it wasn’t easily obvious to figure out exactly what is was that had changed, or caused the changes. Was it exercise? Was it water? Was it a change somewhere else?

The answer, though it may be different for different people, can often lie beyond the most obvious places.

So, it’s time to look deeper.

Let’s take a look at some of the less obvious things. Did you know that stress can have a big effect on fat loss, and on muscle gain too? (You can read more about the effects of stress in my article “Relax and Lose Fat?“). How about changes in how your body is using food, as your body composition changes? That can mean that the same food has a different effect over a period of months.

In the case of our friend who had shared his food diary, and detailed his exercise regime, it sure was puzzling.

But there was a little more to it than numbers on the scale, measurements, food and activity.

What was the extra, seemingly unrelated fact?

He had moved house that very month.

Moving house is rated as one of the most stressful life events anyone goes through, and yet it hadn’t been obvious because it seemed like such a separate thing to health and fitness.

Our world is built around compartmentalizing different things. Put simply, that means that we tend to become very focused on one area, concentrate on it, and then move on to another area, and get focused on that. It’s not easy to think about it all together.

Take an example of health and fitness, and work habits – many people feel very committed to leading a healthier lifestyle, and set out to eat better, and maybe go to the gym a couple of times per week. It’s too easy to tick this part of life off as ‘done’, while long work hours continue, and perhaps skipped lunches are the regular thing to do because of the workload at an office, or in a business.

In this example, the two are so closely related, though it’s not obvious, that the action taken to get healthier might have little effect, unless the bigger picture is looked at. But that’s hard to do sometimes.

For everyone, and for me and for you, no doubt there are things that come along in our lives that create some challenges, or even just call on our attention a lot. It could be a sister who has an unexpected problem, or it could be a move from an old job to a new one, however one thing is common; if you are focused on losing fat, it can be challenging when other important events come along and shift your focus.

Even having to put some other thing at priority number 1, for one day, can make fat loss for that week a lot more challenging. Remember this and it will not only help explain some of the results you get, but it will also help you plan accordingly, and adjust your expectations.

For most people, 1 or 2 big important things at one time is as much as can be done very well. Though it’s possible to take on many more, it gets harder and harder to do them all well. Think about where your fat loss or training goal sits in your list of priorities that could include family, work, personal goals, unexpected events and of course just those regular life things that make your day full.

I’ll bet that there are plenty of days where it’s tough to get fat loss to the number 1 position. That’s not a good reason to give up trying, but it is a good reason to have realistic expectations. Many people who have extraordinary results reported publicly are those who could put aside, or at least minimize the impact, of everything else in their lives while they focused on losing fat or gaining muscle.

Have a think about your life priorities, not in separate boxes, but overall, and you might find some surprising and interesting new ideas. Leave a comment below and let me know if you’ve found some related parts of your world, that you never expected were connected, or if you have some ideas to share!

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2 Responses to Solving the Mystery: Priorities for Fat Loss

  • Stephen says:


    You really hit the nail on the head with this one! Of all the questions I get on my own blog, this is probably the most common question I hear. And as you pointed out so beautifully I might add, this is a very difficult question to answer. And even harder if sent through an email or in the comments section.

    Because to answer this question, you must truly understand from all angles what a person may be going through in their life. And often times this is impossible for everyone except the person asking the question.

    In your example above this individual was going through a stressful move, in fact they may have been doing a lot of the moving themselves and this even made it more confusing as they were exerting even more energy throughout the day.

    But, never should we forget the role of stress and it’s effect on weight loss. Beyond the effects of the stress hormone cortisol, as you also pointed out, when things are going on in our lives it may be hard to place our focus on diet and exercise.

    Either way, if you are not getting the results you bargained for don’t give up hope and don’t abandon your plan. Trust us you are not alone.

    Life every day becomes exponentially more complex. This is both the beauty and the difficulty of the journey. But any goal you have, whether to lose weight, get to work on time, or create a successful 4 Hour Body Blog, will require patience, understanding, overcoming frustration and fatigue, determination and a focus on the end goal: To make yourself and those around you better people. This my friends is a journey of 1 million small steps, but one that in my opinion is worth the effort!

    Thanks Luke, I don’t even know where I was going with this comment, but either way great post!!


    • Luke says:

      Hey Steve, great comment!! Thanks so much for leaving your thoughts.
      You’re very right, and we can all just do our best to help share experiences and answer questions, such that more people can experience successful results with positive changes in their lives.

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