Water bottle with measuring tape to represent weight and the scale

20 Reasons Why Your Scale Isn’t Going Down

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You get up in the morning, you go to the bathroom, you step on the scale and….  Nothing.

You felt you did everything right yesterday.  You thought you ate the right foods, you got out and walked a little, but you weigh the exact same, or maybe a little more than you did yesterday!

What the heck?  So frustrating!

Does this sound familiar?

I hear you.

I, admittingly, am one of those chronic and obsessive scale steppers. Every single day. There are a lot of us.

I actually got the idea to write this article from my mom.  She was messaging me and telling me how great she ate the day before and how she finally went to the track to walk, but the scale didn’t move for her that morning.

I realized my entire adult life, I have stepped on the scale every day as a habit and often wondered that same thing.  Why isn’t the scale going down?

So if my mom and I both do this, I’m sure there are many of you out there who do this too.

So before we participate in any large group scale burnings, read below to find out if the problem could be something else besides the scale.

Want to watch the video version of this article? Check it out on YouTube!

My Battle With The Scale

I was a thin kid.

When I was a teenager, I was so skinny, one of my teachers had spoken to my mother about me being anorexic and how it looked like my legs were going to break at any moment.

I had to argue with my friends all the time because they thought I was anorexic as well.  I constantly ate and didn’t have any body issues (until people started insisting I looked anorexic).

Around the age of 17- 22, I blew up like a giant balloon due to a birth control I was on and also the fact I was in an abusive relationship, which caused my body to be under constant stress.  I went from 115 lbs (at 5’8) to 260 lbs.  I gained an entire person!

First Time Dieting

After that relationship, I temporarily went to live at home with my parents and found my dad had gained the same amount of weight I did from his chronic injuries.  I began to get on his case about losing the weight because I was afraid he would have a heart attack.  He told me if I lost my weight, he would do the same.

So I did.  Since I had just taken my first nutrition class, I began cooking meals for us every night, which started my long term love affair with ground turkey instead of pork or beef (I talked about this in my Sweet and Spicy Chili Recipe post).  Once I started walking and using the elliptical, dad did too.

It was HARD.  We were both so out of shape, we had to start off so small when exercising.  When I say small, I mean I started on the elliptical at 30 seconds each time until I didn’t feel like I was going to die anymore.

And guess what?

It took three weeks to start seeing the scale move, but we both lost a total of 130lbs each!  And kept it off for nearly 10 years.

And Now

So once you become obese and lose it, it is very easy to gain it back, because your body is used to having that extra fat.

I ended up gaining a whole bunch of weight again and peaked at about 280 lbs after I got injured and had to stay off my feet for an entire year.  It didn’t help that my boyfriend at the time refused to eat anything but McDonalds and Little Caesars.  So the weight came back.

I tried doing the same things I did last time and they didn’t work.  The weight wasn’t moving.

When I re-enrolled in school to get another degree, I took a class that changed my life.  It was how food chemically processes in our bodies.  The science behind Nutrition.  And I knew why the diet I did last time didn’t work this time.

First, I am older, so have a slower metabolism.  Second, our food supply is completely different!

Luckily, I understand what I need to do different.  So far I lost 50 lbs and my blood results are better than they ever have been (even better than when I was thin!).

I am still fat, but the scale is being kind to me as I am working to change my life and I am healthier than ever.

So why isn’t your scale going down?  Because you are probably making the same mistakes I was.

20 Reasons Why Your Scale Isn’t Going Down

1.  You may be losing fat, but not weight (yet!)

Often when we first start eating better and exercising, some people may not see the scale move for up to 3 weeks!  This happened to me the first time I lost over 100 lbs.  I worked out, I ate great, I didn’t understand why the scale wasn’t going down.  In fact, it actually went up by 10 lbs the first week!  Talk about discouraging!

I didn’t give up though.

After the second week, my pants weren’t tight anymore (indicating I was losing inches!).  The third week I finally dropped 10 lbs and the weight dropped dramatically after that.

This one is true, especially if you are starting to exercise. Your muscles are building, which causes extra weight.  Don’t worry, this will even out, because the more muscles you have, the more fat you burn later.

So don’t get discouraged if you just started and aren’t seeing the scale move until your third or fourth week into it.  That is very normal for most people.

2.  You aren’t eating the right healthy foods

Are you constantly eating stuff labeled “Fat Free”, Sugar Free”, “Sodium Free”, etc?

Most of these products contain horrible ingredients to make up for the lack in fat, sugar, sodium, etc.  Lab made ingredients are going to hurt you more than help you, and can actually cause you to not only gain weight, but to make you fatigued as well!  Who wants that when starting an exercise program?

Also, usually products that are sugar free have a ton of added salt, which can make you bloated.  They also contain sugar substitutes and many of the popular sugar substitutes digest in our body the same way sugar does!

Low fat products and low sodium products can also mean they added more sugar or High Fructose Corn Syrup to balance out the taste.

Are you eating the “healthy” frozen dinners as part of your diet?  Those usually contain super high amounts of sodium, and are mostly made out of chemicals or have a lot of added sugar.  Check the labeling on your frozen meal.  If you can’t pronounce the ingredients and it has high amounts of sodium, it probably is doing you more harm than good.

3. You are eating too much

You need to have a balanced eating plan.  Something that will give you a variety of nutrients to keep your body running smoothly.

Protein and Fiber are essential at keeping you full.   If you are loading up on a bunch of “healthy food” and never seem to stop eating, your calories add up and can keep you from losing weight!

If you are eating plenty of nutrient rich foods like fresh produce, pasture raised poultry and meats, and 100% whole grains, you will usually feel satisfied and not even have to count calories.  It’s hard to overeat when you just stick to that list.

However, if you eat tons of processed foods and “low calorie” or “low fat” foods, you are probably eating mostly artificial ingredients and always hungry because of it, causing you to eat more. Which is considered empty calories and you to not be able to lose weight.

4. You aren’t watching what you are drinking

Did you know one can of soda can be between 150 – 200 extra calories?  Usually has around 40g of sugar?  Can you imagine how much is in one bottle?  What about if you drink 6 cans of soda per day?  That is nearly 1000 calories by itself!

And if you read #2 above, you know the low calorie and no sugar varieties aren’t any better for you.  They digest pretty much the same in our bodies!  And usually contains ingredients you can barely pronounce, indicating it is probably harming you more than doing good.

Why?  Because our bodies are not meant to digest chemicals, causing weight gain and a slew of other issues.

And coffee… Are you putting a lot of sugar and cream in your coffee?  Is it flavored coffee?  You may want to pay attention to these!  These can add calories, sugar, and artificial ingredients, that will cause weight gain!

The amount of sugar and artificial ingredients in soda, juice, and coffee could be what is causing your weight gain.  So pay attention to what you are drinking!

5. You are kidding yourself

I’m not saying this one to be mean, I’m being honest.  I have done this too, so I am pointing the finger at myself as well.

Did you really eat as healthy this week or did you forget about the little things you snacked on?  Did you get up and move around, so your metabolism can speed up?

There are a lot of people I have heard over the years talk proudly about how they ate super healthy the day before.  They will lay out exactly what they had for every meal and say how well they did.

And then I see candy bar or fast food wrappers in their car.  I see empty soda cans in the trash.  They didn’t eat one vegetable, other than potatoes the day before, when they were listing out what they ate.   They had “salad” that was filled with salami, salad dressing, croutons and bacon bits and cheese. Lettuce was literally the only vegetable in there and it was the type of lettuce that had the least amount of nutritional value.

If you have a moments of weaknesses, that is okay.  We all do.  But be honest with yourself if what you are eating isn’t entirely healthy.

A lot of us will also have the mindset that if nobody sees you eat it, it doesn’t count, so we forget we consumed it. We need to change that.

If nobody sees you eating it, it still counts! 

Related Article:  How to Get Healthy With Zero Motivation

6.  Your sleep quality is terrible

Did you know when you don’t get enough sleep, it can raise your cortisol levels and make you always feel hungry in order to stay awake?  Most people need about 7-9 hours of sleep per day.  If you aren’t getting that much, you may have found your culprit.

There is so much going on in our lives that our brains have a hard time shutting off at night.  It can be hard to wind down to where you can get plenty of sleep.

The best way to do it is to try some guided meditation videos on YouTube, don’t eat within a couple hours of your bedtime, don’t scroll through social media within an hour of going to bed, and get a white noise machine to help drown out your thoughts (I have this one, and it is amazing!)

7.  You aren’t drinking enough water

If you don’t drink enough water, it can lead to many chronic conditions, and your body might not even tell you that you are thirsty!  You NEED water if you want to lose weight.  Something has to flush the bad things out of your system!  That’s one of water’s very many functions in your body!

If you aren’t drinking enough, you will have a much harder time getting the weight off. You need to be drinking at least half your body weight in ounces.

Example:  200lbs / 2 = 100 ounces

I like to look at it as I would need to drink 2 1/2 refills of my water bottle (which is this one).  It makes the math so much easier when you have a refillable water bottle because you don’t have to think about it in ounces, just how many times you need to refill your bottle.

Water is so important that I wrote an entire article on how much you should be drinking, the science behind why you should be drinking it (instead of other beverages), and how to drink more of it if you don’t like the taste.

Related Article:  How to Drink More Water (When You Don’t Like The Taste)

8.  You are fad dieting instead of trying to live healthy

One very big reason people aren’t losing weight is because they take part in fad dieting that isn’t sustainable long term.  I call these the “elimination diets”.  If these are working for you and you have kept it up for more than a couple of years, that is fantastic.  You are in the small percentage that made it.

These diets generally don’t work for most people.  When you cut out foods, your body misses it unless you find something else to replace it.  It craves it. It still needs the nutrients from those foods.  Your body is most likely missing out on vital nutrients to keep it running correctly, which is why you may crave carbs.  Why you may crave things that are high fat or high in sodium.

You don’t need to eliminate these from your diet, just find the right ones.

FYI, the exception is sugar. This is one ingredient that should be eliminated, with no looking back. I will write more on why you crave sugar and should cut out sugar in the future.

Lifestyle Change!

Most people who lose a ton of weight say the same thing:  Stop dieting and do a lifestyle change.  Sure it sounds cliche, but it is 100% true.  You need to change your eating and exercise habits to something that you can sustain for life.

When you “go on a diet”, you pretty much already fail and will gain the weight back because diets are temporary.  I don’t mean to be negative, but this is true.

Starting a diet means you will start on Monday and if you have a drawback, you wait until next Monday to start again. And most of the time, you will keep pushing the date back because of any excuse you can come up with.

A lifestyle change means you start right now. If you have a drawback, you get back on track at your next meal because you already have it in your mind that this new way of eating is what you do now.

9.  You don’t have support at home

This is a big reason you may not be seeing numbers decrease on the scale.  If you don’t have support at home, you are most likely going to cook meals that everyone can eat.  It is hard to cook for one person!

Watching people in your household eat all your favorite foods and you are over there with a veggie burger is also something that makes you feel isolated.

It causes relapse.  It causes you to have to do twice as much because you have to make two different meals, and it makes you feel stupid that you have to eat different than everyone else.

So if you have the support of your family and they can try to change some of their eating habits too, or even compromise on some of their foods, it helps a lot because it makes you not have to even think about bad food, because it isn’t in your house!

10.  You are not paying attention to your condiments

You put ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, salad dressing, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and mayo on everything.  Did you know most big brands put tons of sugar, salt, chemicals, and high fructose corn syrup in these products?

These all cause weight gain!

For many of you, I guarantee if you go check your pantry or fridge, you will find your favorite condiments have these ingredients.

This could be a huge factor in why you aren’t seeing your numbers go down on the scale.

11.  You are still eating out

Did you know that most restaurants and fast food have the worst ingredients?  They do!

Their salads are the highest in carbs and calories.

Their beef and chickens are from factory farms, where they pump them full of hormones and feed them things that aren’t part of their natural diet.  When you feed an animal things they aren’t equipped to digest, they get sick.  When you cramp them in a barn their entire life, they release hormones because they are stressed.

This gets passed on to you and makes you sick and your hormones out of whack.  Which can cause a ton of illnesses including weight gain!

Most restaurants use condiments (see number 10) and buns that have high fructose corn syrup or chemicals.  If you get a soda or small shake, it can have hundreds of grams of sugar on top of the high fructose corn syrup in there.

So if you get a chicken sandwich, small fry, and a small shake, you are not only getting an overload of sugar and carbs, but the amount of sodium and high fructose corn syrup you just consumed is scary.

This causes weight gain and seeing bad numbers on the scale!

Related Article:  The Best and Worst Fast Food For Your Diet

12.  You are under a ton of stress

Stress is a horrible monster.  We all have stress.  A lot of us handle it worse than others and let it consume us.

When you are under stress, you are constantly worried.  You feel a sense of dread a lot or fear, turning it into anxiety.  Stress will then make your body produce high amounts of cortisol for long periods of time, which will not only make you gain weight, but higher your blood pressure and decrease cognitive function!

So if you are doing everything right, but don’t see the scale moving, it could be your stress!

Related Article:  10 Ways to Manage Your Stress

13.  You aren’t moving around enough or getting exercise

You may have heard that what you eat is mostly what will determine if you lose weight or not.  While this is true, if you aren’t moving at all, your metabolism won’t either!

Your body doesn’t function very well if you don’t use it.  Aim to go for a few short walks a day.  Walk around the house.  Park farther away from the grocery store door (this is actually less stressful too!).

Make it a mission to get a certain amount of steps in each day and each week, increase your goal.  It’s okay if you have chronic pain and can’t move as normal or as much as others, I am there with you!

Most of you can still aim for higher numbers each week, even if if you start out embarrassingly small.  I started out where I could only do about 1500 steps a day.  I gradually increased and now can get anywhere between 4000-8000 steps per day, depending if its a good pain day or not for me.

Eventually I will be able to consistently do even more. I’m not giving up on that.

Get a Pedometer!

I highly recommend to get a pedometer to keep track.

I have a Fitbit Alta and love it. A few years ago, I bought my mom the same one on Mother’s Day. Me, her, and my aunt have challenges daily or weekly to motivate each other.   On days I am feeling good, pain-wise, I will start competing even more and telling my mom I’m going to beat her, which makes her step up on her steps.

I highly recommend this fitness tracker, because it is the one I have.

Related Article:  How to Lose Weight When You Have Chronic Pain

14.  You allow yourself cheat days

This goes a lot with number 8.  You need a lifestyle change, not a diet!

If you give yourself a cheat day, that means you are cutting foods out and then allowing yourself to eat them sometimes.

This will make trying to stick with it a lot harder because the cravings will NEVER go away.  You will crave whatever your cheat food is all the time, which will cause you to either binge on it on your cheat day, or you won’t stick with your new eating plan long term.

I also have another example why this doesn’t work.

I changed what I was eating about a year and a half ago.

There have been 4 times that I allowed myself to “cheat”, which was holidays and birthdays, and it was pretty much because my preferred foods weren’t offered at that time.  When I did those cheat days or weekends, I not only felt sick and chronic pain was worse (causing me to not be able to walk much), but I gained back everything I had lost so far that month in just one day!

The one weekend, I gained back 12 lbs! I was constantly hungry because I wasn’t eating clean foods, and I was consuming things with high fructose corn syrup, sodium, and sugar.  Not to mention, I craved all the bad foods constantly afterwards.

So if you allow yourself a cheat day, you can completely undo everything you did to improve that week or month and the scale won’t be kind to you.  Which can be discouraging and make you not even try anymore.

Related Article:  How to Eliminate Your Sugar Cravings

15.  You have medical conditions or medications that cause weight gain

It was recently that I realized the two blood pressure medications I was on for two years both cause weight gain.  15 years ago, the first time I got fat, I was on the birth control shot, which has weight gain as a side effect.  Many anti-depressants or anti-anxiety drugs can have weight gain as a side effect.

Thyroid conditions can make it harder to lose weight.

There are so many medications and conditions that have weight gain as a side effect.  You can be doing everything right and not be losing because of this!

I highly recommend to talk to your doctor about switching your medications or treating your health condition if weight gain is a side effect from it.  Otherwise it will be really hard for you to lose weight.

You can still lose in these conditions, but the scale will go down at a snail’s pace to where it is barely noticeable.

Related Article:  The Natural Thyroid Remedy You Didn’t Know Existed

16.  You hit a plateau

When you eat the same foods and do the same exercises every day, you will eventually hit a plateau.  Your body gets used to these conditions and finds a way to regulate itself.

It is similar to most medications.  Your body is used to the medication, so it doesn’t work anymore and will need a higher dose or a different medication.

When this happens, you need to change it up.  Do a different activity, like swimming, bike riding, or tennis.  Add in an extra vegetable per day.

Change it up!  Don’t keep doing the same things because your body will get used to it!

17.  You are expecting too much in too little time

You ate great and exercised yesterday and step on the scale today.  Why didn’t you lose 10 lbs today?

You did great this month, but haven’t lost 50lbs.  What the heck?

Seems like an exaggeration, but this is actually what goes on in many people’s minds.  You have to give your body time to adjust!  This means you may not see immediate results.

You should not want to lose more than a pound or two per week.

Anything more than that can put stress on your heart and body causing additional illnesses.

If you drop weight super fast, you will also get the ugliest extra skin just hanging everywhere.  And trust me:  It’s disgusting.  Because I have it from the first time I lost 100lbs.  It stays there and never goes away no matter how much you exercise to tone it.

Don’t expect too much out of yourself.  You aren’t going to see the scale go down overnight.  1-2 pounds a week is healthy, safe, and good for your piece of mind.

18.  You are working out too much

If you work out too much and too intense, you may never see the belly fat go away.  This is because it can cause hormonal imbalances and your body to go into stress mode, increasing that dreaded cortisol.

Also when you work out too much, your hunger increases, causing you to want to eat more to fuel your body.

So give yourself a break.  20-60 minutes a day is fine.  You really don’t need to do super intense workouts or extra long workouts.  As long as you work up a sweat and are moving, that is what matters.

19.  You don’t get enough fiber

Did you know that fiber is starting to be looked at more and more as a cure-all?  Bad cholesterol?  Eat fiber!  Lower blood pressure?  Eat fiber!  Regulate blood sugar?  Eat fiber!  Lose weight?  Eat fiber!

You get the picture.  This is something most of us are deficient in. We need fiber if we want to be healthy!  Fiber helps absorb nutrients in your system and eliminates the extra stuff your body doesn’t need.

Fiber helps fill you up more than anything else.  If you aren’t getting enough fiber, it can slow your body down and cause not only a ton of illnesses, but also make you gain weight!

Want more fiber?  I eat an avocado on a piece of 100% whole grain toast for 16g of fiber each day to start my morning.

It is recommended we get more than 25g per day, and with my breakfast, I am more than halfway there! The avocado toast is not only really good, and fills me up for hours. I can definitely feel the difference in my body when I eat anything else!

Throughout the day, I will get the rest of my fiber from apples, grapes, broccoli, almonds, or by adding flaxseeds to my meals!

If you aren’t seeing numbers move on the scale, try adding more fiber to your diet!

Related Post:  Is Lack of Fiber Causing Your Health Problems?

20.  You are eating too little

This was my problem for a long time. When you eat too little, your metabolism slows down majorly, causing your body to go into starvation mode and store fat.

This causes you to not be able to lose weight!

You should be eating between 1500-2000 calories per day of clean, whole foods.

Don’t Give Up on the Scale!

These are just some of the reasons you aren’t seeing numbers go down on the scale.  Don’t let it discourage you.

Be patient!

Some people it can take up to 3 weeks for their body to start dropping pounds.  I was one of them!

You don’t want them to go down too fast anyways because it will harm you and give you body deformities if you do!

Want to Know a Secret?

If I never lose another pound, I think I am okay with it.

Although stepping on the scale each morning has become such a habit, that I don’t even think about it anymore when i do it.  So that is a hard habit to kick.

If I can get up and have a productive day, and all my blood tests are normal, and I don’t take any medications, then I am happy and healthy.  And that is what life is all about.   It’s about feeling good.

When you feel good, it gives you confidence and happiness. That is what should be important.

For years, I stepped on the scale everyday to try to get to a weight that fit other people’s expectations.  Then it hit me that they are the one who has a problem with my weight, not me.

So now I’m doing healthy habits for myself so I can feel good and be active, not so I can fit other people’s expectations on what I should look like. This helps me keep it up and not give up.

If I lose weight from it, that’s okay, but I won’t beat myself up if I don’t.

I highly recommend to concentrate on your health instead of your weight.  It makes it more likely that you stick with it, because you will notice the difference and be excited about how good you feel.  Which in turn, will promote you to keep doing it.

I changed my lifestyle a year and a half ago. I keep adding new things and goals into my lifestyle to improve my quality of life.

I’m still overweight, but I’ve never been healthier or happier than I am right now.

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10 thoughts on “20 Reasons Why Your Scale Isn’t Going Down”

  1. Great list and absolutely want I need to read right now since I haven’t lost any more weight in five weeks. I have a few of these factors at play so it’s time to press the reset button.

  2. What an excellent detailed post! Absolutely everyone’s metabolism is different, but taking a few steps to help lead a more healthy lifestyle is certainly the secret. Not trying to lose weight with diets. A good diet and daily exercise will lead to a happy, healthy lifestyle. 🙂

    1. I agree! I find it best to just live healthy and try to concentrate on feeling better, not the weight loss.

    1. haha! I was #5 for a long time! I kept eating “healthy foods” that weren’t healthy, and then sneaking snacks and wondering why I still felt like crap and wasn’t losing weight. Thank you for the feedback.

  3. Thank you so much for this post, Ashly -all great tips! A lot of people don’t realize that stress can not only have a negative effect on your mental health, it can also make you gain weight or stop you from losing weight.

    1. Yes, stress affects our body in so many ways and can even be an underlying cause for disease! Thank you for commenting!

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