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Published April 26, 2008

I’ve started working out; why am I still gaining weight?!

Here’s a question I hear all the time, and to be honest, even though I know why it happens, it can still be disheartening to see your client so disappointed because after a few weeks of working out very hard, he hasn’t lost any weight but has actually gained weight instead!  This may have even happened to you and left you standing on the scale with a confused look on your face.  I think this is a big contributor to why so many people aren’t successful at weight loss programs.  Sure, some are just plain lazy and don’t exercise with enough intensity, but some become so discouraged with the scales that they simply just give up.  Whatever you do, don’t give up!  Here’s why.

I hope by now that we all know that losing fat takes time and effort.  For many, simply hopping onto a treadmill and walking for 20 to 30 minutes isn’t going to cut it; for a very small number of people yes, but for many no.  Most of us have to have a very structured and intense program to be successful at dropping the fat. 

Here’s the first step to success. Are you ready? Ignore the scale.

Here’s the first step to success.  Are you ready?  Ignore the scale.  That’s right.  Don’t even step onto a scale for the first month of your exercise program.  I know it’ll be hard, but don’t do it. I know some of you are scale addicts; well, consider this Day 1 of your scale detox program.  Remember, a successful “weight” loss program is based on the number of lbs. of fat burned off, not the number of overall lbs. burned off.  This is why you see programs out there that guarantee 6 lbs. lost in 6 days.  You know what they’re guaranteeing?  They’re guaranteeing an eventual 6-10, or more, lbs. being put back on. 

The “yo-yo” effect, I’m sure a lot of you have heard of it before.  The “yo-yo” effect is when your body loses weight, then gains weight, then loses weight, and so on.  That’s what these types of guarantees are.  Sure, some overly obese individuals can lose more than 2 lbs. of fat in a week, but the majority can’t.  Losing 6 lbs. is mostly muscle and water, which is a horrible thing. Muscle is vital to your body, so when it loses it, it wants to get it right back, and a lot of times, it’ll put muscle back on and bring excess fat storage with it.  This can leave you having more body fat than when you originally started a “weight” loss program.

Alright, so we’ve established that all weight is not the same.  Losing a pound of muscle isn’t good for the body, while losing a pound of fat is (in most cases).  Also, hopefully it’s clear why scales aren’t always the best indicator of fat loss.  When I evaluate a client’s success, figuring out her body fat percentage is a lot more meaningful to me than seeing the number on the scale.  If her body fat stays the same, but she’s smaller on the scale, then that tells me she’s either lost muscle or water.  If her body fat is the same, but she’s bigger on the scale, then that tells me that she most likely is retaining water.  When both her body fat percentage and weight on the scale drop, then I know that she’s actually losing body fat and achieving success. 

For every gram of glycogen stored, approximately 3 grams of water are stored with it.

For those of you who can’t seem to shake your scale addiction, here’s why you need to be prepared for what you’ll see at the start of your weight loss program.

Like I said earlier, it can be very discouraging when you step onto the scale and see that you haven’t lost any weight and may have evened gained weight.  As long as you don’t give up and are doing the right things with eating right and working out hard enough, your body fat will slowly start to come off.  You just need to be patient.  Don’t give up.

When you first start an exercise program, your body is basically thrown a curve ball.  Your body is used to having to use a certain amount of energy throughout the day, but now that you’re exercising, your body figures out that it needs a greater energy supply.  So what happens? 

If you remember, your body’s source of energy comes from glucose.  Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, the glucose is used to make energy, and your body performs how it needs to.  Well, your body also has a “reserve tank” for excess glucose. Instead of storing all the excess glucose as fat, your body stores some of the excess glucose in an easier form to break down for energy; it’s called glycogen.  Glycogen is long chains of glucose molecules that are stored in our muscles and liver.

Working out too intensely can cause muscle tears to become overly inflamed to the point where the mini-tears start to swell with fluid.

Your body adapts to how much glycogen it needs to store in order to have enough “energy” on stand-by for when your blood sugar starts to drop because there isn’t enough glucose in the bloodstream from the food you last ate.  When we start to exercise, our bodies require more energy and become more efficient at getting that energy, so as a result, our bodies start to store more glycogen.  Here’s the kicker.  For every gram of glycogen stored, approximately 3 grams of water are stored with it.  This means that now your body has a larger amount of water and glycogen stored in the muscles and liver, and as a result, your body weight can go up by a few lbs.

Picture a piece of bread or pasta noodle.  What happens when you put them in water?  They’re like sponges.  They soak up the water and expand.  The same can be said with glycogen.  Glycogen is a carb, and it sucks up water just like any other carb. 

Here’s another culprit.  If you go from not working out to working out very hard, your muscles will most likely be sore for the next 2 or 3 days.  This is because when you work out, you essentially create mini-tears in your muscles.  Working out too intensely can cause these tears to become overly inflamed to the point where the mini-tears start to swell with fluid.  This excess fluid in the muscles can cause an initial, excess weight gain.  By starting out an exercise program slowly and working your way up, you reduce the likelihood of tearing your muscles too much.  To some extent, though, muscle soreness will occur when you first start exercising, but the amount of soreness and inflammation can be controlled by gradually working into a fitness program.

If you continue to stick to your weight loss program and don’t become discouraged by the initial weight gain that may result, you’ll slowly start to see the weight come off for good.  Rest assured, even though you may be retaining water during that first month of working out, your body is still burning off fat.  After a month’s time, that excess water weight and glycogen will still be there, but your body will have started to burn off enough fat to overcome the water weight gains, and you’ll start to see a difference on the scale.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the individuals who are the most successful with permanent weight loss are those who don’t see results in the first month.  One thing I’ve noticed about my most successful clients, the majority of them actually gained a pound or two during the first month of exercising.  My clients who weren’t very successful were those that maintained the same weight during the first month, the second month, and so on.  Why?  I’d have to say it’s because my most successful clients were working so intensely that they experienced extra glycogen and water storage.  My clients who wouldn’t put in the effort didn’t need extra glycogen stored, so they didn’t see any initial weight gains. 

You see, my successful clients saw an extra pound or two on the scale during the first month, but as the program went on, that extra glycogen storage meant their bodies had the extra fuel to stay revved up and burning off excess calories.  It also meant that of the food they ate, less was going into fat storage and more was going into “high-octane” glycogen storage.  Less fat storage equals faster weight loss.

So here’s my advice.  Don’t be scared of delayed results within the first month.  Your body is going through an adaptation process, and it requires some time to prepare itself for its new lifestyle.  Keep your exercise intensity up, your eating habits right, and you’ll slowly start to see your fat loss results overcome your new glycogen and water storage results.  You’ll slowly start to see that success you set out to achieve.

Dan Falkenberg is the cofounder of Your Live Trainers.  He can be reached at

I need your help!  I'm in the process of publishing my first book, and I want to hear from you.  If you were to buy a health and fitness book, what would you want in it?  What areas of health and fitness would you want it to talk about?  How many pages would you want the book to be?  Any feedback you could give in the comments section would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks, and have a great day!

Tags: weight loss


138 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Christina Dalforno
May 27, 2008 1:58pm [ 1 ]

Thank you for the article! I have been bike riding 25+ miles a week for two weeks and have gained 6 pounds! I am very discouraged, but have committed to a five week routine. So thanks for the explanation on weight gain. I am going to keep on biking and working out. Exer-Chris

May 27, 2008 2:34pm [ 2 ]

Great job Christina! Commitment is so important to success. As long as you're patient and keep your eating habits in check, your results will eventually come. Keep up the intense work, and thanks for reading my articles! Keep me in the loop on how things are progressing.

May 30, 2008 1:31pm [ 3 ]

Thank you so much for explaining this to me. I'm a new mom and have lost all but the last eight pounds of baby weight. For the past month, I've combined 35 minutes of high intensity cardio and alternated 30 minutes of upper body weight training with 20/30 minutes of lower lunges, squats crunches. I've restricted my diet to whole grains, fruits , veggies and lean protiens five times a day; my main splurge, now that feeding time is over, is coffee. I gained two pounds this month. Happy times! However, I do feel great and refuse to give up on my pounds. Thanks again for the article.

May 30, 2008 2:34pm [ 4 ]

No problem Erin. Thanks for reading the article, and like I told Christina, I'd love to be kept in the loop on how things progress for you!

June 4, 2008 6:17pm [ 5 ]

Thank you for explaining all of this. I lost 70 lbs mostly through diet and I started to exercise a little bit. I started to gain about 5 lbs of fat back jut because my activity had dropped and I wasn't eating as strict of a diet. When I saw the 5 lb gain I freaked! So I decided to hit it hard about 5 weeks ago. I go to the gym 5 days a week. twice a week a take a cycle class and 3 times I do a boot camp aero class. I go to to scale expecting to see that 5 lbs gone but no I gained another 2 lbs! I was so frustrated! I can tell I am looking a lot better but my clothes still feel snug and with the weight gain I almost gave up. But since you explained all of it, it sounds like I might be right on track. I just hope that if i stick to this it will eventually come off. That last 10 lbs is killer to lose. Sorry this is so long, just really glad to have someone answer my questions. Is it normal for my clothes to feel tighter at first? I follow weight watchers diet. Should I increase my food intake of decrease it now that I am exercising. I really want to lose about 15 more lbs. I am 5'4 and at 140 now. Thanks for everything. Shannon

June 4, 2008 6:17pm [ 6 ]

Thank you for explaining all of this. I lost 70 lbs mostly through diet and I started to exercise a little bit. I started to gain about 5 lbs of fat back jut because my activity had dropped and I wasn't eating as strict of a diet. When I saw the 5 lb gain I freaked! So I decided to hit it hard about 5 weeks ago. I go to the gym 5 days a week. twice a week a take a cycle class and 3 times I do a boot camp aero class. I go to to scale expecting to see that 5 lbs gone but no I gained another 2 lbs! I was so frustrated! I can tell I am looking a lot better but my clothes still feel snug and with the weight gain I almost gave up. But since you explained all of it, it sounds like I might be right on track. I just hope that if i stick to this it will eventually come off. That last 10 lbs is killer to lose. Sorry this is so long, just really glad to have someone answer my questions. Is it normal for my clothes to feel tighter at first? I follow weight watchers diet. Should I increase my food intake of decrease it now that I am exercising. I really want to lose about 15 more lbs. I am 5'4 and at 140 now. Thanks for everything. Shannon

June 4, 2008 9:38pm [ 7 ]

Thanks for the comment Shannon, and thanks for reading my article! I wouldn't worry too much about the clothes for now; just give it some time. I would suggest a circuit of some resistance training. Keep the eating where it is. If you still don't see results in 2 weeks, cut the calories back a little more. The main thing is to make sure you keep your portion sizes down and get your weight training in. If you haven't read my article on how to lift weights for weight loss, make sure you check it out. Keep me in the loop, and keep working hard!

June 17, 2008 10:16am [ 8 ]

It's refreshing to see a more recent, highly informative article. Thank you for lending your expertise. I also have been working out 1.5 hours a night 5-6 nights a week and have seen the scale go up 2 lbs. I couldn't figure out why, and the other forums I googled said it was most likely I'm eating too much or not the right foods. This was infuriating (because I'm working so hard in the RIGHT direction and eating extremely healthily), and, in my opinion, a lazy answer, totally not productive, and not applicable to me. Thank you for lending the physiological reasons why I am retaining water and storing glycogen (and explaining what glycogen is!). I feel like I can rest easier knowing what is going on inside of my body.

June 17, 2008 10:36am [ 9 ]

Glad I was able to help, and thanks for reading my articles Lori. Keep up the great work!

June 18, 2008 7:07am [ 10 ]

I feel so much better now i have read your article i have lost over 2 stone through weight watchers and have now joined the gym, i have been going for 2 weeks and mae the mistake of weighing myself only to find i had gained 2lbs i was so upset. But no i know i will have to wait to get the results i want and keep up the hard work, needles to say im staying away from the scales.

June 18, 2008 10:57am [ 11 ]

Thanks for the comment Amanda, and thanks for reading the article. Stay committed; the results will start coming soon. Keep it up!

June 19, 2008 11:31am [ 12 ]

Hi Dan, I just wanted to give you an update and possibly get some advice.
It’s nearly been seven weeks today and I still haven’t lost a pound. My measurements are the same, as are my clothes. I mean, cummon–a measly pound would suffice. I feel tight and toned, but the post baby layer of fat will not budge. I’m 5'6" tall and 136.5 pounds. I keep my cardio in the upper rate zone for forty minutes and follow that with either upper or lower training for another 30 or 45. I let my body rest on sundays. My diet is the best it's ever been. Should I up my cardio and cut back on the upper/lower training a bit? Do you think this might push my body into finally losing some weight? I am muscular enough now and would only like to maintain what I have, not add more.
Any advice wold be great.
Thanks Dan. Erin

June 19, 2008 3:04pm [ 13 ]

Hey Erin. Alright, I’d suggest a few things. I’m going to tell you my thoughts, and then give you some links. First, I’d switch your steady cardio to interval training. It’s been proven that high-intensity cardio is way more effective at burning off fat than steady-state cardio for 40 minutes, even 60 minutes! Also, if you’re not already doing it, I’d suggest doing total body exercises that incorporate your biggest muscle groups. Don’t bother with smaller-muscle exercises such as biceps curls and crunches. Make sure you keep the intensity up; circuit-style workouts are great. With eating, shoot for low-glycemic index foods and pound the water. OK, here’s the links to articles I’ve written on these topics.

Interval training

More interval training

Large-muscle exercises

Low-glycemic foods

The importance of water

Keep playing with your calorie level too. If after two weeks you still haven’t lost at all, cut back by about 250 calories; make sure that you stick with 5 meals, though. Remember, don’t drop too low with your calorie intake. Hope that helps. Keep me in the loop, and don’t give up. You’ll get there!

June 19, 2008 5:06pm [ 14 ]

Hey Erin. I replied to your comment w/ a bunch of links, so it may take some time for the moderator to approve it. Just keep checking back. Have a great day!

June 19, 2008 10:12pm [ 15 ]

You’re awesome. Thank you so much for taking the time to give me your advice. You’ve no idea how reading these has motivated me. Really. No idea. Thank you. I’ve been working out at such a high intensity that I’m breathless and soaked. My body must just be saying-- ok, here she goes again–just sit tight for a few minutes. Interval training sounds so much better, and easier, and productive than what I’ve been doing. I’m so excited to get started! Your articles are great. Thank you again.

June 20, 2008 9:25am [ 16 ]

Thanks so much Erin. That means a lot that I'm able to help you out and you enjoy what I write. Have a great day!

June 23, 2008 1:50pm [ 17 ]

I am not sure how many calories I should be eating. I am 37, 5'5 and 135. I quit smoking and every since then, the weight came on and I am not happy about it. I eat pretty healthy, but do splurge on the weekends. I do have a drink from time to time, but not every day (its vodka and diet). I started working out with a personal trainer 3 days a week and do interval cardio on the elliptical. Its only been about 6 weeks, but like everyone else here, gained about two pounds. I am really hungry now that I started working out, which I am guessing is a good thing. Can you give me a little more direction? I am getting really frustrated. Thank you!

June 23, 2008 2:35pm [ 18 ]

Hey Stephanie. First off, if you haven't already, I'd be upfront with your trainer and let him/her know your frustrations. Hopefully, your workouts are pretty intense, if not, then you need to kick it up a notch w/ a lot of total body/big muscle exercises. That's great your doing intervals; nice job with that.

From experience with my clients, until they’re disciplined on the weekends too, they’re going to be frustrated. Weight loss is like pushing a rock up a hill. It's super hard to get it to the top, but once you do, it's a lot easier to push it on a flat surface. At first, you have to be extremely strict with what you're eating (even weekends). I also tell my clients no alcohol what so ever. You can be busting your tail as hard as you can during the week, then the weekend rolls around, you don't eat right and you have some drinks, and basically, you negate all the hard work you just put in during the week. Plus, when the body has to deal with alcohol and fat, it would much rather put its efforts into ridding the body of toxic alcohol compared to the much safer fat. As a result, the body stores the fat (especially in the belly area) and flushes out the alcohol. I hope this helps, and sorry that it's kind of harsh, but if you really want to know what to do, that's where I'd start. Don't give up, though! If you can keep your mind strong and make some adjustments, I have a feeling you'll start to have a smile on your face. Thanks for reading my articles!

June 23, 2008 9:11pm [ 19 ]

Thanks for the reply. I still am not sure how many calories I should be eating. My trainer says 1350 but I am still pretty hungry. We are doing big muscle group exercises- lots of lunges with presses, squats, stability ball, push ups, etc. Does 1350 sound right? I understand what youre saying about alcohol, but every once in a while I do have a drink, and I was just being honest about it, and tried to make the best choice. I am also doing shadow boxing class once a week. How long does it take before you start seeing weight loss (even if its a little) and does 1350 sound right? Thanks!

June 23, 2008 9:39pm [ 20 ]

You know Stephanie...I'm not going to claim I have the right answer for that one. Honestly, it really depends on the person...some see results in the first month, some it takes a few months. The key is don't give up. You just have to be patient and keep trying new things to get results. As far as the calorie level, I'm not able to say a specific number. It's a game. For some, I've had to bump their calories up. For others, I let it go a few weeks, and if they still weren't getting results, I've had them cut back a little more. You really just have to play around with the calories, but always try and eat every 2-3 hours (5 times/day) no matter how many calories you eat. Eating 400 calories for lunch and 950 for dinner isn't the right approach; they need to be spread out, but I'm sure you already know that. One thing is to try and get some good lean protein and low glycemic carbs for food choices.

You're on the right track. Just keep up the intensity, keep playing with the calories every two weeks (if you're not seeing results), and don't let yourself get down. Being 5'5" and 135 means that it is going to take an enormous amount of work to get those extra few pounds off; it's not like the Biggest Loser where they have 200 lbs. to lose and it starts melting off. I hope I was able to give you some encouragement. Keep working hard!

July 3, 2008 7:05am [ 21 ]

Thank you so much for writing this article. I have been eating 5 small healthy meals a day, and working out 6 days a week for 2 weeks with fail and I have gained 4 lbs. So, for the last two days i haven't worked out. I have just been crying and feeling bad about being me. But, this article has helped me out so much. Its the same thing my fitness coach told me. But, you just get so use to seeing all the commericals saying "I lost 30 lbs using hydroxcut, and i can't take any of that stuff cause it give me chest pain. So, i have been feeling like a failure because I'm not losing weight quick. But, thanks to your article reassuring me i will doing my TURBO JAM tonight,., thanks

July 3, 2008 10:33am [ 22 ]

Well thank you Cathy! Thank you so much for reading my articles and for being a motivational force for everyone!

July 10, 2008 3:18pm [ 23 ]

Hi Dan-

Its Stephanie again. I just wanted to touch base with you. I lost 1.2% of body fat. But I still havent lost any weight on the scale. I am being very disciplined with my food (1350 calories a day). I am definitely in a daily calorie deficit but still frustrated that the scale isnt moving. My belly isnt budging :-( Do you know how long it takes for your metabolism to increase (resting) when starting a weight lifting program? Its been almost two months.

July 10, 2008 4:44pm [ 24 ]

Hey Stephanie! It's great to hear from you again. The truth is, resting metabolism isn't increased that much by exercise. Each pound of muscle you put on increases your RMR (resting metabolic rate) by about 10 calories, so you'd need to put on a lot of muscle to have a significant change. The more important aspect of exercise is the increase in your metabolism while your exercising and for the day or so following. So in answer to your question, there really isn't a magic amount of time to see an increase in your RMR.

If you haven't already, I'd try being stricter with your eating on the weekends. Also, make sure you're eating 5 times a day, and that the calories you eat are whole grains, veggies and fruits, good sources of protein and fat, and low-glycemic. If you're still only working out 3 days with a trainer, I'd suggest working out on your own for some of the other days. Try and do some intense work such as circuit training with sprints or sprinting in place. Also, you may need to increase your amount of sleep and water intake. These are all just suggestions. I wish I had a concrete answer for you, but it's so hard without actually being there to guide you through this whole process. If you really have lost 1.2% body fat, then you're definitely on your way. Remember, fat loss is what you're shooting for, not weight loss. I'd be interested to see what the scale says in a week. Maybe you weighed in when you were retaining some water? You remind me of several of the clients I've worked with, and what they had to do was workout at least 5 days per week, stay strict on the weekends, cut out alcohol completely (at least until they hit their goal), and actually count calories to make that they were really eating what they needed to be eating. I hope this helps. Whatever you do, stay with it! Even if the scale is frustrating you, there are so many more benefits to consistently working out besides fat loss.

July 11, 2008 11:26am [ 25 ]

I really appreciate the biochemistry in your article. Increased glycogen, and thus water, means so much more than just saying "retaining water". I'm an engineer, so a little science helps my understanding a great deal. To take further advantage of your biochemistry knowledge, I have a question for you. You mentioned that the body, more specifically the liver, I presume, will preferentially process alcohol before fat, leaving the fat to be stored in the abdomen. Is that fat stored in the liver specifically? I know advanced alcoholism can result in fatty liver disease, but is occasional alcohol consumption adding general organ-padding fat or fat deposits in the liver?

July 11, 2008 11:55am [ 26 ]

Hey Angela,

Great question! The answer is both. The easiest way to explain this is like the pistons in a car. If you don't get regular oil changes for your car, or if you put poor quality oil in your car, not only does the engine start to deteriorate, but the pistons themselves start to deteriorate. If the liver starts to decrease its efficiency of breaking down fat (say through eating poorly, drinking toxic drinks, not drinking enough water, etc.), more fat will start to deposit all throughout the body, but the liver, as well, will also start to accumulate some fat.

The more body fat a person has, the fatter their liver is. This is the whole concept behind a liver cleanse. You essentially give your liver an "oil change" so that it can increase its efficiency of breaking down fat.

So in answer to your question, fat is deposited into the entire body, but little amounts can start to build up within the liver itself, and as the fat continues to build within the liver, the liver can't absorb oxygen as well. This can lead to inflammation and tissue damage within the liver, which can ultimately lead to cirrhosis of the liver.

I hope that answers your question. Thanks for reading my articles!

July 14, 2008 10:52am [ 27 ]

I really wanted to post an update, especially after reading some of the questions from others who seemed to be having the exact same issues as me. I know exactly how hard and frustrating it can be. It’s been a few weeks since I took your advice; I switched my cardio to intervals of 30:30, work/rest by alternating sprints along with high jumps using a weighted rope for 50 minutes. I also cut my carbs in half and replaced them with a few more calories. Although I have always been a healthy eater, I’m pretty sure that my favorite fruits, brown breads and veggies were my main problem. I had no idea that such healthy foods could be stalling me. But as soon as I cut the carbs in half, I noticed that my stomach began to look different and my clothes were feeling much looser. I won’t lie, it also feels so good to see the scale move. I was avoiding this part, but decided to have my weight and body fat taken at the gym this past weekend before my husband and herd of non-human athletic friends showed up. I’m down to 130 and 16% body fat. My adorable husband has been telling me that my fat was low for weeks, but he’s also super fit and sweet and I thought he was just trying to cheer me up. So yes, I’m finally losing and there is no doubt that I had been building muscle for the past few months in exchange for fat. I really feel great. Thanks again, and goodluck to everyone here.

July 14, 2008 3:48pm [ 28 ]

Way to go Erin! That's so wonderful! Keep up the great work; you're an inspiration to us all!

July 21, 2008 11:03am [ 29 ]

Thank you for the article. Here is a bit about me.

In March, I went into the hospital to give birth to my fourth child at well over 290 pounds. After recovering from the birth I set out to lose weight and regain my health. The first 70 pounds came off rather easily with diet alone taking me from a size 26/28 to a 18/20. Up until a few weeks ago, exercise was whatever I got chasing the kids. Then I started "real exercise" working my way up from 15 minutes a day to 40-45. When I got on the scale this morning and found that I had gained 3 lbs, I was shocked and heartbroken. Reading this has given me the strenght to go on and try to lose the other 80 or so to get to my goal. I still have a ways to go...I'm sure you can imagine that exercising with all this excess weight isn't the easiest thing in the world, and most mornings I have to force myself to get started, but it is getting easier. I may just avoid the scale for awhile and keep exercising and writing down everything I eat. Thank you.

July 21, 2008 11:12am [ 30 ]

That's great Wendy. Congrats on the fat loss so far! Keep up the hard work, and make sure that you keep switching up your routine to include different exercises now and then.

August 11, 2008 4:14pm [ 31 ]

just thought i would give you a quick update. I have now been going to the gym for over two months i still havent lost much more weight but my body shape is totally changing and i am losing inches if it wasnt for your article i would have probably given up thank you.

August 11, 2008 4:28pm [ 32 ]

That is so cool Amanda! You rock; keep it up!

September 8, 2008 6:15pm [ 33 ]

Hi have a quick question. Been exercising regurlary for a month now. 30 to 45 min a day. Watching what I eat. Don't go over 1500 calories per day. Lots of fruit and veggies. Haven't lost any weight or inches. For exercising I have been walking on treadmill at a brisk pace or on the eliptical. Thanks for any help you can give me.

September 8, 2008 6:49pm [ 34 ]

Hi NateTonysMom. First thing that jumped out at me was your exercise is walking or the elliptical, and you've only been doing this for a month. Most likely, you won't see a lot of results, especially with it only being the first month. If you scroll up on the comments a bit, you'll see a bunch of links to other articles I've written. I would definitely read those. You'll want to eventually start doing interval training, you'll need to start doing some resistance training for your big muscle groups because they burn off a lot of calories, and you need to make some other nutrition adjustments. The good news is, you've started out slow enough that you'll be able to start adding a lot more challenges for your body to work through, and that's what will get you loosing weight and keeping the weight loss rate going. I hope this helps, and thanks for reading my articles!

November 28, 2008 2:58pm [ 35 ]

You dont know how much this article helps! I wish it was the first one to appear when doing a google search for some answers. This is the first informative, non-discouraging article I have read about why there can be weight gain when starting a workout program and it doesnt appear until mid-way down the second page of the google search results! One of the articles for MSNFitness actually states that gaining weight is completely not normal and if you are gaining weight its your fault and you are doing something wrong! This article was the first one I could find that was actually offering expert advice and not just a list of other "excercisers" trying to answer the question. It was really discouraging and disheartening to read, especially with the "expert" advice. Thank you so much for taking the time to prepare this information and thank you so much for actually sharing it!


monica samuel
December 26, 2008 4:36pm [ 36 ]

thanks so much for your article about the gaining the weight when you first start a work out program. I burned 9,752 calories and ran 61 miles in 6 days and couldn't figure out why i had gained 2 pounds. I do eat 6 healthy meals and i am self employed so i get to be at home the most part of the day. hope i see results in a month or 2. do you think i am doing too much. i try to use the calorie deficit rule. i eat 1500 calories a day and burn about 2100 to 2500 calories a day.

December 27, 2008 7:09pm [ 37 ]

Hey Monica,

Thanks for the comment. If this is truly your first week, then yes, I would say it's a little too much to start with. I would build up to these levels b/c you don't want to risk burn out, injury, or getting to the point that your body is used to working out so hard that there is nothing new you can throw at it to keep it losing weight. Does this make sense? Great job with being so motivated! The trick is, you have to keep this motivation for months. Stick with it, no matter the frustrations, and you'll get there!

January 21, 2009 12:25am [ 38 ]

Thank-you so much for explaining this I started a diet Jan 08 I weighed 265 lbs I started slowly doing crunches then riding my bike and I lost 50lbs I then joined a gym and worked out on the eliptical and got down to 190lbs by Oct 08 I then started having trouble with my foot and had surgury in Nov 08 I was on crutches till end of Dec 08 I gained 11 lbs back. The Dr told me to stay off the eliptical and treadmill till my foot completly goes back to normal size which could take up to 6 mnths so I started weight training. I lost back to 194 lbs, so I started wotking out more intencely and now I have gained back 2 lbs, I was getting really upset and was thinking about stoping but now I am going to stick it out. Thank-you for this artical.

January 21, 2009 8:54am [ 39 ]

Thanks Donna. Keep up the hard work; you'll get there!

January 23, 2009 12:13pm [ 40 ]

omg thank you so much for your article I was very depressed yesterday when i found out i gained two pounds. I enrolled myself in a tae bo work out program and go 4 times a week for 1 hour every day and I have been eating as healthy as I can but to be honest I do feel as if my body is asking for more food... I have been there for two weeks now and to see I gained 2lbs and body fat made me really depressed...reading your article really helped me see what it could be :)

January 23, 2009 12:45pm [ 41 ]

Your welcome Bridgit. Thank you for reading it!

January 27, 2009 8:49pm [ 42 ]

I am so glad to read this article! I have never enjoyed exercising, primarily because I couldn't find a plan I liked. I'm by no means "fat" but I know how important exercise is to a healthy and long life.

For Christmas, my mom gave me the Wii Fit and I absolutely love it. I've been working out 5-6 times per week for 40 - 70 minutes per day. I definitely feel (and can see) my muscles becoming more toned and I have tons more energy. I've also been paying more attention to what I eat and making better choices to boot. I'm feeling amazing and sexy, but I have actually gained 1/2 a pound in the course of this month!

I've been getting more and more frustrated, but reading this article has definitely alleviated some of my fears. I'm going to stick to it regardless(I still can't believe that I LIKE to exercise now), but its nice to know that I'm not alone :)

February 10, 2009 2:36pm [ 43 ]

Thanks for the Advice ive been going to the gym everyday for a week and did atleast an hour of cardio a day and i gained 3pounds so reading this defenitly helped me stay motivated to keep going with my routine

February 10, 2009 5:08pm [ 44 ]

Keep that mind right Andrew! Glad to see you're sticking with it b/c with the patience, you'll get there. Thanks for reading!

February 10, 2009 5:10pm [ 45 ]

Well said Jaime. Just b/c frustrations come with the scale doesn't mean you give up. Now you feel better about yourself, and that in itself is priceless.

Noah's Mom
February 11, 2009 1:12pm [ 46 ]

Hi there! I am a 29 year-old female who is 5'9'' and 208 lbs. I joined a gym three weeks ago and have been doing a bunch of different exercises. I have not lost 1 lb!! I'm so frustrated, like many of the other people on here. I briskly walk @ 3.6 MPH on a 3.0 incline for 30 mins. Then I jump on the bike for 15 mins, then I do 15 mins of resistance training. I am only eating 1200 cals/day and only drinking water and green tea. I guess I just need to hear that I will lose weight eventually. Is there anything else you could suggest??? Thank you so much..

February 11, 2009 5:09pm [ 47 ]

I would suggest interval training with weights and cardio. The most important thing to remember is this takes time. Three weeks is way too soon to notice lasting results. I don't even take measurments of clients until at least a month after starting. Give it another month, keep the intensity high, and stay consistent and motivated. Remember, it takes time. If you browse around the articles I've written, specifically the weight loss category, you'll find a lot more info. Way more than I can even write here. Keep your head up; you'll get there!

February 12, 2009 3:53pm [ 48 ]

Hi Dan, I was hoping for a little advice. I am 5'5, 138 pounds. I work out six days a week (I stalled out last year and gained ten pounds, it's that weight that I am trying to lose now). I alternate upper and lower body weight training three times a week. My cardio consists of interval training on the treadmill for 30-45 mins four times week. I right down everything I eat, which is about 17-1900 calories a day, made up of healthy carbs , protein, fruits and veggies, however I have yet to lose weight. I feel no change in the way my clothes fit..... I am going into week seven and I am gettting a little discourged. I wontstop working out because I know the health benifits and I love it but......I'm am a little frustrated....should I cut out more carbs even though they are a source of energy? Advice please and thank you :)

February 12, 2009 4:37pm [ 49 ]

Hi Erin, thanks for the comment. Two things that stand out to me. One, your calorie intake has stayed the same and you haven't seen any changes after 6 weeks. Two, your cardio consists of the treadmill for 6 weeks straight. It's time to shock your body some more. I want you to do two things. One, reduce your calorie intake by 250 calories. Let that ride for two weeks (without stepping on a scale till then), and see where you are. Two, don't even step onto a treadmill for these next two weeks. I want you to focus on the intensity of your resistance training. Combine some anaerobic work (jumping jacks, sprinting in place or somewhere w/o a treadmill, mountain climbers, etc.) with resistance training. Stick to nothing but leg, chest, and back exercises for these next two weeks. I want you to walk away from your workouts feeling like you gave it your all and can't even imagine jumping onto a treadmill for 30-45 mins. Put all your effort into reistance training. Do these two things, without even thinking about looking at the scale, and see what happens. Hang in there; you'll finish strong.

February 12, 2009 5:33pm [ 50 ]

Hi Dan,

Thanks for sharing this awesome article. Did a lot of searching, and found this one with detailed explanation of what the body is doing while not losing any weight extremely helpful. After two weeks of monitoring net calories and working out and seeing no change or increase on the scale, I was thinking of amputation. But after reading your advice, I stopped getting on the scale, kept working and keeping faith in glucose chains. After about 4 weeks of nothing, finally seeing the scale moving again.

February 12, 2009 5:59pm [ 51 ]

That's awesome Dee! I hope others on here will see what happens when you stick to it. You're a source of motivation for everyone on here. While I'm on the subject of motivation, we seem to have built a little community through this article. This is just my creative juices flowing, but those of you out there who find yourself in the same boat so many are in, would you be interested in being part of an accountability/motivational group through Facebook? Just a thought.

February 12, 2009 6:41pm [ 52 ]

Thanks for the reply Dan! I think your responses definitely keep this article fresh, lots of great stuff in the comments as well.

I'm not much of a Facebook fan, but a group on Livestrong would be mighty appealing. I did a lot of searching through forum posts on this topic there and found a lot of the same "muscle weighs more than fat" rhetoric, without ever much depth of explanation.

But I've found the most valuable assistance in my weight loss and exercise journey so far to be from this article and tracking net calories on Livestrong's Daily Plate.

February 12, 2009 7:21pm [ 53 ]

Well, thank you Dee. I really appreciate that. We'll see what others think about a Livestrong group, then maybe we can start one.

February 24, 2009 4:35pm [ 54 ]

Thank you for this article!! Last year my goal was to pack my meals for work (since I'm a flight attendant, I'm gone for several days at a time) and avoid eating out, especially airport food. I've stuck to that and lost 20 lbs over the course of the year. Worked out but not regularly.

With the diet under control, I joined a gym three weeks ago and have been working out at least five days per week since. I do the couch to 5k running program three times per week, and for the other days of the week I do thirty minutes of other the stationary bike or elliptical and use the weight machines. I drink 8+ glasses of water per day and stick to eating healthful foods.

I'm feeling great, getting more accomplished each day because I feel energized. I certainly don't expect to see instant results but I was terrified when I checked the scale and saw that I gained a few pounds. I googled, "gaining weight and working out" and came to this article, for which I am thankful. I wasn't going to get deterred from working out because I was definitely feeling the advantages, but I'm so glad to find out it's a normal reaction.

I booked this article to come back to and read for, I'm taking the scale from the bathroom and moving it under my bed; out of sight, out of mind.

February 24, 2009 6:49pm [ 55 ]

Nice work Amy! Very smart move to stay away from the scale for now. Just keep incorporating all three (resistance training, cardio, and nutrition), and you'll get there. Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

March 13, 2009 11:18am [ 56 ]

Ok Dan, so everyone has a story and here is mine. I lost close to 30lbs from depression about a year age. I maintained the weight loss for a good amount of time. I had definitely changed my eating habits and was eating a lot healthier. About 3 months ago, I started to gain the weight back. In a matter of 2 months or so, I've managed to gain almost 20 lbs. So about a month ago I started a workout routine that consisted of 15 minutes of jogging, 20 minutes of elliptical workout and alternating between upper/lower muscle toning. I've been told it could be water or muscle, but I'm just not sure. At this point, I'm really discouraged, but glad I found this article. Thanks! What alterations should I make to help get my weight back down. I'm 5' and I can't afford to gain anymore weight; can you help please?

March 13, 2009 12:04pm [ 57 ]

Hi Alli. Thanks for the comment. I would suggest tailoring your program to include more with weights. Healthy muscles means healthy weight loss. Also, take a look at your nutrition more closely. Maybe that means a food log, but make sure you're not getting more calories and unhealthy foods than you think you are. I suggest going to the weight loss catergory of my articles and reading through some of them. There is a lot of info that is relative to your situation. Keep your head up!

March 13, 2009 5:48pm [ 58 ]

I am very frustrated. I consider myself to be pretty knowledgable about losing weight and exercise when it comes to my body. I've lost weight in healthy weighs many times before.
I just went off an antidepressant 2 weeks ago, I don't know if you know anything about these, but they tend to make you gain weight and really hard to lose any when taking them. However, I've been working out religiously for well over 3 months now. Usually 3-4 times a week. I do many different workouts, one day of aerobic kickboxing then a strength/conditioning class, anotther day step class and my own weight lifting routine. My routines usually end up being 2 good hours of intense cardio and strength training. I'm burning by the end. I eat a very healthy diet although I do indulge in a glass of champagne a few nights a week. I was counting calories, about 1500-1600 a day. I can feel my body gain tons of muscle but I've gained weight, 5 lbs. What gives? I've been doing this for months now, not just weeks or a month.
I've never had such a hard time losing before. I also have about 25 lbs to lose, in the past I only needed to lose 5 lbs or so. I am not giving up but I need to know what is going on. It doesn't seem normal for my body.

March 19, 2009 5:10pm [ 59 ]

Thanks for the comment Sara. One thing I would suggest is playing with your calorie level. Try eating 250 calories less for 2 weeks and see what that does. I don't normally suggest this, but a detox flush may be something you want to look into, especially since your liver had to deal with processing the antidepressants. Basically, a detox is like an oil change for a car. It helps your body function more efficiently. Another thing that jumped out at me was the 2-hour workouts. I know this doesn't make sense but just trust me when I say 2 hours is WAY TOO LONG! I have no doubt that your consistent 2-hour workouts, day after day, are causing your body to burn off muscle...burning muscle means increased fat storage. 45 minutes to 1 hour is the max I would suggest for workouts. It's like a car; if the engine is constantly being "red lined" or pushed very hard and it doesn't get a break, the engine will start to break apart, sometimes literally exploding. When some of my clients have fallen into a rut, I either decrease their intensity or tell them not to work out for several days to a week. Their body needs a break and needs to rest itself. The same may be true for you.

Without being able to personally work with you, these are the steps I would take at first glance. If you still don't get anywhere after a few weeks, you may want to consult a professional in your area. Hope that helps. Have a great day, and keep your head up!

March 25, 2009 10:58am [ 60 ]

Ive always worked out since I was in school but usually not consistently. I would go a few months real good, then slack off for a while. I always was able to lose weight pretty easily. Last year after a series of injuries I wasn't able to work out for about 5 months. I'm 38, 6'5" and my weight got up to about 265. Overall I was not that overweight but not fit like I'm used to. That was the most I've ever weighed. I'm athletic so Ideally I should weigh around 230. A few years back I got down to about 215 but I thought that was to thin.

Anyway, In about December, I started working out steady again as well as eating well and by the end of the month dropped about 8 lbs. Then about another 8 in January. This was from running about 3-4 times a week for a half hour at about as hard as I could go. Maybe too hard on occasion. In addition, I play basketball at least once and usually twice a week for 1 1/2 hours which is a real good workout. I've kicked it up the last couple months and started weight training about 4 days a week. Pretty intense, heavier weight. And I've kept the same cardio routine.

I won't really say its a problem but I only lost 2 lbs in February and actually gained 2 lbs. in march so far. I still feel like I'm losing fat but is it possible to gain that much muscle. Especially with all of that cardio? Plus it's not like I've never lifted weights before. I just want to make sure that it's muscle weight offsetting the weight loss and not that I've plateaued. I try to change up my workouts but should I be doing something differently?

March 27, 2009 7:42pm [ 61 ]

Thanks for the comment Andy. You know what I would do; I would measure your body fat percentage first. Give that about a month and see what happens. This is an interesting situation b/c you probably have put on some muscle these past few months, but is it enough to explain the weight gain? Only body fat percentage will tell us. In actuality, even when gaining muscle, you should still be losing fat. A scale doesn't distinguish between the two, but body fat measurements do. Hope that helps.

March 27, 2009 9:21pm [ 62 ]

Hi there - I was so upset when i came home today after a weigh in @ the gym that I wanted to cry!!!! I have been laid-off @ home and trying my best to stay +ve and thought the best would be to get 'fit' during this time off. I workout regularly 30 min 2-3 times/week for the past 2-3 yrs roughly.. but since past 7 weeks i pushed it up! I started taking spinning! Doing strength training (BUT I DONT LIFT WEIGHTS UNLESS I AM DOING ARM EXCERSISES SO HOW CAN I GAIN MUSCLE??? i do a lot of squats..lunges...other strengthning with ur own weight etc could that be it??)

Another Question - I work out 5 days/week => 45 min - 1hr cardio 1/2 strength that a lot/less? Also, while spinning, if I increase the intensity/gear to high..does that help me burn fat? or build muscle caz the intention is to get a good cardio (spinning is good cardio..right? and should i do it to lose weight or is running betterr?) ! I am confused @ what intensity i should be when the trainer/instructor asks to push it to a 9 (10 max..also he does vary fm 5-9..hills n flats...etc). Please suggest!THANKS! i will keep working out...droppin it is not an option! even though the weight/muscle gain SUCKS!!!

March 28, 2009 10:11am [ 63 ]

Thanks for the comment Cindy. I want to make sure I answer all your questions, so I'm going to number them.

  1. Spinning is a great form of cardio, but ... it is very easy to get in a rut with it b/c after awhile, your body adapts to it and the results slow. I know plenty of people who have fallen into the fat loss rut by only depending on Spinning. You are right about the intensity, the high the more fat burn. As far as knowing the right intensity, go on a scale. 10 is an all out push where you feel like you can't go any harder. 1 is as easy as possible. So if your instructor says 10, push as hard as possible. Also, I'm not suggesting giving up on Spinning, but it might be time to take a break and try another form of cardio; do that for a bit, then come back to Spinning.
  2. When figuring out the best weight loss exercises, by far and away it is resistance training. Studies have found even more so than cardio because while you burn more calories during cardio, the total amount of calories you burn is a lot greater with resistance training. This is b/c once you stop cardio, excess calorie burn stops. When you stop resistance training, excess calorie burn can continue for up to 38 hours!
  3. 1 1/2 hour workouts are too long. I'm about to tell you something that's going to make your life a whole lot easier. 45 minutes to 1 hour is plenty. If you can combine anaerobic exercise (sprints, jumps, jumping jacks, very hard, short bouts on an elliptical or stair stepper or bike, etc.) with big-muscle resistance training (legs, chest, and back), and you alternate back and forth between anaerobic and resistance training within 1 workout, after 20-30 minutes you will be absolutely spent. I suggest 45 minutes starting out because your body won't be able to handle a solid 20-30 minutes w/o a break. 45 minutes allows for you to slow the pace down.
  4. Try these things first. In reality, it is highly unlikely that it's muscle gain w/ the amount of cardio you've been doing. If you aren't eating any carbs before your workouts, you're probably burning off muscle instead. It sounds like your body has hit a rut. It's adjusted to the challenge of Spinning (just like lifting 10 lbs gets easier over time), it's working out for too long, so it's breaking down a bit, and as a result, you might be losing muscle which is causing fat to store easier. I wish I had my book publish b/c I explain all of this in much greater detail, but ... we can make do with this.

Hope that helps!

March 28, 2009 10:13am [ 64 ]

Well, the numbering didn't show up, but hopefully you can still understand it.

March 28, 2009 1:27pm [ 65 ]

Dan - Thanks a lot for ur prompt response!!!!

March 28, 2009 2:06pm [ 66 ]

Hi Dan - I need help! not sure if i am asking for too much but can u give me a sample of workout routin i should follow? pleaseeee....for example type of cardio w/ duration and intensity type of resistance w/ duration for how many days? I am 5'4 and 28 yrs old...weighin 144.5lbs! (last yr 135!)..i think ...i am not sure....but the antideppresent i am takin could be a reason i will lose real slow! :( but i wont give up..and will keep workin out! i just need some guidance

March 28, 2009 2:49pm [ 67 ]

Hi Cindy. I would pick 6-8 different resistance training exercises, perform a set of one exercise, do an anaerobic exercise in between, go back to another set of the resistance training exercise, followed by another anaerobic exercise, and so on ... until you do 6-8 different resistance training exercises total. That should take about 20-30 minutes, which would definitely be a good start. 3 days minimum. You might want to talk to your doctor about the weight trouble w/ the antidepressant. There might be something that could change w/ that if it really is contributing to the weight issues. If you go to, there's all kinds of great information there too. Hope that helps. Keep up the great work!

March 31, 2009 10:23am [ 68 ]

Frustrating is not the word, I'm ready to quit!! I have never worked out in my life but realize that I need to. Started working out 3 weeks ago doing 40 minutes of cardio 4 days a week. Also use the machines to work on legs, hips, thighs, and arms. Work on abs EVERY day. I'm now starting my 4th week but since starting I have gained 5 pounds. Have also changed my diet (cut out my 1/2 gallon a night ice cream and am eating much healthier foods including more fruits, veggies, and yogurt. I'm 5 foot and am now up to 150 pounds. HELP!! Why am I gaining so much and not losing? I feel alot tighter and am still sore, but pants still fit the same and I'm gaining instead of losing!

April 3, 2009 9:15am [ 69 ]

Thanks for the comment Dawn. Well ... for one, it's only been 3 weeks. In the grand scheme of things, that's no time at all. Another thing is read my article on SUV vs. car muscles. It should be in the weight loss category and is very relevant to your comment. Also, resistance training is much more important than cardio when it comes to weight loss ... unless you're doing resistance training every day you do cardio, I would make sure you start w/ a solid 3 days, 20-30 minutes of resistance training per week. Another thing is even though you are eating healthier foods, are you still eating too much? Use and track how many calories you eat each day and when you eat them. Are they evenly spaced throughout the day? Read my article, "Nutrition is the secret ingredient". It should also be in the weight loss category. Try these few things first; hope that helps.

April 17, 2009 10:03am [ 70 ]

Hi Dan I was hoping you could give me some advice. I'm 35 years old and 5'7 at 172 pounds. I'm no stranger to working out I have always been pretty athletic this past year has been very difficult for me and I gained about 20 pounds and feel very uncomfortable with my body. I starting eating right and exercising about 6 weeks ago and have really seen no results. I switch up my workout with the elliptical, treadmill, biking I used to do Tae Bo but due to years of running its too hard on my knees. I just bought a workout program slim in 6 and some exercise mats to try to work them into my routine and see how my knees do. I also do at least 2-3 hours a week of resistance free weight training for major muscle groups. It's really discouraging I do not know what I'm doing wrong I used to be able to lose weight so quickly. I do not go over 1400 calories a day I will admit that nightime is my largest meal but I have 5-6 small meals a day dinner being the largest. I made an appointment with my doctor to get my bloodwork checked to make sure this isn't a problem with my thyroid but I've never had that issue in the past. Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated; (I'm going on vacation in 5 weeks and figured I'd be much more in shape by now my goal is at least 10 lbs by vacation and then to get down to 140 after that)

April 23, 2009 8:54am [ 71 ]

Hi Samantha,

Thanks for the comment. On the surface, it looks like you're doing the right things. This is a situation where you're going to have to actually talk with someone face-to-face and give the exact specifics of what you're eating, what you feel caused you to gain 20 lbs., what specific exercises you're doing, the design of your program (sets, reps, tempo, etc.), the structure of your cardio program, etc. Also, it will be really interesting to see what the test results say. If it's any consolation, you seem to be doing the right things. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful, but you would benefit a lot more from a discussion with a trainer over the phone or face-to-face. It's only been 6 weeks. That still isn't that long; even though it's frustrating, hang in there and keep up the great work!

May 1, 2009 6:31am [ 72 ]

I am sooooooooo happy I ran across this article this morning. Within the past month I started to really watch what I eat and noticed some weight loss. I haven't been a regular exerciser, but I walk at least 2 miles a day and have maintained a slim frame. I've become much more health conscious and want to become overall healthier. This week is the first week that I've started religiously exercising doing two days of pretty intense cardio/sculpting followed by a day of pilates. I stepped on the scale this morning to find I had gained a pound. I was mortified.

I'm so glad I found this article because now I know what is going on with my body. I wasn't about to give up because I already feel so much healthier and look better, but it was definitely defeating.

I won't be stepping on the scale again for at least another month!

May 1, 2009 11:21am [ 73 ]

Hi Adrienne. I'm glad it cleared up some things. Keep up the great work!

May 14, 2009 12:04pm [ 74 ]

I admit, I am addicted to my scale. A few years ago I lost 25 lbs to from 175 lbs to 150 lbs (I am 5'8"). Since then, I have desperately been trying to lose those stuborn last 10 lbs. I've been a runner on and off for years but really kicked it into high gear last October and have since been running 4 times per week. I finally lost the last 10 lbs and have since been sitting comfortable at 140lbs. I am getting married in 2 months (eeeek!) and decided I wanted to tone up a bit for my strapless dress. I joined a bootcamp about a month ago (3 times per week) and also still run twice a week. My diet is bang on and like I say, I have been exercising like a maniac. I stepped on the scale for the first time today in about a month and I am up 2 lbs! I am pretty upset about it but your article has definately given me some ideas as to where this weight has come from. Is their a chance that the 2 lbs is stricly muscle gain. I can visibly see that I have larger and more toned muscles so could this be all it is? Regardless, I don't want to gain weight! All I wanted was to maintain at 140lbs.

May 28, 2009 1:20pm [ 75 ]

Hi I'm a 26 year old girl who has been struggling with weight since I had my 2 daughters. I was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabeties. I have been put on a strict diet and I'm also doing the wii fit every night for an hour. I also attend curves everyday for the half hour session that they have. Ever since I started curves I have been doing nothing but gaining weight and its very depressing. I cry at night because I work so hard but get nowhere. Is there anything that I can do to lose the weight? I read your article and I thought it made sense but the wii fit has me weigh myself everyday. So I really don't know what to do anymore...Its getting to the point where I just want to give up.....Please help!

May 29, 2009 2:08pm [ 76 ]

Thank you so much for this information on this page ... I am tired of hearing im eating to much calories... im doing weight watchers and i am eating healthier than i ever ate in my life and i am using my wiifii every morning and every night .. i never used to exrcise or eat healthy im 350 lbs i write everything down that i put in my month ... i lost 8.5 pounds the first week .. then the second i gained two then the third i gained half pound then i just weight in i gained another pound ... but i did notice i am retaining water ....... i was feeling like quitting but now after reading this im okay again thank you so much i know my hard work will soon pay off on the scale... i have lost inches and look smaller everyone says are you losing weigh and i only lost 4 pouns of weigh the rest is inches thanks!!! and good luck every one

May 29, 2009 2:08pm [ 77 ]

Thank you so much for this information on this page ... I am tired of hearing im eating to much calories... im doing weight watchers and i am eating healthier than i ever ate in my life and i am using my wiifii every morning and every night .. i never used to exrcise or eat healthy im 350 lbs i write everything down that i put in my month ... i lost 8.5 pounds the first week .. then the second i gained two then the third i gained half pound then i just weight in i gained another pound ... but i did notice i am retaining water ....... i was feeling like quitting but now after reading this im okay again thank you so much i know my hard work will soon pay off on the scale... i have lost inches and look smaller everyone says are you losing weigh and i only lost 4 pouns of weigh the rest is inches thanks!!! and good luck every one

June 25, 2009 5:23pm [ 78 ]

Does it take longer than a month sometimes? I have between 35 and 50 pounds to loose to have a healthy BMI. I've been going to Jazzercise for an hour to and hour and a half 4 to 6 days a week, I started on may 6th, 2009 and it's been nearly 2 months and I've only seen the scale creep slowly upward. I count my calories religiously and if I fall off the wagon I work extra hard in the evening to work it off. I'm really discouraged since I've going to Jazzercise my weight has hit an all time high of 183. It's so embarrassing I've even had to buy new "fat" clothes.


July 2, 2009 11:41am [ 79 ]

Dan, I lost about 15lbs this past September with a resistance band strength training workout in combination with a walking routine (brisk,hills,intervals). To be honest, I didn't even know I had that much to lose. I am 5'8 and went from 142 down to 128. I did a good job maintaining that weight without changing my diet. My exercise routine tapered off as winter came and I still was able to maintain my new weight. In about April I started running 3-5 miles about 4 days a week, with a small weight gain. That didn't bother me. But in May I started boot camp 2 days a week, very intense cardio and strength training, literally something new for my body each time. However we seem to do a lot of lunges,squats,leg work. I've been running or doing some sort of exercise about 2-3 days in combo with the boot camp. In the month of May alone I've gained around 10lbs-without a change in my diet. Pants that used to be baggy are now skin tight.I've been drinking a lot more water. I wouldn't say my diet is ALWAYS healthy, but also not unhealthy.Regardless, my diet hasn't changed so why would I suddenly be gaining weight. If anything, since I've been packing on the pounds I've been trying to eat healthier, whole grains, lean meats etc,carbs w/higher dietary fiber in them. I'm goin on 2 months now and really starting to lose hope. What can I do differently?

July 13, 2009 10:08am [ 80 ]

Thanks everyone for your comments/questions. First off, with the clients I work with, sometimes it takes more than a month to see any difference in the scale. Whenever I have a client who I know is working out consistently hard, gets enough water, eats healthy meals that are well spaced throughout the day and at the calorie-level they need to be at, gets 7-9 hours of sleep every night, doesn't have a stress job, etc., I will typically switch up some component of their program to see if that makes a difference. Even if they are getting results, I still switch up their lifting program every 2-4 weeks. For example, I may do some type of endurance lifting phase for a few weeks, then switch to more of a strength lifting phase. A lot of this is determined by rest intervals, amount of reps and sets, the type of exercises they're doing, and the tempo/speed of each exercise. Only if I feel like all options have been exhausted and the client really is dedicated to getting in shape do I suggest they talk to their doctor about metabolic issues ... this is EXTREMELY rare, though, so I'm not suggesting that's the cause for a lot of people. The first thing I would suggest would be to talk with a fitness professional in your area. Let them find out more information, and from there, you'll be able to get a more personalized suggestion. Hope you find this helpful.


July 28, 2009 9:33am [ 81 ]

Dan, I have been working out and eating better for nine months now. I run for an hour 5-6 days a week and for the last two months- Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I added 25-30 minutes of weight training. In the beginning, I lost 17 pounds, since then I have gained back about 10. Yes, I have been a little lose with my diet, but nothing compared to what it was like before I started all of this and I also am working out so much that I didn't think the little cheat here and there would make that much of a difference. My clothes still fit nicely, like when I first lost the weight, but the scale is not going anywhere....could this all be from weight lifting or would you suggest I go back onto the strict diet I was on? I drink 2 quarts of water every day, also. Someone told me to take my measurements because weight lifting can make you lose weight, but I have not done so....I guess I am waiting for the weight lifting to take effect and some serious pounds to drop off soon. What is your opinion?

July 31, 2009 2:52pm [ 82 ]

Hi Jackie. I would say that there are two possibilities for the weight gain. One, if you are not so great on eating, that's definitely going to have an effect. Some people have the body type to be able to be lax on their eating, but some unfortunately can't w/o seeing a negative effect with weight gain. The other reason is your body may be in a rut. If you have been running for an hour for the last nine months and doing the same resistance training routine for the last two months, I'm sure your body has gotten used to what you're doing. It's time to switch it up. Start doing a different exercise routine to give your body a new challenge. If you absolutely love running and don't want to try swimming, biking, etc., then do different running workouts. Maybe run hills one day or do a interval day every week ... make sure you aren't just going out and running the same workout every day. Hope that helps.

August 11, 2009 2:02pm [ 83 ]

Hi Dan, I am going to be senior in college, and I am about 110 pounds and 5 3 1/2,- besides walking about an hour a day I did not work out at all for the last four years regularly- I joined a gym this summer and started out slowly- but for the last two weeks have been working out 5 days a week. I usually switch up different 60 min classes and do an 40 minutes of cardio and sometimes weights. I have definitely seen myself become more toned and gain muscle but I am definitely gaining weight- which is frustrating. Should I expect to have the weight come off and have fat replaced with muscle, if I continue my workout during college? Or should I try a different approach Thank you, Abbey

August 17, 2009 9:08am [ 84 ]

Hi Abbey,

Thanks for the comment. I would suggest doing more resistance training. It's a proven fact that resistance training is the absolute best thing you can do for weight loss because you continue to burn calories even after you are done with this type of exercise. If you consistently work out this year with more time given to resistance training, as well as keeping your nutrition habits in check, you'll definitely being doing the right things to start to see the results you're looking for. Hope that helps.


August 26, 2009 4:31pm [ 85 ]

Thanks so much for the insight!!!

I have been looking all over for SOME explanation. I recently quit smokng and as a hedge against weight gain (after a completely sedentary lifestyle for years), started walking daily for 45 mins to an hour. About two weeks ago, I upped that to running 6 days a week for 30 mins in the morning (need that morning metabolism boost) and walking my hour in the evenings. The first week after getting on the scales after adding the running I GAINED 5 lbs, same thing happened week 2.

I feel the storage that you speak about because even thoguh my legs were getting firmer from walking they seem rock hard or swollen in the calves and large leg muscles now. I know that I eat less than my resting metabolism requires which is approximately 2000 calories but to gain an extra 10 lbs would have meant an increase of 35000 calories over a two week period which is impossible.

Today is my rest day and my weigh in today showed a full 1.5 pounds dropped... I won't be counting it as a loss until it gets below my initialy weight.

Thanks again.

September 7, 2009 10:11pm [ 86 ]

I have been on Weight Watchers since April 09 and have gone from 178lbs to 150lbs. I started to incorporate exercise into my life and wound up with a stress fracture..long story short I am now doing elliptical training at the gym for about 30 minutes a day I will keep a pretty fast pace for 3 minutes and really crank it up for 1 minute to 1 1/2 minutes throughout the workout and then I also weight training 3 days per week. 2 days a week I take a deep water aerobics class. Anyway, I too have gained 2-3lbs in the last month. I see in previous articles you talk about interval training, what is that? Any suggestions for me?

Dan Falkenberg
September 9, 2009 6:20pm [ 87 ]

Hi Kelly,

Thanks for the question/comment. It looks like you are doing a lot of the right things. Interval training is exactly what you are doing ... intervals of hard and easy periods in your workout. You're doing weight training ... a must, so that's good. My suggestion is to change things up a bit. If you can, try and switch the type of workouts you do, the intensity of each workout, the exercises, etc. Bottom line, you need to keep your body guessing on what's next. If you do the same thing over and over again, it's not a challenge to your body anymore and the results stop coming. Hope that helps. Make it a great day!


September 10, 2009 10:29am [ 88 ]

I recently lost 37 pounds and wanted to lose another 10, so I began walking, and trying to run. I did my first 5 k On Aug. 13, and since I have done 5k at least 2x a week, walking a mile in about 14.38. On the weekends I will ride a bike about 6 miles. I have been ready to give up, as my eating hasn't changed, 900 - 1100 calories a day, balanced between proteins, fruits/veg, and starches, but I have gained almost 10 pounds. I am so frustrated. Is this possible to be a result of what you spoke about in your article? I am trying to stay strong and keep going, but I am very disappointed in myself right now. Thanks for any feedback - Becky

Dan Falkenberg
September 10, 2009 10:49am [ 89 ]

Hi Becky,

Thanks for the comment/questions! Two things jump out at me. First, resistance training is an absolute must. Pushups, pullups, squats, lunges, weights, resistance bands, all that kind of stuff is essential to losing weight because it is much more effective at burning off calories than steady cardio like running and biking. Second, unless you are being medically supervised on a low-calorie eating plan, 1200 calories is the bare minimum you should be eating. Anything less than this will cause your body to go into "starvation mode". This means it stores high-energy fat and burns off muscle for quick energy. ... definitely something you don't want to happen when trying to lose weight. Increase your calorie intake to balance out your body and include resistance training. Those are the two suggestions I have. I would also suggest you look through more of my articles because I explain both of these issues in more detail in separate articles. Keep up the great work!


October 26, 2009 12:04pm [ 90 ]

Hi Dan, Thanks for the great article.. I am 28 yrs old, 5'61/2" tall and when I started my exercise program my scale was showing 178.4 lbs. I have started working out on treadmill 30 min and I am doing intervals and increasing my speed each day as much I can do. I finished 2 weeks of my exercise now and my scale shows 182 lbs. That is so discouraging when I am doing my level best.However your article gave me great hope and I really felt good after reading it. but isnt 4 lbs in 2 weeks too much? I havent changed my diet at all..

Dan Falkenberg
October 27, 2009 9:31am [ 91 ]

Thanks for your comment Pam. Give it some time. You'll get there. Keep up the great work!

December 4, 2009 10:30am [ 92 ]

hey.i am 17 years of age and i have a pear shape body.i am 140 pounds.i started eating less and doind some home exercise but will i lose the fat from my lower body because i thinking i am gaining more muscle its only been two weeks now ani i want to be 100 pounds help...

December 4, 2009 10:30am [ 93 ]

hey.i am 17 years of age and i have a pear shape body.i am 140 pounds.i started eating less and doind some home exercise but will i lose the fat from my lower body because i thinking i am gaining more muscle its only been two weeks now ani i want to be 100 pounds help...

December 8, 2009 11:34am [ 94 ]

Hi Jelena,

Thanks for your comment. First off, I would assess your overall goal. I have no idea what your height is, but 100 pounds is typically not realistic or safe. I would look at your goal in blocks. First try to lose 2 lbs., then 2 more, etc. As far as putting on muscle, it's next to impossible for you to have put on muscle in two weeks time. The reason is because you don't have the testosterone level like that of a male, eating less is counterproductive to muscle growth, and putting on muscle in a matter of two weeks is hard for even a male to do. I would suggest evaluating what you're eating and the intensity of your exercise. Also, as with the article you just read, in the grand scheme of things, two weeks is no time at all. Just be patient and persistent and you'll get there. Keep it up!


January 21, 2010 6:51pm [ 95 ]


I have just come across your article and i wanted some advice if possible-

I am 24 years old, a smoker, 5 ft 2 and i have not really done much activity before, i work in an office and was eating reasonably badly without really watching what i eat, The last time i weighed myself i was over 10 1/2 stone.

I have started doing very intense workouts- mainly classes including body pump and step aerobics and mixing some others in too! I have been watching im eating and been doing all that for around 2 weeks. I know its really soon to see any difference but i put some jeans on that i just wore last week and they are tighter on me!

I am not going to give up because i am really enjoying it an also im more determind than ever to get my size down. But its really dis-heartening when my clothes dont fit me because im working out!

Please can you give me some information and let me know what i can do with food and exercise.

Thank you so much in advance


January 22, 2010 10:13am [ 96 ]

Hi Hayley,

Thanks for the comment. I think you already told yourself the answer. It's only been two weeks. This is what the entire article addressed ... possible weight gain at the beginning of a workout program. Be patient, at least give yourself a month and a half of consistently working out (min. 3 times per week) and eating right (5 small meals per day). Try not to even step on the scale until then. If after a month and a half you see no results, cut your calories back by 250. Let that go for two weeks and weigh in again. Weight loss is a game. You need to assess, change things up, reassess, change things up, etc. until you start to see results. Also, make sure you are eating enough. 1200 calories in the minimum, and if you're eating too little, it's actually counter-productive and causes weight gain ... most people don't eat too little so don't automatically assume you are. Keep a food log to track your eating habits and calorie intake. Make sure you do resistance training too. Group fitness classes are OK, but you should do resistance training (weights, exercises tubes, etc.) outside of that to make sure you don't get stuck doing the same choreographed exercises week in and week out. Hope that helps. Stay positive, and keep up the great work! You'll get there!


January 22, 2010 11:12am [ 97 ]

Dan, I've read so many of these comments, and answers... I feel like most of these women. Im 31 and I'm at 137 lbs, 5'5. I am keeping a daily calorie intake log. I average at 1200 calories or less. I drink 6-8 cups of water a day. I started working out again two weeks ago and I started at 134, frustrating of course to see the 137. I want to be a firm 120... I have GOALS :) I tried to pull some of the links for some of the works outs and they wouldn't pull up, can you resend so that I can get some direction on what more to do to see the weight loss.

January 22, 2010 11:56am [ 98 ]

Hi Bettina,

Thanks for the comment. I have since moved all those articles to a paid membership site ( but if you search through all the articles I've written on this site, you can find them for free. As I have said before, be patient. 2 weeks in is no time at all. Wait at least a month and a half before you start to get concerned. If you read the comment I wrote directly before this one, you will see it is exactly what you are looking for. As far as the links, search through my articles on this site and you'll find them. Stay focused!


January 23, 2010 4:22pm [ 99 ]

Dan, I just read your article and I really appreciate it!. I have been working out on and off (mostly on) for about ten years. I recently had a down period and gained just a few pounds. I have been back at it with high intensity for almost a month and I have gained a couple of pounds. It is driving me crazy, I am a self-admitted scale addict. I have been lifting more than I ever have, but maintaining the same cardio exercise. My body is prone to be on the muscular side, but I want to build up strength with bulk. I am so scared that I am going to end up looking like a bulky muscular woman, rather than lean and toned as I would like!

January 25, 2010 5:21pm [ 100 ]

Hi Robyn,

Thanks for the comment. I would suggest you have someone at your gym check your body fat percentage. The scale doesn't distinguish between muscle and fat, but body fat percentage measurements do. This would allow you to see where the weight gain is coming from ... muscle or fat. My guess is fat or water weight. It is very hard, especially for a woman, to put on muscle in 1 month. Hope that helps. Stay motivated! You'll get there!


February 17, 2010 12:08pm [ 101 ]

I am 54 years old and haven't exercised in years. I am 5'2", 153.5 lbs, menopausal and have belly fat. I have gained 15 lbs this past year so I started going to a jazzercise class a month ago and go 4 days a week (each class is 45 minutes of cardio and 15 minutes of stretching / toning) I started out slow (low impact) and have now increased my workout level to break a sweat and increase heart rate. I have not lost any weight, even though I have cut back on junk food, eat more protein, veggies, and fruits. In fact, I have gained 2.5 lbs! I did a search on trying to find out why I am not losing weight and came across your article. Thank you so much. It has helped to explain the weight gain to an extent but still feel like I am doing something wrong and am getting very frustrated and feel like all the soreness and sweat isn't working to my advantage. Do you have any suggestions on what else I can do? I have a 15 day cruise coming up in April and would really like to lose some weight / belly fat before then.

February 17, 2010 2:03pm [ 102 ]

Hi Dan - Just like everyone else has been saying...your article is awesome! Thank you so much for explaining it this way. It has lifted my spirits, I am very much like the other women on this site, however, I have a little bit different question for you. I am 28 years old, I am 5'10 and weigh 151 lbs. This is the heaviest I've ever been (except when I was pregnant twice). Throughout my life I've always been one of those "naturally thin" people - weighing about 135 lbs at 5'10". However, it's becoming more difficult to get my weight back to where it used to be. I used to be able to run a few miles a few times and instantly see myself tone back up w/out eating less or really doing much in terms of working out. However, since my weight has slowly crept up after having kids, I decided to start working out more vigourously. I play volleyball once a week and I joined a gym. I work out 3 times a week, which includes a 20 minute jog at 5.8 MPH, then some weight training and ab work, followed by 15 minutes on the elyptical. I've been doing this for about a month and a half and I've actually gained 5 lbs (to put me at my current 151). Ughh!!! When will this turn around and why has my body changed so much from what it used to be? Is it just me getting older? Is this the new "mommy" body I'm destined to have? Any advice would be much appreciated! Please help me get my abs back (and losing a few lbs would be nice too!) :-)

February 21, 2010 9:54pm [ 103 ]

Hi Debbie,

Thanks for your comment. I've found that it's very common that many people don't lose much weight with only doing group fitness classes. Group fitness is a great way to exercise, but the problem is, it's choreographed with the same 1 or 2 routines over and over again. You need to switch things up and start doing some resistance training outside of class. Start with a circuit of 6-8 exercises with 3 sets of 15-20. This will give your body something new and INTENSE. Hope that helps.


February 21, 2010 9:59pm [ 104 ]

Hi Molly,

Thanks for the kind words. Two big things I see. The first is the cardio. After a month and a half, it's time to do something different. Interval train with cardio. No more steady-state cardio day after day. Start doing 20-30 minutes of 30 seconds hard, 1 minute easy. Also, the weight training needs to have more emphasis. This should be the main part to your program. I would do 8-12 exercises of 3 sets of 15-20 reps. If you have been doing that many reps, go down to 10-12 reps with more intense weight. I would incorporate stability exercises into your routine ... 1-legged exercises, balance exercises, etc. Also, try and work more than one muscle group at once. (Squat with a row.) Hope this helps.


February 28, 2010 1:02am [ 105 ]

Hi-- I've work out for like three years now, but I just did the Elliptical all three of those years and basically the same routine... I finally got a personal trainer who suggested I switch up my work outs so I have been doing really intense work-outs on the Stair Master, Treadmill and Glider for an hour and fifteen minutes each day, burning roughly like 700 to 800 calories daily, plus strength training twice a week, one day lower body and one day upper body. I confess I'm a scale addict, but it's gone up by two pounds (to 137.8 and won't go back down (I'm 5 "8 and 21 years old) I eat like 2,000 calories a day ( I weigh all my food and journal), so I would think I would have lost pounds in the first couple weeks since my body is used to working out already right? I just really, really want the scale to drop because I have been working out so, so hard and completely revamped my diet. I don't know what to do, I want to quit using my trainer and give up because it seems crazy that I gained when working so hard. Is there anything else I should do.....????

February 28, 2010 1:02am [ 106 ]

Hi-- I've work out for like three years now, but I just did the Elliptical all three of those years and basically the same routine... I finally got a personal trainer who suggested I switch up my work outs so I have been doing really intense work-outs on the Stair Master, Treadmill and Glider for an hour and fifteen minutes each day, burning roughly like 700 to 800 calories daily, plus strength training twice a week, one day lower body and one day upper body. I confess I'm a scale addict, but it's gone up by two pounds (to 137.8 and won't go back down (I'm 5 "8 and 21 years old) I eat like 2,000 calories a day ( I weigh all my food and journal), so I would think I would have lost pounds in the first couple weeks since my body is used to working out already right? I just really, really want the scale to drop because I have been working out so, so hard and completely revamped my diet. I don't know what to do, I want to quit using my trainer and give up because it seems crazy that I gained when working so hard. Is there anything else I should do.....????

March 1, 2010 6:08pm [ 107 ]

Hi Tori,

Thanks for your comment. How long have you been working out since you switched things up? If it's under or around a month, just give it some more time. Two things stuck out to me. First, two days of weight training doesn't cut it. It must be 3 minimum, no if's, and's or but's. Also, weight loss is a game. If you're not losing weight after a few months, something needs to change. Since you've already changed cardio, try something else. I would suggest nutrition. Cut your calories by 250, give it 2 weeks minimum before weighing in again. If no loss has occurred, cut by 250 again, but don't go below 1200. Remember, it's a game. Just like chess. You make a move. If your opponent counters and stops your move, make a different one. Eventually, you'll break through! Have a great day!


momof 1
March 3, 2010 10:49am [ 108 ]

I have a question. I keep seeing all these posts about people wanting to lose weight but are gaining. Well, I just started working out for the first time in a long time and I don't want to lose any weight (I'm 33 5'6" and 115ish pounds). I just want to tone up and be healthier and be able to run a few miles, but I don't want to gain weight while doing so! I have started trying to run on the treadmill (walk a minute, run 4, repeat) 4 days a week and lifting weights the other 3. So my question is how can I keep doing what I'm doing without gaining weight? I'm not doing this to lose, but really do not want to see the scale go up either. Is there something I'm doing wrong or something I should be doing differently?

March 3, 2010 5:36pm [ 109 ]

Hi Mom of 1,

Thanks for the comment. If all you're trying to do is stay healthy, then being active is your biggest battle. As long as you stay consistent with what you're doing, you'll be fine. Keep up the great work!


March 5, 2010 11:13am [ 110 ]

Thank you for this great article. I have always been a very fit person, but after I had my daughter a couple of years ago, my body has totally changed. About one week ago, I decided I needed to get back into shape and have been doing a lot of strength coupled with cardio workouts. I must confess, I am a scale junkie. In the first week, I gained 1.5 pounds and my head has been spinning with frustration. I am going to take your advice and step off the scale for a few weeks. Hopefully, I'll start seeing results.

March 8, 2010 2:32am [ 111 ]

Oh wow this article was EXACTLY what I needed to read! I had been losing weight before a big move of house and combined with less exercise and Christmas, had gained 4kgs. I joined the gym once we settled and I religiously attend Spin class twice a week, as well as a combination of rowing/treadmill/X-trainer/weights at least three days a week and general ab/lower toning routine daily, Yoga once a week... only to find I have gained another 2kgs... every day the scale tells me I'm getting bigger, only my arms and butt are becoming nice and toned... so I would get depressed... I couldn't understand! I'd always heard the "muscle is heavier than fat" comment in passing, but your article cleared up the understanding of the what and why. I will NOT get on the scales for a while now, rather I will keep working hard until my next fat percentage weigh in at the gym in 4 weeks time.

March 11, 2010 10:59pm [ 112 ]

Hello Dan,

 I am a former athlete... Now when I say athlete I have always a big, since i was around 7 years old. Have always had high body fat. I was a nose tackle in college though, and have always ate pretty sensibly, though my portions were larger than you would suggest, though no more than most men. I have been married for three years now and have children. I have been really now, just working and coming home. I noticed I was getting soft so the past month I have hit the gym. I have picked up a smoking habit over the past few years. I am obviously in the process of quitting, I work about 60 hours a week, as a contractor. I am involved as much as possible in my kid's activities. I then still find time to hit the gym. I go around 4 days a week. I hit the weights, though no strength training, I do lighter weight, high reps. I then am struggling with my cardio, though I get through,(with the smoking and all..) I'm just tired of being the fat guy.. you know? I have always been a fat person. I have even cut portions to minimum. I eat low carb, high protein. I don't understand that after a month of eating right and working out...I've gained 10 pounds. I'm so frustrated. I know what you are saying in the article. I'm just not sure if that is my case. I'm 279 pounds now i'm around 6'1. I though fit a 38 jean and XL shirts. no one believes that is how much I weigh. I don't believe it until I get naked. I store fat everywhere. I'm wondering if I'm just different. I have worked out with friends, played just as hard as my friends when I was younger..though still a fata**. I don't get it man. Thanks for listening.

Zack Thompson Burlington, NC

March 14, 2010 12:01pm [ 113 ]

Hi Zack,

Have you tried talking with a doctor? There may be some tests they would want to run.


March 22, 2010 5:06am [ 114 ]

Hi Im 27 years of age and i have been doing exercise for about 10 solid years. I use to have anorexia and was down to 45ks but about 2 years ago i decided i wanted to be healthier and started eating more and now i have gained over 20 kilos despite the exercise. For the past 6 months i have been jogging for 60 mins each day for 6 dys a week and still walk on the other day. i got a free gym member ship 3 weeks ago and i go to the gym 4 days now and do weight training and abs, and still do only 20 mins cardio now but i gone up another 2 kgs. I dont want to go anorexic again, i just want a super fit body, but it feels impossible. my diet is toast w banana for breakfast, grilled chicken with potatoes and salad for lunch, and curry for dinner w a small splurge of icecream afterwards, what could be possibly goin on?

March 22, 2010 8:05am [ 115 ]

Hi Hayley,

Thanks for the comment. Because of the past anorexia, I would first consult with a doctor before doing anything more. You need to find out if there are any underlying issues that are having an effect on your exercise and eating efforts.


May 4, 2010 8:59pm [ 116 ]

Well, I'm 15 years old and I'm not proud of it, but I weigh 74kg, i have started indoor cycling and i do it for about 15-30 minutes a day depending how I'm feeling plus the 20 minute walk to school and back and gym. I have started eating healthier, and after 2 weeks I looked on the scale i noticed that i gained 2 pounds, but i read your article and now I can kind of see why; also how many pounds could I lose in a week after the first month?

May 6, 2010 8:54am [ 117 ]

Hi Celest,

Thanks for your question. There really is no set amount of weight that someone should lose in a month. It depends on the person. On average, 2 lbs./week is a healthy maximum to lose in a week, but depending on how much a person weighs, it may end up being more. Over the course of a month, a healthy potential would be 8 lbs., but that is extremely unlikely in the first month as the article explains. Keep up the great work!


May 13, 2010 2:04am [ 118 ]

Thanks for the article. I've been working out everyday for 2 weeks and have gained 4 pounds!!! I watch what I eat and I don't eat after 6pm so I'm a bit confused. You're article did encourage me to keep going. When should I expect to see actual loss of pounds? Yana

May 13, 2010 9:08am [ 119 ]

Hi Yana,

Thanks for the comment. You definitely need to give yourself more time ... a minimum of a month. When you say you watch what you eat, I would suggest keeping a food log to see if you really are eating better portion sizes than before. I would also suggest a minimum of working out 3x per week. You may already be doing all this, but it was hard to tell from your comment. Stay patient and keep up the good work!


May 18, 2010 12:54pm [ 120 ]

It's May 2010 and I just read this posting. THANKFUL I found it because many websites / trainers I've come across this morning on the web all point to the failure of the person and not the internal system of the person (i.e., the glycogen and water thing). So just thank you for breaking this down for me/us.

May 18, 2010 12:54pm [ 121 ]

It's May 2010 and I just read this posting. THANKFUL I found it because many websites / trainers I've come across this morning on the web all point to the failure of the person and not the internal system of the person (i.e., the glycogen and water thing). So just thank you for breaking this down for me/us.

April 26, 2011 12:08am [ 122 ]

Thanks so much for explaining this in a way that can be understood . I have lost a lot weight before and I knew better than to look at the scale after only four days, but I was feeling so great (!). I was so dismayed to see that I had gained five pounds! The glycogen storage explanation makes perfect sense, and what I can expect...paired with what I have actually experienced before, have calmed me down entirely. Thanks, Dan. (I do wish this page was better for reading. I had to copy and paste onto a word doc just to be able to read it - the page is like, a mile wide.)

May 29, 2011 7:11am [ 123 ]

Thank you for the article! I have started a pretty intense exercise program and have gained weight and was starting to become really disheartened. All of your advice makes so much sense though! As well as doing exercise 4 times a week (all cardio for 1 hour) I havn't been drinking anywhere near enough fluids- sometimes only 5ooml all day! So I am guessing the water retention is even more noticable on the scales for me. I have gained about half a stone! I am going to keep going, and try to drink more and hopefully I will start to see the results in a few weeks! Fingers crossed! I am going on holiday in 8 weeks. How much weight do you think I will be able to loose realistically in that time? As long as I can fit comfortably into a size 10-12 again I will be happy. I am currently a size 14 and am sick of all my clothes not fitting anymore :-( Thanks again, Claire.

May 31, 2011 11:47am [ 124 ]

Hi Claire,

Thanks for the question. As long as nutrition and exercise are at levels where they need to be, 1-2 lbs. of weight loss per week is realistic. For some it's more, and for others it's less. Keep up the great work!


June 13, 2011 3:19am [ 125 ]

Hi Dan,

I am doing the Dukan diet and also started running for the past 3.5 months. Im now running 4.5 km in 30 min on 9.2kph. I am still following the Diet, however have picked up 3 kg. Is that normal. Am I doing something wrong? I have lost aprox 16 kg before I started doing Excersise...


Dan Falkenberg
June 13, 2011 10:08pm [ 126 ]

Hi Melissa,

Thanks for your question. I'm not a big fan of diets. I would suggest balancing out your eating habits with the proper portion of protein, carbs, and fats. Also, since it has been 3.5 months, I would definitely change your routine. Your body has most likely adapted to your routine, hence the weight gain. Hope that helps.


September 27, 2011 2:33am [ 127 ]

Thank you so much for the article. It is exactly what I needed to hear. I'm on week 3 of working out for 30 minutes during my lunch 5 days a week plus attending 2 1- hour kickboxing classes a week. I'm experiencing a ton more energy but overall I've gained 5 pounds and I can feel the water retention. I'm going to tough it out, hide the scale, keep drinking list of water and eating right and then re-evaluate in a month.

November 28, 2011 11:54pm [ 128 ]

Best article ive read on this topic so far, I was so confused on why i gained weight, and everything you explained happened to me.. I was so discoueged but now i feel like i can actually achieve my goal. Thank you so so so so so much!!!

Raquel Bowe
December 21, 2011 12:47pm [ 129 ]

Hi Dan I'm so frustrated because I too have been exercising and instead of losing I'm gaining I have not really been on a diet per say but I have cut back tremendously and started to eat better choices I live in the Bahamas and over here thick or being "solid" so they call it is acceptable. However I want to lose at least 30-35 pounds. I am 5ft 4inches and weigh about 199 embarrassed to say that. I really need help on my calorie intake because I don't know how that works please explain so I can make healthier choices. I am waiting on your response.

December 21, 2011 1:09pm [ 130 ]

Hi Raquel,

Thanks for the question. I would start with a food log. Record everything you eat for a week. Go to a site like and figure out the amount of calories for each portion you eat. Total the calories for each day. After a week, you should be able to see how many calories you are consistently consuming. From there, cut back 250 calories for 2 weeks and see what happens. If there are no changes, either cut back another 250 calories or increase your exercise intensity. Make sure to never go under 1,200 calories without medical clearance, but in reality, you shouldn't have to even approach that low of calorie intake if your are exercising intensely enough. Hope this helps.


February 6, 2012 4:22pm [ 131 ]

This helped me out so much. Have been doing eating right, doing intense workouts going on 4 weeks and when I stepped on the scale today I had gained 2 lbs and couldn't believe it. But I feel so good and look thinner but it did not show on the scale. What you said makes complete sense and made me feel so much better! Will keep pushing through! Thank you!!

February 7, 2012 12:48pm [ 132 ]

Thank you so much for the article, and I hope you do write that book someday soon. I thought this was both very informative and encouraging. All of the other results for my search of "why am I still gaining weight" would just tell me things like I must be eating too much or not exercising hard enough. When you're already busting your hump making a well spaced, well balanced meal plan and going to the gym twice a day 6 days a week to do high intensity interval cardio and weight training, well, that kind of advice feels like a slap in the face. Your information instead makes me proud that my body is becoming more efficient and gives me good scientific reason, not empty aphorisms, for remaining patient. I found it clear, informative, and very, very helpful. Keep up the good work and, thanks to this article, I'll keep working hard too.

Donna Parker
April 13, 2012 4:12pm [ 133 ]

I'm 52 years young and always hovered between 123 and 128. I am 5'3. I am not big boned nor am I petite. I'm have an average to athletic build. I recently started Hot Yoga to help with hip and knee pain. I understand that one class of Yoga will burn about 800 to 900 calories. Love yoga but backed off this week because of numbness in a few fingers. I'm sure I've pinched a nerve. After attending the first week of class (4 days) I was sure I would lose weight. NOT! I gained!! Since I am not going to yoga until the feeling returns in my fingers, I began walking 2.5 miles a day and have added biking 5 miles. Again, I was confident that bumping up the cardio would burn those pesky pounds. I have not lost a single pound and my weight is up to 135!!!!! I cannot be building muscle. Breakfast consists of yogurt. Lunch is a lettuce wrap or tuna with out bread and dinner is consumed by 6:00 which is chicken or fish with vegetables. I am so depressed. I haven't been this fat since I was in my 20's when I was pregnant! I have read all that you have written and read have read the others comments. I'm not alone but 'm almost ready to see a doctor to see if there is a reason for so much weight gain. Any words of encouragement or advice would really help me now.

April 19, 2012 2:17am [ 134 ]

I have to go to a wedding in nine days. We have been working out twice a day for the past three days and I gained 2 pounds. Maybe I should mellow out of the workout to fit my tux. What do you think?

Great article by the way.

April 19, 2012 5:48pm [ 135 ]

Thanks for the question Jerry. Three days of working out is too hard to gauge any progress. You will need to work out longer than that to see permanent results. If anything, the weight you would lose right now would probably just be water. Hope that helps. Have fun at the wedding!


January 19, 2013 7:20pm [ 136 ]

Why am I still gaining weight I eat right and work out but I'm still gaining weight

October 27, 2013 5:09pm [ 137 ]

I will throw you a curve ball I have been working out for over a year and not lost any weight and I have gained weight, lost inches and went down a size, my doctor also gave me deit pills didn't help me at all I just gain lbs. I also eat as clean as possible than I get discourage but I still keep working out,I have tried cutting out all carbs and junk food try to eat small meals throughout the days watch my calorie intake followed strict diets sometimes i feel i'm not eating enough I have changed everything possible but no weight loss. Any Ideas?

vivek sharma
April 6, 2014 4:45am [ 138 ]

awesome article. Really great way to communicate your thought. It was easy to understand what you said.

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