People aspire to lose weight for a variety of reasons. Regardless of the reason, if you have tried to lose weight, no doubt you have ran into plateaus and other periods where you just didn’t make progress. Is there hope?
Of course, there is!
This is an alphabetical list of reasons why you may be having trouble losing weight. Hopefully, something will spark a light bulb in your brain, and you will be able to get back on track towards your weight loss goals!
Starting the list with ‘A’, for
Absorption Problems in Your Gut
Insulin resistance can be one of your worst enemies when you are trying to lose weight. In other words, your body is unable to use the hormone insulin properly to process your food.
The sad outcome: your body keeps fat that is already there. This condition can be prevalent if you are at risk for diabetes, known as prediabetes.
The Details: What’s Going on in your Body
- Food is broken down into glucose, or blood sugar, which is the body’s primary source of energy.
- When your blood flows through the pancreas, your pancreas detects the glucose and releases insulin. Insulin enables cells throughout the body to use the glucose.
- Your cells use insulin receptors to transform the glucose to energy quickly or store the glucose as a future source of energy.
When this process goes haywire, your cells don’t get the glucose. Instead, the glucose builds up in your blood stream, and your cells are deprived of glucose.
How Your Body Responds
Your body hangs on to energy stores, or fat, that it already has and any glucose that the cells do absorb goes into storage as yet more fat.
There are several ways you can fight insulin resistance that causes nutrient absorption issues such as moving more, eliminating white foods (white sugars, white flour, white rice) from your diet, cutting out wheat from your diet, integrating more good grains into your diet, eating fruits and vegetables whole instead of as purees or juices, avoiding packaged foods, lowering inflammation via anti-inflammatory foods (walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil, green tea, red wine, cinnamon, and turmeric), replacing fats such as lard and butter, and consulting your doctor about medicines that can help.
Common when dieting, binge eating describes eating large amounts of food in short periods of time. Binging is not healthy and can be detrimental to your weight loss efforts, regardless of whether you are binging on junk food or healthy food.
Here’s the kicker:
Depending on the calories, binge eating can wipe out a week’s worth of dieting.
Try these tips to break binge eating habits:
- When dieting, think adding new foods instead of restriction of unhealthy foods. These are the common phases when you diet with a restriction mindset: restriction → binge eating → guilt → restriction → binge eating → guilt. That is not healthy!
- Get out of the mindset that you have to be perfect with your diet.
- Don’t become obsessed with weighing yourself on the scale. It’s normal for your body weight to fluctuate.
- Cheat days should not be in your nutrition vocabulary. Cheat days provide the perfect opportunity to binge.
- Celebrate small wins and don’t panic over small setbacks.
- Stay flexible with your diet.
Carbohydrates, especially refined carbs such as sugar or grains that have been stripped of their nutritious parts, can wreak havoc on your goals to lose weight. Eating too many refined carbs can create significant spikes in your blood sugar, which leads to cravings.
Try this: Substitute refined carbs for more complex carbs that come with their natural fiber.
Dining out Too Much
Let’s face it: we love to eat out. Just the simple idea of not having to cook some days is irresistible. But as you probably know, restaurant food is meant to taste and look great, and looking great doesn’t always correlate with being healthy, too. Those tasty sauces, salad dressings, and other delightful delicacies can reverse your weight loss progress.
How you can fall out this trap at restaurants:
- Review the menu and decide what you want (healthy choices) before going to the restaurant.
- Eat before. We tend to make “in the moment” food choices when we are hungry. “In the moment” food choices usually aren’t healthy.
- Drink water. This will help quench your appetite
- If there are specific foods or ingredients you are trying to avoid, ask the waiter/waitress before ordering
- There is no shame in “doggy bags”. Many times servings at restaurants are more than a manageable portion, so split these up into meals for the next day.
Make your eating time sacred. Whether you eat alone or with others, cut out the electronics, chew your food slowly, and take note of your food’s flavors, colors, smells, and textures.
Forbidden Foods, or Lack Thereof
There are “forbidden foods” that actually boost your weight loss. Commonly, dieters eliminate these foods from their diet, but they can actually be helpful for weight loss:
- Bread – Bread is an excellent source of healthy carbs, which your brain uses to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin produces feelings of satisfaction and comfort, which leads to fewer cravings, less irritability and depression, and fewer cravings.
- Pasta – Pasta is a high fluid food and contains about 70% water. Fluid rich foods keep your hunger satisfied longer. Like bread, pasta provides carbs so that your brain produces feelings of satisfaction and comfort. Just make sure you choose whole grain varieties that provide plenty of fiber.
- Peanut Butter – Peanut butter is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which prevent the accumulation of fat in your stomach, boost calorie burning, and boost weight loss.
- Cheese – The calcium found in cheese boosts your ability to burn fat and calories. In fact, when your body doesn’t get enough calcium, your body releases calcitriol, which causes the body to store fat. According to a study performed by the University of Tennessee, getting calcium from calcium-rich foods is better than taking calcium supplements.
- Dark Chocolate – Do you often get chocolate cravings? To prevent chocolate binges, treat yourself to a small serving of healthy, dark chocolate; avoid milk chocolate. As with most foods, control your portions too.
- Fruits – Fruits are a great solution to a sweet tooth. Yes, fruits contain sugar fructose; however, sugar fructose doesn’t raise your blood sugar levels (associated with cravings), contains high water content and filling fiber, and doesn’t contain many calories.
Could you be destined to weight issues due to your genes? Possibly. There are several known genetic mutations that could predispose you to obesity and weight issues.
There’s hope: Just because you may be predisposed to weight issues, doesn’t mean you are destined to be obese. Making health decisions and leading a healthy lifestyle are your “silver bullets” for overcoming those dreaded “fat genes”.
High Heels (for the ladies)
Face it ladies: walking in high heels can deter you from doing any extra walking. It is highly recommended to exercise 60 to 90 minutes a day, so anything that deters you from getting this needed exercise should be discouraged.
My recommendation: Try mixing in ballet flats or pack a pair of cross-training or walking shoes to make walking less painful.
Insufficient Time for Proper Eating & Eating on the Run
You should set aside time for eating. You also should put some thought into what you will be eating. If you don’t put any thought into these decisions, you risk going to whatever is readily available, which is usually fast food or junk food.
If your schedule is non-negotiable: Try preparing healthy snacks beforehand, or even doing all your cooking during the weekend. By doing this, you will always have healthy food readily available.
In the forbidden foods section listed above, I mentioned several foods that are often forbidden in popular diets that actually promote weight loss.
Now: Those foods listed are helpful, but the list below should be limited or eliminated altogether:
- Aerated drinks such as soda, fruit beer, ginger beer, and lemonade
- Processed foods such as cookies, packaged milk, lunch meats, hot dogs, potato chips, pickles, frozen dinners, and noodles
- Sugary foods
- Fried foods such as fried fish, fried chicken, french fries, doughnuts, and chips
- White flour, which is commonly found in croissants, donuts, cakes, cookies, bagels, waffles, pancakes, biscuits, mac & cheese, breadsticks, and pizza
- Fast foods
- Baked goods like scones, crackers, pretzels, cupcakes, tarts, quiches, pies, and pastries
Keep Your Muscles Guessing
According to Amanda MacMillan, health blogger for Self.com and triathlete, there is no magic workout for continual weight loss. Amanda asserts that the most effective way to get back in shape and staying that way is doing the RIGHT VARIETY of exercises.
What is the right mix?
A mixture of resistance training, interval training, stretching, and endurance training.
Lack of Protein in Diet
Of all the available nutrients, protein is the most important for weight loss. A diet high in protein boosts your metabolism by 80 to 100 calories per day.
It’s also a mental thing: Other studies show that diets consisting of at least 25% protein reduced craving thoughts by 60%.
The bottom line on protein: Add more protein to your diet and you will see its benefits for your weight loss efforts.
Missing Out on Good Sleep
Quality sleep is an important intangible that can provide a wide range of health benefits. Good sleep is highly underrated for weight loss, as it can be just as critical as healthy nutrition and regular exercise.
Did you know that poor sleep has been linked to a 55% increased risk of obesity in adults? That figure is even scarier for children: 89%!
Not Tracking What you Eat
Peter Drucker, famed management consultant, once said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”. This quote is very relevant to your nutrition and exercise.
How you do it: Keep journals of what you eat and your workouts. You can track progress, and you can reference your thoughts and feelings if you take a shortcut on your diet. Anything that boosts your awareness is likely to be beneficial for your health transformation.
Another tip: If you are social media savvy, then try sharing pictures of your food or yourself after your workout on Facebook or Instagram. It’s a great way to get support from your friends and loved ones!
Overall Health Problems
Have you tried everything (including items mentioned in this list) yet still aren’t making any progress in your weight loss journey? Other unknown or undiagnosed health issues may be the culprits. Here are some common health issues that can prevent weight loss:
- Chronic fatigue
- Unbalanced hormones
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Low Testosterone
- Cardiovascular disease
Push Through Plateaus
You were on easy street. Your new weight loss and workout plan had you shedding those extra pounds and you were feeling great. Then, all of a sudden, the progress stopped.
Firstly, weight loss plateaus are normal. You are eating fewer calories, so your metabolism has naturally slowed down. A typical weight loss plateau lasts 3 weeks. While you are not losing weight, progress can be found in other areas, such as a smaller waist or more toned arms, stomach, or legs.
Has your plateau lasted longer than 3 weeks? Well, this may be an indicator of several other obstacles to your weight loss:
- You’re not tracking your calories. Maybe your calorie cuts aren’t as great as you think they are.
- You’re trying to cut vanity pounds. Vanity pounds are those last 5, 10, or 15 pounds that really have no effect on your health. If this applies to you, try eating a bit more to speed up your metabolism. Your body is hanging onto fat because it thinks it is in starvation mode, which is not the case.
- Try adding some variety to your workout. See our section on Keeping your Muscles Guessing above for more info on this point.
- You are suffering from a hormone imbalance. Check with your doctor to ensure this is not the case.
Quick Weight Loss Focus Instead of Permanent Lifestyle Changes
The term ‘diet’ denotes a temporary approach.
Here’s the kicker: Diets almost never work long term. In fact, people who diet often regain that weight in the future.
Here’s the solution: Instead of dieting, make becoming a happier, fitter, healthier person your ultimate goal. Focus on abundance and nourishing your body instead of scarcity and depriving your body.
Refusing to do Resistance Training
Have you ever seen people who lose many pounds, and even with the weight loss, they could be called “skinny fat”? One of the side effects of dieting is the loss of muscle and the slowdown of your metabolism.
Resistance training, commonly through weightlifting, can counteract these side effects. Resistance exercises prevent the loss of muscle mass and maintain your body’s metabolic activity.
You might be wondering: if I don’t want to lift weights, what are some other options for resistance training. Here are some ideas:
- Circuit & Interval Training
- Water Aerobics
- Resistance Band Training
- Martial Arts
- Rebounding on a mini trampoline
- Isometrics (Pilates, Yoga, Qi Gong, Barre Method, and Tai Chi)
- Plyometrics, like Cross Fit
- Core Training, like Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis
Don’t be fooled by the labels on “healthy” drinks. Sugar is bad, but consuming sugar in liquid form is even worse. Studies have shown that beverages filled with sugar are linked to a 60% increase in childhood obesity.
It gets worse: Those “healthy” fruit juices often contain just as much sugar as soft drinks like Coca Cola. Fruits are great in boosting weight loss, but you should limit the amount of fruit juice you drink.
Too Many Calories
Simply put, you’re eating too much. Healthy food or junk food, all food has calories. Become better able at listening to your body when it’s satisfied. Other ideas? Try food journaling (detailed above), practice portion control, and fill your plate with veggies and other healthy goodies.
Many health experts differ in opinion on just how much your metabolism affects your ability to gain or lose weight. Regardless of which side is right, a sluggish metabolism can be a huge detriment for progressive weight loss. If you do suffer from a sluggish metabolism, all is not lost because…..
Guess what? You can still lose weight even if your metabolism is slow:
- Eat protein-rich foods such as eggs, poultry goods, and lean meats.
- Eat easily digestible foods, such as natural foods, and avoid processed foods, which are more difficult for your body to digest and metabolize.
- Add a little spice to your recipes with cayenne pepper, jalopeño peppers, cinnamon, ginger, or mustard.
- Avoid forcing your metabolism to go into slow down mode by eating a sufficient number of calories each day. I recommend 1200 calories for most people.
- Increase your daily activity so that you burn calories.
- Drink cold water regularly. Ice cold water can help speed up your metabolism.
Veggies are Missing from Your Diet
Or, if they are not completely missing, you are not eating enough of them. Same goes for fruits. If you’re not eating enough fruits and veggies, you’re missing out on their incredible weight loss properties!
Few calories, abundant fiber, rich in water: fruits and veggies offer a killer combination that kills your cravings. Not to mention, they are nutritious and super healthy as well.
Wrong Post-Workout Recovery Meal
It’s highly recommended that you nourish yourself after a workout. According to Women’s Health, your post workout treat should be a snack, 150 calories or less (exception if it’s your regular meal time).
So, what should you eat?: Healthy ideas include half of a medium-sized apple with a bit of Greek yogurt, blueberries and low-fat cottage cheese, baby carrots, grapes, a small banana, a glass of chocolate milk, trail mix, or edamame.
The key thing to remember: control your portion sizes!
Syndrome X is a group of symptoms that indicate you may be suffering from glucose poisoning or insulin resistance. Symptoms of Syndrome X include excess body fat (typically around the midsection), cravings for sweets, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue, mental fuzziness, skin tags, a bloated feeling after meals, and flaky skin.
Any of these symptoms sound familiar? If so, try these solutions:
- Limit your intake of foods and drinks which have a high glycemic index, such as white rice, jacket potatoes, rice cakes, and white pasta.
- Perform moderate exercise everyday.
- Limit high saturated foods such as red meat, margarines, processed foods, and refined vegetable oils.
- Consume more high fiber foods.
- Mind your diet breakdown. Shoot for 55% low glycemic carbs, 30% low saturated fats, and 15% protein (avoid red meat).
- Eat more organic foods, which usually have more nutrients and less harmful toxins.
- Supplement your diet with vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
Stress is highly linked to excessive cortisol production. Excessive cortisol production says this to your body: “I NEED FOOD!”. Your body lays down unnecessary fat, which slows down your metabolism and prompts you to eat more, spelling trouble for losing weight. Unfortunately, fat created by excessive cortisol production usually finds itself in your dreaded midsection.
The Good News: Getting rid of excessive stress is easy. Incorporate more balance in your life. Don’t be afraid to take “me breaks” at work or home to destress. Try deep breathing exercises and relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga.
Zig Zag Diets
Zig zag diets, i.e. fad diets, are enemies of healthy, long-term weight loss and healthy lifestyle changes.
A question you should ask yourself: Are you health conscious or weight conscious?
When you are health conscious, you make lifestyle choices and changes that benefit your overall health. Health conscious choices will most likely translate into healthy weight loss. Weight conscious decisions, on the other hand, are temporary and may cause aftermath for your overall health that you do not want.
Tip: Take the health-conscious route!
As you read, you might have noticed a few common elements with weight loss issues. They can be broken down into the following buckets:
- Nutrition – there are foods that boost weight loss, and others that don’t. Make sure you know which is which, and try tracking what you are eating on a daily basis.
- Exercise – there is no magic workout for permanent weight loss. Try a mix of strength training, cardio and endurance training, and other exercises that you enjoy.
- Mental – adopt a lifestyle change mentality, and focus on becoming a healthier and happier individual.
- Rest – proper, refreshing sleep is a foundational element of continual weight loss. Don’t look over getting those Zzzz’s.
Roni Noone, General Manager at the Athletic Asylum Crossfit Center of White Marsh says it best: The secret is, there is no secret, just lots of little steps that inch you closer towards your goals.
Make the appropriate changes in your good health journey, and be amazed as your dream body rises to the occasion!
- 6 Surprising Health Conditions that Hinder Weight Loss – Canadian Living
- 14 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight – Mind Body Green
- Syndrome X – The Key to Weight Loss? – Energy Grid
- What is Your Weight Destiny – Fitness Magazine
- 25 Reasons you can’t Lose Weight – Body+Soul
- Why you Can’t Lose Weight – Women’s Health
- 26 Weight Loss Tips that Are Actually Evidenced Based – Authority Nutrition
- Break Through Any Weight Loss Plateau – Jillian Michaels
- How to Lose Weight with a Slow Metabolism
Leonard Parker is a health blogger and owner of the eCommerce store, RebounderZone.com. Rebounder Zone offers rebounder trampolines, health equipment, and health information to mature adults.
Leonard is a graduate of Stanford University and has worked in a number of roles as a consultant and digital marketing specialist. Rebounder Zone was started because Leonard saw first hand how exercise and healthy living can change lives, and he wants to help others experience this fantastic feeling, too. For any inquiries, please contact Leonard at leonard(at)rebounderzone.com.