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There are few things more frustrating than trying to lose weight and not having any success. This post shares 8 health reasons for not losing weight.
Does it seem like you’ve tried everything to shed those stubborn pounds that just won’t budge? For some people, weight loss can present quite a challenge. You have to keep in mind that you did not gain those extra pounds you’re trying to lose all in one day. So the chances of them coming off quickly are not likely.
But, if it’s been a while and the scale still isn’t moving, consider these eight health reasons you can’t lose weight.
Eight Health Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight
1. You’re Not Getting Enough Quality Sleep
Lack of good quality sleep can sabotage your weight loss efforts. Not getting enough sleep is actually quite common in the U.S. In fact, nearly 40% of American adults are not getting the recommended amount of sleep. The average sleep time for American adults is 6.8 hours, down a full hour from 1942. Yikes!
So how exactly does lack of good quality sleep affect your weight loss efforts? If you’re not getting enough minutes of good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly. This has everything to do with our hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin. When you are getting less good quality sleep your body is more likely to produce more ghrelin, the hunger hormone that tells you it’s time to eat.
In contrast, when you don’t sleep well, your body produces less leptin, the hormone that tells you you’re full. More ghrelin and less leptin is a recipe for weight gain. If weight loss is your goal, getting enough good quality sleep should be your first priority (be sure to read my Healthy Sleep Hacks article).
2. You’re Stressed
Chronic stress also has a negative impact on weight loss efforts. When we’re under stress, our bodies produce an adrenal response. Our adrenals pump out more cortisol signaling the liver and muscles to release glycogen stores. This type of stress response can lead to loss of muscle mass, increased fat storage, and impulses to overeat.
Higher cortisol levels also attack muscle mass slowing the metabolism down, due to the fact that higher muscle mass equates to a faster metabolism. Work to control stress by identifying your triggers and attempting to get them under control.
3. Your Hormones Are Out of Balance
Hormonal imbalance is a huge reason for weight-loss resistance. Women are particularly vulnerable to this, especially during times of hormonal changes like perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause. Thyroid hormones, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, insulin, cortisol, leptin and ghrelin are all responsible for weight gain or weight loss resistance when they are not properly balanced.
If you suspect imbalanced hormones might be a problem for you, ask your doctor to test your hormone levels, including a full thyroid panel including TSH, T3, T4, thyroid antibodies, and reverse T3 (learn more about ideal thyroid lab results). Most conventional doctors will not agree right off the bat to testing a full thyroid panel, but it’s your job to insist on your right to the full panel AND to having the results. If your doctor refuses, it’s time to find a new doctor.
Undiagnosed and under-treated hypothyroidism is one of the major failings of modern medicine and women are the most affected. If you are woman feeling fatigued and that you can’t lose weight no matter what you do, then there is a very good chance that you need to take thyroid replacement hormone. Do NOT let your doctor tell you otherwise unless you have the full lab testing to show otherwise.
You’ll also want to focus on eating a hormone balancing diet, not just for your thyroid, but for your other hormones as well. This includes a diet very low in refined sugar, high in fiber, and with moderate levels of good fats and quality protein. Avoid processed foods and refined oils, and eat as clean and organic as possible.
4. You Need to Adjust Your Macronutrients
It is suggested that we eat a macronutrient ratio of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fat. Of course this may vary from person to person based on bioindividuality and your particular health status. Most people are eating too many refined carbohydrates and not enough protein or fat. One study showed that higher protein intake after weight loss helps prevent weigh regain in humans.
This doesn’t mean you should fear carbs, although some people do benefit from a low-carb diet. Eating carbohydrates from unprocessed sources like low sugar fruits, vegetables and limited starches is good for you, especially women. It’s the refined carbohydrates like sugar that you shouldn’t be consuming that will halt weight loss efforts.
Another thing I see often is that women who are trying to lose weight drastically cut back on fat. This can be detrimental to your health. Our bodies need good quality fat sources to operate optimally. Eating the right kinds of fat in proportion to the other macronutrients might actually help you lose weight.
5. You Need More Joy Into Your Life
Believe it or not, there’s a link between happiness and weight loss. How you handle stress and sadness in your life can make or break your weight loss efforts. Not having enough joy in your life can affect the way your body reacts to temptations, such as those pesky sugar cravings. Lack of joy can affect neurotransmitters that control mood, thinking, appetite and behavior, making you more likely to eat poorly, skip exercise and gain weight.
There are some simple ways to combat this – seek peace of mind in the form of mediation, write in a gratitude journal, flash a smile, get moving, join an active meetup group, or find someone to talk to about your mood. Finding activities that you enjoy and having support from others will add joy to your life.
6. You’re Eating Too Much Sugar
Fat-free cookies are still cookies, as are vegan cookies, and organic cookies! You may think you’re making healthier choices by buying stuff like this, but these products usually contain sugar. If you’re craving something sweet, reach for a piece of fruit (fresh, not dried) or a few squares of 70% or higher dark chocolate.
Several studies have shown that sugar can be as addictive as cocaine. This makes it hard for most people to give it up. However, if weight loss is your goal, you’re going to need to consider nixing it from your diet (be sure to read my article on how to go sugar-free without going crazy). You might also want to consider a sugar detox.
7. You’re Eating Processed Foods
Processed foods are everywhere and they can be hard to avoid for some. Processed foods can contain high levels of sodium, sugar, refined oils, and other questionable ingredients. They are best avoided. Especially because a recent study has proven that ultra-processed foods have been linked to cancer and other metabolic disorders.
Make a conscious effort to eat wholesome, clean foods such as how they are found in nature. I know a lot of offices have potluck lunches a few times per month. Bring a tray of vegetables or something else that’s unprocessed that you’ll want to eat. That way you’ll be more likely to avoid the unhealthy processed items others bring.
8. You’re Not Moving Enough
Some exercise too much while others don’t exercise enough. There needs to be a good balance of movement if you want those stubborn pounds to budge. Ease into exercise if it’s something new for you. Make it a goal to move for even just a few minutes every day. Take a walk around your neighborhood or try a new fitness class at your local gym. Start with some basic stretches to warm up your body and remember to always stay hydrated with enough water.
Beginning a new fitness routine can be intimidating for some, especially for those who have been sedentary. My best advice is to just go for it. Don’t worry what others think. Make movement a priority so that you can finally see the scale tip in your favor.
Conclusions About Weight Loss
There are several reasons why you may have a hard time losing weight. Don’t beat yourself up, but do some research into why you aren’t meeting your goals. Then, try to make some changes one at a time and see if you get better results.
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