9 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight (Hint: not all of them have to do with diet and exercise!)
You’re trying your hardest in the gym, are keeping to a diet and counting your calories, yet each time you step on the scale the numbers have barely changed – or worse they’re higher! Why is that??
Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately?), weight loss is not only a matter of willpower – sticking to an exercise program and controlling our diets– as there is so much more going on under the hood as it were.
Below are 9 lesser known causes that stop you from losing weight and what to do about them.
YOUR GUT IS OUT OF BALANCE
Our “second brain,” the microbiome, home of our gut health, is the basis of our body’s homeostasis. When this essential organ is out of balance we experience a ton of undesired side effects.
Gut flora imbalance influences the nervous system, endocrine system, and lymphatic system as it is a direct line of communication to all these body processes. The resulting hormone imbalances, in particular, can cause weight gain (see below).
When we’re dehydrated our bodies will keep water in an attempt to maintain fluid balance. This creates certain side effects such as puffiness and bloating (every woman’s kryptonite!).
Nevertheless, adequate hydration creates a diuretic effect, detoxifying and draining our lymphatic system, lubricating our digestive tract and moving our bowels along – which equals less bloat!
Try being really aware about your water intake for a few days and see if you notice a difference. You should be drinking around half your body weight in ounces. So for example, a 150-pound woman would need at least 75oz of water and other fluids daily.
YOU HAVE HIDDEN TOXICITIES
Hidden toxicities can present themselves in many shapes from yeast or parasite infections, to heavy metal toxicity, to mold toxicity, to food intolerance or sensitivity.
Whatever it might be, this toxic overload causes inflammation within the body making it hard to shed the pounds.
The average adult in our developed environments is exposed to a staggering variety of toxic substances. Some of these toxins will lodge themselves in our fatty tissues to protect vital organs.
When we make attempts to avoid toxic products and cleanse our systems we allow our bodies to perform optimally and therefore release unnecessary weight.
A colon cleanse is a great place to begin in ridding your body of toxins. From there, eating a very clean diet will help keep the results of your cleanse. Besides, you might wish to begin looking at removing sources of toxins from your home such as toxic bath, body and cleaning products.
YOU’RE FOCUSING ON CALORIES MORE THAN NUTRITION
The amount of calories you eat each day is not the end all be all of a healthy diet. Even though it might be true that weight loss is the outcome of burning more calories than you consume (the law of thermodynamics), the quality of those calories matter tremendously.
Our bodies respond to and assimilate the calories from a candy bar far differently than they do a piece of fruit. Even if they contain the same number of calories, the candy gives nothing in the way of nutrition while the fruit imparts vital nutrients and fiber, and helps to hydrate our body.
A body built on 2,000 nutrient-dense calories will look and feel far better than one built on 2,000 empty calories! Unhealthy calories contribute to an unbalanced gut and toxic digestive system.
YOU’RE SLEEP DEPRIVED
Sleep deprivation causes an increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin, which means your food cravings will also increase. In an effort to keep energy balance, your body will look for energy from food (you know, so you can keep your eyelids open).
Not only that, but essential bodily processes such as keeping your adrenals healthy and cleansing the gallbladder, occur roughly between the hours of 11 pm and 1 am of your sleep cycle.
Regularly getting to bed too late or having your sleep disrupted inhibits your body from adequately performing these cleansing functions.
The outcome is that your body is more prone to toxicities and the weight gain that can come from increased cravings.
YOUR HORMONES ARE OUT OF WHACK
Research demonstrates that our hormones influence how much fat we store. Here’s a fast breakdown of how each of the main hormones influences your fat storage:
Insulin. Insulin lets your body take in blood sugar for energy, it’s also the main fat storage hormone in the body. Chronically elevated insulin levels, often caused by too much sugar in the diet, can cause obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Insulin lets your body take in blood sugar for energy, it’s also the main fat storage hormone in the body. Chronically elevated insulin levels, often caused by too much sugar in the diet, can lead to obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Leptin. Leptin is produced by your fat cells and plays a role in regulating appetite. However, when a person develops “leptin resistance,” caused by too much leptin in the blood, this regulating hormone no more works as it ought to that could cause constant overeating. This signaling impairment is typically caused by a diet high in inflammatory foods.
Ghrelin. Known as the “hunger hormone,” ghrelin signals the hypothalamus telling you to eat. In obese people, ghrelin does not lower significantly even after a meal. This can lead to the wish to keep eating. Including enough protein can lower ghrelin and promote satiety.
Cortisol. Also known as the “stress hormone,” chronically elevated levels of cortisol can lead to overeating and weight gain.
Estrogen. Both very high and very low levels of estrogen can lead to weight gain.
This is not an exhaustive list but allows us to see how various hormones play a role in our fat storage.
One of the best ways to keep your hormones happy and balanced is to eat a low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet high in fresh plant foods and enough protein sources to keep hunger in check.
YOU STARTED A NEW BIRTH CONTROL
Hormonal implants or oral contraceptives manipulate a woman’s endocrine system to make sure she doesn’t become pregnant.
In the case of implants, these will release a synthetic hormone into your bloodstream which mimics progesterone. This disruption to your natural hormonal cycle can cause weight gain.
Simply using this type of birth control isn’t a guarantee that you’ll gain weight, of course, as each individual will respond differently. At times this side effect is only temporary or may be the result of water weight (not fat).
YOU’RE PUSHING YOUR BODY TO THE EXTREME
Severely limiting calories may be pushing you into starvation mode which will signal your body to hold on to fat. It could also raise cortisol levels (see above).
Over-exercising can exhaust your adrenals and cause hormone imbalance. Neither of these extremes is helpful when you’re looking to lose weight.
Strive for balance as much as possible. Half an hour a day of exercise (alternating between cardio and strength training) is enough when you’re just starting your weight loss journey.
Pushing yourself too hard too soon may also cause early burnout. Skipping your next workout or being inconsistent because you’re so tired and sore isn’t helpful! Start slow and be consistent.
YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT MINDSET
Do you believe you can really lose the weight or is your identity wrapped up in being an ‘overweight person’? Are you striving to lose weight because you love your body and want it to feel amazing or are you punishing yourself or attempting to live up to someone else’s ideal?
How you view yourself and your body will influence the type of change you’re able to accomplish. Every idea you have ‘speaks’ to your body on a cellular level – what type of messages are you sending?
Negative, limiting beliefs can absolutely affect your ability to lose weight.
YOU’RE SUPER STRESSED-OUT
Stress, as with sleep deprivation, hidden toxicities, and gut-imbalance, can cause hormone imbalance by constantly raising your cortisol levels.
As previously discussed, hormone imbalance is typically bad news for our weight loss attempts. Not only that, but it can wreak havoc on your metabolism– in fact, we may even burn fewer calories when we’re stressed!
Besides, stress can fuel our cravings and we might reach for foods higher in sugar and empty calories (“comfort foods”) in order to soothe ourselves. This, in turn, can eventually make overeating in response to stress a habit.
To fight these nasty side-effects of stress, practice mindful eating and make sure to find ways to regularly de-stress through-out your week.
This doesn’t have to be something that creates more stress! Easy, fast, everyday activities are often enough (or better) at relieving stress than the big vacations or special events in our lives.
Ask yourself, what daily activities already bring me joy? Make a point to notice them, feel gratitude for them and create more space for these activities in your life.
Most likely, if you’re struggling to lose weight, the reason might be a number of factors. No one thing exists in a vacuum as our bodies always function holistically.
This post isn’t meant to give you a full cleansing or weight loss protocol. I highly recommend you work with a health kinesiologist or biofeedback practitioner who can test your body to determine if you’re experiencing any toxicities, food intolerances, hormone imbalance and the like, and develop an individual wellness plan for you.
Not being able to lose weight despite our best efforts can be frustrating, to say the least! When our bodies are in balance we’re more likely to effortlessly lose weight!