You’ve given up rice and the plate lunch places for fun runs and hitting the gym regularly.
Yet, the scale just doesn’t seem to budge.
Why bother trying to do the right things, then? It’s enough to make anyone feel like giving up.
If this sounds like you, there’s good news – there is probably a reason why you are stuck, and there definitely are solutions to getting the scale moving in the right direction again.
Here are some of the most common reasons you’re not losing weight:
- You aren’t getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep not only slows metabolism, studies show that in individuals who chronically lack sleep, the body’s levels of cortisol (a stress hormone that can fuel weight gain) are higher. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep at a minimum each night.
- You’re stressed out. Chronic stress can raise cortisol levels (see above), interfere with sleep and make you feel hungrier. Stress also can drive cravings for comfort foods, which is why managing stress plays a critical part of any weight-maintenance plan.
Creating downtime for yourself, practicing deep breathing or meditation, and exercising are often helpful ways to combat stress.
If symptoms are severe, counseling can help manage stress more effectively.
- You may be over-relying on exercise. While exercise is great in managing stress and can improve your sleep, exercise alone is unlikely to lead to weight loss. Exercise tends to make us hungrier, so if you aren’t careful, you actually can end up eating more!
Also, exercise does not cancel out hormonal factors that drive weight gain.
We always recommend a thorough review of your food intake – make sure your workout isn’t leading you to snack more. Sometimes, you may need a higher amount of protein or fat in your diet to help balance exercise-induced hunger pangs.
- You need to drink more water. Drinking at least 60 ounces of water daily helps you feel fuller. Also, your body burns fat less efficiently when you are dehydrated.
Some signs that you are not drinking enough include dark-yellow urine (it should be almost clear) and/or you suffer from constipation.
- Your medications are interfering. Many commonly prescribed drugs for diabetes, high blood pressure and depression can slow weight loss. However, don’t just stop them out of the blue – that can be dangerous! Instead, talk with your physician and see if there are better alternates to your prescriptions so you can still meet your weight-loss goals.
- You aren’t tracking what you’re eating. I often see patients who report they follow “diet x” or “diet y”; however, when I ask them to tell me everything they ate for the last 24 hours, oftentimes what pops up are “a few chips, a couple handfuls of trail mix, some crackers, etc.”
Little bites here and there can really add up and interfere with weight loss.
One solution that we always advise patients is tracking what you eat – that is, write down everything you eat, every single day, even if it is a breath mint or a piece of gum.
There are lots of great apps that are easy and fun to use, and are truly helpful when it comes to analyzing why greater weight loss isn’t happening.
- Alcohol is slowing you down. You don’t have to drink a lot for beer, wine and liquor to have an impact on your weight-loss efforts. Not only do drinks add carbs and sugar to your daily intake, but drinking alcohol can be dehydrating (see above) and slow down the liver’s fat-burning abilities.
Alcohol also tends to disinhibit our self-control over what we eat and lead to over-indulgences.
- You ARE losing weight – it’s just going slowly. We all have high expectations, but it’s important to remember that weight loss tends not to decrease in a linear fashion. You might lose 3-6 pounds one week, then only 1 the next. This is common and 100 percent normal, even when your eating is perfectly on point.
Even if you don’t see changes on the scale, keep tracking your eating and stick to your plan – your body is still doing its work.
Published on: December 7, 2018