No cookies, mac n cheese, chardonnay, french fries, camembert…you know the drill, right? But what about if you watch your diet carefully, at least most days, and avoid the usual fattening suspects, exercise several times a week, and still can’t seem to lose weight?
We did some digging around the web and found the following reasons that can make it hard to lose weight.
10 Things You Might Be Doing That Make It Hard To Lose Weight
1. Not Eating Enough
Metabolism is the body’s process of breaking down calories. You know the expression “you’ve got to spend money to make money”? Well, you’ve got to consume calories to burn calories. When you eat food, it stimulates your metabolism to start working by first burning the calories consumed. After this, your body will dip into your stored calories aka fat for energy. The opposite is true if you don’t eat enough, your body goes into starvation mode, burning lean muscle mass rather than fat. Ultimately this can cause your metabolism to slow down. Just say no to the headaches, the constant hunger, and the always being tired and have yourself a healthy albeit satisfying meal.
2. Eating Too Many Calories for Your Activity Level
As stated in number one: you’ve gotta eat calories to burn calories, right? This doesn’t mean you can ransack the cabinets or stop at every fast food restaurant from here to work but do eat the right amount of calories for your activity level and body type. Eating too many calories can be just as harmful because the body stores excess food intake as fat (exactly what we don’t want). Think Goldilocks and Three Bears: you gotta find that number that is “just right” for you, your body type, your weight loss goal and exercise level.
3. Counting on Exercise vs. Counting Calories
Exercise is essential in maintaining our health; done correctly it will help to build and maintain muscle mass. However, we cannot count on exercise alone to stimulate weight loss. There are many sayings in the fitness industry: You are what you eat. You can’t out train a bad diet. Abs are made in the kitchen. Meaning that no amount of exercise can compensate for an abundant amount of calories consumed. Being conscientious of what we eat combined with exercise is the only effective way to shed pounds and keep them off.
4. Looking for a Quick Fix (habit breaking)
Let’s be real- there are no quick fixes to most anything. No one said the weight loss journey would be easy, but it is manageable. The key is to avoid fad / extremely restrictive diet plans that leave you feeling anything but happy and healthy. You need to create a change that is a sustainable lifestyle change, not something that works for a few weeks. If you repeat the steps to make a healthy habit, your brain will adapt to this stimuli. The truth is it is easier to create a new routine than to break an old one. There is some validity to the idea that it takes around 21 days to break a habit. Of course, this will vary person to person, but the idea is after about a month of breaking a habit your brain will stop craving the stimuli. Sound like an uphill battle? Possibly, but stick with it because once you’ve hit the tipping point, it will be much easier to keep it up.
5. Consuming Empty Calories Daily
Not all calories are created equal. Nutrient dense foods are foods that provide the body with more nutrients per calorie than others. Think veggies, fruits, nuts, and lean proteins. Empty foods are those that are high in fat and sugar but have little else to offer. Think soda, white bread, sweets, and fatty foods. Many diet foods claim to be healthy because they are low in fat or calories but they offer very little nutritional value. Often, diet foods that have shed their fat or calorie content often increase their sugar content for taste purposes. Sugar is an empty calorie and may lead to more weight gain than fat or calories. Make sure every meal is jam-packed with nutrient-dense foods that fuel your body.
6. Not Drinking Enough Water
There are no easy fixes to losing weight (see number 4) but drinking adequate amounts of water comes pretty close. A study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism states that drinking about 17oz of water can speed up your metabolism by 30%.
7. Not Getting Enough Sleep
Being tired throws off everything. You don’t feel like working out; you are more hungry because you are running on low energy, therefore likely to succumb to bad choices. Leptin is an appetite suppressant hormone produced at night. Ghrelin is a hormone that tells the body when it is hungry. Not getting enough sleep adversely affects both of these hormones. Leptin production decreases while Gherlin production increases; thus leading our bodies down a slippery slope of never feeling completely satisfied. There is also significant proof that we crave is all the wrong things, i.e., empty calories, when we are tired. People who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation have elevated cortisol hormones (aka the stress hormone). Increased levels of cortisol lead to high levels of insulin production. When this happens, your body’s blood sugar drops thus causing you to crave sugary, fatty foods.
8. Doing Only One Type of Exercise
Einstein says the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well, hello?! Going to the gym every day and hopping on the same machine is just that: insane. Our bodies adapt well to change after a few months of running it becomes easier, and easier and thus we hit a weight loss plateau. We become complacent in our normalcy, most likely because it’s easier than stepping outside of our comfort zones. Gyms can be intimidating, especially if you are a complete newbie, but if we never take that first step, we will never change. Run every day? Try a new class at the gym to switch it up. Not sure how to use any machine at the gym? Hire a personal trainer to learn the ropes. Variety is the key to success and warding off boredom.
9. You Weigh Yourself Daily
The scale serves as a method of torture for many of us. We become fixated on a number rather than actual changes within our bodies. Weight loss success should be judged by monitoring changes in our measurements, how your clothes fit, or your ability to run that extra mile. Your weight loss and fitness journey are about more than a number on a scale. Many factors affect our natural fluctuation in weight: water retention, salty food intake, or even the need to go the bathroom. A low number can give us the false sense that we are on the right track and have adverse effects on our exercise regimen. Lower numbers on a scale are not an accurate indication of actual weight loss. In fact, your weight may even go up from time to time because you are building lean muscle mass. Muscle mass weighs more than fat, but it also burns more energy than fat as well. Hence, why you will see a lower number in your waist measurement but a higher number on the scale.
10. Taking Weekends Off
All work and no play, doesn’t work for anyone. If we restrict ourselves during the week and go crazy on the weekends, we are doing more harm than good. This trend tends to leave us eating way more calories than if we had just indulged smartly during the week. Weekend binges can cause harsh spikes in blood sugar, throws off our gut bacteria, and makes us more tired. All of these things will leave us craving sweet, fatty foods. The weekends are a time to let loose and have fun but don’t always associate having fun with food. Eat in a way that is fulfilling but doesn’t completely blow your hard work. Get outside go on a hike, shoot hoops with friends, or take your dog for a long walk. If you enjoy the exercise you are doing, it won’t feel like work at all.
Ashley is a freelance writer, SAHM, Room Mom, Daisy Troop Leader, and Social Media Manager. She lives in the LKN area with her husband and two children. She enjoys dark chocolate, exercise, a good book, and wine with friends. Catch more of Ashley’s writing at DailyMom.com.