Let’s say that you just started a new diet or fitness program and are feeling super motivated. You clean out your kitchen and pantry of all the offending foods, you’ve penciled in daily activity, and you’ve decided that this is going to be the time that you finally kick to the curb some bad habits. But then at the end of the week when you got to check on that pesky scale, your weight hasn’t budged (or maybe it’s even gone up!)
Or maybe you’ve been doing a program/ plan for a while. At the beginning the weight loss was noticeable- “goodbye water weight!” and “I’m losing a pound a week!” but then after a little while, it stalls.
So, what gives?
Our bodies are really smart. They like consistency and even though you mentally have decided that now is a good time to start restricting food or training for a half marathon, our bodies might not be on board. Or temporarily our bodies start to change because of the suddenness of the change, but then as soon as our bodies figure out what’s going on, they will down regulate our metabolism to adjust to the new food quantity or exercise routine and your weight loss either stalls or you can even start to gain weight (when you haven’t done anything differently!) This is why shows like the Biggest Loser for example aren’t realistic and most participants end up putting the weight back on. (link)
But, you shouldn’t dismay. There are effective ways to lose weight but you may be surprised with some of the reasons why the weight isn’t coming off.
- You’re not eating ENOUGH calories
- As I stated above, when our bodies think they are going in to starvation they go into conservation mode. They worry that the next meal might not be coming for a really long time or it might be another meal with skimpy calories, so we start to store whatever food is available into our fat stores for later. And, to top it all off, your body sends you intense hunger signals so all you can do is think about food.
- You’re not eating the correct macronutrients
- We all need three basic macronutrients: protein, fat and carbs. I generally see that people are lacking on the protein and fat, and eating way too many carbs. Eating too many carbs pumps out insulin in our body which is a fat storage hormone. Protein causes a small insulin spike, and fat causes virtually no insulin spike. So eating foods (macronutrients) that cause the least amount of insulin to be secreted can be a really effective weight loss strategy. Also, fat keeps you satiated for longer periods of time so usually you will inadvertently eat less without even paying attention to it (and while keeping your body happy!)
- You’re working out too much
- It can be hard to draw a line of what is working out too much versus too little. It absolutely varies from person to person- one person may be able to train for a marathon without too much impact on their body but other people are working out incredibly hard, 7 days a week and just can’t figure out why it’s not allowing them to lose weight. Pushing our bodies too hard can have an adverse effect on weight loss, but again, it varies from person to person. So if you’ve been working out really hard 5-7 days a week and aren’t seeing your expected results, then back off to 3-4 times a week and add in some yoga/ walking/ stretching. But, on the flip side, if you aren’t seeing results from food alone and you aren’t doing any movement- start doing something small each day. I wouldn’t all of a sudden start Crossfit, but I would say to get at least 30 minutes of some type of exercise each day (yoga, walking, barre, Zumba, etc.)- whatever makes you happy!
- You have a sluggish thyroid
- Ah, the thyroid gland. It’s definitely been a hot topic lately as everyone thinks they have a thyroid problem. Which, you may or may not. I do think it’s worthwhile to get tested (and get tested properly which means getting T3, T4, Reverse T3 and TSH) as your results might be in the “normal” range but they still might not be in a place that makes you feel good. If the thyroid isn’t working well, it will down regulate your metabolism and yes, cause you to gain weight because it wants to be in conservation mode. Your thyroid knows that there isn’t enough thyroid hormone available for you to be super active or just keep burning your metabolism so it slows things down.
- You’re not getting enough sleep
- Getting more sleep is certainly not the most exciting topic, but it’s one of the most important things you can do for your health. I would argue that if you aren’t getting enough sleep, then you can pretty much guarantee you won’t lose weight (or at least won’t be able to keep it off). Sleep is so imperative- it’s when our body repairs all of our cells and gets our hormones back in check. It’s also important to be sleeping at the right So that means, sleeping when it’s dark and waking up when it begins to become light. Staying up too late into the night causes our body to secrete extra cortisol in order to give you a second wind. Also sleeping too long into the morning doesn’t make us feel good either. So try to get in bed around 9:30-10pm and get up around 6-7am the next day.
Did any of these resonate with you? What are some reasons you have found in your own experience that have stalled or encouraged weight loss?