6 Surprising Reasons You’re NOT Losing Weight
By Karen Azeez
Those extra pounds you see on the scale… you want to drop them, but somehow, no matter WHAT you do – exercise, diet, make pledges, even starve yourself – you can’t seem to lose weight. Year after year, you try something new without success.
If this sounds familiar, you may be sabotaging your efforts without even knowing it. So before you set out on your next disappointing quest, consider these major obstacles to successful long-term weight loss.
1. You’re Not Motivated
The Problem: You keep pledging that you will start your diet tomorrow, but tomorrow comes and you find yourself eating nachos instead. Humans are creatures of habit and change feels wrong. That’s why most of us pick a transitional moment in our lives – when change is already occurring – to try to lose weight (e.g. the New Year, an upcoming wedding, starting school or a new job, etc).
The Fix: Make your own moment. If you don’t have a milestone coming up, then give yourself a deadline, such as, “I will lose 20 pounds by summer.” To make it more momentous (and to keep yourself honest) announce it on social media, ask friends to join you in your journey, buy yourself a big calendar and mark your end date, plan a celebration for your successful completion – whatever it takes.
2. You Give In to Temptation
The Problem: You’re working hard to stick to your diet, but your co-workers keep bringing in morning donuts or your husband sits on the couch next to you munching chips and, eventually, you cave.
The Fix: At home, ask your loved ones for their support. You can’t impose your diet rules on others, but you can certainly request that your favorite treats don’t wind up in front of you each night. To fight temptation when you’re out in the world, make sure you’re not hungry between meals, keep healthy snacks around, stay hydrated and keep reminding yourself about your ultimate goal; each time you say no to a cupcake, you’re that much closer to having the body you want. And have faith that it won’t always be so hard. After abstaining from cupcakes and bagels for a while, they look less and less desirable.
3. You’re Eating Out Too Much
The Problem: It may look innocent enough, but chances are, a meal served at your favorite restaurant has double the fat, salt and sweeteners of a home-cooked dinner – and bigger portion sizes to boot. In fact, the average restaurant plate contains more than 1,100 calories – that’s two meals-worth of calories for many healthy diets.
The Fix: Cooking at home means you can choose healthier ingredients, make smaller portions and control your calories. If you’re a stranger to the kitchen, start by preparing your own lunches or breakfasts and slowly move on to dinners once or twice a week. To lessen the damage when eating out, ask the waiter not to bring bread or chips, sip on water instead of an alcoholic or carbonated beverage and opt for tea or coffee instead of dessert.
4. You’re Too Tired
The Problem: You’re trying to eat well and work out every day, despite all the long hours at the office, but the weight won’t go. Chances are, you’re not sleeping enough. Getting at least seven hours of sound sleep each night helps balance ghrelin and leptin, two hormones that regulate hunger and appetite satiety. Studies have shown that short-changing yourself on sleep can lead to cravings and overeating the next day, seriously thwarting your dieting efforts.
The Fix: Stop being a superhero and get to bed at a decent hour. If falling asleep is an issue, turn off all electronics at least an hour before bedtime; keep your bedroom quiet, dark and free of clutter and try using a sound machine or breathing exercises to lull you into sleep.
5. You’re Overcompensating For Exercise
The Problem: You’ve started going to Zumba, boot camp or a cycling class and you’re burning way more calories than before but the scale isn’t budging. Chances are all that exercise has increased your hunger and you’re actually eating more calories than you expend.
The Fix: Many classes claim you’ll burn several hundred calories in a session to get you pumped and attracted to the class. But before you dig into the 800-calorie burger you “earned” in class, find a tool that provides realistic estimates based on your age, weight and the intensity of your workout, like this one. To ward off intense hunger after exercise, be sure to eat a snack with some healthy carbs, like an apple, before you hit the gym and refuel with some almonds after if your next meal is more than hour away. And of course, drink lots of water – dehydration often mimics hunger. Your aim should be ½ your bodyweight in ounces of water per day, which sounds like a lot more than it actually is.
6. You’re Eating Too Little
The Problem: To lose that last five pounds, you’re skipping breakfast and juicing for lunch. But the weight loss is just not happening. That’s because you’ve switched your body into starvation mode. We all need a certain amount of calories each day to stay alive (roughly 10 times our body weight). If you eat a lot less than that amount, your body instinctively slows your metabolism to conserve energy, thus storing fat. Plus it cranks up your hunger to get you to eat more. That’s a bad combo if you’re trying to shed weight.
The Fix: Instead of severely restricting your caloric intake, tweak your diet and exercise regimen to maximize your metabolism. Try limiting refined carbohydrates like breads, pastas, rice and crackers; cut out store-bought sugar-laden juices and any sweetened drinks; swap out fruit for veggies; and munch on fiber-filled snacks like nuts and popcorn. Also, add strength training to your workout. A more muscular build metabolizes energy at a higher rate, meaning you’ll burn more calories just sitting around. Now that’s a plan!
Health Coach, Wellness Expert and Freelance Writer
at Well Beings
Karen Azeez is a health coach, wellness expert and freelance writer. Karen helps busy men and women incorporate simple lifestyle changes into their daily routine to address issues such as weight gain, insomnia, stress and digestion problems. Karen enjoys cooking healthy meals, hiking with her husband and border collie and watching way too many TV shows about wedding dress shopping.
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