9 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight
So you’re busting your butt in the gym, are on a diet and heavily restricting your calories, yet each time you step on the scale the numbers have barely budged – or worse they’re higher! What gives??
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 reasons you aren’t losing weight and what to do about them.
Why am I not losing weight??
YOUR GUT IS OUT OF BALANCE
Our “second brain,” the microbiome, home of our gut health, is the foundation of our body’s homeostasis. When this vital organ is unbalanced we experience a plethora of unwanted side effects.
Gut flora imbalance affects 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 lead to weight gain (see below).
To begin rebalancing your gut, this 5-step system is a good place to start, click here to read more.
When we’re dehydrated our bodies will retain water in an effort to maintain fluid balance. This produces oh-so-lovely side effects such as puffiness and bloating (every woman’s kryptonite!).
However, adequate hydration produces 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 strict about your water intake for several 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 per day.
YOU HAVE HIDDEN TOXICITIES
Hidden toxicities can present themselves in many forms from yeast or parasite infections, to heavy metal toxicity, to mold toxicity, to food intolerance or sensitivity.
Whatever it may be, this toxic overload leads to inflammation within the body making it difficult 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 in order to protect vital organs.
When we make efforts to avoid toxic products and cleanse our systems we clear the way for our bodies to perform optimally and therefore release unnecessary weight.
A colon cleanse is a good place to start in ridding your body of toxins. From there, eating a very clean diet will help maintain the results of your cleanse. In addition, you may want to start 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 number of calories you eat each day is not the end all be all of a healthy diet. Although it may be true that weight loss is the result 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 provides 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 leads to an increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin, which means your food cravings will also increase. In an attempt to maintain energy balance, your body will seek energy from food (you know, so you can keep your eyelids open).
Not only that, but important bodily processes such as keeping your adrenals healthy and cleansing the gallbladder, happen 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 result 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 shows that our hormones affect how much fat we store. Here’s a quick breakdown of how each of the main hormones influences your fat storage:
- Insulin. Insulin allows your body to 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 part in regulating appetite. However, when a person develops “leptin resistance,” caused by too much leptin in the blood, this regulating hormone no longer works as it should which can lead to 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 desire 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 helps us to see how various hormones play a part 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 ensure 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 lead to 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 can also raise cortisol levels (see above).
Over-exercising can exhaust your adrenals and lead to hormone imbalance. Neither of these extremes is helpful when you’re looking to lose weight.
Strive for balance as much as possible. Thirty minutes per day of exercise (alternating between cardio and strength training) is plenty when you’re just starting your weight loss journey.
Pushing yourself too hard too soon may also lead to 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 great or are you punishing yourself or attempting to live up to someone else’s ideal?
How you view yourself and your body will affect the type of change you’re able to accomplish. Every thought you have ‘speaks’ to your body on a cellular level – what kind of messages are you sending? (You can learn more about this effect and how it works in this post.)
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 lead to hormone imbalance by constantly raising your cortisol levels.
As previously discussed, hormone imbalance is usually bad news for our weight loss efforts. Not only that, but it can wreak havoc on your metabolism – in fact, we may even burn fewer calories when we’re stressed!
In addition, stress can fuel our cravings and we may 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 combat 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 induces more stress! Simple, quick, 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 cause may 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 a personalized wellness plan for you.
Not being able to lose weight despite our best efforts can be frustrating, to say the least! I hope this blog helps to shed some light on what the causes may be so you are empowered to take action. When our bodies are in balance we’re more likely to effortlessly lose weight!
Have you ever struggled to lose weight? What tips would you add to this list?
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Hi! I’m Liane, mindset coach and holistic nutritionist in training. I have a passion for all things natural, healthy and holistic. My aim is to inspire you on your healthy living journey by sharing simple, everyday holistic habits that can transform your well-being and life.