Weight Loss Saboteurs: Why You Aren’t Losing Weight
Many of us have tried to lose weight at some point in time, be it because we are unsatisfied with our weight, or because we are concerned for our health. Either way, most of us have never reached our goal weight because of a few pesky, seemingly invisible weight loss saboteurs. It isn’t because you can’t or won’t ever lose weight, but the process isn’t always as simple as restricting calories and working out.
For some, it takes years of trial and error to find the right algorithm that works for their individual needs. Again, because we are all different, some of these things may not even apply to you. However, it is important to adjust the factors that may effect your weight loss. Despite how discouraging and long the journey may feel, won’t your contentment and health be worth it? Nothing is more precious than that.
Please remember that your weight loss shouldn’t be dependent on someone else’s opinion. You should never attempt to lose weight just because others have told you to (those ‘others’ not being your doctor or nutritionist, of course), or because you think it will answer all of your problems. Change your lifestyle and habits for yourself, not for others. People come and go, but you will always have yourself at the end of the day, so make sure you are happy and fulfilled.
1. Your Mind Isn’t Ready
I feel that this factor is often overlooked by many people. In order to get into the proper groove of a new diet (a lifestyle adjustment, not a ‘fad’), you need to first train your mind to willingly accept change and appreciate the steps you are trying to take. Your perspective is far more important than you may know. Having the right mindset of enjoying your workouts and wholesome meals makes it much easier to continue said diet, without caving and giving up immediately because it seems impossible. By not doing this, it can be incredibly difficult to openly receive physical exercise and proper nutrition without dreading every moment of it.
Remind yourself that you want to feel balanced, whole, and centered, and that your old habits are not chained to you. You may have had a past of overindulging in fatty, fried, or empty calorie foods because you let it be a crutch for so long, yet it doesn’t always have to be that way. Eat your favourite not-so-great food in moderation — and enjoy it! — but don’t have the mindset that you have no control, because you have full autonomy of what goes in your stomach when. And to save yourself the trouble of battling your habits and cravings in the future, refrain from glorifying unhealthy foods because it seems ‘quirky’ or ‘cute’. The constant struggle of managing weight is not quirky for those dealing with it long term, and it can be quite harmful.
Staying in that positive head space will help you feel immersed and focused, and it will keep you accountable for your actions. This mindset is a state where you can acknowledge that you may have eaten something that isn’t quite as healthy, but you aren’t upset or discouraged by it, and will continue to consume a mostly nutritious diet. Beating yourself up over the small things will never do you any good.
Again, always lose weight for the right reasons. Your health and comfort should always top the list of reasons.
2. Improper Food Combining
Have you ever eaten a big steak and potato dinner and felt incredibly bloated and uncomfortable after? That is because some foods aren’t meant to be eaten together, as they vary in what they need to break down in the stomach. Steak (protein) requires an acid environment to break down, while potatoes (starch) requires a more alkaline environment, which will inhibit the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and interfere with the breakdown of the protein. This will leave the protein partially digested, and it can become toxic material as the break down is incomplete.
Many nutritionists are torn over this concept, but it is worth doing your own research. It may be a hidden saboteur without you even knowing, so it is worth a shot. Here are the basic rules of food combining:
- Fats and starches do mix
- Fats and protein do not mix well in large amounts
- Starches and vegetables do mix
- Starches and other starches do mix
- Starches and protein do not mix
- Protein and vegetables do mix
- Different proteins do not mix
- Fruits are best eaten on an empty stomach
- Melons are the one fruit that cannot be mixed with anything
If you are curious as to whether this is stopping your progress, or if it is the cause for your discomfort after meals, practice some trial and error and see if the guideline is accurate for you.
Inflammation is how your body attempts to heal itself. If you get stung by a bee, your skin will usually puff up a little and redden, or if you get a sunburn, your skin will become inflamed. There is acute inflammation, which was just referenced, but chronic inflammation is prolonged, and lasts for a long period of time. Leaky gut syndrome commonly includes chronic inflammation.
Inflammation can be caused by stress, overeating, injury, pain, excess weight, and not enough sleep. Of course, there are common inflammatory foods that should be avoided, such as fried foods, sugars, trans-fatty acids, milk products, commercially raised meats, processed meat, alcohol, refined grains, and artificial food additives.
Do not fret, however, as there are anti-inflammatory foods that can help ease your stomach, and these include: kelp, spinach, omega 3 rich fish, turmeric, ginger, pineapple, probiotic-rich foods, celery, blueberries, and bone broth. These foods help remove free radicals from the body, which can do harm if not neutralized. If you are plagued by inflammatory symptoms, the aforementioned foods can help relieve them.
- Improve diet and avoid inflammatory foods
- Aim for variety in the diet
- Include as much fresh food as possible
- Minimize consumption of processed foods and fast food
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Include healthy oils in the diet (ensuring adequate amounts of omega 3’s)
- Minimize refined grains
- Cook pasta al dente and eat in moderation
- Avoid refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup
- Introduce healing foods
- Supplement herbs that are anti-inflammatory in nature
- Avoid stress
- Regular exercise
- Manage a healthy weight
When there is plenty of inflammation present in the body, it can cause insulin resistance, which leads to high glucose levels and fat accumulation. This causes a cycle, as insulin resistance causes weight gain, and weight gain causes insulin resistance. To avoid this trap, refer to the tips above and take care of your diet.
4. Food Sensitivities
There are quite a few hidden food sensitivities that many people don’t even notice until they have been pointed out, which have been the cause to the body holding on to fat stores. Long-term exposure to foods that trigger immune response can cause inflammation in your body, which can lead to chronic disease. You may have heard of a few common food sensitivities, such as gluten, milk, nuts, eggs, seafood, and nightshade vegetables. Of course as we now know, you don’t want inflammation in your body, therefore it is best to eliminate sensitivities before they can progress and get even worse.
If you suspect that you may have a food sensitivity, remove the food for two weeks and monitor how your body reacts to the change. After the two weeks, reintroduce the food and see if your body reacts or not. If you revert to the previous discomfort, remove the culprit for good. This will help your body to remove the inflammation, and should kick start your weight loss.
5. Eating Too Much or Too Little
This one should be fairly obvious. If you consume way more calories than your body actually requires, those extra calories will be stored in the body for later use, which results in weight gain. Some of us don’t even realize how many calories we actually consume, and how many of those aren’t as great as we think.
However, on the flip side of that, some may be eating much less than what your body actually needs. This may sound like a good thing, because we are often shown that eating less = weight loss. This is slightly true, as long as you aren’t starving yourself. Once your body feels that it is going into starvation mode, it holds on to those fat stores so that you don’t lose any more weight for as long as possible. This is obviously counterproductive when you are wanting to lose weight. So, make sure you are eating enough calories to support your daily calorie output, without consuming too much of course.
To calculate your calorie needs, click here.
6. Your Diet May Not Be As Good As It Seems
In this day and age, it can be very easy to be tricked by brands and marketing. It is everywhere. What makes it worse, is some chemicals/additives are branded under a certain name, which is different from their distinguishable name. Or, there are certain chemicals used during the production of a food, but because it wasn’t added directly to the item, the manufacturer isn’t required to add that chemical to the label. Also, it is difficult to know just how much processing goes into a particular food at the grocery store, as that isn’t listed either.
Sometimes our diets aren’t as clean as they could be, all because of the things we select at the store, especially supermarkets. Because there is so much mystery surrounding our commonly purchased foods, it is wise to avoid boxed, packaged, and shelved items, as they are filled with preservatives to ensure longer shelf life. Also, avoid artificial and heavily processed food. Of course, many natural foods do involve some sort of process, like cheese, meats, and bread, but I’m thinking more about snack foods, and prepared frozen meals. Try to have less fried, greasy, and heavy foods, as well as meat (even if you are a meat eater, everyone can benefit from having less!). Maybe even try having less dairy and gluten to see how your body reacts to the change.
To put your mind at ease, try your best to eat fresh, whole foods, with colour and variety. And if you have the means to, buy organic whenever possible. It is the small things that add up over time, and can influence the state of your weight loss.
7. Your Body Faces Unsuitable Conditions
Lastly, this category is another one that seems to be overlooked fairly often.
To sum it up simply, you may be at a stalemate with your weight loss because you aren’t giving your body the optimum nourishment or help that it needs. For example, you may be lacking sleep, proper food and nutrients, suitable exercise, beneficial social interactions, or comfort. Or as many people have it, your body may be facing a tremendous amount of stress each day, be it from the bustling city, a stressful job, an unsteady home life, or just common anxiety.
In order to give your body the safe, proper circumstances it needs to function properly and support healthy weight, you may need to improve your environment and habits. Perhaps moving to a quieter place, getting a more manageable job, or correcting whatever tensions you may have, could help your body to relax and perform as it should. Of course, not everyone can or even wants to do these things. If that is the case, then it is your responsibility to find the time to cool out and practice ways to balance your body.
To start, make time to prepare wholesome meals, and eat mindfully without any distractions. Don’t shove a bagel in your mouth while you’re running out the door with your shoes untied — this will cause digestive upset and make matters worse. Get enough sleep at night by going to bed at a good time, without bright screens that keep your mind racing. Make time to exercise, go out every once in a while to visit friends or family and to escape your routine, and create a space where you can truly unwind and come back down after a crazy day.
Our lives are incredibly busy, so try your best to fit in the crucial things and support your body where it is needed, then it will do exactly what you need it to.
If you have been struggling to shed those extra pounds, don’t be too hard on yourself. Find patience, understand what your body needs, and put in some serious commitment to your overall health. With time, research, and effort, you will get there. Be kind to yourself and the rest will follow.
- By Karleigh Jerome