The short answer is probably not, but several factors may be working against you.
If you’re like me, there have been times in your life when you weren’t overeating, you were exercising and yet you still couldn’t lose weight. Maybe you wrote it off as a slowing metabolism. Perhaps you got bad advice from your doctor, a fitness trainer, or a “weight loss expert.” Here are five situations that could be hindering your weight loss.
We all know stress is bad for our health but you may not fully understand what happens in your body when it is under prolonged stress. The chronic stress of being in “flight or fight” mode leads to damage as your adrenal glands constantly pump out cortisol. This wears you out and your energy ebbs. It also interferes with your ability to get good rest so you wake up just as tired as you went to bed. You may wake periodically throughout the night, never really getting into deep enough sleep.
Then, if you are like most people, you make the whole situation worse by dosing up with mega caffeine to wake up and keep going throughout the day. I personally don’t respond well to caffeine so I used sugar, or fruit, or refined carbs like crackers, to try to get some energy. Same plan, same outcome—poor health and slow weight loss.
- Insulin Resistance
Many doctors and diet plans will tell you it’s healthy to graze throughout the day and have “mini meals” or snacks. For most people, that’s not correct. Each time you eat, you’re firing up your digestive system and part of what happens is a release of insulin. Trouble is, if you keep flooding your body with insulin, you’ll exhaust that process, leading to diabetes. Even if you don’t get diabetes, every time you send out the insulin, you stop burning your stored fat. If you are eating 4, 5, 6, or 8 times per day you are never in fat burning mode, and weight loss will be VERY difficult.
The good news is, if you have three healthy, complete meals and eat the proper balance of protein, good fat, veggies and complex carbs from real, organic food, you won’t be starving between meals and you shouldn’t have to eat every couple of hours. The key here is learning exactly what food, in what amounts, your unique body needs to stay satiated and still lose weight. It took me years of failed trial and error to learn this but once I did I’m able to eat three healthy meals and go up to 5 or 6 hours between meals with no problem, while maintaining my 80-lb weight loss.
There’s a saying by health experts in the know, “you can’t out-exercise a poor diet.” In my experience, diet is about 90 percent of weight loss and getting that right is crucial. Burning 300 calories running or working out in the gym, does NOT cancel out a 300-calorie piece of cake or greasy fast food burger.
Extreme activities, like certain “bootcamp” gym routines that are overly intense, stress your body and we already addressed the body’s stress response in # 1 above. A far better plan for optimal health and relaxation is gentle exercise, like yoga, tai-chi or stretching, mixed with a couple of days of strength training and walking. Aim for about 30 minutes of exercise per day, every day. Not two hours of beating yourself to a frazzle three days a week. This is especially true if you have fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue or an auto-immune challenge, like Hashimoto’s thyroid disease.
- Lack of Restorative Sleep
You must get eight hours of quality sleep a night. Read What The Heck Is Sleep Hygiene? for sleep tips.
If you can’t get deep enough sleep or if you’re waking up during the night, you’ll likely get adrenal fatigue, as mentioned in #1, and will battle fatigue all day. Besides being a nuisance, this will halt your weight loss as your body goes into survival mode, just trying to stay afloat.
- Focused on Calories
If you are still listening to your Mom, personal trainer, or diet class leader and counting calories (or “points”) you must stop. As my friend and celebrity health expert JJ Virgin is fond of saying, “Your body is a chemistry lab, not a bank account.” It is NOT about “calories in, calories out.” Believe me, if there was a way to eat 1,500 calories of just cake and cookies and be as health as eating 1,500 calories a day of whole, clean foods, I would have discovered it by now.
Instead of focusing on calories, or fat grams, or whatever you are counting, concentrate on discovering how much lean, clean, organic protein, veggies, fruit and fats work best for you. It’s helpful to work with a health coach or holistic health practitioner to determine what works for you, as we are all different. Portion control is still important but quality of your food and making nutrient-rich choices are key to your best health and maintaining a normal weight.
Have you struggled to lose weight? Have you found any of these areas are holding you back? What has worked for you? Please leave us a comment below and share your experiences.