Weight loss is not always a simple equation. Certain factors, internal and external, can stand in the way of your goal. Here are some common obstacles and how to overcome them.
Weight loss is difficult. Many people will tell you, “It’s the number of calories that counts.” As if your body were a simple mathematical equation. Honestly, if it were that simple, everyone would have passed this test.
There are so many more factors at play, and these include genetics, environment, sleep patterns, and muscle mass, among others. Weight management is incredibly complicated. Although clearly difficult, weight loss is not impossible. It is important to focus on small successes (eating more vegetables, walking more). It can also be helpful to work backwards and spot the factors that are holding you back or causing a plateau.
Become aware of these eight common obstacles, and you may be back on the path to victory.
- 1 1. Your gut health is at stake
- 2 2. Genetics don’t work in your favor
- 3 3. You age and lose muscle
- 4 4. The Medicine Cabinet
- 5 5. You underestimate your portion sizes
- 6 What to do
- 7 6. You eat without thinking or when you are distracted
- 8 7. You skip meals, then end up overeating.
- 9 8. You overestimate the calories you burn.
1. Your gut health is at stake
The latest emerging research reveals the importance of the microbiome (the bacteria in your gut) to your health and to your weight. A meta-analysis published in the journal Genes looked at participants who underwent interventions that favorably affect the microbiome. Like taking probiotics or prebiotics, and found that these people experienced a reduction in their body mass index (BMI) and fat mass compared to placebo.
What to do
Start by increasing the prebiotics in your diet. Prebiotics are fibers that feed the good bacteria in your gut. You could take all the probiotics, but if you don’t feed those good bacteria, they can’t proliferate and overtake the bad bacteria in your gut. Increase the amount of prebiotics in your diet by focusing on fruit and vegetable consumption. Go for variety: green beans one day, kale the next, then a tomato salad, to give your gut a range of prebiotics that will satisfy it.
2. Genetics don’t work in your favor
It’s a harsh reality. It’s not always possible to choose the body type or shape you want and achieve it effortlessly with the right diet. When it comes to weight, genetics matter a lot. Early research on Swedish twins who were raised together or apart had already set the tone in this area. The results of this study, and then other twin studies, showed that genes are responsible for about 70% of the variation in people’s body weight. It’s a pretty big influence.
Also, there is the weight range theory. That is, the range in which your body is essentially happy. This is where you will land if you lead a healthy and happy life. That is to say: eat in a nutritious way without restricting yourself, and exercise.
If you try to reduce your weight too far below your set point, your brain responds to the weight loss with powerful tools to bring your weight back to what it considers normal.
What to do
If you don’t want to gain weight back after losing it, you’re going to have to keep eating fewer calories and do it slowly. This means that you should lose no more than 10% of your body weight every six months. For a 70 kilo woman, this would be equivalent to 7 kilos in six months.
If that sounds hard to swallow, consider this information overwhelmingly positive. It can give you the opportunity to grace yourself with the body you are comfortable in rather than punishing yourself for not reaching a target or aesthetic weight. Previous research suggests that this approach, which takes equilibrium weight into account, leads to better health outcomes, compared to an approach that focuses solely on being in a leaner body. It can take a lot of personal work. A dietitian can help you make this change.
3. You age and lose muscle
When women reach menopause and estrogen levels begin to drop, they lose muscle as they age. In fact, muscle mass decreases by 3-5% every decade after age 30. This is important because muscle burns more calories than fat.
Post-menopausal women are more likely to gain body fat. They need fewer calories as they age. Additionally, the natural changes in fatty tissue that accompany aging can also cause the body to gain weight.
What to do
You can’t control the clock, but you can control your health habits. And, while you can gain weight as you age, age isn’t the only factor. People of all ages can lose weight and keep it off if they create the necessary habits. And to put in place an action plan for any behavior that could lead to weight gain. Effective behaviors include using nutrient-dense foods as the basis of the diet, limiting empty calories (such as processed foods, high-sugar foods), and adding a endurance physical activity into your weekly routine to rebuild lost muscle.
4. The Medicine Cabinet
Some medications cause weight gain or interfere with your efforts to lose weight. Among them are:
-insulin to treat diabetes,
– certain antipsychotics or antidepressants,
– certain therapies for epilepsy,
– medicines that lower blood pressure such as beta-blockers.
These drugs can cause weight gain. They mess with your metabolism in some way, alter your appetite, cause fluid retention, or contribute to fatigue, making you less active.
What to do
If you or your doctor notice that you have gained weight unintentionally, talk about it. Don’t stop taking your medication just because you gained weight. In some cases, your doctor may put you on another medicine or adjust your dose. If this is not possible, consult a dietitian who can guide you towards healthy food choices.
5. You underestimate your portion sizes
The problem with portions of packaged goods and portions in restaurants is that they are quite random. Chances are your food portions are always too large than you think.
What to do
Plan what you are going to eat for the day. This can be done by:
– logging your food in a food diary to see how many calories you actually eat
– adjusting portion sizes if necessary
– working with a registered dietitian to create an easy-to-follow meal plan.
6. You eat without thinking or when you are distracted
Repetitive snacking, while dizzy while watching TV or on your smartphone, is a hindrance. When you eat distractedly, you are more likely to eat more. When you’re aware of what you’re eating, you can make the connection between your brain and your body to make sure you’re full.
What to do
Prepare your own meals when possible. When you spend time cooking or even putting ingredients together, you know the care that goes into preparing the food you eat. You may be more inclined to sit down and savor your food rather than just wolf it down. And of course, you have to stay away from electronics for at least a few minutes to eat.
7. You skip meals, then end up overeating.
In an effort to cut calories, it’s tempting to spend the day trying to eat as little as possible and even skipping meals. But if you do that, your body will push you to eat. This deprivation can turn against you. Ninety percent of people who want to lose weight don’t eat enough during the day. If you limit yourself all day, your body’s protective mechanisms will kick in. Those who push you to eat. Therefore, it’s no surprise that you quickly eat an entire bag of cookies late at night.
What to do
Eat on a set schedule. If you eat regularly throughout the day, your body will be able to predict that you are going to provide it with adequate nutrition. Also, even if you’re trying to lose weight, plan how you’re going to include a variety of foods in your day so you don’t feel deprived.
8. You overestimate the calories you burn.
When trying to lose weight, what and how much you eat is more important than your exercise habits. And yet, exercise is the secret to not gaining weight. Exercise stimulates the synthesis of mitochondria in the muscles. Mitochondria are the powerhouse of cells.
People who are successful in losing weight are those who exercise. 89.6% of women and 85.3% of men who exercise as part of their weight loss and weight maintenance strategy are successful.
What to do
Exercise should not be used as a form of punishment for eating something. Exercise is a celebration of the movement your body can achieve, and that’s a beautiful thing. Better to find enjoyable ways to incorporate physical activity into your life, activities that make you feel capable or that promote social interaction. All of these factors can help you stick to a virtuous weight loss routine.