New Year. New You. New Goals.
How many times have you decided that that is it, January 1st, you are changing. You are going to overhaul your diet, commit to exercising daily and looking after yourself. But despite all your efforts, nothing changes.
We are very much told that we need to eat less and move more. I remember specifically shortly after I qualified someone saying to me he doesn’t understand why I have a job, because everyone just needs to cut their calories and walk more, it is simple, people are just lazy.
I don’t agree that weight loss is easy. Especially not for women. And if it was, wouldn’t we all be our goal weight? How many of your friends or female family members have spoken about losing weight. If it is anything like my circle it is pretty much all of them.
I don’t want me saying weight loss isn’t easy to put you off. It is absolutely possible just there might be a number of factors you need to address in order to be successful.
Now if you are wanting to lose weight I have compiled a list of what might stop you. If you have a history of failed diets this is going to be very useful for you. You could consider it like a checklist to understand what might have stopped you in the past so you will know what you need to change this time. Of course if you would like support on this journey or to investigate in more detail what might be preventing you from losing weight reach out to book in for a free call to discuss.
So what are the causes of weight loss resistance….
Eating too much of healthy foods
Now we all understand that an apple is better for us than a Mars bar. Or a side salad is better than a bowl of chips. But foods we consider healthy, we do also need to consider how much we are consuming these foods. For example, almond butter is incredibly nutritious, full of lots of hormone supportive fats, but a whole jar is not going to support weight loss. Or take sweet potatoes, full of fibre and vitamin A but over-consuming them will push up your carbohydrate intake which may be a block for weight loss. Be honest with yourself, are you overeating all the right stuff?
Cutting calories too low
It is hard wired into us, we must cut calories to lose weight. And yes this could be true for you. But I find more often in women who have tried every diet under the sun, that their calorie intake tends to be too low instead of too high. Taking your calorie intake too low can slow down your metabolism, which then slows down everything in the body, much like a sloth, so there won’t be much fat burning going on. When energy intake is low, this signals to the body that food is scarce, it unfortunately isn’t clever enough to know there is a Waitrose just down the road. So it shifts your body into sloth mode, it slows the metabolism down to conserve energy to prolong your survival. As metabolism slows, your hormone and neurotransmitter signals start to change to first programme the body to store fat and secondly to increase your hunger hormone ghrelin. This is why if you have ever tried to fast or take your calories very low for a period of time, you soon find yourself at the bottom of the crisp packet because your body is doing everything it can to get you to eat something.
Grazing or snacking
If you are consuming foods every 1-2 hours, you are never giving your body the chance to use up its energy stores. Each time we eat, the body will prioritise using that energy if it's required at that time, and if not required, it gets stored. Whilst meal timings and number of meals is personal for everyone, it is ideal to get at least a 4 hour window in-between meals and a 10-12 hour overnight fast. Some of us do need to start with regular snacks to help balance out our blood sugar levels but we should generally be aiming to minimise snacking in the long-term.
Your hormones are the masters of your body. They control almost every process in the body including regulating metabolism, appetite, blood sugar, menstrual cycle and the stress response (amongst much much more!) Any upset in the balance can hugely impact your ability to lose weight and if something used to work for you no longer does, check your hormones. Insulin, cortisol, progesterone, oestrogen, testosterone, ghrelin, leptin and thyroid hormones are the main players here.
Anything the body perceives as a threat provokes the stress response, releasing the hormone cortisol. This could be anything from a car whizzing past you close to the pavement, an argument with your partner, kids playing up, feeling nervous or on edge, an intensive exercise class, long to-do list, lack of sleep and anything else that makes you feel stressed, overwhelmed or busy. Cortisol is part of the survival mechanism, so it likes to store fat, especially around the middle. Keeping it there for emergencies, ready to go.
This is an extremely exciting area of research where we are learning more and more about how our gut bacteria influence our weight and metabolism. There is still A LOT to learn, however, we already know that different gut bacteria change how quickly our metabolism works, as well as how many calories we absorb or utilise from our food. The gut environment as well hugely affects inflammation which can be a big block for weight loss.
Your environment can be a cause for weight loss resistance. There are certain chemicals frequently found in plastics, cleaning and personal care products that have been labelled ‘obesogens’, i.e. chemicals that contribute to obesity.
Toxins can also damage parts of the body including the thyroid gland responsible for metabolism and cellular receptors which will impact how hormones work in the body. Toxins have also been shown to damage mitochondria, which are the energy making powerhouses found in your cells which are responsible for energy production and metabolism.
Toxins are everywhere, we can’t avoid them but we can minimise our exposure. Consider your air and water quality, plastic use, cleaning products and personal care products as a good place to start.
Food intolerances increase the level of inflammation in the body. When a food deemed as an invader enters the body, it gets tagged by the immune system in the gut which then triggers a cascade of inflammation in the body. Inflammation can cause a myriad of gut symptoms along with an increase in fat stores and water retention. If the inflammation turns chronic, which it often does unless the food is removed for a period of time, the body thinks it is under continual attack, so again the survival mechanism kicks in causing the body to hold onto energy (a.k.a. weight).
Low nutrient status
We might associate low nutrient status with things like low energy. But every process in the body requires vitamins and minerals to work properly. Without these vital nutrients, processes slow down, go a little wonky or in cases of severe deficiency, stop all together. Our metabolism, energy production, and hormones all require particular nutrients. So without ample supply, the body can’t work efficiently which can be a big factor in weight loss resistance.
Lack of sleep
This is a biggy! Sleep is the body's time for rest and repair. Think of it like the automatic robot vacuum cleaners coming in every night to clean your floors, sleep is the trigger for the body to clean and check itself overnight which helps to reduce inflammation.
A lack of sleep not only increases the hormone cortisol, but it also increases our hunger hormone ghrelin as well. Studies have shown that 6 hours sleep or less increases ghrelin and participants had a sharp increase in sugar and carbohydrate cravings.
Over or underdoing exercise
Exercise is important for our health. We all understand that. But it can be a little like goldilocks.
A lack of exercise or sitting all day causes the metabolism to slow down so the signals to burn fat sease.
But it is important we do the right type of exercise for our body, especially as women which can change throughout our cycle. If we do too much or too intense exercise this increases our old friend cortisol, which as mentioned earlier, programmes the body to store fat. Not enough recovery or continually opting for intense exercise is a big reason why you might be exercising daily but not noticing any weight loss.
I also want to mention here, that if you are just tracking your progress using scales, then you might be dropping fat and increasing muscle, so you might see the scale either not change or go up. Your body composition is changing for the better, this just isn’t reflected directly in kg or stone.
Genes are involved in the regulation of fat metabolism, appetite and energy expenditure which are all important for our weight. Your genes cannot be changed, what you are born with is what you get.
BUT, you can change whether the genes are expressed or not i.e. ‘on’ or ‘off’. I also want to stress here that there are many many other factors to consider, so if your genetics aren’t necessarily in your favour, that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful with weight loss but something to consider if weight loss eludes you.
Let me ask you, do you believe you can lose weight? Most of my clients answer no. And I can’t blame them as past evidence has proved them right so far.
However, what we think and feel is so important for our day to day actions. If you think you are going to fail, you are more likely to fail. If you think you are going to succeed. You guessed it...you are more likely to succeed.
Thoughts turn into emotions which turn into feelings which turn into actions. So getting your thoughts sorted can cause a lovely positive snowball effect.
Visualisation is one powerful tool to work on this. Visualise what you want to achieve. Really bring it to life. Think about how it would feel? What would change? How would you be different? What would change day-to-day? Visualisation is a way to speed up getting to your destination.
Reach out for some support
If you feel stuck on your weight loss journey please do reach out to book in for a free call to discuss how I can help you get you to where you want to be.
You can book in for a free call here:
You can also download my free guide ‘The 5 Real Reasons Why You Still Can’t Lose Weight’ from the home page which dives into the 5 main pillars I use in my clinic.