It’s frustrating when you think you’re doing everything right with your diet and exercise program, but the numbers on the scale refuse to budge. It’s almost enough to make you give up! Before you swan dive into the nearest country buffet in despair, take a look at these surprising – but totally common – reasons why you aren’t losing weight. One of these could easily be the key to your weight loss struggle.
Reason 1: You Love Healthy Food…A Lot
Just because the food you’re eating is healthy doesn’t mean it’s calorie-free. In fact, many superfoods are loaded with calories, such as nuts, dark chocolate, salmon and avocado. You need these nutrient-dense foods in your diet, but you must practice moderation to reap the benefits without putting on weight.
Solution: Learn what the proper portion sizes are for the healthy foods you love. With most veggies, you can eat as much as you like without putting on an ounce. But with others, the portion size may be a lot less than you think. A proper portion of salmon, for example, is only the size of a deck of cards. A portion of cashews is only a small palmful.
Reason 2: You Exercise on an Empty Stomach
Believe it or not, hitting the gym on an empty stomach isn’t a shortcut to burning extra calories. Not only will hunger hurt your performance during your workout, but, according to Women’s Health (womenshealthmag.com), the calories you burn will come from your muscle, not your fat stores.
Solution: Eat a snack rich in protein and complex carbohydrates about an hour before working out. Try half a banana with a spoonful of organic peanut butter, or plain Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of flax seeds.
Reason 3: You Hit the Treadmill…Then Call it a Day
Cardio isn’t enough to help you lose weight and get in shape. Cardio is certainly useful because it burns calories immediately and improves your cardiovascular health. But you must add weight training to see true results. According to MSN (msn.com), weight training builds muscle, which will then turn your body into an all-day calorie-burning machine.
Solution: Begin your workout with 15 to 30 minutes of your favorite cardio exercise. Then hit the weights. Try mixing the machines with free weights to get the benefits of both. Don’t have access to a gym? Build muscle at home through pushups, pullups, tricep dips, squats and crunches.
Reason 4: You’re Being Too Easy on Yourself
Working out can be intimidating, especially if you’re new to it. But don’t let yourself off the hook so easily. A stroll around the park may be pleasant but it isn’t going to get your heartrate up enough to help you lose serious weight.
Solution: It’s time to throw your irons in the fire and feel the burn. Push yourself past your comfort zone. When doing cardio, work up a sweat. Check the heart monitor on your machines regularly to make sure your pulse is in the optimal range for your weight and age. When hitting the weights, choose one that tests your strength. Your goal isn’t to hurt yourself, but rather to challenge yourself.
Reason 5: You Swapped Out Regular Soda for Diet
It’s no secret that many of us are addicted to soda. When you’re trying to lose weight, swapping out your regular fix for diet doesn’t save you from soda’s damaging effects. In fact, according to MSN, people who drink at least two diet sodas a day have waistlines that are 500 times the size of those who don’t!
Solution: Kick soda to the curb and start drinking water. There is no more perfect drink for the human body than water. If you find water boring, add lemon or lime slices for zing. Mint, basil and rosemary will also punch up the flavor. Enjoy a flavored, carbonated water for a change (just make sure it’s unsweetened).
Reason 6: You Aren’t Getting Your Zs
As surprising as it sounds, not getting enough sleep can cause the pounds the creep on. According to CBS News (cbsnews.com), not getting enough sleep upsets your hormones and your metabolism. Not only will this cause your body to hold onto unwanted pounds, it will make you feel hungry when you’re not.
Solution: Get to bed on time. The average adult needs eight hours of sleep at night, though this does vary slightly from person to person. Unplug from all your electronic devices at least an hour before you go to bed. Settle down with a good book and unwind the old-fashioned way.
Reason 7: You’re Aren’t Eating Enough
Does this sound like craziness? As strange as it seems, starving yourself in a quest to lose weight more quickly can have the opposite effect. When your body thinks you’re in starvation mode, it immediately slows your metabolism down to a crawl in an effort to conserve energy.
Solution: Start feeding yourself again, but do it the right way. Stock up on plenty of lean protein and lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. Going hungry is never the right way to lose weight.
Reason 8: Your Thyroid is Sluggish
Your thyroid is a gland at the base of your neck that regulates your metabolism. According to WedMD (webmd.com), if your thyroid is underactive – a condition called hypothyroidism – it will cause your body to store fat instead of burn it.
Solution: Ask your doctor to perform a blood test to check your thyroid’s activity. If your thyroid isn’t working properly, your doctor will put you on a course of treatment to get it back on track. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include feeling tired, being uninterested in sex and experiencing hair loss.
Reason 9: You Have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
As the name suggests, this is a condition that affects only women. It creates a host of female problems, including irregular periods, infertility, male-pattern hair growth and acne. It can also cause you to put on weight, even if your eating habits are healthy.
Solution: Talk to your doctor. Only a physician can diagnose this condition. If you find you do have polycystic ovarian syndrome, your doctor will prescribe hormone therapy to get you back on course. Regular checkups will let you both know if the therapy is working.
Reason 10: You Overeat After a Workout
Having an amazing workout at the gym is certainly cause for celebration…just not at Taco Bell. Your post-workout meal shouldn’t be a meal at all; it should be a small snack. Your goal isn’t to replenish all of the calories you just worked so hard to burn off. You simply want to refuel your tired muscles and restore the electrolytes in your system.
Solution: MSN recommends eating a snack of around 150 calories after hitting the gym. Try a protein bar, an unflavored Greek yogurt with chia seeds or a couple of boiled eggs.
What’s slowing your weight loss down isn’t always readily apparent. Step back and take a look at the bigger picture. The culprit could be hiding in plain sight.