How are you doing on your weight-loss goals? Maybe you did well at first, but now you've hit a plateau, or perhaps you've been trying to make the numbers on the scale go down, but you haven't seen any results. If this sounds eerily familiar to your situation, continue reading to learn about the six contributing factors that may be interfering with your weight-loss goals.
Your Metabolism Is Slow
Many people think of metabolism as the rate in which your body burns calories. However, the word actually refers to all the chemical processes in your body that sustain your life. Part of those chemical processes relate to how your body handles the calories you give to it, hence a slow metabolism can affect your weight loss efforts.
Several factors could cause your metabolism to perform slowly:
• Age: Younger people tend to have more lean muscle mass, and that muscle is a furnace that can burn calories at a fast rate. Every person's metabolism works differently, but if you're 30 or older, your body might already be losing its lean muscle mass and experiencing a slower metabolism. Incorporate more strength training into your workout routine to increase your lean muscle mass.
• Skipping meals: When you skip meals, you take in fewer calories. But taking in fewer calories doesn't mean you will ultimately lose weight. When you go for long periods of time throughout the day without food, your body panics. Instead of properly using the calories you give it, your body decides to store those calories for use at a later time. Eat meals at regular intervals during the day to storing calories and gaining weight.
• Cushing's syndrome: This disease causes the body to produce too much of the stress hormone cortisol. The condition slows down metabolism and causes weight gain, particularly around the midsection. A doctor can recommend treatments for Cushing's syndrome.
Adopting healthy habits contributes to a faster metabolism, but your body may need a bigger boost. Consider taking a supplement, such as MCT Oil, to promote improved metabolism and weight loss.
You're Eating Too Much
Even if you aren't continually eating hamburgers, ice cream, and cake, you could be taking in too many calories for your body.
Pay careful attention to the portion sizes of your meals. Some foods are good for you, such as almonds and walnuts, but these foods can be dense in calories and can compromise your diet. Also, be mindful of hidden calories. For example, Greek yogurt is a delicious way to take in protein, but some varieties contain too much sugar. The extra calories you take in when you put sugar and cream into your morning coffee could also be impacting your efforts to lose weight.
Counting calories can be a time-consuming chore, but if you think that you're accidentally eating more food than you should, try keeping track of what you eat. You can find several food-tracking apps, or you could choose to track food consumption manually on paper. You won't have to keep track of your calories forever, but try to maintain the habit until you can make a reasonable estimate of calories in foods you regularly eat and calories in a specific portion of food.
If your diet is too restrictive, these restrictions can also cause you to overeat. If you're not eating enough calories, your appetite might take over and compel you to eat large quantities of chocolate or something from the fast food drive-in. Be reasonable about what your body can handle and don't rely on your willpower alone to get you through those times when you crave a treat.
You're Too Stressed
Cortisol, the stress hormone, can contribute to cravings for high-calorie foods. But a psychological element can also impact why you crave comfort foods when you're feeling overly stressed.
No magical solution exists for making your stress — and its weight-related issues —disappear, but you can take some of the following measures to combat the effect of stress on your waistline:
• Exercise: Get your body moving to reduce cortisol levels and lift your mood. Find an exercise you enjoy to get your mind off your worries. Take up a new sport or join a workout class where you can find social support through movement.
• Find an outlet: Some people find that writing in a journal helps them to cope with stress. A journal can also help you figure out why you may be feeling stressed, and give you ideas on how to deal with the problems that may be troubling your mind.
• Learn to say no: If you're too busy, you could lose sleep, and you might not have enough time to prepare healthy meals and get enough exercise. Plan your days so you always have time to unwind and take care of yourself properly.
• Practice positive thinking: By taking a positive approach to life, you might find that the problems that stress you out aren't as bad as you thought they were. Restructure or refocus a situation to direct your thoughts into a frame of mind that promotes confident thinking.
You Don't Get Enough Sleep
Life is hectic, and busy schedules can quickly get in the way of healthy sleep habits. You might reason that you should cut out long hours of sleep so you can exercise more, but reducing your sleeping hours isn't necessarily a good idea.
When you are sleep-deprived, you have more of the hormone Ghrelin, a hormone that prompts you to start eating. You also have less of the hormone Leptin, a hormone that signals your body to stop eating. With these hormonal imbalances, you're more likely to mindlessly snack while you push your exhausted body through your daily activities. Furthermore, a lack of sleep can slow down your metabolism.
Most adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. Improve your sleep habits by cutting out your afternoon cup of coffee and taking the last few hours before you go to bed to relax. Also, try to avoid using your smartphone or computer when you're about to go to sleep. The bright light of the screen will stimulate your brain and trick you into staying awake. Going to bed at the same time each night may also help.
What if you're getting enough sleep and you still don't seem to have the energy to make it through your day? An underlying medical cause could be the problem. Your doctor also may refer you to a sleep specialist to determine the cause of the problem.
You Aren't Exercising Enough — Or You're Exercising Too Much
Health experts recommend that adults get 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. During your weight-loss efforts, you might exercise even more than that amount. Still, if you have an office job, the time you set aside specifically for exercise may not be enough time. You don't have to overexert yourself by spending two hours at the gym every morning. Instead, try increasing your activity throughout the day.
You might consider the following:
• Opt for the stairs instead of the elevator.
• Park farther away from your destination when you're at work or when you shop for groceries.
• Clean your home often. The calories you burn when you're sweeping the floor or scrubbing the toilet can add up.
• Go for a walk during your breaks at work.
• Buy a pedometer and try to take at least 10,000 steps per day.
Surprisingly, getting too much exercise can also hinder your attempts to slim down. Exercise boosts your metabolism, but it also increases your appetite. If you find that you could eat a pizza after your session at the gym, you might want to adjust your workout routine and opt for gentler activity instead.
You're Not Adding Strength Training to Your Workouts
Strength training helps you to build lean muscle, in turn, increasing your metabolism. However, working out in the weight section of the gym has even more benefits for your weight-loss efforts. Comparing cardio with strength training, James Chan, writing for BodyBuilding.com states, "While cardio burns calories and fat when you're performing it, high rep strength training has what is known as high EPOC or 'Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption.' This is a fancy term for saying how long your metabolism is elevated after exercise.
"Studies show that a well-designed strength program can elevate your EPOC or metabolism for up to 38 hours after the workout. In other words, you continue to burn calories long after strength training. Whereas once you stop cardio, the calorie burning stops as well."
When strength training, you should add some resistance to your workouts. If you've been hesitant to try incorporating strength training into your fitness regimen, you may want to pay for a few sessions with a personal trainer who can show you how to perform strength-training exercises safely and for maximum impact on your body.
Whether you want to lose five pounds or 50, losing weight can be difficult and particularly frustrating when your efforts don't seem to be getting you anywhere. By using the information presented here, you can work toward getting your weight-loss goals back on track.