It just doesn’t make sense: You’re making all the right decisions around food, but the weight isn’t coming off. Learn the six major non-food factors that could be messing with your weight loss, and how you can overcome these saboteurs!
- Stress. It’s no coincidence that as our world becomes more stressful, our population is becoming more obese. When we’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, our bodies hold on to fat. Your stress now may be caused by that project at work or keeping up with the bills, but your body’s reaction dates back to when stress meant life was in danger and the body needed to keep a supply of fat to survive. To combat stress’ effect on your weight-loss efforts, consume food in a relaxed environment. You may not be able to step away from your desk for lunch, but putting up a screen saver and taking a few deep breaths before that first bite lets your body know that you’re safe, and it’s okay to burn off what you’re eating.
- Sleep. Not just the amount of sleep we get, but the times we are sleeping make a difference in how our bodies manage weight. Getting less than six hours of sleep at night increases the hormone that stimulates appetite and decreases the one that tells us when to stop eating. Our hormones also get out of whack if we’re sleeping outside of the hours nature intended. This is why you feel different after a 2 a.m.-10 a.m. sleep time than you do after a 10 p.m.-6 a.m. sleep time, although each are eight-hour periods. Aim to keep a sleep schedule that puts you to bed a few hours after it gets dark, with a wake up time just an hour or two after the sun comes up. This ensures at least six hours of sleep, and allows your hormones to cooperate with your weight-loss efforts instead of working against them.
- NOT Eating. This sounds counter-intuitive, but not eating can cause your body to panic and hold on to everything you do eat. Since a lot of diets involve deprivation, your body will send you signals to seek out the energy and nutrients it’s craving, often leading to binges and bad choices when you finally give in. Listen to your body, and if it’s hungry, feed it! If you’re on a high protein diet and you’re still hungry, your body may be one that needs more carbs or fats, and that’s okay. Add in an avocado, which has fat and a bit of carbs, and see how you feel. We’re all different, and no one can listen to what your body is telling you it needs, except you.
- Movement. It’s no surprise that we gain weight when we don’t exercise enough. Not moving enough in general, however, is what keeps most weight on our bodies. We make thousands of choices each day regarding movement: Standing vs. sitting, walking vs. driving or riding our bikes, taking the elevator instead of the stairs. Our surroundings make not moving very convenient, to the point where we sometimes don’t even notice that we’re becoming more sedentary. We eat for energy, and when we don’t use that energy, our bodies store it for us. Identify three daily movement changes you can make for increased weight loss, without even stepping into a gym.
- Other People. All of us live with, work with and spend time with other people. While we may have the best intentions to get and stay healthy, being around others who don’t share this goal can derail us from losing weight. Many times, people aren’t supportive of our decisions to become healthier because they feel that doing so sends a message that our current self isn’t good enough. To get by this, communicate the positive result of your efforts. Instead of saying, “I’m trying to lose weight,” say, “I’m working on gaining more energy” or “I’m building up my confidence.” This will put your loved ones at ease and increase their support of your weight-loss, since you’re communicating the betterment of who you already are instead of focusing on what you’re taking away.
- Our Own Self-Esteem. Weight loss is challenging, and a process that takes time. So many times we doubt ourselves that we can do it, or feel angry with ourselves when we don’t see results quickly enough. Feeling guilty or that we’re “bad” for eating that cookie is exactly what causes us to finish off the whole bag; we feel we’ve already failed, so we might as well keep going. If you’re following a diet plan set by someone else or written in a book or online, it’s very easy to not reach the goals set for you. The creator of the plan doesn’t know you, your body, your life or your crazy schedule. Instead of following someone else’s plan, set goals for yourself that are realistic and attainable for you. This will ensure much greater weight-loss success and give you even more reasons to be proud of yourself!