The billboards. The radio advertisements. The over-the-top informercials. They all feed into that one huge misconception: that losing weight is easy. “Don’t diet! Lose 20 pounds in 20 days by taking this magic pill!”
The sad part is that some of us actually believe that a magic pill exists. So we continue to seek out the newest “breakthrough” in the diet industry. I certainly was one of those people. I tried to lose the same 10 pounds for 10 years. I tried the new crazy fad diets and magic pills and failed miserably. I felt like nothing worked. I hated that I couldn’t lose those dang 10 pounds. I felt defeated and discouraged. It wasn’t until I really dialed into my own healthy living habits that I was finally able to get that scale to move.
“Losing weight is about calories in vs. calories out.” Partially true. But calories are only part of it. If you are hitting a wall with your weight loss efforts, there are several factors that may be holding you back. Of course food and eating play a role, but exercise, supplementation, and your overall well-being must also be factored in.
1. You’re Not Chewing Your Food.
Sounds silly, but if you are simply swallowing without chewing, this indicates two problems. First, you are eating too fast, therefore you are probably overeating. Secondly, you are putting too much stress on your digestion. When you eat and swallow without chewing properly, your digestive system must work extra hard to break down your food, which slows your metabolism. How to fix this? Slow down and chew your food until it is almost smoothie-like.
2. Your Digestion And Absorption Is Not Optimal.
Some may say that “you are what you eat”, but I like to say that “you are what you digest”. If you are not digesting properly, you are missing out on key nutrients to keep your body in optimal health. If you are consuming a large amount of processed foods, your digestive system is again working in overdrive to try and properly digest these foods. The more processed foods you consume, the less nutrients you are absorbing, and the hungrier you become. It is a vicious cycle! How to fix this? Eat cleaner, eliminate food intolerances you may be having (like dairy or gluten), and start every day with warm lemon water (which helps to aid in digestion).
3. You’re Eating The Right Foods, But In The Wrong Order.
If you constantly have bloating or gas, but you know that you are eating healthy, then you should take a good look at the order in which you are consuming certain foods. All foods digest differently. Beef, for example, can take up to 3 days to move through your digestive system. On the other hand, fruit only takes 30-60 minutes. So if you’re the type of person who likes to eat a big bowl of fruit salad after a large meal – stop! If you eat fruit right after a large meal, it will sit on top of everything else and start to ferment – that’s where the bloating and gas come from. How to fix this? Always consume fruit alone, or first. Don’t consume a large amount of fruits and veggies AFTER a heavy meal.
4. You’re Not Taking The Right Supplements.
A lot of us assume that we don’t need supplements – we can just eat healthy. The reality of it is, especially if you are dieting, you are missing out on key nutrients that will aid with your weight loss. Vitamin D and Calcium aid in losing weight, and Omega-3’s (think high-quality fish oils) enable weight loss by switching on enzymes that trigger fat burning. In addition, Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes are crucial for individuals that have digestive issues (Happy Tummy = Healthy Body). How to fix this? Consume a high-quality multivitamin that covers the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
5. Your Body Desperately Needs A Reset.
If you’re feeling low, tired, moody and your every day diet includes coffee, alcohol, sugars, or highly-processed foods, then you need to give your body a break! When your liver is sluggish it struggles to process toxins and your whole body slows down (including your metabolism!). This leads to toxic build-up and will inevitably cause weight-gain. How to fix this? Start a 3-5 day cleanse that includes smoothies, low-glycemic snacks, fruits and vegetables and excludes sugar, alcohol and caffeine (Note: a “liquid only” cleanse is not recommended – I believe you just get too hungry, and you don’t want to starve yourself).
6. You’re Not Sleeping Enough.
When you sleep, you are allowing your body to repair itself. If you are not getting enough sleep, your body is not able to recuperate adequately, therefore you are not recovering from your workouts, you are causing yourself more stress, and then the cycle repeats itself! How to fix this? Aim for 7-9 hours of consistent, uninterrupted sleep nightly.
7. You’re Too Stressed.
This goes hand-in-hand with sleeping enough. When you are constantly stressed, your body tends to have high cortisol levels. High cortisol is linked to blood sugar imbalances and weight gain, particularly around the midsection. If you are trying to lose weight around your stomach, you must tackle your stress levels first! How to fix this? Find an outlet to de-stress: start a journal, meditate, take a bath, get a pedicure, take a mini-vacation, do yoga, etc.
8. You’re Over-Exercising.
If you are trying to work out every single day for several hours a day, slow it down a bit. If you are exercising too much, you are putting a lot of stress on your body, which leads to inflammation. Inflammation is not good for your health and will slow down your weight loss efforts. How to fix this? Quit the daily cardio sessions. Cut back to 4 times per week and switch to a less aerobic exercise like weight training.
9. You Haven’t Found An Exercise You Love.
This is a nice way of saying that you’re not working out enough. If you feel like you “hate” exercise – you are not alone! I too hated exercise because I realized I was trying to force myself into running (which is not for me). The good news is that there are so many different types of workouts out there to choose from. No matter what you decide, just make sure you are moving your body! How to fix this? Step outside your comfort zone and make it a goal to attend one new class per week that you’ve never tried before (or try out a new workout DVD).
10. You Have’t Adequately Discovered Your WHY.
You need to pinpoint the reasons behind why you are wanting to lose weight and get healthy. Simply saying you want to “lose 15 pounds” isn’t enough motivation to say no to a red velvet cupcake….you have to identify a real WHY behind your weight-loss journey. Do you want to lose 15 pounds to feel comfortable on the beach on your family vacation this summer? Or do you want to lose 15 pounds so you can run around with your son? Pinpoint the real reasons. How to fix this? Sit down and write out all the reasons behind WHY you want to lose weight and get healthy.
11. You Don’t Have The Support Of A Like-Minded Tribe.
Losing weight on your own is difficult. It is easy to call it quits when you don’t have a support system in place. A like-minded tribe shares the same visions and goals as you do. Your like-minded tribe helps you with getting healthy because they motivate you, identify with your failures (because nobody is perfect), and they prove the plausibility of success – other people in your group prove to you that losing weight really is possible! How to fix this? Find a local group on meetup.com or join a Facebook group.
12. You Know What To Do, But You Don’t Know How To Do It.
I think we are all a little bit guilty of this. You know what you should be doing, but you have no idea how you should be implementing it. You know you should be eating healthy, but you don’t know where to start. You know you should be making changes, but you don’t know how to get there. How to fix this? Find a nutrition program that focuses on the core principles of sustainable weight loss and healthy living.