So many people struggle with weight loss. No matter what anyone tells you, it is never easy. There are always challenges and hardships because in order to lose weight you really do have to change the way you view food, time, yourself and your social habits. Piece of cake, right? The problem is that in addition to changing lifestyle you have to worry about weight loss blockers. These are hidden things that get in the way of your weight loss goals, even when you’re doing everything right. Here are 5 of the most common.
1. Sluggish Thyroid
Low thyroid function has become almost “normal” in our society, simply because it is so common. Your thyroid determines your resting level of energy. It is basically the gland that controls how fast your engine idles, and it does that via thyroid hormones. If these hormones aren’t doing their job properly then the resting idle slows and you don’t burn nearly as many calories or have nearly as much energy to do things like exercise. This makes low thyroid one of the biggest weight loss blockers. You could be at risk of low thyroid function if you have any of these:
- Chilly, get cold easily, cold hands and feet
- Tired, slow moving, slow thinking, sluggish feeling
- Dry skin, dry hair, brittle or coarse hair, puffy looking face
- Depression, lack of motivation, increased need for sleep
Of course the best thing is to have your doctor test your thyroid hormones, but many people experience symptoms of low thyroid, including weight gain or difficulty losing weight, when they are within normal limits. Usually what that means is that your thyroid doesn’t have any major problem, but is slowing down enough to give you warning signals. These things can help to re-balance your thyroid and increase it’s performance:
- Limit your soy intake – excess soy slows down thyroid function
- Increase your iodine – either with a supplement like iodoral, prolamine iodine or kelp supplements or by eating more sea vegetables. Your body can’t make thyroid hormones without iodine and the receptors for your thyroid hormones don’t work without iodine so this is really important.
- Check yourself for wheat sensitivity, gluten sensitivity or celiac disease – dairy sensitivity can also be an issue. Un-managed sensitivities can wreak havoc on your thyroid. If you don’t know how to check those things then read up on it here.
2. Hormone Imbalance
Your thyroid isn’t the only player in this game. Unfortunately, all of your hormones play some role in metabolism, fat distribution and use, hunger, satiety and general weight management. This includes estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, insulin, adrenal hormones and hunger hormones like leptin and ghrelin. You may have these types of hormone imbalances if:
- Your body shape has changed (like from pear to apple) or the areas where you are gaining weight are different
- Your menstrual cycle (in women) or sex drive (both genders) has suddenly changed
- You are seeing weight packing on around the waist, stomach and back
- Your stress level has spiked lately or you’re not sleeping because of stress
- Your blood sugars and triglycerides have been increasing lately
This isn’t a complete list, but it’s the most obvious signs. If this is the case work with your doctor or practitioner to get to the root of the problem. Until you address the hormones the weight isn’t going to go anywhere. Some simple things you can do to help begin to address any hormone problem naturally are:
- Exercise – this is your great regulator and can decrease stress levels, change sugar processing and even help to balance your sex hormones.
- Water – boosting your water intake helps your body to regulate hormones better and to detoxify them more effectively.
- Fiber – increasing fiber allows the hormones that you eliminate via your liver to attach to fiber in the gut and actually be eliminated from the body – you can read more about it here. Without the fiber you tend to pull the hormones back into your bloodstreams to be recirculated.
- Balance your diet – reducing carbs, which are sugars and starches, will help your body to cope with your hormones far more effectively. In the long-term this is one of the most effective things you can do for your weight. Eat frequently and every time you eat make sure you’re getting protein, fiber, low carbs and moderate fat.
3. Food Sensitivities
Eating a food you’re sensitive to raises your resting level of inflammation, keeps your body in a state of panic and makes it much harder to lose weight. Part of the problem is that one symptom of the food sensitivity is a craving for that food (the food you’re sensitive to) that has nothing to do with what your body actually needs, or even hunger. It’s literally an addictive response to the inflammation created by that food. The inflammation and the addiction both help you to pack on the pounds and act as huge weight loss blockers. Finding and eliminating your food sensitivities will not only help you drop those unwanted pounds, but also help reduce any symptoms you may be having. Find out more about eliminating your food sensitivites!
4. Check Your Medicine Cabinet
Drugs are among the guiltiest of guilty parties in the weight loss game. Anti-depressants, steroids, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, and some anti-psychotic medications. There isn’t really a test for this – just think about any medication changes you may have had in the 1-3 months before you started gaining weight. There may be other drugs you can switch to that would give you the same benefits without the extra pounds, but sometimes there aren’t. Talk with your doctor about this one – sometimes you just have to try a few things before you find the one that’s right for you.
5. Poor Sleep.
If you’re not sleeping then you’re not losing weight. It’s just a simple fact. Poor or inadequate sleep causes an increase in hunger, more carb cravings, a decrease in the hormone that makes your body feel “full” and it slows down your ability to lose fat. Basically this means that even if you’re doing everything else right, if you’re not sleeping then you’re going to have a hard time shedding the pounds. Sleep is complex and takes time and work to fix, but here are a few basic tips and if this isn’t enough, check out the sleep post:
- Keep your bedroom DARK and restful. No loud TV, block out lights and even LED lights. Your body really is meant to sleep in the dark.
- Try to begin “winding down” a couple of hours before you actually go to bed. Dimmer light, quieter atmosphere, no work and calming activities like yoga, meditation, reading, journaling or cozy time with your partner are great for this time of day. Did I mention no work? That includes the last minute email checks too!
- Developing a sleep routine can be helpful, almost a sleep ritual. This helps you get into the state of mind for sleep.
- If you are having sleep problems that are more complicated then talk to your doctor or practitioner. Sleep is a big deal and your health and happiness suffer in every way without it.
The biggest thing to remember with weight loss is don’t give up. Sometimes it just comes down to finding that one key to unlocking your body and then the pounds just melt away. I’ve seen it happen many times – one of my patients fixes their inflammation, their hormones, or their sleep and all of a sudden the pounds come off without any other changes. Weight loss blockers can add frustration, create stress and keep you discouraged so if your weight isn’t moving then it’s time to look for the blocks. Just keep trying to listen to the signals your body is sending you!