It seems like everyone is struggling with weight loss these days and everyone thinks maybe it’s their thyroid, because that is one of the more known weight loss blockers, but if it isn’t then people tend to get a little stuck. No matter what anyone tells you, weight loss is hard work and there are a number of things that can get in the way. 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? There are so many things that can get in the way of your weight loss goals, here are 5 of the most common weight loss blockers.
1. Sluggish Thyroid – The Best Known Weight Loss Blocker
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 down and you don’t burn nearly as many calories or have nearly as much energy to do things like exercise. You could be at risk of low thyroid function if you have any of these:
- Chilly, get cold easily or cold hands and feet
- Tired, slow moving, slow thinking, sluggish feeling
- Dry skin, dry hair, brittle or coarse hair
- Depression, lack of motivation, increased need for sleep
- Retain water, feel “puffy” or if you press hard on the front of your lower leg your thumb will leave an indentation
- Constipation and slow-moving bowels
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. If you feel that thyroid might be an issue for you then:
- Check with your family members to see if there is any history of thyroid disease – if there is you may be at higher risk.
- Talk with your doctor to see if they’ll run proper thyroid tests.
- Limit your soy intake – soy is known to decrease thyroid function
- Increase your dietary iodine – either with a supplement like 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 – untreated sensitivities can wreak havoc on your thyroid. If you don’t know how to check those things then read up on it here.
- If you’re not finding any balance then it’s a great idea to talk with a naturopathic doctor to get a more personalized solution.
2. Hormone Imbalance
Your thyroid isn’t the only player in this game. Unfortunately for us, all of your hormones play a 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 has suddenly changed (in women)
- 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 ND to get to the root of the problem. Until you address the hormones the weight isn’t going to go anywhere because hormones are huge weight loss blockers. Some simple things you can do to help begin to address any hormone problem naturally are:
- Exercise – this is our 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 it’s hormones better and to detox 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. Without the fiber your body can pull the hormones back into your bloodstream 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 carbohydrates and moderate fat. If you don’t know what foods give you carbohydrates then check out this post on Nutrition 101.
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. In fact, it specifically makes your body hold on to water and fat in an effort to protect it self. Talk about weight loss blockers! 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. 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 HUGE Weight Loss Blockers
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.
Some of the worst weight loss blockers (or drugs that cause weight gain) are:
- Paxil (paroxitine). Alternatives include Prozac (for short-term use) or Zoloft
- Depakote (Valproic Acid). Lithium is a good alternative as a mood stabilizer, but also causes weight gain, just less than Depakote.
- Prozac (fluoxitine) taken long-term. For the first six months studies show prozac generally helps with weight loss, but over long term use that weight often returns with interest.
- Remeron (mirtazipine). Another anti-depressant that is implicated in weight gain, although in the elderly it can be a useful tool to help keep weight on.
- Zyprexa (olanzipine). This atypical anti-psychotic is known to pile on the pounds. Geodon or Abilify are more weight-neutral alternatives.
- Clozaril (clozapine). This weight-gainer is a cousin to Zyprexa.
- Deltasone (prednisone). Prednisone and other oral steroids are potentially the most famous drugs for causing weight gain. The higher the dose, the more likely you are to gain weight. You can help to reduce your weight gain by exercising, drastically reducing sugar and carbohydrate intake while you’re on the drug, and getting off of the medication as soon as medically advisable.
- Elavil, Endep, Venatrip (amitriptyline). Tricyclic antidepressants are used less commonly now, but have historically caused huge weight gain in the people taking them.
- Allegra (fexofenadine) and Zyrtec (cetirizine). As it turns out allergy medicines that act as anti-histamines, can also disrupt an enzyme in the brain that helps to regulate food consumption.
- Diabinase (chlorpropamide), Insulase (also chlorpropamide), Actose (pioglitazone hydrochloride) and Prandin (repaglinide) – these anti-diabetic drugs all stimulate insulin production, which lowers blood sugar and tends to make people hungry – which is really the last thing most diabetics need.
- Insulin – obviously this is necessary for many people with diabetes, but it does promote weight gain so tightly controlling diet and using the lowest necessary dose is helpful.
- Tenormin (atenolol), Lopressor (metoproplol), and Inderol (propranolol) are all beta-blockers and help to control blood pressure, but they also tend to make people more tired and heavier.
- Birth Control Pills – lets not forget these little babies. Many women do not experience this unwanted side effect, but the rest of us tend to gain 10-15 pounds in the first 6 months of use.
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 carbohydrate 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:
- 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 mind frame 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. Just keep trying to listen to the signals your body is sending you, and if you’re not sure then come talk to me about your weight loss blockers.