Last Updated on November 12, 2023 by Otuebo Harrison
Losing weight is challenging. Many people will tell you, “It’s calories in versus calories out that counts”—as if your body were a straightforward mathematical equation. In all honesty, everyone would have aced this test if it had been that simple.
“So many additional variables are at work, including as heredity, environment, sleep patterns, and muscle mass, among others. Amy Gorin, RDN, a Stamford, Connecticut-based expert in plant-based diet, asserts that weight management is extremely difficult.
Weight loss is not impossible, but it is undoubtedly tough. The minor victories (eating more vegetables, walking more) should be the main focus. Identifying the obstacles or causes of a plateau by going backward might also be helpful.
If you are aware of these five frequent obstacles, you might be able to stop losing and start winning again.
1. Your Medicine Cabinet Is to Blame
Some drugs can make you gain weight or hinder your attempts to lose weight. The University of Rochester Medical Center in New York lists the following among them: insulin to treat diabetes, specific antipsychotics or antidepressants, some epilepsy treatments, steroids, and blood pressure-lowering medications like beta blockers. These might make you gain weight by interfering with your metabolism, changing your appetite, causing water retention, or making you feel tired and less active.
Talk to your doctor if you or either of you find that you’ve unintentionally put on weight. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, you shouldn’t stop taking your medications just because you’ve put on weight. Your doctor might be able to change your medication or dose in some circumstances. Contact a trained dietitian who can direct you toward making appropriate dietary decisions if that isn’t possible.
2. You Underestimate Your Portion Sizes
Because they are so illogically distributed, portion amounts on packages are a difficulty. Even though there has been a push to make serving sizes on packaging more realistic (such as changing from a half-cup of ice cream to two-thirds cup, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration), it’s still an external guide that has nothing to do with how hungry you are or what your body actually needs.
Gorin advises preparing your meals in advance. “This can be done by either logging your food in a food diary to see how many calories you’re actually consuming, and adjusting portion sizes if needed, or working with a registered dietitian to create an easy-to-follow meal plan,” the expert advises. Mix-and-match meal plans that Gorin has developed cut through the muddle and get rid of ambiguity over portion sizes. Additionally, you have access to a wide variety of meal planning apps. You may track calories, goals, and progress with one well regarded choice called Lose It, which is available for free on Google Play and the App Store.
3. Genetics Aren’t Working in Your Favor
It’s a harsh truth, but you might not be able to pick the body type or form you desire and eat your way to it. According to Jason R. Karp, PhD, the author of Lose It Forever, “genetics matter a lot when it comes to weight, even though people don’t like to hear that.” He draws attention to studies on Swedish twins who were raised either jointly or separately. According to the findings of this and other twin studies, genes are responsible for roughly 70% of the variation in people’s body weight. That’s a significant influence, according to Dr. Karp.
There is also the set-point weight range hypothesis, which states that this is the weight range at which your body is essentially content. If you’re leading a healthy and happy life (i.e., eating nutritiously without deprivation and exercising but not excessively), you might find yourself on this scale. In the event that you attempt to lose weight too much below your set point, “your brain — not your willpower or your conscious decisions — responds to weight loss with powerful tools to push your weight back up to what it considers normal,” claims Karp. The concept of a set point is explained by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, which also points out that modest, steady weight loss is the key to changing your set point.
If you don’t want to gain weight back after losing it, you’re going to have to continue to eat fewer calories, says Karp, and as Beth Israel notes, do it slowly. This means dropping no more than 10 percent of your body weight each six months; for a 160-pound woman, that would be 16 pounds in six months.
If you find this difficult to accept, keep in mind that this understanding can be quite beneficial and even liberating. Instead of blaming yourself because you haven’t achieved a goal weight or aesthetic or because you lack motivation, it can provide you the chance to extend yourself grace for the body you are in. Regardless of the final clothing size you find yourself in, you can use it as motivation to maintain healthy behaviors that make you feel good. According to research published in March 2021 in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, weight-inclusive interventions can enhance blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels as well as body image and self-esteem, as well as various mental health disorders.
A HAES (health at every size) dietician can support you in making this change even if it might need a lot of self-work on your part. To identify subject-matter specialists in your area, use the search engine provided by the Association for Size Diversity and Health.
4. You Overestimate Your Calorie Burn
According to Karp, your eating habits—specifically, how much you eat—are more crucial to weight loss than your exercise routine. However, he adds that “exercise is the secret to keeping weight off.” Exercise encourages the creation of mitochondria within muscles, according to research, which explains why. (According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, mitochondria are the energy center of cells.)
Ultimately, this “makes you a better fat- and carbohydrate-burning machine,” he says. What’s more, says Karp, the people who are successful in weight loss are exercisers. “Most National Weight Control Registry members [those who have maintained weight loss long term] — 89.6 percent of women and 85.3 percent of men — exercise as part of their weight loss and weight-maintenance strategy,” he says.
Gorin claims that exercising shouldn’t be done as a kind of retribution for eating. Exercise is a lovely thing, she says, and it’s a celebration of the movement your body is capable of. A study published in August 2016 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that finding enjoyable ways to engage in physical activity, activities that boost your self-confidence, or activities that include social interaction (if you like) can all help you stick to a routine
5. You’re Getting Older and Losing Muscle
.Women lose muscle as they get older when their estrogen levels start to drop throughout menopause, according to Gorin. In reality, research shows that after the age of 30, muscle mass declines by 3 to 8 percent every decade. The Mayo Clinic claims that muscle burns more calories than fat, therefore this is significant.
According to Gorin, post-menopausal women are more prone to accumulate body fat and require less calories as they age. Additionally, aging-related alterations to fat tissue can cause the body to gain weight, according to a September 2019 Nature Medicine research.
You have control over your health behaviors but not the clock. As long as they develop the essential habits and have a strategy in place for any gaps in behavior that could result in weight gain, adds Karp, “People of any age can lose weight and keep it off.” Making nutrient-rich meals the cornerstone of your diet, avoiding empty calories (such processed and high-sugar foods), and include resistance exercise in your weekly routine to regain lost muscle are all examples of effective practices, according to Gorin.