Have you tried and tried to lose weight but never seem to get anywhere? Maybe you find that you can lose weight for a short amount of time, a few weeks or even months, but eventually that weight creeps back on, and sometimes even plus some!
Trying to lose weight can be incredibly difficult, made even more so if you are fighting against one of the weight loss barriers below. Check out these top ten barriers to weight loss and start to make changes today that can help you overcome them.
1: Thyroid problems
Your thyroid is a gland in your neck that produces hormones that help regulate many processes in your body, including your metabolism. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) means that not enough of these hormones are produced, and the result can be a lower metabolism and weight gain or inability to lose weight.
If you have been trying to lose weight and are confident that it’s not diet or lack of exercise that is the problem, why not pay a visit to your doctor and have your thyroid levels checked with a simple blood test? If your thyroid is found to be underactive your doctor will be able to suggest an appropriate treatment strategy, such as medication.
Are you constantly under the pump? Do you find that you worry a lot? Or maybe you just find that despite your best efforts to plan ahead, that unexpected emergencies keep popping up that you are forced to respond to.
You may not know that stress can affect your weight. When you are stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol. The result is higher levels of insulin circulating in your system, which in turn causes those blood sugar crashes which get you craving sweet or fatty foods, and overeating.
While there is only so much you can do to prevent life intruding on your day, you can however manage the way you respond to stressful situations. Techniques like taking ten long deep breaths, meditating for 10-15 mins, exercising daily in some way, listening to soothing music, and getting out in nature can all help decrease cortisol.
Something that you may not have considered as a factor in preventing you from losing weight are any prescription medications that you are taking. Common culprits include contraceptive medications, some diabetic medication, and antidepressants.
If you suspect this may be getting in the way of your weight loss, ask your doctor about alternative medication you could trial that could have less of an effect on your weight.
4: Poor sleep habits
Who would have thought that sleep could play such a large role in your weight? Turns out that not getting enough sleep, or having poor quality of sleep, can affect hormones in your body that make you feel hungrier. It can also affect how well your mind works, making you less capable of making good decisions and more likely to give into quick fix impulses- like grabbing a cookie to give you an energy boost.
Strategies to improve both the total hours of sleep you log, plus the quality of sleep include having the same bedtime and wake up times every day of the week, minimising screen time right before bed, avoiding caffeine after 3pm, using blackout blinds or curtains to keep the room dark, and exercising on a daily basis.
5: Healthy but high calorie foods
This may come as a surprise, but not all foods that are healthy are going to be appropriate for a weight loss meal plan. Some foods that are packed full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and are healthy can also be incredibly high in calories. Things like nuts, dried fruit, avocado, healthy oils are some examples.
Rather than adding these types of foods to the no-no list, instead take a more balances approach, and when you do include these healthy foods in your diet, just make sure the portion is appropriate so that you aren’t going over board with calories.
Be aware as well that exercise rarely compensates for diet unless you are training for hours every day, and most people overestimate how much energy they burn in a workout.
6: Joint pain
Being in pain all the time, and therefore feeling you are not able to exercise, is one of the top barriers reported by our clients for weight loss problems, and not without merit. Not only does pain make movement difficult, but constant pain also affects mood and decision making which affects eating behaviours.
Speak to your doctor about which treatment options could help you, such as regular physiotherapy, strapping, braced, anti-inflammatory medication, topical creams, remedial massage or hot/cold treatments. Then seek out a physical trainer who has experience in exercises to work around joint pain, or look for workouts that minimise pressure on your joints such as hydrotherapy, swimming, or seated/bed exercises.
Don’t forget, weight loss comes mostly through diet changes, so even if you aren’t able to exercise at all, you may still be able to lose weight through dietary changes alone. Once your weight has decreased, you may find this eases pressure on joints and movement becomes easier for you.
7: Long/irregular work hours
It’s incredible how many of us work long hours, do regular overtime, or work shift work and so find it hard to plan a regular time slot where they can exercise. The number of people who are skipping lunch, eating at their desk, or working right through their lunch break is rising as well.
One strategy to work around this are to park a distance away from your work, so that you get a 15 minute walk there and back no matter what time of day you start or leave. Another is to go for a work on your lunch break, even if it’s just for 15-20 mins. You could also wake up 20-30 mins earlier and get your workout of of the way so that staying back late or logging big hours won’t get in the way of exercise.
For shift workers, doing a little planning ahead for the week and looking at your shifts and ways you can get moving around those times can be helpful. Don’t forget- exercise actually makes you more productive, make better decisions, and help with with concentration so you may find you are spending less time fixing mistakes or struggling with sluggish thought processes… and maybe even getting out of there on time.
Ahh this old gem, and one that I doubt any of us could say isn’t an issue, at least some of the time. What might help is to understand that motivation isn’t so much a result of a lack of willpower as you might think, but instead is affected by a huge number of other factors such as our blood sugar levels, how much sleep we had, how much we have worked good decisions into our regular routine, what resources are available to us, and how many other decisions we had to make that day.
Some great strategies to keep motivation chugging along consistently are to take care of your body, eating nutritious low GI foods, and moving on a regular basis. You also want to automate as many things in your day as you can so that you aren’t reaching “decision fatigue”.
An example of this might having a set meal plan, plus making the decision to walk every morning at 5:30am no matter what, so that you aren’t going through the whole “should I get up now or later?”, “should I exercise today or tomorrow?”, “should I exercise this morning or this afternoon?” dilemma every morning. That’s three decisions you’ve just saved yourself.
9: Lack of time
People are busy, you I’m sure are too. Sometimes it feels that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, and in fact there aren’t! But there is always enough time to get the most important things done, and making the decision that your health is a priority can help.
You might find that if you schedule healthy behaviours like working out, shopping for healthy food, or planning your week into your calendar, you will find a way to work out the rest in the time left over.
Keep in mind that often things take a lot less time that what we think they will, and that the more often you do something, the easier it becomes and the less time it takes. Planning a week of meals might take an hour the first time, but after a few weeks you might find it’s only 5-10 mins because you have all the recipes already.
The last barrier which is often overlooked is the support of the people around you. Perhaps it’s the opinion of a family member that you are fine just the way you are, or another who doesn’t want the changes you are making to intrude on their way of life. It could be a negative coworker, or even just a friend who are themselves unmotivated and this rubs off on you.
Getting the support of those around you and being specific about why you are doing this (to feel healthy, get fit, or ward of lifestyle related disease), as well as the ways they can help you. Being encouraging, not bringing tempting unhealthy foods home, keeping you accountable are some great ways your support network can help.