Would you believe there are 18+ reasons why weight loss is so difficult? Billions of dollars are spent each year telling you how easy weight loss is. If you “buy this” or “do that” the pounds will miraculously melt away.
Any woman who’s gone on a diet knows it’s not that simple and there’s no such thing as a weight loss shortcut.
Today we’re looking at 9 reasons weight loss is hard and where applicable, what you can do.
Why Weight Loss is Tough - part 1
The Weight of Stress
Stress is something we’ve all experienced and you likely know what causes you “stress”. When something happens that’s out of your control, challenging, overwhelming, or disruptive you “stress out”.
There are two main stress categories, emotional and physiological.
- Emotional stress could happen because of a conflict with people at home or work or because you’ve lost someone close to you.
- Physiological stress occurs when you’re sleep deprived, chronically ill, hungry, or withdrawing from drugs.
The longer you remain “stressed” the more negatively it impacts your health and weight.
Because of the hormones released in response to stress. You’re probably familiar with two of them, cortisol and insulin.
Cortisol levels increase in response to stress and stimulate insulin release. Part of the problem is cortisol can remain elevated when you’re experiencing chronic stress and long after the original stress has passed.
The reason cortisol and insulin are released is to provide you with enough energy to slay your “stress dragon”. This leads to increased appetite and craving for highly palatable foods (ie junk).
The insulin/cortisol combo also leads to storage of fat around the midsection. The more cortisol your body releases in response to stress, the more likely you are to gain weight, and the harder it will be to lose that weight.
What can you do about this?
Sleepless Weight Gain
There’s a reason God made sleep – we require it. Sleep is an important regulator of hormone function and glucose metabolism (making energy from stored, non-carbohydrate sources).
Sleep loss has been shown to cause:
- decreased glucose tolerance,
- decreased insulin sensitivity,
- increased evening cortisol levels,
- increased levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone),
- decreased levels of leptin (the full hormone), and
- increased hunger and appetite.
Because of this, studies have shown that weight gain and obesity risk increases the less we sleep.
Sleep less than 7 hours each night and you’ll likely gain and struggle to lose weight. Deprive yourself of sleep and your ability to steer clear of unhealthy food goes down and snacking on junk food between meals goes up.
If you’re not getting 7-9 hours of good quality sleep each night, you need to be. Take a look at the tips for getting a good night’s rest we have in this post here.
Medications are another reason weight loss may be out of your control.
Some medications can:
- increase your appetite,
- slow down your metabolism
- alter how your body stores and absorbs nutrients and sugar
- make you tired or short of breath so you’re less likely to be active
- cause you to hold onto extra water weight.
Some of the medications that contribute to weight gain include:
If you’re on any of these medications, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your need for the medication.
Medical Conditions & Weight
Stubborn weight and weight gain may actually be a sign that something in your body isn’t working correctly. There are several medical conditions and diseases that may be to blame.
Some of these include:
This one is worth celebrating as any extra weight is a reminder that your body carried and supported life as God formed a little human inside of you.
That’s a big deal.
Every woman goes through childbirth differently.
Some gain little weight and lose it all rapidly after delivery. Others gain a lot of weight while pregnant and never lose it all and some only hang onto weight after having several children.
Regardless of how your body responded to pregnancy, it responded the way God knew it would.
Look at your belly, hips, thighs, breasts, and rear and remember the role they played in supporting the life God created inside of you.
Those changes are changes worth celebrating.
Sedentary Weight Gain
Our bodies were created to move. Modern society spends much of it’s day sitting in one position.
A recent study found that American’s sleep or sit through most of the day and another discovered we expend (use up) several hundred calories less than we did in the 1960’s.
If you’re obese, research shows you only get a little more physical activity than bed ridden people. Ikes!
It’s a vicious cycle, inactivity leads to weight gain that leads to more inactivity.
Solution? Start moving.
If you’ve been sedentary for awhile, start small.
- Take the stairs whenever possible,
- find the furthest parking spot,
- take walking breaks at work, and
- start going on walks throughout your day.
Loss of Muscle Mass
Weight loss isn’t just about the number on the scale. It’s about losing fat and gaining muscle.
If you’re trying to lose weight and aren’t eating properly or using your muscles, your body will lose muscle and not fat.
Our number two reason for difficult weight loss, sleep, is another reason you’ll lose muscle and not fat.
To ensure that loss of muscle mass isn’t contributing to your stubborn weight be sure to:
- Eat enough protein
- Eat whole foods and lots of fiber
- Do resistance exercise to work your muscles.
- Give your muscles time to recover.
- Get enough sleep.
This is what’s often thought of as the only contributor to weight. It isn’t.
But eating more than your body needs can cause a person to gain weight.
The easiest way to resolve this, if it’s the only reason you’ve gained and been unable to lose weight, is to eat less. This works for some and doesn’t work for others.
There are 18+ reasons that the ‘ol calories in/calories out method of weight loss doesn’t always work.
If you think this is the only reason you’re struggling with weight:
- Download the Cronometer app and begin logging everything you eat and drink for the next 3-5 days.
- Cut your calories back based on the calculations Cronometer gives.
This is not a perfect science but it’s a place to start and something you can do on your own.
Not eating enough food
This reason always baffles people but it’s true. It’s tricky because it involves:
- metabolism changes,
- actual quantity of food eaten, and
- knowing what your body truly needs.
It’s difficult to always know how much you’re eating and most tools we have to measure calories are far from accurate.
Food labels, the things we rely on for nutrient information, can be wrong by 20-30%.
Then there’s your metabolism. When you eat less than your body needs, your metabolism slows down and you absorb more calories from the food eaten.
That’s just one little part of the many changes your metabolism makes over the course of a day, week, or month.
Take a look at this graphic showing the things that impact body weight and metabolism. Good luck controlling all of that!
If you think you aren’t eating enough, follow the steps above and see if it doesn’t shed some light onto your stubborn weight.
I’ll say it again and again.
It’s not your clothing size that matters, it’s the size of your heart.
If there are things above you know need improving, put the steps in place but…consider “why” you’re wanting to improve in those areas.
- Is it to be a certain size?
- Feel better?
- Enjoy time and activities with your children?
- Be able to do activities without wearing out?
- Be a better example to those around you?
There are countless reasons for weight loss. Just make sure things like pride, vanity, and self-worth aren’t your reasons. Weight loss will never satisfy those desires.
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what God wants for you and ask Him to give you the strength to carry it through to completion.
Weight loss isn’t easy.
It’s a slow steady journey that’ll have peaks and valleys, joy and suffering. Keep your eyes on the Lord and do all you do for His glory.
We’d love to hear about your journey. Leave us a note in the comments below or send us an email here.
Next week we’ll finish this Bitter Weight Loss Journey.