You've kicked the soda habit, tossed the junk food and you're making regular appearances at your local gym. But the number on the scale just won't budge--or worse, it keeps creeping up. What gives? Here are a few unexpected factors that could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
If you take medication for a mood disorder, seizures, migraines or diabetes, they could be interfering with your ability to lose weight and keep it off. Some allergy medications and beta-blockers for cardiac issues can also slow down weight loss. It's important to remember, though, that you should never abruptly stop taking something you've been prescribed by a doctor. Instead, speak with your doctor about your prescriptions and the possible side effects. He or she can usually offer alternatives that won't work against your weight loss.
Certain medical conditions
Some medical conditions can also cause you to hold on to or gain weight, despite your best efforts.
For example, a sluggish thyroid can slow your metabolism. Polycystic ovarian syndrome interferes with insulin levels in a way that can make it hard to lose weight. Cushing's syndrome ups your body's production of cortisol, causing weight gain around the midsection. Insulin resistance affects your body's ability to use insulin properly, increasing glucose levels and making you more susceptible to weight gain. If you think a medical condition could be to blame for your weight woes, schedule an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation.
The same changes responsible for menopause symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings and night sweats could also be to blame for lackluster weight loss. Studies have shown that changes in hormone levels cause the body to store more fat cells in the abdomen, leading to that unwanted belly fat. Metabolism also slows during menopause, causing some women to gain around 10 pounds on average. To help encourage weight loss after menopause and keep your metabolism up, do something physically active for around 20 minutes every day, and try cutting back on sugar, processed snacks and junk food.
It's great if you have supportive friends that motivate you in your weight loss goals. But if you have the kind that would prefer you join them for a beer after work rather than hit the gym, they could be derailing your plans. Researchers from Harvard found that if a friend becomes obese, than your chance of becoming obese goes up by 57 percent. Why? Researchers seem to think it has to do with social norms: being overweight is more acceptable if your friends are overweight. To stay on track, surround yourself with people who encourage healthy habits.
The impact stress can have on your weight is twofold. Stress not only ups your cortisol levels, leading to an increase in appetite, but it can also lead to emotional eating, often causing us to reach for high-fat, carb-heavy comfort foods like pizza, sweets and chips. Stress can also keep you up at night, and several studies have shown strong links between weight gain, obesity and lack of sleep. Exercise is a great way to keep both your stress and weight in check. Try calming yoga moves, a short walk on your lunch break or some stress-busting cardio kickboxing.
If you're not happy with the number on the scale, take stock of any habits that may be working against you--like skipping breakfast, not getting enough sleep or losing track of what you're eating and drinking throughout the day--and then adjust accordingly. And remember: real, lasting weight loss isn't about temporary diets and dropping pounds fast. It's about investing in your health for the long haul, and being proud of the small changes you're making to better yourself.
Dr. January Hill, bariatric surgeon at Coliseum Northside Hospital, says that many people struggle to lose weight on their own and there are resources that can help. "Many people find that weight loss is difficult to achieve on their own. They try countless diet and exercise programs, but can't seem to be successful. One tool that is available is weight loss surgery; it's a safe and effective option for people who haven't been able to do it on their own."
She says that there are many benefits to weight loss surgery. "Once someone loses weight, their overall health improves. I've seen patients come off blood pressure and diabetes medications. I've seen heart health improve and arthritis pain go away. I've seen patients get pregnant who were previously struggling with infertility. Not only do patients typically feel better about the way they look, they have peace of mind because of how they feel."