Did you know that your body is made to survive? That’s right, it is literally built to adapt to thousands of different situations. Your fingers can curve to help you climb better. Your skin gets all prune-like when you swim or take a bath, because that’s how your body adjusts to less friction (it creates its own!). And think about how cold sixty degrees feels after a hot summer, but then after days in the frigid winter air, sixty degrees feels like bikini weather. So, it’s no wonder that our bodies cling to fat, because fat keeps us alive; it keeps us warm, it gives us energy, and it protects our bodies from starvation.
However, in America there is seemingly never a shortage of food. Maybe we run out of bananas for a while, or some other food, but we can generally find something to eat…and for many Americans, we often make it a habit to find way more food than we need. So, let’s take a look at some of the reasons I have found to stall weight loss that keep you from achieving your goals.
- You view hunger pain as an emergency
Your tummy gets all grumbly and along with it, your attitude. Maybe you have been cutting calories for a few days (or longer) and you just feel like you are constantly starving. Well, believe it or not, that’s your body’s way of trying to protect you. When you start to lose weight, your body begins to release a hunger hormone called Ghrelin. In some cases, you DO need to feel hungry and it helps us know when to eat so that we can live, but as many of our body’s are now accustomed to holding extra fat with no way to burn it off (simply because we aren’t as active as our ancestors who literally worked to survive) we feel hungry even when we don’t technically need to eat.
Even though your body needs to be at a certain range of weight to be healthy and fit, it has gotten accustomed to whatever consistent weight you have settled at, and when you try to change that number, Ghrelin hormones come in like a raging fire, telling you that you need to eat or you are going to starve. I’m not going to get into the kind of emotional connection that we should have with food (because food is GOOD and shouldn’t be feared) in this post, so when I say, your hunger is not an emergency, don’t think I mean you should start starving yourself. I absolutely do NOT mean that…but when we try to lose weight, many of us give up because we can’t handle the hunger. So, if you want to actually make it to your goal weight, you have to rest with the fact that you are going to feel hungry, and press on regardless, because albeit annoying, you aren’t going to starve even if you feel like it.
2. You aren’t taking rest days
Rest days are so important. When you rest, your muscles have time to repair and grow after being ripped and torn throughout the week (from whatever training you are doing). When we exercise every single day without a break, we can actually damage our body, causing avoidable injuries, rather than making it stronger by giving it time to heal and repair from all of the strain it’s been under. It is important to make sure you give yourself at least one rest day per week (but two or three is okay!) with plenty of stretching, while keeping your diet on point. A rest day is a day to do regular life tasks (i.e. cooking, cleaning, walking back and forth to the coffee maker…) without adding in cross-training or any other kind of training. Keep the yoga and cross-training for your recovery days, and let your rest days be filled with easy stretches, plenty of water, and lots of colorful produce.
3. You’re letting your emotions take control
Everyone knows what stress eating is, but there’s also happy eating and bored eating and “I just happen to be in the kitchen” eating. There’s nothing like a good binge to derail your goals and leave you feeling even more emotional than when you started binging in the first place. It’s so important that we recognize our emotions and then, rather than trying to just make ourselves feel better with food, find ways to really deal with what we are feeling. It’s okay to feel sad, but feeling sad doesn’t mean we need to scarf down a pint of ice cream (unless it’s Arctic Zero or Halo Top…). Figure out ways to handle your emotions that don’t include food. If you’re bored, go for a walk or read a book. If you’re sad, journal or call a friend. If you’re in the kitchen and you just feel like grazing on food, GET OUT of the kitchen and get creative. And if you just can’t handle it (because sometimes we just need an uplifting snack) stick to choices that won’t make you feel worse (like veggies or fruit, a handful of nuts, or a hunk of dark chocolate).
4. You aren’t prioritizing sleep
Sleep is so, SO important for your health and overall being but somehow it always seems to get pushed to the side. Your body NEEDS sleep. Sleep gives your body time to heal and recover after workouts and it also helps to regulate hormones. When we are tired, we also tend to eat more because our bodies are begging for extra energy and we look to food instead of getting the amount of sleep we actually need. This takes us back to the hunger hormones (Ghrelin and Leptin). When we aren’t getting enough sleep, these hormones spike leaving us prone to overeating (yikes!). Did you know that getting less than six hours of sleep can also increase insulin levels (leaving your body functioning in a similar way as a diabetics body) AND when we are over-tired our cortisol levels increase (stress hormone) and stress makes us feel hungrier as well (and impairs our ability to say no to foods that aren’t good for us). And the worst part…even when we eat we are less satisfied than when we eat after also getting enough sleep.
5. You aren’t outside enough
Did you know getting outside is a natural hunger suppressant? If I am inside all day, I am way hungrier than if I spend most of my time outside playing, working, or exercising. When I am out in the sun (or out in general) I just don’t feel hungry. I feel content, stress free, and full of energy, while also getting the added benefit of soaking up some much needed Vitamin D. When we are happy and content and feeling energized, we don’t reach for unhealthy foods nearly as much. So go on, get outside and play. Your body is begging for it! 🙂
There are a multitude of reasons for why someone might not be losing weight, but hopefully these five weight loss setbacks shed some insight into why you could be struggling personally. It really comes down to giving it your all and making room for mistakes (because those happen to ALL of us) and setbacks (aka life), while knowing that you CAN achieve your goals with a little discipline and a whole lot of self love. You deserve to be the best you that you can be so prepare to give yourself a whole lot of grace on your journey to health (because it’s definitely a journey…not just a day trip). You got this!