After weeks of moving forward with your weight loss plan, you might notice that the scale has stopped moving and your clothes still fit the same.
What is going on?
In truth, there are plenty of habits that might interfere with your weight loss plans, but you may be missing the signs. Let’s see if we can discover the roadblocks on your path to healthy weight loss. Ask yourself the following questions.
Am I eating healthy?
Sometimes, all it takes is the thought of an unsatisfying meal for the “hunger hormone” ghrelin to flood your body. Not only can this hormone slow your metabolism, it can increase your appetite and lower your impulse control if levels are too high.[i] You can keep ghrelin under control by eating satisfying meals that include enough protein and healthy fats.
Am I sitting too much?
We all get focused at work and forget to stand up and move around. But sitting (even for a little while) can decrease an enzyme called lipase (which helps tap into fat stores).[iii] Try setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to take a break every hour or so and walk around. Getting up and moving around not only increases lipase, but also lowers blood sugar and insulin.[iv]
Am I losing body mass?
One of the biggest problems with most weight loss programs is the loss of muscle mass (lean body mass) that comes with calorie restriction. Fight this by making sure you are getting enough protein (especially leucine—an essential nutrient and a building block of many proteins) and by continuing to exercise, both of which help to maintain muscle mass.
How’s my sleep?
People who have a consistent sleep schedule typically have a lower body mass index (BMI).[v] Why? Because getting up and going to bed at the same time each day is one key to a good night’s sleep. And multiple studies have shown poor sleep is associated with weight gain—due to increased cravings and lowered impulse control.
What are my friends up to?
Friends have a big impact on what you eat and don’t eat.[vi] Think about going out to dinner with friends who overindulge—nobody can resist the temptation to join them. Change your approach and invite them to join you on your weight loss journey. You will all be better for it!
What did I bring home?
The time to be vigilant and resist temptation is at the grocery store. Don’t buy foods that are not healthy or on your plan. When you see junk food in your home, you are more likely to eat it, even if you bought it for someone else.[vii]
How stressed am I?
There is almost nothing that will destroy your healthy-eating plan more than stress. Studies show that workplace stress is strongly associated with BMI.[viii] Help keep stress in check by sleeping well, breathing more deeply, and taking breaks from your routine from time to time. You may also want to consider supplements to support a feeling of calm and relaxation.
Time for a gut check?
You might be surprised to learn how much the health of your gut affects weight loss. Multiple studies show that the health of your microbiome (gut bacteria) could influence weight loss and gain.[ix] To aid digestion, you may want to take a probiotic, include fermented foods in your diet, or take digestive enzymes when you need them. You can find more information about digestive health here.
Am I still doing the same old things to try and reach my healthy weight?
Sometimes when you lose more weight than your body is accustomed to, your metabolism decelerates in response and weight loss slows down. If you want to lose more weight, you may need to make additional adjustments to your diet and exercise.
Weight loss is not mysterious if you have the right tools to move forward. Now you can fine-tune your weight loss program and get back on the path to a healthy weight.
[i] Anderberg RH, Hansson C, Fenander M, Richard JE, Dickson SL, Nissbrandt H, Bergquist F, Skibicka KP. The stomach-derived hormone ghrelin increases impulsive behavior. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2016 Apr 1;41(5):1199-209.
[ii] Thomas M, Desai KK, Seenivasan S. How credit card payments increase unhealthy food purchases: visceral regulation of vices. Journal of consumer research. 2010 Oct 6;38(1):126-39.
[iii] Bey L, Hamilton MT. Suppression of skeletal muscle lipoprotein lipase activity during physical inactivity: a molecular reason to maintain daily low‐intensity activity. The Journal of physiology. 2003 Sep 1;551(2):673-82.
[iv] Peddie MC, Bone JL, Rehrer NJ, Skeaff CM, Gray AR, Perry TL. Breaking prolonged sitting reduces postprandial glycemia in healthy, normal-weight adults: a randomized crossover trial. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2013 Aug 1;98(2):358-66.
[v] Wong PM, Hasler BP, Kamarck TW, Muldoon MF, Manuck SB. Social jetlag, chronotype, and cardiometabolic risk. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2015 Dec 1;100(12):4612-20.
[vi] Shimizu M, Johnson K, Wansink B. In good company. The effect of an eating companion’s appearance on food intake. Appetite. 2014 Dec 1;83:263-8.
[vii] Wansink B, Hanks AS, Kaipainen K. Slim by design: Kitchen counter correlates of obesity. Health Education & Behavior. 2016 Oct;43(5):552-8.
[viii] Kivimäki M, Head J, Ferrie JE, Shipley MJ, Brunner E, Vahtera J, Marmot MG. Work stress, weight gain and weight loss: evidence for bidirectional effects of job strain on body mass index in the Whitehall II study. International journal of obesity. 2006 Jun 1;30(6):982-7.
[ix] Ley RE. Obesity and the human microbiome. Current opinion in gastroenterology. 2010 Jan 1;26(1):5-11.