Trying to lose weight is like trying to grip a wet and slippery bar of soap – the harder you squeeze, the faster it gets away from you. A lot of weight-loss plans or diets fail because of the instant-gratification conundrum: we want to lose X number of pounds now, even when we know in our heads that any viable plan or diet requires planning, patience and perseverance, yet many of us still won’t see immediate results and will abandon it faster than a New Year’s Resolution.
We all want to know: what exactly is it about diets and other weight-loss routines that make it so darn hard for us to lose weight even when we try, try again? Is it our fault when we set out to lose weight but simply can’t? Is our willpower just not strong enough – are we too weak-minded?
Hopefully, you can take some comfort (not to be confused with comfort food) in knowing that our failure to launch pounds out of our bodies involves a number of factors. It takes more than just making a determination to stick to a weight-loss regimen, only to become unglued two weeks into it when we step on a scale and find out we’ve gained a pound or two.
Factors Opposing Our Best-Weighed Plans
It might help to know what we are up against in trying to shed pounds, and it’s not always us against ourselves. Here are some of those weight-loss obstacles we often end up confronting:
- Losing weight isn’t just about eating fewer calories; most overweight people are dealing with a metabolic problem. They feel hungry all the time because, as thebloodsugardiet.com puts it, “The normal feedback mechanisms that tell you that you are full no longer work. Willpower fails because you are up against one of the most basic drives we have, hunger.” Consistent daily exercise will help with that. Note, too, that some foods specifically take aim at increasing your metabolic rate, among them foods packed with protein as well as iron-rich foods. Think, too, about eating more but smaller meals during the day. Get that motor running, and keep it running.
- Insulin resistance. This is what puts individuals on the road to a prediabetic condition; next stop, full-blown diabetes, as in type 2 diabetes in many cases. So, what’s going on here? Or to put it more accurately, what has gone on here? More than likely, years of bad eating habits have forced your body, via the pancreas, to pump out more and more insulin in order to reduce all that fat and sugar you’ve crammed into your body by eating an abundance of fattening food, some of it loaded with sugar, and all of it sending your blood-sugar levels soaring. Hence, your body has become insulin resistant, and that translates to excess fat storage, especially around the stomach area, with abdominal fat. Don’t despair, though: You can bring your blood sugar back down to healthier levels with proper diet and supplementation. If you do that right, you should see the pounds start coming off.
- It’s not just what you eat and how much; it’s also when. First, don’t skip breakfast; that’ll make you all the much hungrier two or three hours later. Eat a healthy breakfast – webmd.com suggests cottage cheese with fruit, or eggs and whole-wheat toast, or Greek yogurt with a banana. The timing of when you eat isn’t just a morning concern, either. Think nighttime as well. Snacking after supper while you watch TV or get absorbed on your computer or smartphone might mean continually grabbing unhealthy munchies. Also, eating dinner much after 6 or 7 p.m. stands to pack on the pounds, regardless how disciplined you are eating-wise earlier in the day. Health experts suggest eating dinner at least three hours before your head hits the pillow; otherwise, you could be looking at boosts to your body temp, blood sugar and insulin.
- Age and gender. First, the latter. Men tend to drop pounds more quickly at first than women, but the ladies show staying power and usually have more success with long-term plans. Ok, the guys can lose belly fat faster than women, who find the extra weight around the middle a bit more stubborn to jettison. As for the age factor, our metabolism starts tapping on the brakes to the tune of about 2 to 8 percent metabolism slowdown per decade. A loss of muscle mass is oftentimes to blame on this one.
- Getting enough sleep? Less sleep a night ordinarily slows the metabolism and means you won’t burn calories as quickly as you’d like. This makes it harder to lose weight, perhaps negating whatever good you did with your diet- and exercise-wise – that day. A study cited by webmd.com says that people getting an insufficient amount of sleep eat about 300 more calories a day than those people who sawed all their logs in peace. Eight hours a night is a good target.
- Could be a thyroid issue. If your thyroid is underactive, you will likely gain weight from the accumulation of salt and water in the body. Suspect a problem? Discuss with your physician.
- Medications. One of the side effects of many prescription drugs is weight gain, and it’s out of your hands. If you take drugs for any of the following conditions, they could be hindering your weight-loss efforts: allergies, birth control, depression, diabetes, epilepsy, high blood pressure, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Again, talk to your doc. He or she might tweak your prescription(s) to help “lighten your load.”
- Lifestyle routines. You probably don’t need to start a spartan bootcamp-mentality just yet with reveille in the morning and taps at night. But you need to take a good look at your daily routines (or lack thereof, i.e. exercise) and leisure-time habits (i.e., TV-watching and/or social media habits) and tighten things up a bit. Managing your time right is key here. Do it right.
- Your surroundings. If you work at least five days a week in an office environment where someone is is always bringing in donuts, cookies, whatever, that can make toeing the line on a diet excruciatingly tough.