Here’s Why You’re Not Losing Weight — And How to Fix It

Ever wonder why despite the fact that the whole world seems obsessed with losing weight, meal replacements, exercise fads, and crazy diets obesity is still on the rise?

Well, I do. I think about it a lot actually, because it’s one of the number one things my patients struggle with.

And while I believe that your weight doesn’t define who you are, it can be an important indicator of health. 

Plus, losing weight can help reverse everything from estrogen dominance to insulin resistance and heart disease.

So why is it so difficult for some people to lose weight?

The simple answer is that we’ve gotten away from traditional, proven diets like the Mediterranean diet or those taught in Ayurveda — but that’s a whole other post.

The more complex answer? We don’t eat enough whole foods, and we allow nutrient-poor, inflammatory ingredients to take up too much space on our plates. We got some bad advice back in the ’80s to completely forego fat and everything just started going downhill from there.

In my book, Built to Thrive, I talk in-depth about the importance of diet and exactly what to eat to get your body back on track.

But before we dive into what to eat, let’s look at some of the reasons why people struggle with losing weight, even if they are trying to do all of the “right” things.

Exercising too much 

If you’re hitting the gym for hours at a time, or participating in super intense High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions on a regular basis, but you still don’t see your weight budge, it’s possible you’re actually over-exercising.

Believe it or not, when we put the body through extremely intense workouts, it can perceive that as stress — and start firing off cortisol. When cortisol levels rise, insulin production is inhibited. When our bodies are becoming stressed like this multiple times a week, insulin resistance can develop and weight starts clinging to our bodies like a toddler with a favorite toy. The more intense exercise, the more the weight sticks. And a vicious cycle that’s hard to get out of ensues.

If this is where you’re at right now, try opting for a bit more gentle exercise routine. Walking has been well studied as an effective weight-loss tool, and yoga can be perfect for burning calories, developing strength, and calming your mind. 

You just have to find what’s true for you and your body. 

Not eating enough

This is another one that I see too often. Patients are trying their best to be “be good” and restrict all the calories like they’ve been told to.

Problem is, the body can also perceive this as stress. And the cortisol/insulin/weight gain dance begins.

Also — once you inevitably get hungry after starving your body for a while, we tend to over-consume junk food and ultimately completely sabotage any of the caloric restriction we’ve been trying so hard to achieve. Plus, if you restrict too much for too long, your metabolism slows down, ultimately making it harder to lose weight.

Rather than try to restrict an insane amount of calories, try eating just a tiny bit less than you normally would. Once you see your weight adjust downward, cut a little more from your plate. And be sure to eat lots of vegetables. Don’t be afraid to put some olive oil on them, either. Like I explain in Built to Thrive, the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest in the world, and it includes tons of veggies and olive oil. It’s a very satisfying way to eat that won’t leave you feeling hungry.

Eating too often

Every time we eat, insulin levels rise. When insulin levels are high, we aren’t burning fat. When we are constantly grazing on food, snacking every couple of hours, we never allow our bodies to get into a state where insulin levels are low. Hence, the weight gain.

Don’t listen to advice that tells you to eat frequently to keep metabolism high. It just isn’t how your metabolism works. Your body needs time to digest the food you eat before it’s ready for more. 

You’ll have much more luck eating only 2-3 times a day and giving your body a nice long break from digesting food overnight. I like to shoot for 12-13 hours, eating dinner around 7 PM and breakfast at 8 AM.

Insulin resistance and weight loss

In this article on the causes of fatigue, I talk more in-depth about the effects of insulin resistance. It’s a very dangerous condition because there are so few obvious symptoms.

One of the telltale symptoms can be weight gain. If weight is creeping up on you and won’t budge even when you feel like you’re doing all the right things, it can be a sign of insulin resistance. 

Be sure to get your blood sugar levels checked out if you suspect insulin resistance may be affecting your weight loss efforts. 

If we can catch insulin resistance before it becomes full-blown diabetes, we can reverse it. Schedule a call with me here to talk about your options. 

Eating inflammatory foods

This is the biggest culprit I see when it comes to weight loss.

Our society has made way too much room for sugars, and packaged, processed foods in our diet. Our produce is sprayed with dangerous chemicals, and our meat and dairy are often filled with antibiotics and hormones.

While our bodies naturally have the ability to detox some of these offenders, when we are overwhelmed with these inflammatory ingredients, our body just can’t fight everything off. The liver becomes unable to filter out all of the toxins we’ve ingested, and inflammation and weight gain ensue.

Luckily, this is a pretty easy change to make.

First, I recommend eating organic foods when at all possible. 

And while I believe that no one diet is right for everyone, the Mediterranean diet —  which is full of plants, healthy fats, plenty of fiber, and occasional high-quality meat protein sources — is a pretty good starting point for most patients looking for a diet that promotes optimal health and weight loss.

So — to recap, here are my top ways to start losing weight today (without starving):

  1. Indulge in regular, gentle exercise — don’t overdo it!
  2. Don’t starve yourself — cutting just a few calories over a longer period of time will get you sustainable results.
  3. Only eat a few times a day — and give your body a nice long 12-13 hour break from eating at night.
  4. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet — include lots of whole foods — vegetables, nuts, seeds, fiber, healthy fats, and high-quality protein in your diet.

I’d love to know, what’s your favorite way of keeping your weight in check?

Head over to my Instagram page and tell us all about it! The more we share, the more we all learn — and the healthier we get!


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