If you’re a regular reader on this site, you’ve likely made a lot of positive changes already (you cut the gluten, you stopped drinking alcohol daily, you banned sugar from your house, you eat lots of green leafy vegetables), and you have every reason to expect the pounds to fall off for good. But what if they just don’t? What if you are simply stuck and the scale just won’t budge?
There may be a reason — or 10 — you’re not losing weight.
- You’re not sleeping enough. We know it’s an epidemic in the United States. Sleep is a luxury many of us don’t think we can afford. But a lack of sleep causes a rise in our stress hormone cortisol and is linked to weight gain. Try to get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.
- You’re not eating enough. If you are a relatively active person and exercise almost every day of the week, there is a good chance you are not eating enough calories. Undereating sends the body into a state of emergency and you will actually store more fat. It is important to get enough calories to nourish your body.
- You’re eating too much. Yes, this is also possible. Especially when you make the switch to a more ancestral way of eating (no grains, lots of vegetables, some meat and fruit), you may have experienced great weight loss but are now hitting a plateau. When you’re down to those last few pounds, your body simply doesn’t require as many calories, so you may want to adjust your calorie intake.
- You’re always stressed. We mentioned cortisol above. It’s your stress hormone, and when you are constantly in a state of stress, both physically and emotionally, you are much more likely to add on the pounds thanks to the release of cortisol. Stress may also cause you to eat all the wrong foods. Take some time to meditate to relieve some of that stress.
- You fell into the gluten-free trap. You found out gluten is bad and ditched it. But then you replaced it with gluten-free bread, gluten-free cookies, gluten-free muffins and all things convenient. The damage you’re doing to your body stays the same, and you’re still eating way too much sugar. Ditch the gluten-free products and switch to real food only!
- You’re exercising too much. Exercising five or even six days a week can cause serious inflammation in the body and water retention. Also, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, it causes the release of cortisol. If you’re a fitness freak struggling to lose weight, you may want to back off a bit and add in a nice, long walk on your days off instead.
- You’re eating too much dairy. On your quest for perfect health, you found full-fat, raw, delicious dairy. Who can blame you for loving it. But dairy doesn’t agree with everyone, and you may actually benefit from avoiding it for a while to see if that makes a difference on the scale.
- You have a nutrient or vitamin deficiency or a hormonal imbalance you’re not aware of. This one can be a little tricky, and we recommend you don’t experiment on your own. With the help of a nutritional therapist or naturopath, you may find that a deficiency or imbalance is the cause of your inability to lose weight.
- You’re adding muscle. Lifting weights much? Muscles are heavier than fat, so you may in fact simply be building some muscle mass and that’s why you’re not seeing a change on the scale.
- You’ve already reached your ideal weight. Your body may not agree with you about what your ideal weight is. You may have a pretty specific idea of how much you should weigh or what you should look like. But if your body has reached that perfect feel-good homeostasis, at which it performs at its best, then you may have to listen to your body and simply enjoy your life and health.
— Ute Mitchell
Ute Mitchell is a Freelance Writer and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner located in Portland, OR, where she homeschools her kids, cooks healthy meals for her family, and hikes the forests and mountains around the Pacific Northwest. She is an avid CrossFit athlete, and loves to encourage others to live a healthy and active lifestyle.