If you're on a weight-loss mission, you might be stalling or coming up against roadblocks that leave you confused and dispirited. Especially with all of the diets and information, it can be hard to tell what's happening inside your body.
More often than not, falling back into habit is to blame—even if it's a new habit. Sometimes the body hits a plateau after doing the same thing for a while. Even if it initially helped you reach a fitness or wellness goal, it may be time to change once again. The body learns to adapt quickly, so without constant change and from a dietary and fitness standpoint, you'll see slowed progress.
But before you start eating less and training harder—which can also hinder your success—here are six things that could be going wrong and how to fix them.
1. You don't eat whole foods.
The problem: To lose weight and gain optimal health, your body needs adequate nutrients. Consuming natural protein, carbohydrates, and fats in their whole food form provides the most vitamins and minerals to fuel your body.
The solution: Even if you restrict calories, a diet comprised of processed foods, snack bars, and weight-loss shakes is unsustainable for fat loss and optimal hormone health. Here's a clean eating shopping list with plenty of ideas and variety.
2. You eat too often.
The problem: Hormones strongly influence fat loss and lean body mass. Your body needs to be sensitive to the hormone insulin. Each time you eat, insulin rises. Eat too often, and insulin stays chronically elevated. As you may ignore calls or texts from someone who excessively contacts you, your body says, "I'm bored with insulin," and ignores the messages it communicates to your body.
One of the quickest, easiest ways to lose weight is to eat more infrequently. When you're not eating, your body uses stored body fat to sustain you.
The solution: So experiment with an eight to ten hour eating window, like 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and increase your gaps between meals to four to five hours. Over a 24-hour period, you'll fast for long time periods, mainly while sleeping. And you'll give your digestive system at least three hours to run a cleaning wave before your next meal.
3. You eat too much.
The problem: Although obvious, it's easy to consume excessive energy from salad dressings, liquid calories, nut butter, and cooking oils.
The solution: These don't need to be avoided; just exercise caution because they're calorie-dense foods. Aim for a palm-size portion of protein, a fist size of carbs, and no more than a dessert spoon of added fats (for cooking or dressing food). If you're extra hungry, add salad and vegetable sides to fill your plate.
4. You don't move enough.
The problem: If you drive to work, sit all day at a desk, and return home to crash on the sofa for Netflix marathons, you're inviting insulin resistance (which induces weight gain).
Although you might exercise a few times a week, set a timer on your phone every hour to do 10 to 20 burpees, jumping jacks, air squats, or push-ups.
The solution: Try walking as part of your commute or during the lunch hour. Play with your kids. Clean the house. Garden. Volunteer to walk someone's dog. And get a movement tracker if you need accountability.
5. You don't relax.
The problem: Modern lifestyles are stressful. Prolonged elevated cortisol increases fat storage and affects your reproductive and thyroid hormones—which need balancing to support weight loss.
Your body will also crave quick energy sources to fuel the "stress response"—often via an insatiable desire for sugar that overcomes even lithe strongest of willpower.
The solution: So take time out to do deep belly breathing using the Pranayama breathing app. Try yoga. Or use a guided meditation like Headspace. Drive in silence or with classical music. Or simply turn off all electronic devices for 10 minutes.
Small daily habits that induce relaxation lower your stress hormones, improve your sleep, rebalance your body, and transform your hormones in minutes.
6. You're inconsistent.
The problem: As a naturopathic nutritional therapist, I see clients adopt a healthy approach during the week before "anything goes" throughout the weekend: bad food, alcohol, late nights, and sleeping in.
The solution: Remember that Monday to Friday is about 40 percent of your week. If you have a lot of weight to lose or lofty fitness goals, be more consistent while you improve your hormone sensitivity. Consistency means throughout the year, not just January or two weeks before your vacation. Otherwise, your body will become tired of the constant abuse and not respond to quick fixes.
For more ideas, see what this holistic nutritionist eats in a day.