There's nothing more frustrating than working hard at the gym, eating right, and investing a lot of time and energy on health goals only to be disappointed by the number on the scale. And it's so easy to beat yourself up, but simply put, your fat may not be your fault! There are a ton of different factors contributing to your weight loss that have nothing to do with willpower or calories.

So when the scale won't budge, it's time to look outside the box and target the underlying conditions or causes that are keeping you stuck. In my book, the New Fat Flush Plan, I uncover many hidden obstacles that can be blocking the path to a healthier you. Here are five things that can help us all to recoup a metabolism that works for us instead of against us:

1. Take the right tests for thyroid function.

Many doctors simply test for the TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), which does not tell the whole story. Many individuals have low thyroid but have normal levels of TSH. A better gauge is to test for T4 and T3 thyroid hormone levels, and to ensure conversion from the inactive T4 to the more active T3, consider shoring up your intake of two minerals: iodine and selenium.

The best food sources for iodine are seaweeds like nori, hijiki, and kombu, preferably from Maine, which is far enough away from the Fukushima radiation contamination of Pacific coast waters. I also recommend one to five drops of Lugol's Solution in 8 ounces of water to those who are not seaweed fans. When it comes to selenium, go for Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, sands mushrooms, or at least 250 mcg of selenium in a non-yeast formula.

2. Oust those obesogens!

Dr. Bruce Blumberg coined this term back in 2004 to describe chemicals like BPA and phthalates (found in products ranging from air fresheners to water bottles to vinyl shower curtains) that act as endocrine disrupters. Obesogens set off a litany of problems including diabetes and weight gain, and these days, they are everywhere in the environment. We all need to do our best to avoid them as much as possible. So get a stainless-steel water bottle that is both phthalate- and BPA-free, get rid of any nonstick pans, and avoid as many canned foods as possible. Consider glass shower doors and natural flooring for a safer home.

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3. Be wary of vitamin D.

More of a hormone than a vitamin, vitamin D has been linked to weight gain in numerous studies. One from Medical Hypotheses linked a D deficiency with commonly experienced weight gain in the winter. Another study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that those who supplemented with D lost more than those dieters who didn't.

The desirable range is 50 to100 mg/mL and you can easily test for D with a simple blood test available through most labs. Make sure to get some sun every day for about 20 minutes with both arms and legs exposed if possible. Sometime between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. are your best bet. You can also take a vitmain D supplement (2,000IU) and include cod liver oil, mushrooms, pastured eggs, and wild-caught salmon in your dietary regimen.

4. If you are a female, be on the lookout for PCOS.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition that affects female hormones like estrogen and progesterone. This often results in cysts, weight gain, acne, and excess hair. To remedy the condition with a nutritional approach, avoid hormone-raised dairy and beef, spike your foods with cinnamon (half a teaspoon per day) and get moving. Exercising for 30 minutes can help with PCOS and make you feel great.

5. If you are a male, raise that testosterone.

One of the safest and most natural ways to increase testosterone levels is to start to include intermittent fasting (eating a late breakfast and early dinner), which can double levels in many males. Also, eat fat. Diet affects sex hormones, and healthy fats like avocado, sardines, and nuts can help raise testosterone levels according to a study in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry.

This year make resolutions you can keep and that will keep you healthy all year long!


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