If you’re on a mission to trim your waistline, it can be extremely frustrating to plateau on your weight loss even if you’re eating quite healthily. But unfortunately, this is a very common occurrence. Many people enjoy initial progress toward their goals, only to be set back by stalled weight loss a few months in. Even more frustrating is never seeing initial results at all, but simply not losing weight despite all of your best efforts. If any of this sounds like you, there are a few issues that may be at play. Here are a few things to consider.
You’re Too Stressed
I know it’s been said time and time again, but maintaining a low-stress mentality is incredibly important for a healthy lifestyle. Stress can even impact your weight. When you have stress in your life, your body responds with a fight-or-flight response, which can be traced back to pre-civilization days when we needed a stress response to keep us safe on the daily. But nowadays, that stress response is triggered by things like busy schedules, meetings, social responsibilities and the like.
When your body experiences stress, it responds by producing a number of hormones, most famously adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol can be a real killer for weight loss goals. It causes the body to retain weight, typically around the midsection. We’ll touch more on cortisol throughout this article, but for now, suffice it to say that de-stressing as much as possible is crucial to weight loss.
So make sure to treat de-stressing activities — such as yoga, massage, sauna time, brunch with your friends, recreational walking and meditation — the same as you treat your exercise routine. It’s tempting to think that exercise is the only physical commitment you’ll have to make in order to achieve weight loss, but this could not be more untrue.
You’re Exercising Too Much
Speaking of exercise, it’s also beneficial to check in with your body to make sure you’re not exercising too much. While exercise is great for weight loss, too much of it triggers that stress response we mentioned above. And with increased stress comes more cortisol, and … you know the story.
You’re Experiencing Adrenal Fatigue
You’re going to quickly notice that the problems on this list are all interrelated, and they all have to do with hormonal health. Your adrenal glands produce a number of the stress hormones that we’ve discussed, so good adrenal health is absolutely necessary for weight loss.
Millions of people suffer from adrenal fatigue, a modern malady that’s essentially caused by too much stress. When your adrenal glands become fatigued, you’ll notice issues such as being constantly tired, experiencing insomnia, suffering from mild depression and constantly craving salty foods.
If you suspect you have adrenal fatigue, you’ll want to focus on three important things: Supporting your thyroid with a healthy diet, de-stressing regularly and cutting back on caffeine (caffeine causes your body to produce more of that tricky cortisol).
You Have a Thyroid Problem
Hypothyroidism can occur as a cause of unchecked adrenal fatigue, but it can also be a hereditary condition. Many of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism are the same, though there are some clues that you have hypothyroidism specifically. Shaking hands, dry skin, fast breathing, nervousness and an increased sensitivity to heat are all indicators of hypothyroidism.
You can check with your doctor to see if this may be a problem for you, and if it is, he or she can recommend treatments. One thing you can do in the meantime is ensure that you’re getting the recommended amounts of iodine in your diet, as the thyroid uses iodine to produce hormones.
You have PCOS
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is more common than you might think, and it often goes undiagnosed. The exact cause of PCOS is still unknown, but it affects women of reproductive age and tends to correlate with weight gain, acne, higher than average amounts of body hair and irregular periods.
Working with a doctor is the best way to help PCOS, but there are also some changes you can make at home if you think this may be an issue for you. A lower-carb, higher-fat diet is helpful for women with PCOS, as reduced carbohydrate intake can decrease inflammation while fats support hormone production. De-stressing, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep, boring as they may sound, are also important for PCOS sufferers — and, in fact, for everyone.