Let’s face it. Losing weight is tough. We all try to drop the pounds with various fad diet plans and exercise routines. There are so many weight loss methods out there to try, ranging from the easy to the extreme. So many of us keep trying these methods and are not losing the weight.
With any weight loss plan, certain roadblocks can get in the way of true weight loss.
If you’ve tried and failed to lose weight, do you know why it’s just not working?
- Too Many Calories
One of the simplest factors in dieting and weight loss is calories. To lose weight, we need to burn more calories than we take in, and calorie counting can help keep a diet on track. The problem is many people grossly underestimate their calorie intake or simply don’t keep track and consume too many. A JAMA study from 2008 showed that study participants, when eating out, underestimated the calorie counts of popular menu items by hundreds of calories. Even with calorie counting and labeling is now more common, underestimating your intake by a few hundred calories each day could make it very difficult to shed those pounds.
- Too Many Processed Foods
Sometimes, the problem isn’t the quantity, but the quality of the calories. Highly processed foods, even those labeled as “healthy,” often contain additives and other unhealthy ingredients that can impede weight loss. Processed foods include frozen meals, meal replacement bars, sugary drinks, packaged snacks and other foods that are often low in fiber but very high in salts, fats and sugars. Whole foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, are high in fiber and vitamins without all the extra additives that can quickly derail a diet plan. Processed foods are convenient and often cheaper, but replacing them with more fresh, whole foods will help any weight loss plan achieve greater success.
- Not Enough Cardio
Cardio refers to cardiovascular or aerobic exercise and includes any activity that gets the heart pumping. Just as many people underestimate their caloric intake, many also overestimate calories burned through exercise. This combo can significantly slow down weight loss progress.
Completing a difficult workout can lead you to feel that you’ve burned more calories than you actually have. The problem can also be simply not exercising enough. Running, swimming and biking are all great ways to increase the heart rate and burn those calories. These types of exercise are also good at boosting overall health and getting rid of that stubborn belly fat. The amount of cardio needed to lose weight can vary depending on several factors, but in general, at least 30-45 minutes of cardio three to five times weekly is recommended.
- No Weightlifting
While cardio workouts are one of the best ways to lose weight, if you’re not doing any weightlifting or strength training, it could be hurting your results. Weightlifting and other forms of resistance training are what builds muscle mass. This type of exercise helps you gain a muscular, toned physique, and the increased muscle mass boosts your metabolism to help you burn calories faster. A combination of both cardio exercise and strength training is best for a weight loss plan.
- Sugary Beverages
Most of us know that we need to decrease sugar to lose weight and may have already cut back on desserts and treats. But many sweet beverages are sneaky culprits, foiling our diet plans. Some are more obvious like sodas and fruit punch, but other beverages contribute as well, like healthier-sounding vitamin waters and sports drinks. We do need to stay hydrated, but these calorie-laden drinks add too much sugar and other additives that we don’t need. The calories we drink, as opposed to calories consumed in food, don’t fill us up and we may not realize just how many calories we are adding in. It’s easy to overdo the calories from these beverages without realizing it. It’s best to completely eliminate sugary beverages from the diet or limit their consumption to special occasions.
- Not Enough Quality Sleep
Getting quality shut-eye is important for many aspects of health, including reducing diabetes risk and aiding in better mental health. But quality sleep can also help weight loss efforts, because a loss of sleep may lead to a decrease in the body’s ability to regulate hunger. Quality sleep is a significant factor in weight loss success. A healthy level for adults is between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. If you’re not getting enough, try to develop a solid bedtime routine, and gradually move bedtime earlier until you hit that goal.
- Not Drinking Enough Water
Staying hydrated, particularly with plain water, can help your weight loss plan in several ways. Our bodies need water to function properly. Making sure we drink plain tap water instead of other sugary beverages ensures that we don’t add extra calories. Water also fills the stomach, acting as an appetite suppressant, preventing the consumption of extra calories through food as well. Studies have also shown that drinking water can help the body burn calories at a faster rate. Drinking water is also essential in burning stored fat from the body.
- Medical Conditions and Medications
Certain medical issues, like thyroid conditions, depression and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), or common medications for other health issues, could be holding you back. Some antidepressants, diabetes medications, steroids, anticonvulsants and blood pressure medications have all been linked to weight gain. If you think that a health condition or a prescription medication is making your weight loss difficult — or causing weight gain, talk to a healthcare provider for help with weight loss tips or alternative medication options.
- Unrealistic Expectations
Many people think that they can drop a huge number of pounds in a short period of time, and easily keep the weight off. This would be nice, but for most people, it’s usually much more difficult than this. Reality television shows and photoshopped magazine photos may have skewed our perceptions of just what is possible for a healthy rate of weight loss and a realistic, attainable body. Most people should be able to lose about one to two pounds per week, but it can be difficult to maintain more than this long term. Most people will also not be able to have the body of a model or bodybuilder. There are many different healthy body types, and what is realistic and natural for each person can vary.
- High Stress
Stress can wreak havoc on the body and easily affect your weight. When you’re stressed, it can be more difficult to find the time and the energy for workouts, or to prepare fresh, healthy meals. Often when we are stressed out, we skip exercising and reach for convenience foods, or crave comfort foods that are not always the best choices for our health or weight loss goals. Stress also raises the body’s levels of cortisol — the stress hormone that can increase appetite and lead to excess abdominal fat storage. Talking to a therapist, reducing stressors and practicing mindful meditation can all help.
Weight Loss Myths and Tricks to Avoid
With all of the weight loss advice out there, it’s hard to know what to listen to.
Here are a few pieces of advice you should avoid:
- Low-fat and reduced-fat foods are healthy.This food label makes it sound healthy, but it’s not always the best choice. Foods carrying these labels are often highly processed, meaning more artificial ingredients and potentially high in sugar. Always check the labels and strive to eat more fresh, whole foods instead of processed reduced-fat ones.
- Skipping meals helps you lose weight.You do need to reduce calories to lose weight but skipping meals entirely can result in tiredness and crankiness, or bingeing later on higher-calorie foods. It’s a better idea to keep satisfied with small, healthy meals and snacks spread throughout the day.
- You should avoid all carbs.The myth that all carbs are bad gained serious popularity with the Atkins and other low-carb fad diets, but it is just that: a myth. Healthy carbohydrates include some fruits and vegetables and whole grains and should be part of a healthy diet. Cutting carbs completely simply isn’t sustainable, and many low-carb foods are high in fat and low in fiber.
- Gluten-free foods help you lose weight.Gluten-free diets should be reserved for those with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. Gluten is found in wheat and other grains, and whole-grain foods should be part of a healthy diet. Commercially packaged gluten-free foods are usually higher in carbs, calories and sugar, and lower in fiber. These foods are fine as an alternative for those with sensitivities but should not be considered a health food or a weight loss aid.
- You can target trouble spots with diet and exercise.Everybody is different and it’s nearly impossible to determine where body fat will be shed from on a weight loss program. Certain exercises can help tone specific muscle groups, making them look sleeker, but diet and exercise cannot target body fat in specific areas of the body.
- Diet soda is a healthier drink.You know you should cut out full-sugar sodas and other high-calorie beverages, but many people switch to diet or zero-calorie sodas, thinking they are a great alternative for a diet. Even though they may be no-cal or low-cal, the artificial sweeteners found in these drinks can be even unhealthier than regular sugar, leading to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
- Saunas can sweat out the fat.Many people believe that a session at the sauna can help lose weight by sweating it out. While it’s true that the number on the scale may go down after using a sauna, this is purely water weight lost through sweat. The heat does not burn off fat, and the water weight will likely bounce back shortly after the sauna session.
- You have to work hard at the gym to lose weight.Many people believe that in order to make any progress, they must commit to extreme workout plans or gym memberships. The truth is that these extreme plans are harder to stick to, and after a while, most people become unmotivated and stop going. A better plan for success is to work up gradually on exercises and to find any physical activity that gets the heart pumping and is enjoyable. Whether it’s a dance class or jogging with friends, if the activity is also fun, you’re more likely to stick with it.
Treatments to Consider Along with Diet and Exercise
When traditional exercise and diets just aren’t working, many people search for alternative means of help.
Here are a few treatments and alternative therapies to consider:
- Acupuncture and acupressure:An ancient Chinese therapy, acupuncture uses thin needles inserted in the skin at strategic points to bring balance to the body’s “qi” — or energy flow. It can be used to treat a variety of health conditions, including weight management. Acupressure is very similar but uses finger pressure instead of needles to restore balance in the body.
- Supplements:A variety of weight loss supplements and diet pills are on the market that make all sorts of promises. With a wide range of ingredients, no diet pill can be a cure-all or do all the work for you, but some supplements are worth trying in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise routine. Just make sure to do your research, read labels and check with your primary doctor if you want to try this method.
- Prescription drugs:For overweight or obese adults struggling to lose weight through other methods, prescription medication can be a viable option. As with supplements, these medications can’t do all the work alone, but can boost the effectiveness of a weight loss plan including diet and exercise. Ask a doctor about your options regarding prescription drugs for weight loss.
- Liposuction:A cosmetic surgical procedure, liposuction removes body fat from chosen target areas of the body. Several variations of liposuction exist, but all of them involve inserting a thin tube into the target area and suctioning out the fat cells.
- Bariatric surgery:Gastric bypass and other surgeries that alter the digestive system can aid weight loss by limiting the amount of food you can eat or reducing the absorption of nutrients. The procedure is usually reserved for the severely overweight and obese and can be very effective.
- Zerona Z6: Developed by Erchonia, Zerona is a body fat loss treatment that uses lasers to contour and target body fat. This non-invasive procedure is an effective alternative to other surgical treatments — without the side effects.
Zerona Z6 uses a non-invasive low-level laser technology (LLLT) to effectively target and emulsify fat cells, without killing them. There’s no downtime and none of the inconveniences or side effects of surgical procedures. If you’re ready to find out more about this innovative body-slimming treatment, contact us today and schedule your first appointment.