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9 Weight Loss Obstacles and Tips to Overcome Them

We have been there, we are eating like a bird, going to the gym, working, sweating and all we can think about is food…..We step on the scales and boom! Nothing, Nada!

We throw our hands in the air and quit. We have no idea what we did wrong but the message we get is we just did not have enough will power, or we were just destined to carry this tire around our waist!

There are literally 100’s of diets out there that all claim that they work, but obesity continues to plague our nation.

The CDC reports that 1 in 3 adults have prediabetes and 1 in 10 have type 2 diabetes, an obesity related disease. Heart disease, also related to diet and lifestyle is the leading cause of death in the United States and is said to claim 1 in every 4 deaths.

So if these diets are not working, what does work?

One thing I have learned as a health coach is all diets work and then they fail. Mostly because most diets are not sustainable.

Today we will address some of the reasons you may not be able to lose weight.

If you struggle with weight loss, a check-up your primary care doctor is necessary to be sure you are not suffering from a condition that may be preventing you from losing weight.

Nine reasons you may not be able to lose weight:

  1. Portion distortion

Portions can be tricky. In a time where everything is supersized, including our dinner plates. It can be very difficult to determine, without measuring, the portion size for foods.

Did you know that if you move into a house that was built in the 1960’s your dinner plates may not fit in the cabinet? Since the early 1900’s our dinner plates have increase in size as much as 25%. In the 1960’s dinner plates were roughly 9 inch plates. An average dinner plate now is a whopping 13 inches! We now consider the 9 inch plate the salad plate!

Solution: use the salad plate to help you limit your portions. Consider that roughly ½ of the plate should be vegetables (especially greens), ¼ your starch/carb, and ¼ protein.

2. Strict calorie restriction

Diets that are too restrictive do not promote healthy weight loss, and may impede your weight loss efforts.

When calories are too restricted your body will sense that you are at risk of starvation and will slow your metabolism and slow its calories burning process.

Your size, gender and activity level should determine roughly the amount of calories you need. In general, women should consume between 1400 and 1500 calories, and men between 1800 and 2000 calories, per day to lose weight.

Don’t forget to add back in calories for your exercise, but be very careful to not over-estimate the calories you burn during your workout. Also, do not depend on the calories reported by your elliptical machine, or treadmill, as they are not as accurate as you think and often over estimate.

Solution: Use a calorie tracker like My Fitness Pal to help you track your calories from food, snacks, drinks and calories burn from exercise. Or simply follow the Health Eating Plate Method and watch portion size.

3. Too many convenience foods

What a time we live in! After WWII we began a journey away from home cooked meals to convenience meals. Convenience meals hit the scene much earlier in history, but after WWII foods became more readily available and over time they found their way in to every home.

Now we are having a resurgence of home cooked meals and how important they are. Did you know that only home cooked meals have Vitamin L? What is that you ask? Well Vitamin L is the addition of Love that is added to your food. Don’t underestimate the effect that Love can have on your health!

I understand that we are all very busy and sometimes we need to have a quick dinner. I recommend that you read labels. To start with, can you cook that meal in your own kitchen from the ingredients on the label? It is important to read for serving size (often a sneaky way to market as low calorie), sodium (roughly 500-600 mg sodium per meal) and sugar (women 25g/day and men 35g/day).

Solution: When you cook a meal, create your own convenient meals by cooking double the amount and freeze the extra for those busy nights. Take some time over the weekend and pre-cut vegetables, precook grains and proteins, etc. These can often last as much as 3-4 days and can really cut back on preparation time.

4. Yoyo dieting

So many of us have tried the diet of the month, or even the week, and they are usually miserable, not sustainable, promote the wrong kind of weight loss, and here comes the Yoyo part, we gain the weight back plus more!

Fad diets that promise a magic result, such as weight loss of 10 pounds a week, result in muscle loss, slower metabolism, nutrient deficiencies, and slower calorie burn. Then once you get frustrated you find yourself in a carb frenzy and often end up in a food coma! Not what you planned at all.

Solution: Make small healthy changes that lead to healthy sustainable weight loss, watch portion sizes, increase activity and drink plenty of water.

5. Over exercising

I know, you are told to exercise and now I am suggesting it could be preventing you from meeting your goals! Hear me out, because I am not suggesting that exercise is bad, in fact it is imperative for your health, but you can exercise too much, or in the wrong way.

Rest is just as important as exercise, your muscles need to recover and repair. If you continue to keep your body in a continued state of stress, you will hold on to weight due to the excess cortisol that is released during stressful states.

Solution: Be sure to take rest days between your workouts, and to vary what muscles you work each day. So if you do cardio today, tomorrow work your upper body and give you lower body time to recover from the workout. Also, be sure to take days where you don’t run, or go to the gym at all, and take a walk outside and enjoy the company of friends or your family.

5. Sprinting though a meal

Have you ever finished you meal and then wondered, “did that taste good?” LOL! We are so busy these days that we woof down our meals in record time, while we are watching TV, texting on our phone, or working at our desk….

Several problems with this habit of rushing through meals:

  1. Not chewing properly. Chewing our food begins the digestive process. When we fail to chew our food properly, our stomach receives food that has not been broken down by our saliva and puts undue stress on our stomach to do all the work.

  2. We do not take time to appreciate our food, the taste, smell, etc. Now I hear some of you thinking, her she goes, she is getting woo woo on us! The Chopra Institute explains that being mindful of what we are eating can allow you to explore your own inner intelligence about food. Practicing Mindful eating leads to better choices for your body and a acceptance of foods that are pleasing and nourishing to your body.

  3. We do not realize when we are full. It takes roughly 20 minutes for the signal to reach our brain that we are getting full. In fact, it is not fullness it is recognizing, but the release of chemical released during digestion of your food/drink. Which means if you eat your food in 10 minutes or less, which many of us do, then we never have the chance to know when we are full!

Solution: Slow down. Practice Mindful eating by thinking about the colors of your food, the smell, the tastes, chew 15 – 30 times and set your utensil down between bites.

6. Misinterpreting Cravings

How many times have you found yourself craving something like chips, candy, something sweet? We often think it may be because our body is missing something, it is, but it is usually hydration instead of food!

Glycogen production, the process when the liver releases glycogen, involves water and glucose. If you are dehydrated it make it more difficult for the liver to produce glycogen.

Solution: When you find yourself craving sweets try drinking a glass of water and then waiting 5 minutes.

7. Emotional eating

You are sitting at the kitchen table and suddenly you realize you have eaten almost the whole half-gallon of ice-cream. Then you begin to berate yourself for doing something so “stupid!” Have you been there? I have.

I remember one day I ate a whole pecan pie all by myself!

Whether we like to believe it or not, we all suffer from emotional eating at one time or another. We may be stressed, bored, angry, hurt, etc., and we turn to food for comfort.

As adults when we experience emotional stress we often turn to comfort foods, foods that are associated with the security of childhood.

These foods that we associate with comfort are almost always high in fat, sugar, or salt, because these foods activate the pleasure area of the brain. Overeating these foods not only leads to unhealthy eating habits, but it also leads to obesity and depression.

Solution: Mindfulness has been shown to be an effective tool for controlling emotional eating. Learning to recognize the emotions, thoughts and habits that lead to emotional eating can help us recognize and stop the pattern of behavior.

8. Self-Love


if I asked you to list all the people you love in your life, how long would it take before you listed yourself.

This is an interesting question and a good one to reflect on. We all have that voice in our head. You know the one, I call her negative Nellie. (Mine is a female!) She chatters all the time, reminds you every time you do something wrong and never lets you forget a mistake. Her, that’s the one.

When you go for the comfort food she starts chattering even louder……”how could you, you are such a loser, you will always be fat, you will never be able to lose weight….” On and on she goes telling you how terrible you are and how you do not have a chance in hell to change this!

According to Psychology today a practice of self-love can help you with weight management, including weight loss. When you learn to love and accept yourself, you will start to naturally make better choices in all areas of your life, including food.

Solution: I have my clients start a practice of self-love. Often it is very hard at first, I know because I have been there.

A good place to start is by looking in the mirror and really looking at yourself. You will notice some good, and some not so pleasing, things about you. You may notice you have pretty eyes, but wrinkle around them…..After doing this for a few seconds, I ask them to look directly in to their own eyes and say, “I love you and you are perfect just the way you are.”

The pit in your stomach will feel very very heavy at first and negative Nellie will chatter about how it isn’t true, but if you practice this every day you will begin to quiet her.

9. Stress

We live in a constant state of stress. The funny thing is if I asked you if you were stressed, you would most likely report that you are not really that stressed!

In this digital age, we are bombarded constantly with information, and often that information has a negative connotation. We have bills to pay, someone we know was just diagnosed with a terrible disease, there is a war somewhere in the world, the Euro is down and the stock market is plummeting!

Since this is an everyday occurrence, it is no wonder that we do not realize we are stressed because this is the state we live in most of the time.

The problem is our body knows it is stressed and we are living in a perpetual state of Fight or Flight, a state that was meant to help us escape being eaten by a tiger!

When we sense stress our hypothalamus tells our adrenal glands to release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Once the danger passes the hypothalamus should tell turn the process off but when we are in a state of constant stress the response will continue to release the stress hormones.

Cortisol stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for fast energy, you know to run away from the tiger, but when we are not truly in need of that fast energy we end up with an increase in appetite. We end up craving carbs and fatty foods.

Cortisol also stimulates the release of excess insulin and as we eat the carbs they are stored as fat.

Solution: Practicing mindfulness, meditation, gratitude and exercise are all great ways to help you manage stress. Simply practicing mindfulness for 2 minutes can disrupt this cycle and turn off the stress hormone cycle and allow calming hormones to be released.

These are only a few of the obstacles to losing weight, but what I have learned through my experience as a health coach, is that Mindfulness, Gratitude, and Self-Love are all a great place to start. I find that when people learn to slow down, appreciate life, food and things around them, and love themselves, the rest seems to fall into place.

If you want to learn more about starting a Mindfulness practice along with developing healthy habits, please feel free to contact me for a free Discovery Session.


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