The majority of my clients come to see me for weight loss. They’ve tried diet after diet, they lose the weight, and time and time again they gain it back. Exasperated and frustrated they finally seek my help. After more than 12 years of nutrition counseling and weight loss coaching I have found that the basic reasons for their lack of success at weight loss and/or weight maintenance are the same.
1: Your Behaviors/Relationship with Food
The most common reason people have trouble with weight loss is their behavior/relationship with food and eating. Behaviors and feelings around food develop at a young age and tend to remain through adulthood. Over-eating can be triggered by “feelings” of guilt, sadness, anger, stress, boredom, anxiety and all other negative emotions. Food does not make these bad feelings go away and it doesn’t give you comfort. To eat when you are not hungry while you are trying to lose weight stirs up feelings of guilt, and the cycle starts all over again. How can you change this behavior? The first thing you need to do is have an awareness that you are eating due to your feelings rather than actual hunger. When you find yourself in the refrigerator shortly after a meal you need to stop and ask yourself “AM I HUNGRY?” If the answer is no, sit down and think about what you are feeling and why you are reaching for food to soothe those feelings.
While working on behavior modification with a female client she recounted to me an “aha” moment that she had. She was in the refrigerator when she stopped herself and asked “Am I hungry? I just ate dinner.” What she realized was that she was angry with her husband. So she closed the refrigerator door and went to her room to avoid eating AND a fight with her husband.
2: You’re Not Exercising Enough/ You’re Not Eating Enough.
To lose or maintain your weight you need to exercise. End of story. The best way to boost your metabolism is to lift weights. Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in your body. Increasing the number of active muscle cells improves your ability to burn body fat and become leaner. Combining cardio and weight training is the best way to keep the pounds away and lose inches. If you don’t belong to a gym, you can purchase some hand weights and resistance bands. You can also use your own body weight as resistance. Schedule your exercise time in your calendar as you would with any appointment. This way you know you’ve blocked out the time to take care of your health.
There is also the flip side: those that work out like maniacs but can’t seem to drop the weight. In this instance, it’s usually because you are not fueling your body well enough for your workouts. Eating too little can sabotage your weight loss efforts.
3: You Have Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivities are different from food allergies. With a food allergy, you get an immediate allergic response to the ingested food. On the other hand, food intolerance can take four to ninety-six hours to manifest, making it difficult to determine the source. Symptoms are usually more low-grade than with an allergy. Because of this, people may be reacting to a food they eat on a regular basis but have no idea that the food is causing a disturbance to their metabolism as well as inflammation and digestive disturbances in their gut. We know that inflammation from any cause can increase insulin levels. Insulin is the fat storage hormone, with fat being stored mostly around the belly. Common food allergens are gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, yeast and peanuts. Try a three-week elimination diet and note how you feel each day. If you find the scale still doesn’t budge, make an appointment to see your doctor. Have him or her check your thyroid hormones and your estrogen levels.
If you’ve been struggling with your weight, consider seeing a nutrition professional that can help get you on the right track.
Lisa Goldberg is a nutritionist and Health Coach with a Masters in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. www.HealthCoach-Lisa.com.