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5 Reasons your Weight Loss has Slowed Down

healthy weight loss metabolic issues slow weight loss Feb 23, 2022
By Karli Alderson MD, Diplomat, American Board of Obesity Medicine
So many times you start on Day 0 of your new diet with excitement and motivation.  And, the first few days are good.  Yes, it was a struggle and perhaps you sat out on a meal or two because it wasn't appropriate for your "diet".  But, man, this time you're getting back to your high school graduation weight; nothing's stopping you, right?
But, days go by and the bitterness stealthily builds.  This stinks.  But, hey, you will get to go back to your old ways soon, right?  I mean, this is just temporary.  Or, perhaps you have been vigilant following your food intake and know it's forever.  But, then you get to week 4, step on the scale, and that feeling of helplessness returns.  "5 pounds, that's awful.  All that work for 5 pounds.  I'm done."  And, then it's off to Starbucks to get your favorite carb-loaded drink.  And, it's over.  
Can you relate? If so, then listen up! 
LET'S BREAK THIS DOWN. There is so much wrong with this and we hate to think of you feeling this way.  That feeling of helplessness and failure is the true suffering with a weight loss journey and it is completely unnecessary.
So, why isn't the scale reflecting your expectations?  Here are 5 reasons that could be slowing your weight loss results:
1) Metabolic issues
I want to start with this because there is definitely an epidemic of metabolic syndrome and prediabetes in the United States.  Whether it be genetics, lifestyle, or just bad luck, these can haunt your weight loss progress. But, more importantly, metabolic issues can lead to health problems like diabetes and heart disease. 
If you have followed your daily calorie recommendations with 1 or less cheat days a week, but don’t see any results, then it is time to call up the doc (or your primary medical provider) and have this assessed. Most people think they have thyroid issues causing the problem but that actually is almost never the cause of someone’s weight issues.  
If your medical provider finds evidence of metabolic issues (low HDL, high triglycerides, elevated glucose, blood pressure issues, increased waist circumference), she may suggest medications that may help your metabolism but she may also just advocate for you to continue on your path to a healthy lifestyle.  The best lifestyle changes that may help your metabolic issues including really limiting your simple (aka junk) carbs (think processed foods), increasing fiber, and increasing exercise which sensitizes your body to insulin.  
Stay tuned for more information on metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and prediabetes in future posts.
2) Compliance
Are you REALLY following your calorie recommendations?  If not, then there’s an answer!  Logging your food not only keeps you in line with your daily nutrition requirements but also EDUCATES you to those hidden calories and carbs that can sabotage you.  So, if you haven't been tracking then it's time to buckle down and get to work.  
Do you hate to track?  Guess what, nearly 100% of people hate it also.  I also hate to unload the dishwasher, do the laundry, and pay taxes but I must.  So, if you want to be successful in your health like you are successful in other areas of your life then you must really make that choice to commit to it, and not just for a month.
3) Salt
Do you tend to weigh right after a food day that has tons of salt?  Your scale may trick you by making you feel that you are not losing when it's the salt-induced water weight.  And, that water weight gain can linger days after a high salt day. Keep weighing a few days after watching your high-salt day and see if your weight comes down.

4) Focusing on the scale, not your body
Do your clothes fit looser?  If so, you are in the right direction. Remember, the scale is just a number!  No one really loses weight so they can "be" a certain number.  They lose weight to feel better.  Think about all of those non- scale victories.  Surprisingly, sometimes you will not lose a pound one week only to lose 4 pounds the next.  It happens all the time.  So, don't get down by the number.
5) Unrealistic goals
Ladies & gents, you are not as young as you were 5 years ago.  Now, I am not going to criticize growing older because it is a beautiful thing, despite what our society tells us.  That is a topic for another day.  But, as you age, your muscle mass decreases & hormones change.  4 pounds in a week is not as realistic as it was in your 20s and 30s.  AND THAT IS OK!  This is where patience comes into play.  Think back to your quick weight loss results in the past.  Did they last?  Probably not.  More than likely you were on a diet path that required a lot of restriction and tons of exercise.  But, unless you are planning to spend the rest of your life with those extreme habits, then you might as well NOT have even tried them.  We don't want that for you.  It's MISERABLE to lose weight only to gain it back, and usually a few pounds more :(.  
You are looking for LASTING RESULTS and that takes time.  Give yourself a little grace and practice patience.  When you step on the scale and lose just 1 pound in a week, think, "THIS IS HOW FOREVER WEIGHT LOSS WORKS."  And, be proud.  Do that for a year and you are down over 50 lbs.  Think about it.  

Let’s say you only lost 5 pounds this month.  Do you feel like it was a ton of work for just 5 pounds?  We get it. But, consider thinking about it like this...

There’s always work and a learning curve the first few months. But, soon it should become much easier because your routine will become habitual.  Keep it up and don’t give up. 

Perhaps you feel like giving up and going back to your old ways.  How many times have you done that in the past?  If you are one who always seems to drop out a few weeks into it because the diet “doesn’t work for me,” then what are you really searching for.  This is your weight loss cycle.  What diet do you think will work?  I promise you, there is not a diet out there that doesn’t take work.  If there was, then everyone would be doing it.  Make the choice today to keep going!  You WILL NOT feel like it, EVER!  But, stick with it and SOON there will be a day where you wake up feeling good, feeling in control, and NOT feeling restricted because you have finally learned it is a gift to to your body and mind to treat it well.   

Weight loss is hard, but YOU are worth the effort!