Nothing is more frustrating when trying to cut a few pounds than eating all the right things and not losing weight.  There may be numerous reasons that contribute to your inability to trim the fat.

Eating too much

Despite eating all of the right things, you may still be eating too much for the amount of your daily activity.  When you aren't satisfying your cravings of sugar, salt and fat it's easy to continue eating to the point of satiety. 

The first month of eating healthier are the most affected by this problem since your body is used to the chemical stimulation of unhealthy foods like sugar and salt.  You may feel tired, irritable and unmotivated to maintain or increase your physical activity. (Check with your physician before starting a new diet or exercise regimen.)

You'll need to push yourself from the beginning, if possible, to increase your activity or reduce your intake of what you're currently eating. 

The only other option would be to further modify your diet to satisfy increased cravings. The diet would be a plant based diet (more fruits, vegetables and low calorie whole foods).  Reduced starches, carbs, fatty foods and high sugar foods.  For instance, if you have habitual eating problems you may want to substitute chips with a very low calorie food, such as celery, known to actually burn more calories during digestion than the calories in the celery itself.

Misinformation about healthy foods

Many people who have been practicing years of poor eating habits are still misinformed about what foods are healthy and the nutritional values to consider to determine if the healthy food is appropriate for weight reduction. 

Packages of food are designed to appeal to consumers to imply a food is healthy by catchy slogans, active lifestyle pictures and "health food type" wording that is actually misleading. 

It's important to know what to look for on the nutrition label based on what your nutritional goals may be.  It is difficult to ensure every product will meet all of your goals.  But, you will be able to plan meals and daily maximums better if you read the labels before you stock your kitchen.

You will focus your attention to the nutritional guidelines specific to any diet plan that you are on.  But, these general facts will allow you to maintain good health and/or reduce your weight for on-going body maintenance before, during or after your specific diet plan.

Calories, fat and sugars, to name a few

To lose weight you will keep calories, fat, sugars and carbs to a minimum.  You will want to generally seek foods high in protein and fiber.  Keep an eye on your sodium since low calorie, low fat foods often make up for flavor loss with high sodium.

Low sodium, high healthy fats

To maintain healthy blood pressure and heart health you will want to restrict sodium which inevitably can cause calories and sugar to go up, which is bad for weight loss, good for lost flavor from low sodium.  Switch to healthy fats like Omega-3's and olive oil.  Maintain reasonable caloric intake and continue to watch belly fat by restricting levels of high fat foods and sugars.

Too much of a good thing isn't really a good thing

One of the easiest mistakes to make after ensuring you buy all the right foods is to fail to pay attention to the serving size.  It won't matter how nutritious the food is if you disregard the amount of food you consume.  This can skew your diet progress and cause you to give up because you think the problem is the food when, in fact, it's the amount you're eating.

Fruits and veggies, oh ya!

Some diets allow for unlimited fruits and veggies.  While the concept is to increase natural, whole foods into your diet which will likely restrict processed foods with fillers, preservatives and sodium content; you will still want to know the caloric and sugar content of each item and include it in your daily intake values.  This is especially important if you have cut your intake of calories, fat and sugars in your daily diet but still have failed to lose your desired weight.

Thyroid problems, low metabolism and chemical imbalances

If you have practiced all of the above and have been faithful to diet and exercise that has yet to produce results, then you may have one of the following issues to consider.

Low metabolism

As you age, your metabolism will naturally slow down.  The more you sit or practice a sedentary lifestyle you not only need to consume less calories to offset less activity, but your metabolism slows down as your body gets used to less activity.  It's like a defense mechanism to prevent to much weight loss, even though you are likely not losing weight. 

As the metabolism slows down you will gradually need to consume less and less food as the years go on.  However, the trap here is that while you are needing less food, you are replacing an active lifestyle with activities like snacking.  You will also begin to have less energy, poorer circulation which leads to cold hands and feat and to address these problems, often people consume high calorie food and beverages for fast, convenient energy.  You slowly begin to lose muscle mass and no matter how well you eat, you begin to notice a few extra pounds every year.  The pounds stack up and you stay down.  It becomes harder and harder to fight the bulge.

To fight this problem you will want to choose a diet that focuses on food groups and choices that promote healthy metabolism.  Vitamins like B-12 and B-Complex are also good to support your metabolism.  Forgo an afternoon snack and go for a short walk instead.  Increase your aerobic activity to 3-5 times a week for as long as you can per work-out.  Don't overdo it to the point that you get an injury and have to discontinue your work-out plan.  As always, consult with your family physician first to ensure your intended plan is approved based on your current health.

Chemical Imbalances

Clinical depression, anxiety, hormonal imbalances and side-effects from medications that treat these conditions can have drastic effects on your appetite and metabolic rate.  It can cause you to gain weight very quickly despite the same or improved nutrition.  If you have untreated illness or suspect your body is not processing calories the same, then you will want to speak with a doctor immediately.  Likewise, if your physician has prescribed a medication that is causing poor side effects such as weight gain despite improving your diet, then you may want to confer with him/her to discuss any other options for your treatment to include new medications or altering the dosage, if recommended.  When it comes to medications, you will need to determine if the benefits of the medication are necessary and/or superior to the side effects the medication induces.  Never discontinue or change your dosage without the recommendation of your prescribing physician.

Underactive thyroid 

Low thyroid levels can be a common diagnosis for those with symptoms such as weight gain, lethargy, goiter or enlarged thyroid, constipation, brittle hair and nails, slow speech, impaired taste and smell.  Despite eating right and maintaining adequate levels of activity you may still find it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.  A simple blood test or ultrasound of your thyroid can indicate your thyroid may not be functioning properly.  

While some clinicians will stop at a normal blood test; it is important to note that if your bloodwork is normal, but near abnormal levels you may still have what is termed sub-clinical thyroiditis.  This means that despite your thyroid levels being normal, they may not be adequate to maintain your thyroid health and therefor you have the same symptoms as someone who has levels in the abnormal range.  It will be up to you and your physician to determine if treatment with a prescription such as Synthroid® or Levoxyl®, two commonly prescribed hypothyroid medications, would be advised in your case.  You will also want to discuss reasons for your underactive thyroid.  A common autoimmune disorder that causes hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.  


As your body ages you will naturally need to eat less and add activities that aid in building muscle.  If you struggle to maintain your ideal weight or unable to shed pounds like you did when you were younger, then you may need to increase your physical activity.  This is where you will need to be really honest with yourself regarding how much goes in and how much gets worked off.   The average body will burn about 1000-1200 calories a day doing absolutely nothing.  Unfortunately, even a healthy lunch, a veggie six-inch sandwich on wheat, a side salad and water, could add up to about 500 of those calories.  Add in breakfast, dinner and lite snack and you will quickly be at about 1400 calories a day.  

So get out there and get moving.  You will need to walk at a normal pace for about an hour to work-off about 200-250 calories.  Get standing, walking or running.  Add in some midday stretching exercises and moderate weekly weight training and your body will be on its way to burning more than it consumes, building muscle and maintaining a healthy metabolic rate.


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