How many times have you tried to lose weight, only to quit out of frustration shortly after?
How many times have you forced yourself to eat salad all week, only to devour an entire carton of ice cream on Friday?
And how many times have you dragged your butt to the gym, only to have the scale read the same numbers week after week.
It can be really frustrating.
It’s why so many people lose all hope or look to rapid weight loss programs (which never work). But I’m here to restore your hope. If you’re willing to put the effort in, I will help you reach your ideal weight once and for all.
Most people who try to lose weight, do it all wrong.
You see, people usually focus on one aspect of weight loss such as dieting or exercise. And then they expect to see their fat magically melt away.
There are two problems with this approach:
- It doesn’t address the underlying causes of weight gain.
- It doesn’t consider all aspects of your health.
To lose weight, you need is a holistic, or complete science-based approach.
You see, I’m somewhat of a health & wellness nerd (more like a huge nerd). So I know my stuff when it comes to what actually works with weight loss. Heck, I have even coached quite a few people to get them to their ideal weight—and my suggestions have never failed.
So if you’re ready to lose weight and keep it off for good, this is what I propose:
Read the list and pick one of the 30 items. Work only on that single thing for the next 2 or more weeks until it becomes a habit. Once you feel comfortable with the change, find another item on the list and work on that tip. Rinse and repeat.
Eventually you will have built up a bunch of weight-loss habits that will keep it off for good.
It may help to bookmark this page for future use.
So without rambling on anymore, here is my tribute to all the defeated and deflated people out there who struggle to lose weight:
1. You’re Eating Too Much Sugar
Take a good look at your day-to-day diet. Do you eat
- Processed foods
- Milk chocolate
- Sweetened coffee or tea
All of these foods can collectively put a lot of sugar into your body.
Cutting out your sugar consumption is the #1 recommendation I make to anyone looking to lose weight.
Even Harvard University notes several studies that suggest sugar consumption is linked to weight gain and even obesity.
And to make matters worse, it’s thought that sugar can significantly increase your risk of cancer. That alone should be enough of a reason to kick sugar to the curb.
My point is, if you’re serious about getting to a healthy weight, eat as little sugar as possible. You can of course consume foods that contain natural sugars like fruit if it’s in moderation. But as a general rule of thumb, it’s best that you steer clear of any foods that have added sugar. Also watch out for processed sugars like corn syrup, fructose, sucralose, and other forms of hidden sugar because they can cause you to gain even more weight!
2. You Have Chronic Inflammation
Whether it’s from overeating or leaky-gut syndrome, overweight people typically experience chronic inflammation (whether they are aware of it or not). The problem is, chronic inflammation can lead to countless diseases.
New evidence even suggests that chronic inflammation can cause you to feel fatigued, depressed, or even be more sensitive to pain.
While all of these side effects of chronic inflammation don’t directly cause weight gain, they still can certainly lead to it. If you’re not feeling your best, your going to be much more likely to eat processed foods (because they’re easier), and lack the motivation to exercise and take care of your health in general.
Some great ways to fight inflammation include adopting an anti-inflammatory diet and consuming anti-inflammatory substances such as turmeric (or you can try a turmeric supplement). Also, since inflammation begins in the fat cells themselves, you can reduce your inflammation by getting to a healthier weight.
3. Dining Out Too Often
Eating out is a great way to reward yourself and unwind at the end of a long day. I’m guilty of this at times too.
But when you dine out, you’re much more likely to indulge in a huge meal, get appetizers, and even a few drinks.
The calories can really add up.
Plus, you have no idea what’s going into the food. Most restaurants notoriously cook with high amounts of salt and unhealthy oils. All of which can really pack on the pounds.
So if dining out is an issue, consider limiting the amount of times you go out or splitting a meal with your friend / partner.
4. Your Diet Lacks Whole Foods
Whole foods like brown rice, quinoa, and amaranth are important for a well-rounded healthy diet. They contain beneficial vitamins, minerals, fiber, and cancer-fighting substances.
On the other hand, processed foods & grains like white rice, white bread, and most corn products have been stripped of their fibrous shell (bran). By stripping the mineral-rich and fibrous shell off of grains and seeds…
- It causes your body to rapidly absorb the food which can spike your blood sugar. This causes your body to store the excess energy as fat.
- The food lacks essential vitamins and phytonutrients your body needs.
- Since there is little fiber, it quickly leaves your stomach. So eating processed grains can cause you to become hungry more quickly.
For all of these reasons, and more, you should be primarily eating whole grains in your diet. Just remember to soak your whole grains before cooking them to make them more digestible.
5. You Don’t Plan Out Your Meals
I know it’s tough to plan meals when you’re constantly busy, but if you’re serious about your health, you can find the time. Try planning your meals out on Sundays or later in the evenings. And also consider planning healthy snacks to bring with you to work.
When you have meals planned out for the week (or even prepared), you are much less likely to eat out on the run
I would also suggest that you give my 5-week clean eating meal plan a try. It’s completely free. I suggest this option if you don’t have the time to plan meals out themselves or if you aren’t confident in what a healthy diet should look like. The 5-week meal plan will give you a good idea of what healthy eating looks like.
6. You Don’t Get Enough Sleep
When you deprive yourself of sleep, studies have shown that you’re much more likely to go for unhealthy comfort foods. And to make matters worse, being deprived of sleep will cause your metabolism become sluggish.
So if you don’t give yourself enough sleep on a normal basis, you may be undermining all of your weight loss efforts.
Consider planning to get 7-8 hours of sleep. And if you don’t have the time to get that much sleep, make the time to take a 30-minute nap.
It also may be a good idea to take magnesium before bed to help you sleep, and avoid electronics 1 hour before bed. Doing these things will help ensure you get the best sleep you can possibly get.
7. You’re Deficient in Essential Vitamins and Minerals
Since vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to intense food cravings, it’s important that you make sure your body is getting what it needs. Unless you have a well-balanced diet, it may be a good idea to take a quality food-based vitamin and mineral supplement.
8. You Have a Food Allergy / Intolerance
From a mild runny nose to anaphylaxis, food allergies can manifest in many different ways. And more often than not, people can go their whole life without knowing they are allergic (intolerant) to a food.
Food intolerances arise when incompletely digested food enter your bloodstream through your gut and are treated as foreign substances by your body. This can lead to
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Bloating and constipation or diarrhea
- Headaches or migraines
- Leaky gut syndrome
Worst of all, if you continue to eat a food your body is intolerant to, it will cause chronic inflammation which will disrupt your digestion and lead to other health issues (as discussed earlier).
All of these complications can eventually lead to a nutrient deficiency and even weight gain.
Since this cause is a little more complicated, it would be best to ask your doctor for a comprehensive food allergy test done. That way if you discover any foods you’re intolerant to, you can omit them from your diet.
9. You Only Do Cardio
If you only do cardio exercises, you could be missing out on a critical aspect of a quality fitness routine. A good workout routine has a nice balance of cardiovascular exercises, weight lifting, and stretching (I prefer yoga).What most people tend to skip when trying to lose weight is weight lifting (resistance training).
Not only does weight lifting strengthen your bones and joints, it also builds muscle mass. When you have a higher muscle mass, you have a higher basal metabolic rate. In other words, you will burn more calories throughout the day—even while you’re sitting on the couch!
10. The Thermostat is Set Wrong
When your thermostat is set too high, your body burns less calories because it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain its ideal temperature.
But don’t think this means you should keep your room as cold as you can handle.
Although a cold room will cause you to burn more calories, it can also cause you to overeat. To solve this, keep your room at around 67-68 degrees (F). If you feel cold or hungry, warm up with a nice bowl of soup or cup of tea. This will prevent you from indulging in the fatty, processed foods we crave when cold.
11. You Still Drink Reduced Fat Milk
Reduced fat or skim milk is NOT healthier.
In fact, research has revealed that children who drink reduced fat or skim milk were more likely to be overweight compared to children who drank full-fat milk. Reduced fat milk typically contains added sugar, which is way worse for your weight than fat.
While this may be hard to believe, fat isn’t bad for you. There is no evidence that suggests naturally occurring saturated fat has any harmful effect. Processed fats, like trans-fats, and sugar are the true enemies of your overall health (and weight).
12. You Don’t Eat Enough Fiber, Protein, or Fat
Eating foods that naturally contain protein, fat, and fiber can help you control your weight.
This trio of nutrients can help you feel full for long periods of time. For example, when I eat overnight oats with full-fat milk and walnuts, it easily holds me over until late lunch.
But eating a bagel wouldn’t produce the same effect because it’s processed, lacks fiber, and is rapidly digested by your body. As a result, you will feel hungry soon after and eat more food.
13. You Don’t Eat Fermented Foods
I’ll admit, fermented foods seemed really off-putting when I was first introduced to them. But once I cut out sugar and regularly ate fermented foods, my body began to crave them like crazy.
Fermented foods are amazing for your gut by giving it a nice probiotic boost. I’m sure you may be wondering “That’s nice Cameron, but how will this help me lose weight?”
More and more evidence is beginning to reveal that the bacteria in our gut can determine whether we are fat or lean. So even if your doing all the right things, your gut bacteria may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts. That’s why it’s important to make sure your gut is happily supplemented with healthy bacteria.
If you have taken antibiotics at all in the past, I would also highly suggest taking a high quality probiotic such as this one. Antibiotics destroy the healthy bacteria in your gut. When you don’t replace the healthy bacteria, you can end up suffering from unpleasant health struggles—weight gain included. I’m always sure to take probiotics after taking antibiotics (if I must).
14. You Spend Too Much Time Sitting
I know sitting all day is unavoidable for many of us considering the majority of jobs force us to. But you can reduce the amount of time you spend sitting.
In doing so, you will burn more calories and be much healthier. I have this issue too since most of my work can only be done at a computer.
My favorite technique is to use a tomato-timer. Using this tool, you can work for 25 minutes, the timer will go off, and then stand up or walk around for 5 minutes. This method ensures that you don’t sit for too long. It will also help your circulation and energy levels.
15. You Eat Too Close To Bedtime
Late-night meals can devastate your hopes to lose weight.Eating at night will increase your core body temperature, blood sugar levels, and insulin. This makes it harder for your body to burn fat (especially while you sleep). Try to eat at least 2-3 hours before you go to sleep. That way your body won’t have all this extra energy and nothing to expend it on.
16. Too Much Stress!
When you’re stressed out, your body releases a chemical called cortisol. When your levels of cortisol are consistently high, it can impair your memory, make your immune system weak, and cause you to gain weight.
You may also notice that when you get stressed out, your much more likely to seek out unhealthy comfort foods. Stress is unavoidable but you can alter you can learn to control it. Experiment with stress relieving practices such as meditation, playing an instrument, or other relaxing activities such as adult mandala coloring.
17. You Don’t Eat Enough
It may sound strange, but the truth is, when you skip meals or go on a low-calorie diet, it will slow down your metabolism.Your body wants you to survive. So when you aren’t getting enough calories on a normal basis, your body is going to make you crave calorie dense foods like ice cream, chocolate, or French fries. And the longer you go on a low-calorie diet, the more your body will crave these foods.
This eventually results in a “cheat” day or binge eating
And since your metabolism is now lowered, “cheat” days are going to have an even bigger effect on your weight
Instead, try to eat consistently throughout the day. 3 meals and 2 snacks per day tends to work well. This helps keep your metabolism up and going throughout the day so you burn more calories. But there is also conflicting evidence on this. The best thing you can do is only eat when you’re truly hungry and avoid eating massive meals in one sitting.
It’s all about balance, yin & yang.
18. Thyroid Issues
Your thyroid is responsible for regulating your thyroid hormones (of course) which control your body’s metabolism. If you have an underactive thyroid, you could have a condition called hypothyroidism. It can lead to uncontrollable weight gain and a buildup of salt in your body.
19. There’s Too Much Processed Salt In Your Diet
Salt is really underestimated when it comes to weight gain.
If you wake up in the morning and notice you’re considerably lighter than you are in the evening, then it’s likely you consume too much salt. Diets high in salt cause your body to retain large amounts of water which can be perceived as excess weight.
To prevent your body from retaining too much water, avoid processed foods, canned soups, frozen dinners, and opt for unprocessed salt in your cooking like Himalayan salt or sea salt.
20. Trying To Lose Weight Too Quickly
Have you seen the show “Biggest Loser?” If you haven’t, it’s basically a show where obese people compete to lose as much weight as they can as quickly as possible. Sure it looks all sparkly and great on the surface, but there’s a dirty little secret.
The people you see who lose tons of weight in no time at all almost never keep it off. In fact, there was a huge storm of media publicity when it was discovered, “Most of [the] contestants have regained much if not all the weight they lost so arduously. Some are even heavier now” according to an article published by NY Times.
The point here is rapid weight loss diets or strategies don’t work–they don’t cause sustainable weight loss.
This is because rapid weight loss programs don’t nurture healthy habits. To get to a healthy weight once and for all, you should look to consistently lose small amounts of weight every month (let’s say 2-4 pounds).
It’s the small victories that count.
21. Coffee Addiction
There was a time when I was really guilty of this one. I hit a point where coffee just wasn’t doing anything for me and I was exhausted all day. Eventually I got fed up and completely cut out coffee and all caffeine from my diet for 1 month. And wow was it hard to do! But I’m so thankful I did because after that month of my coffee “detox” I felt normal.
Now I only drink coffee 1-2 times a week.
The point of sharing my story was that most people are addicted to caffeine and they aren’t aware of it, or don’t want to admit it (this was me).
When you drink too much coffee, like 2+ cups a day, adrenaline is constantly being released due to the caffeine. When your adrenaline levels kick up from the caffeine, it causes your body to release sugar (glucose) into the bloodstream. When your blood glucose levels are consistently higher due to chronic coffee drinking, your body will begin to store the extra sugar as fat.
22. You’re Doing Cardio Wrong
If you’re mindlessly running on your treadmill at a light jog, you’re probably not going to lose much weight.
Instead, you should be adding intervals to your cardio routine. For example, instead of jogging, sprint for 30 seconds and jog for a minute. Studies have shown that interval training burns more fat compared to exercising at a low, consistent pace.
If you choose to add cardio to you’re routine, just make sure to take steps to protect your knees since they can get damaged if you do things wrong.
Image Source: Crowphes on Deviantart.com. Edited
It can be difficult to tell the difference between real hunger and boredom hunger.
One of the best ways I know to find out is to ask myself, “do I want an apple, hummus & vegetables, or some other healthy snack?”
If the answer is “no,” then it’s probably boredom and not actual hunger. I find that this happens a lot in times of stress and in the evening after dinner. It’s important that you check in with your body, be honest, and determine if you’re truly hungry or just bored / upset.
23. Eating While Watching T.V.
Although I’m guilty for this at times too, eating while watching TV is an awful habit to get into. It causes your focus to shift from eating to what you are watching. When this happens, you are much more likely to overeat and not chew your food enough.
Plus, I firmly believe that being mindful of your food is extremely important. Mindful eating allows you to appreciate your food and prevent over-eating.
25. Prescription Drugs
If you’re taking any prescription drugs, they could be affecting your appetite, metabolism, and your mood. All of which can cause you to gain weight. If you’re taking any prescription drugs, talk to your doctor to see if that could be the cause. If your drugs are causing you to gain weight, you may want to see if there are any alternative medications.
Antidepressants, for example, are known to cause weight gain.
26. You’re Eating Too Much “Diet” Food
I would never suggest any kind of “diet” food to anyone. NEVER.
Diet foods take advantage of the notion that most people think fat is bad for you—which is totally untrue (hydrogenated / processed oils are the enemy).
Most diet foods either remove the fat from food or reduce the amount of sugar. This leaves them with some really bland tasting stuff. So what do they do? They pump it with artificial sweeteners, salt, and other chemicals to make up for it. The result is a food that’s probably worse for you than the original product.
Instead consider alternatives instead of “diet” food. For example, drink unsweetened seltzer instead of soda.
27. Heavy-Handed With The Booze
Don’t get me wrong, I love my night caps sometimes…especially when I have a long night of writing ahead of me. The problem is, when most people consume alcohol, it’s usually beer or sweetened drinks.
Alcohol alone has a high number of calories because it’s sugar (carbs). Combine that with carb-filled beer or sweetened drinks, you’ve got a beverage that will certainly pack on the pounds.
28. You Ignore Entire Food Groups
I admit, even I forget about a food group from time to time (fruit is one I have to try to remind myself to eat).
But giving up entire food groups (I’m talking to you anti-carb dieters) can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Nutrient deficiencies lead to intense food cravings which can lead to binge eating.
29. You’re Not Eating Organic
This may sound a little far-fetched at first, but hear me out. Foods that are not organic, contain harmful pesticides that decimate your gut bacteria. And to make things worse, your body can also react against these pesticides, causing chronic inflammation. As a result, your body can’t digest food as it should, which can lead to weight problems.
30. Processed Foods
Any foods that are pre-prepared and ready-to-eat can be considered processed. That includes
- frozen dinners
- canned soup
- pre-made peanut butter crackers
- white bread
- Most packaged non-produce foods
As a general rule of thumb, you should always avoid processed foods as much as possible.
Processed foods typically contain high levels of sodium, hydrogenated oils (the bad fat), artificial chemicals, and so on. All of which can really make weight loss nearly impossible. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as Health Valley’s organic soups –one of my personal favorites.
But unless you really know what to look for, it’s best to steer clear of processed foods whenever possible.
As you can see, weight loss is a complicated subject. That’s why I have created this list of the most common reasons why people struggle to lose weight. While there can be other causes of weight gain, most of these suggestions will, at the very least, improve your health. So you have nothing to lose.
I do realize that this list is quite long. So please, do not try to take on all of these suggestions at once. Consider which factors may be contributing to your weight the most, and tackle one at time. If you try to do it all at once, you will get overwhelmed and likely give up.
And that goes with anything in life. Just take one manageable step at a time and you will reach your goals in no time!
Comment below to be a part of the conversation:
What are your biggest struggles with losing weight?
If you have had success weight losing weight or have tried any of these suggestions, I would love to hear your story!