After losing 70 pounds in 18 months, my view on weight loss and physical health has changed drastically. I’ve done every fad diet you can think of from weight loss pills to the cayenne pepper and grade A maple syrup in your water diet, 21-day green smoothie challenges, and more. Guess what? I always gained the weight back plus more. I felt hopeless about my physical health. One day, I became frustrated with my lower back and knee pains from the excess weight and knew that I needed help in this area. If you are struggling to lose weight or keep it off, consider the list of reasons below.
1. Your Why Isn’t Big Enough
After getting multiple tests done, I discovered that I had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. It is an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol whose liver is enlarged. It causes fatigue and pain in the upper-right abdomen. It is typically found in people who are obese or other health conditions such as sleep apnea or diabetes. If it is not addressed and healthy lifestyle changes aren’t made, it puts one at risk for liver cancer. The liver tries to halt inflammation; it produces areas of scarring (fibrosis). With continued inflammation, fibrosis spreads to take up more of the liver tissue. This scared me and became my “why”--- I decided to consume mainly a plant-based diet and exercise regularly. If you are losing weight for a wedding or just to fit into a pair of jeans, you are more likely to gain the weight back after you accomplish your goal. It shouldn’t have to be a health scare like me, but your “why” should be meaningful. For some people, it is staying alive long enough to experience life with their children or grandchildren, or to see their dreams manifest, and for others, it is to reduce the risk of health conditions.
2. You Have Underlying Health Conditions
Health conditions can contribute to weight gain. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) means your thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormones. This slows the body’s metabolism and can lead to weight gain. Treatment for diabetes can also contribute to weight gain. Steroids, also known as corticosteroids, are used to treat a variety of conditions, including asthma and arthritis. Long-term use of corticosteroid tablets can increase appetite in some people, leading to weight gain. It is best to speak with your doctor to ensure that medications or other health issues are not the cause of weight gain. Maybe you are battling depression and lack the motivation to do anything. Consider speaking with a therapist regularly to receive treatment for your depression. Your therapist will also determine if mediation is needed for your depression and will refer you to a psychiatrist.
3. Your Cortisol Levels Are Too High
Cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands. It’s essential for helping your body deal with stressful situations, as your brain triggers its release in response to different kinds of stress. However, when cortisol levels are too high for too long, this hormone can hurt you more than it helps. It increases appetite and signals the body to shift metabolism to store fat, impairs brain function, and causes fatigue. A way to combat this is to get adequate risk at night, learn to recognize stressful thinking, and practice mindfulness with guided meditation apps. Avoid caffeine at night, limit distractions before bed, and regular exercise are also ways to reduce your cortisol levels.
4. You’re Not Doing Something You Enjoy
The gym is not the only place to exercise, and if it’s not for you, that’s okay. Attend regular twerk or pole dancing class, take a brisk walk every day for thirty minutes, play a sport a few times per or play hide-and-seek with your children. There are also tons of videos on YouTube that have 15 and 30-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) videos that allow you to burn a lot of calories in a short time. Find something you enjoy that increases your heart rate while doing some form of physical activity.
5. You Haven’t Found Your Gym or Fitness Tribe