Have you tried everything possible to lose weight? Are you still stuck exactly where you were?
Here are some factors that could be thwarting your weight-loss efforts:
1. Your weight is already normal
If your body mass index (BMI) is between 18 and 25, your weight is already normal and your body will resist additional weight loss.
Solution: Follow a balanced, low-fat diet and do exercise. Stop stressing about weight loss and just enjoy life.
2. You eat too little
If you eat too little (i.e. if you're on a “starvation diet”) your body will shut down its weight-loss mechanisms and hang on to its fat stores.
Solution: Follow a low-fat, high-fibre diet that contains about 500kJ less than your usual diet and which prevents you from starving, getting hungry or developing cravings. Weight Watchers and Weigh-Less diets are good examples. Add exercise to your routine to simulate your metabolism.
3. Hormonal imbalances
Hormonal imbalances, such as hypothyroidism, insulin resistance and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), could make it difficult to lose weight.
Solution: Ask your doctor to test you for hormone imbalances:
Hypothyroidism: Your doctor will prescribe thyroid hormone, which you must combine with an energy-reduced diet and daily exercise.
Insulin resistance: Your doctor may prescribe a medication such as Glucophage and you need to consult a clinical dietician for a low-fat, low-glycaemic-index (GI) diet. Do daily exercise to improve your weight and your insulin and glucose levels.
PCOS: Your doctor will prescribe hormone treatment and you should consult a clinical dietician for a low-fat, low-glycaemic-index (GI) diet. Do daily exercise to improve your weight and your insulin and glucose levels.
Many medications can cause weight gain or hamper weight loss (e.g. female hormone pills, corticosteroids, antidepressants and anxiolytics).
Solution: Discuss this problem with your prescribing doctor. The doctor may be able to change the prescription or the dose. Use a low-fat diet plus exercise to counteract the effect of such medications.
Depression can cause massive weight gain and also often prevents patients from doing something positive about their weight like sticking to a diet and doing exercise.
Solution: Consult a clinical psychologist and/or medical doctor. Psychotherapy and medication can counteract depression. Start your diet and exercise programme once you're less depressed.
Anxiety often causes weight gain and prevents weight loss.
Solution: Consult a clinical psychologist and/or medical doctor. Psychotherapy and medication can counteract anxiety. Start your diet and exercise programme once you're less anxious.
Slimmers dish up endless excuses to justify why they're not sticking to their diet or doing exercise.
Do the following excuses sound familiar?
I don’t have time to jog/eat breakfast/shop for special low-fat foods.
I can’t prepare fancy diet meals, because my family won’t eat them.
I really stick to my diet all week and then pig out on weekend.
Solution: Take a good, hard look at your attitude. Stop deceiving yourself and stick to your intentions. Losing weight is up to you!
Dr Ingrid van Heerden is a registered dietician and holds a doctoral degree in Nutrition and Biochemistry. She believes that "we are what we eat" and offers free nutrition and weight loss advice via her DietDoc service on Health24.com.