Barriers to Weight Loss and How to Overcome Them
Each day, thousands of people embark on some sort of nutrition journey. Usually this journey involves some sort of weight loss. The amount of weight that is lost is dependent on multiple factors including the individual's genetics, body type, and amount of weight they have to lose. Some people may get frustrated when their weight loss stalls, not knowing why this is happening, and perhaps not being aware that something they are doing is causing the stall in their weight loss journey. This article will highlight some barriers to weight loss and how to overcome them.
Barrier #1: Motivation
Everyone starts off their weight loss journey with plenty of good intentions and motivation. However, somewhere along the way, complacency may set in, and motivation is lost. This could be due to lack of progress, a change in your life schedule, or other events that may affect the way you eat. To overcome this barrier, identify the sources for your motivation. Getting re-aquainted with your source of motivation may be just what you need to get back on track. Other sources of motivation can include support groups (on or off social media), the "buddy system", and a nutrition coach.
Support groups can offer a great deal of insight and tools for you to be successful in your weight loss journey. Support groups will link you to other people that are on a similar journey. The "buddy system" refers to someone who is undergoing a weight loss journey at the same time as you, and you hold each other accountable for staying on track and motivate each other to push through the obstacles. A nutrition coach can be thought of like the "buddy system" but they offer much more. A nutrition coach can help you set goals, work on eating habits, identify barriers, provide accountability, customize meal plans and macro plans, and much more. If you are struggling to achieve your weight loss goals, investing in a nutrition coach may be a good option.
Barrier #2: Eating on the go
Most Americans today live a lifestyle that is "on-the-go". Part of the challenge with an "on-the-go" lifestyle is what to eat, and when to eat it. Most snacks that are convenient for the person "on-the-go" are unhealthy at best. They are loaded with sugar, unhealthy fats, and carbohydrates. So how do you eat healthy while not having regular access to a kitchen? Prepare ahead of time. Yes, the ever-so-popular meal prep method.
Planning your meals ahead of time will save you a ton of extra calories. Having meals ready to eat will diminish fast food trips and impulse buys. You should be preparing both meals and snacks to take with you throughout the day. My recommendation is to choose 2 days out of the week where you prepare food that will last you about 3 days. The following are some ideas for snacks and meals:
Snacks: string cheese, unsalted nuts, any fruit, vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, cucumbers, and carrots, applesauce, protein drinks, and lunch meat
Meals: should consist of a protein source (such as fish, chicken, steak), a fat source (dressings, oils, and nuts), and a carbohydrate source (such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains). If you have access to a microwave, you can choose a meal to be reheated. If you do not have access to a microwave, choose to make a sandwich or wrap.
Barrier #3: Low caloric intake
Most diets are successful at achieving weight loss due to caloric restriction. The famous calories in versus calories out applies here. The concept is that you would be burning (through exercise and daily activity) off more calories than you are consuming. This is all fine and dandy, until you aren't eating enough calories to maintain your body's basic functions.
Your body uses a certain amount of calories to perform basic functions. This is called the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). Any calories in excess of the RMR are stored within the cells unless they are used up during physical activity. The trouble you will run into with caloric restriction is if you caloric intake is less than your RMR. If this were to happen, your body would go into "starvation" mode and will store every single calorie that is consumed, making it impossible to lose any weight.
The solution to this is quite simple...eat more to lose more. When your body realizes that it is getting all the calorie it needs, it will burn off the excess calories that are not being used for basic functions or physical activity. With that said, be careful not to overeat. Your ideal caloric intake should be a little less than your RMR plus calories used during physical activity.
Barrier #4: Stress management
Being stressed sets off a chain of events in that body involving hormones. These hormones include cortisol and insulin. When cortisol levels are high, it causes the body to become resistant to insulin resulting in elevated blood sugar, which could lead to weight gain. Alternatively, having insulin levels spike and drop off (by eating big meals and waiting longer than 4 hours to eat again) will prevent your body from being in the "fat burning" zone, making it difficult to lose weight. All of this is complicated further if the individual is a "stress eater." Being aware of your eating habits as they relate to emotions and stress is essential to your weight loss journey.
Finding ways to manage stress is not only beneficial to weight loss, but your overall health. Take time each day to do something for yourself. Whether it be meditation, watching a show or doing an activity that you enjoy, or spending time with your loved ones, taking time for self care is important.
Barrier #5: Sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation goes in tandem with stress management. Sleep deprivation affects insulin levels, and cortisol levels among other hormones. Think about it, when you are sleep deprived and tired, you may reach for extra cups of coffee and comfort food to stay awake. This is one reason why sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain.
Another reason that sleep deprivation leads to weight gain has to do with the hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that tells you when you are full. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when you are hungry. In a sleep deprived person, ghrelin is high and leptin is low.
So how do you try to solve sleep deprivation? Start by having a nightly ritual. Doing the same thing every day before bed allows you to wind down and sets a predictable routine for your body, allowing you to rest easier. Make sure you do not eat a big meal right before bed. This may cause heartburn or other GI issues which may keep you up at night. Have an exercise routine in place. Exercise helps to improve sleep quality. Remember, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how many hours of sleep you get, but how good of quality those hours are.
Have you identified any barriers that have prevented you from losing weight? How did you overcome those barriers? Comment below!