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6 Reasons You're Not Losing Weight

Updated: Jun 18

The pro-tips you've never heard before.

If you've been trying (and failing) to lose weight - whether it be 5 pounds or 100 pounds - it's likely because everything you've been told or read about weight loss is outdated. I'll explain.

Conventional weight loss programs that emphasize calorie-restriction, low-fat foods, cardio-heavy exercise routines and "will power", not only don't result in sustainable weight loss, but they often leave people heavier, hungrier, sadder and in worse metabolic condition than before they started the program. That's because this approach targets the symptoms, not the root causes of the problem.

Here are 6 reasons you're not losing W.E.I.G.H.T (and how to approach it better)

  1. What is your system?

All too often, people focus on the daunting and almighty goal of weight loss, with no real consideration for the system that will get them there.

If you want to improve your overall health - and lose weight as a result - you need to change your system (friendly reminder: dieting is not a system, it is a bandaid at best). When we focus on the system, rather than the goal, we create an actual mechanism for shifting habits and behaviors that lasts a lifetime.

System overhauls start with tiny incremental changes. These are the seeds from which good habits are born. Furthermore, we don't make these small incremental changes by being perfect (or even motivated), we make them by being consistent.

Be consistent about laying out your workout clothes before you go to bed. Be consistent about creating your grocery list and weekly meal plan on a particular day. Be consistent about slowing down and chewing your food well before you swallow. Be consistent about the little changes, and you will be rewarded with the big ones.

When you find yourself heading toward the snack cabinet, ask yourself: "Is this true hunger or is it sadness/boredom/anxiety/loneliness/habit?"

2. Entertainment or fuel?

I once heard a dietician say that food either fuels us or it's entertainment, and we should learn to tell the difference. This simple yet profound concept is my guiding light when helping clients choose what to eat. It's OK to be entertained occasionally (for goodness sake, eat cake on your birthday!), but we don't live our lives in a constant state of entertainment seeking. The same rule applies to food.

Is your food fueling, nourishing and energizing your body... or is it fluff?

Another side of the same coin is differentiating between true hunger and emotional hunger. We often grab "entertainment" food as a response to an emotion. When you find yourself heading toward the snack cabinet, ask yourself:

"Is this true hunger or is it sadness/boredom/anxiety/loneliness/habit?"

Satisfy true hunger (tummy grumbles, brain fog) with fuel. This includes fiber, protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates... which actually make us feel satiated and satisfied. After you've fueled, you can indulge in the small, occasional bit of entertainment (preferably dark chocolate for the antioxidants!).

Solve emotional "hunger" with meditation, movement, social support, or some other practice that resonates with you.

3. Insulin is key

Insulin is a critical factor in how and when the body stores fat. This hormone allows cells to take in glucose for energy. When there’s an excess of glucose in the bloodstream, increased insulin signals the body to store it, first in the liver as glycogen and then as fat around the body.

Normally, insulin levels drop once it has done its job. This signals to the body that it should burn stored energy, starting with excess glucose, then glycogen, and then fat. But if insulin levels remain high (because of excess glucose and/or insulin resistance), the body does not signal that it should be burning through fat storage. In short, dysfunctional insulin response encourages fat storage and prevents fat burning.

Excess insulin can also have negative effects directly on various functions and components in the body. For example, it can impair mitochondria - the organelle found in all of our cells that produces energy.

Instead of counting calories, focus on stabilizing glucose levels and preventing (or reversing) insulin resistance.

4. Get lifting.

It's not news that exercise is good for health. And while you do want to get your heart rate up regularly for the cardiovascular benefits (aka "cardio"), relying solely on cardio heavy workout routines is like living paycheck to paycheck, metabolically speaking.

Incorporating strength training 2-3x/week is like collecting money into a growing savings account. It has deeper and more lasting effects on metabolic health than cardio alone.

As the largest organ in your body, your muscular system is your metabolic currency. It plays a vital role in fighting inflammation, and it's the largest site for glucose metabolism. Reduce excess inflammation, glucose and insulin, and weight loss is much more likely to happen.

Side note, we need protein to make muscle. Make sure you get adequate protein every meal, every day.

5. Homeostasis - the body must be in balance.

Inflammation is a signal that something is off balance in the body. It's essential to life. We need inflammation occasionally to fight off infection or heal wounds. However, chronic inflammation can occur when our lifestyle and dietary choices are suboptimal. If you lack quality sleep, don't manage stress, eat a diet void of nutrients, smoke or fail to address hormone issues... chronic inflammation ensues.

The inflammation here is unrelenting and continual because the offending agents are constant. This wreaks havoc on our body and is the root of aging, chronic illness, and metabolic dysfunction.

Eating a diet ample in fuel (fiber, protein, healthy fats), exercising regularly, prioritizing quality sleep, managing stress and removing toxins from your environment and body are the best ways to restore balance and reduce inflammation.

My favorite anti-inflammatory nutrients are vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, and alpha lipoic acid, to name a few.

6. Tell a different story

You are what you think. If you think you are incapable of improving your health, you're doomed to be overweight, or you don't deserve to be happy... you will act accordingly.

If you think you are capable of making small, incremental changes, can adopt a progress-over-perfection mindset, and think that you are worthy of love and happiness, those will be true too.

Improving health starts with changing the story you tell yourself about yourself. Identify with the version of you who is worthy, strong, resilient, capable and committed to health. Practice showing up for yourself and believing in yourself. This is where true change comes from.

Remember that everyone has a different biology that informs their weight loss journey. What works for one person may not work for you. When I work with clients, I create my recommendations according to their bio-individuality. Visit Jensen Wellness learn more.

xo, Emily

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