Step Ahead Wellness Center Blog

5 Reasons You May Have Trouble Losing Weight

Posted by deborah neiman on Wed, Jan 15, 2014 @ 09:54 AM

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Having trouble losing weight? The most obvious reason is you’re snacking
too much, eating the wrong foods and not staying active enough. On the other
hand, overeating and under-exercising aren’t the only things that make it
harder to shed body fat. Here are some other factors that can make it more
difficult to reach your weight loss goals. Some of them may surprise you.

 Sleeping Too Little

Sleep is an important part of the weight loss equation. Too little “snooze
time” throws appetite hormones off-kilter and makes you crave the wrong foods.
Research shows skimping on sleep causes ghrelin levels to rise. Ghrelin is a
hormone produced by the lining of your stomach that tells your brain you’re
hungry so you head to the kitchen for a snack. When it goes into overdrive you
feel the urge to eat – and keep on eating. Too little sleep also causes leptin
levels to fall. Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells that turn off your
appetite so you stop eating. These two hormones work together to fine tune your
appetite and adequate sleep helps them do their job. Sleep is a key regulator
of appetite. Make sure you’re getting seven to eight hours a night.


Are you taking prescription or non-prescription medications? Some
medications make it harder to lose weight by slowing your metabolism, altering
hormones or by increasing your appetite. Medications that can cause weight gain
include drugs used to treat depression, prednisone, seizure medications,
certain blood pressure medications and birth control pills. Even antihistamines
used to treat allergy symptoms make it harder to control your weight. Some
medications used to treat diabetes also cause weight gain, while others like
metformin causes weight loss in some people. If you’re taking medications, ask
your doctor if they could be making it harder to control your weight.


Stress packs a double whammy. It sends you running to the refrigerator to
seek solace in your favorite comfort foods. In addition, it creates a hormonal
environment that makes it easier to pack on the pounds. One hormone that rises
when you’re under stress is cortisol. Cortisol gears your body up to deal with
stress by mobilizing fuel stores. Unfortunately, cortisol increases breakdown
of muscle protein so your liver can use the amino acids to make glucose for
energy. Plus, it shifts fat stores to your tummy and waistline. Increased belly
fat may be due to eating a poor diet but it can also be a sign of chronic
stress that needs to be addressed.

Stress can take many forms. It can be sending psychological or physical.
Examples of physical stress include restricting calories too much, your body
into starvation mode, illness or overtraining when you work out. Addressing
these issues is important for maintaining a healthy body weight and body composition.

Undiagnosed Medical Problems

Some medical conditions make it more difficult to lose weight. One of the
most common is an underactive thyroid. Symptoms of an underactive thyroid may
be subtle – weight gain, dry skin, feeling cold all the time, lack of energy,
brain fog, constipation or depression. Hypothyroidism, or an underactive
thyroid, most commonly affects women around the time of menopause and many
women brush off the symptoms, assuming they’re due to hormonal changes.
Fortunately, there are blood tests that are reasonably accurate for detecting
an underactive thyroid, although some experts believe some women with
borderline low thyroid function that are having symptoms may still benefit from
treatment. This is something to talk to your doctor about.

Loss of Lean Body Mass

You gradually lose lean body mass with age. That loss of lean muscle tissue
takes a toll on your metabolism since muscle is metabolically active tissue
while fat is not. Two things you can do to reduce the impact of loss of muscle
tissue on your metabolism is to do regular strength training and make sure
you’re getting enough protein in your diet. Strength training stimulates muscle
growth while amino acids from protein supply the building blocks. It can offset
some of the age-related changes in metabolism that make it hard to lose weight.


The Bottom Line?

It’s frustrating when you eat a healthy diet, closely monitor your calorie
intake, exercise and still can’t lose weight. Stress, lack of sleep, medical problems,
medications and loss of lean body mass all make it harder to lose body fat.
Keep these factors in mind.


For more fitness tips/lose weight tips, contact our fitness director,
Noelle Lusardi, at  Or visit our website at
for our latest weigh loss programs/specials.  Let us help you lose weight quickly and permanently.



PLoS Medicine. “Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin,
Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index”

Physician’s Desk Reference.

University of New Mexico. “Cortisol Connection: Tips on Managing Stress and


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