So… you’ve been working out reguarly, making smart nutritional choices that focus on your goals, increasing water intake, and you’ve even found ways to sneak in more steps throughout the work day – and yet, the scale is not showing you any change. This is enough to drive anyone into frustration. Frustration leads to binge eating or even meal skipping then finally wanting to give up. But before you throw in the towel, let’s take a look at three major areas that could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
Getting your beauty sleep is more important than you probably thought! Of course, just because you start sleeping more doesn’t mean you’ll automatically start losing weight. But, you might be surprised to find out that lack of sleep, or poor quality sleep, could be disrupting your weight loss efforts. From the obvious (when you’re tired you may mindlessly grub) to the not so obvious (excess cortisol and increased insulin), sleep is as important to monitor as your calories and your activity.
There are two pesky little hormones that lead to unhealthy snacking when you’re not getting enough sleep: grehlin and leptin. When you’re sleep deprived, you produce more grehlin which is the ‘go’ hormone – the one that tells you you’re hungry. So, you eat more.
Then, there’s leptin, the “stop” hormone, which is affected in exactly the opposite way from lack of sleep. There is less leptin being produced so the “I’m hungry” switch doesn’t come on quite so quickly. So, you don’t stop. Makes sense of why you might be eating more when you’re tired.
Lack of sleep has also been linked to an increase in blood sugars, causing a spike in insulin. Too much insulin promotes the storage of body fat.
Of course, it’s good to note that sleeping more doesn’t automatically fix anything. In other words, if you start sleeping 10 hours a day, you’re not going to end up dropping 10lbs in a month! But, you may notice some changes if you’re able to get the average daily recommended sleep (7.5 hrs for adults). I understand more than anyone that everyone is swamped in life and beauty sleep is a luxury but we all have the same 24 hours, its all about time planning.
You’ve been hitting your favorite workout for months, seeing great results and having a blast! But lately you’ve noticed the changes have slowed down, and you’ve hit a plateau. Blame it on homeostasis. Homeostasis is the ability of the body to maintain a state of equilibrium within its internal environment when dealing with external changes. When we do the same movements repetitively over a period of time, our bodies become more efficient at that movement, resulting in burning fewer calories. Try varying the volume and intensity of your exercises, incorporate cross training, and try something new.
Take a deep breath! No really, relax, even if it is for two minutes. When you experience a stressful situation, your body produces the hormone, cortisol, which is a good thing if the threat is life or death because it provides a rush of energy and strength! We all deal with varying levels of stress from day to day, but the way we deal with it (or don’t deal with it) can lead to excess cortisol in your system that is not necessary. With prolonged stress, your body never “winds down,” causing a chronic increase in cortisol.
Too much cortisol can suppress the thyroid, lower your immune response, and imbalance your blood sugar in the short term. More importantly, over time, excess cortisol can lead to loss of muscle mass, chronically increased blood sugar, which can become a precursor to Type 2 diabetes, and increased body fat (especially around the belly).
Chronic stress is also linked to depression that can lead to a higher consumption of food. One recent study found that obese people had a 55% increased risk of developing depression over time.
As you’re probably gathering, none of this sounds good for someone on a weight loss journey. Pay just as much attention to how you “cope” with the stressors in your life and minimize (or get rid of) those that you can.
Before you ditch your weight loss journey due to perceived “lack of results,” remember that getting fitter may not register on the scale right away. If you’re still not satisfied with the numbers you’re seeing, take a look at the three areas listed above and see if some subtle shifts in sleep, stress, and predictability might give you the jumpstart you need.