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If you want to lose weight but can’t quite transfer that desire into action, you may have some barriers holding you back. Your willingness to make changes, to rein in unhealthy behaviors, will have a big impact on your body shape.

Asking yourself why you can’t lose weight is an important step, because it’s a way of acknowledging that what you’re doing now isn’t working. It means you’re beginning to look at alternatives and thinking about trying something different to get results.

Below are five of the most common reasons why people fail to lose weight, or can’t keep it off—and some solutions to help you get results.

1 Emotional Eating

It’s common for people to use food to preoccupy themselves or anesthetize themselves against negative emotions. Feelings of exhaustion, guilt, frustration, or sadness can trigger eating behaviors that are out of control. When you use food to deal with these emotions, it’s usually food that will cause you to gain weight rather than losing it.

Solution: Food may be a distraction from the problem, but it won’t solve it. Don’t wait for the problem to go away or think you can eat your way out of it. Deal with the source of any negative emotions, or plan your life to prevent them in the future. Learn to distinguish between emotional and physical hunger, and try to identify the events and feelings associated with your emotional eating. But until you tackle the underlying issues that lead you toward emotional eating, sustained weight loss will be difficult.

2 Slow metabolism

Your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories your body needs to sustain life, including the fuel burnt up in digestion, breathing, circulation, and tissue repair. Your stomach, lungs, heart, and brain all use calories to keep you going, using between 60 and 70 percent of your total daily caloric need.

Some people tend to have a fast metabolic rate while others have a sluggish one. It’s like a car. If you rev it up, it uses more fuel, but if you let it idle on low, it uses less fuel.

A slow metabolic rate is one of the most common reasons people don’t lose weight. A revved up metabolic rate can increase the number of calories you burn each day, even while you’re sleeping.

Solution: The good news is that there are many things you can do to change a slow metabolism. Some good strategies include eating breakfast, engaging in more exercise, doing resistance training, and avoiding fad diets.

3 Inactivity

Not so long ago, people didn’t have to plan their exercise because movement was a natural part of their day. Adults had physically active jobs, and kids walked to school. Now, desk-orientated work, inactive leisure time, and labor saving technology have dramatically reduced the amount of calories we use from exercise each day.

People move from one seat to another between home, work, on the way to work, and in their leisure time. This has contributed greatly to today’s skyrocketing obesity.

Solution: Regular exercise is essential to boosting your metabolism and truly removing excess stores of fat. Move more, and you lose more. In order to lose weight, it’s essential that you move your body more than you’re moving it now.

4 Constant Dieting

Because you’re taking in fewer calories on a diet, your body’s response is to slow down your metabolic rate to preserve fuel and store calories. It’s a built-in survival mechanism, which is why dieting without exercise rarely succeeds. Yet many people diet to lose weight.

When people say they’re going on a diet, they imply that they’ll eventually come off the diet. Why bother?

Short-term changes in your eating habits will result in only short-term changes to your body shape. The weight usually comes back quickly, and sometimes with a little bit of extra for your trouble.

Solution: Look for a long-term, healthy eating plan that includes subtle changes to your diet. Try to establish a way of eating that will last you a lifetime, not a short-term diet that eventually sends you on a bingeing spree.

Include plenty of natural foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole-grain foods. Drink water instead of juice or soft drinks, and eliminate all use of alcohol.

5 The Wrong Attitude

The extent to which you are emotionally ready to lose weight can determine your long-term success. Your attitude toward modifying your lifestyle and your readiness to change will have a big impact on your results.

It’s important to accept the fact that the changes to your eating habits and activity levels must be permanent. A positive attitude toward your healthy eating and exercise, and toward the additional time it will take to prepare healthier food, will make a major contribution to your weight-loss program.

Solution: Look for activities you’ll have fun doing, create tasty, healthy meals you’ll enjoy, and celebrate your small achievements. Don’t let negative thoughts and feelings hinder you from reaching your goals.

Weight-loss Quiz

Are you having trouble losing weight? Would you like to know what’s holding you back? The quiz below will challenge you to think about what’s helping and hindering your progress toward optimum health. Complete the questions and check your score.

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

by Andrew Cate
  
From the August 2008 Signs  

Common Barriers to Weight Loss

  • Medical condition or illness
  • Busy lifestyle
  • Stress / depression
  • Excessive television viewing
  • Inactive leisure time
  • Misinformation
  • Unhealthy environment
  • Reliance on autos
  • Eating out often
  • Genetics
  • Snacking
  • Poor food choices

Weight Loss Quiz

  1. Measuring success
    Do you have a way to measure your success at losing body fat apart from weighing yourself?
    • Yes
    • No
  2. Expectations
    Do you expect your results to come slowly?
    • Yes
    • No
  3. Attitude
    Is this a good time for you to change?
    • Yes
    • No
  4. Motivation
    Do you know why you want to lose weight?
    • Yes
    • No
  5. Commitment
    Are you serious about making lifestyle changes?
    • Yes
    • No
  6. Goals
    Do you have any specific health and fitness goals?
    • Yes
    • No
  7. Fats
    Do you try to limit fatty foods?
    • Yes
    • No
  8. Protein
    Do you eat plenty of lean protein foods?
    • Yes
    • No
  9. Processed foods
    Do you eat plenty of fresh foods and avoid processed foods?
    • Yes
    • No
  10. Fiber
    Do you eat plenty of high-fiber foods, such as vegetables, fruit, and beans?
    • Yes
    • No
  11. Portion size
    Do you try to keep your portion sizes small?
    • Yes
    • No
  12. Eating speed
    Do you try to eat slowly and savor your food?
    • Yes
    • No
  13. Meal timing
    Do you have a big breakfast and small dinner?
    • Yes
    • No
  14. Breakfast
    Do you eat breakfast on most days of the week?
    • Yes
    • No
  15. Snacking
    Do you limit and choose healthy snacks?
    • Yes
    • No
  16. Junk food
    Do you have junk food less than once a week?
    • Yes
    • No
  17. Weather
    Do you have an alternative exercise plan for bad weather?
    • Yes
    • No
  18. Fast food
    Do you eat out once a week or less?
    • Yes
    • No
  19. Drinks
    Do you have more water than other beverages?
    • Yes
    • No
  20. Alcohol
    If you drink, have you tried to you eliminate it?
    • Yes
    • No
  21. Meal planning
    Do you plan your meals and snacks in advance?
    • Yes
    • No
  22. Sleep
    Do you wake up feeling good, and do you get enough sleep?
    • Yes
    • No
  23. Exercise
    Do you exercise four days a week or more?
    • Yes
    • No
  24. Television
    Do you watch less than 60 minutes of television a day?
    • Yes
    • No
  25. Knowledge
    Do you stay informed about your health?
    • Yes
    • No

Your results

To identify your limiting factors, examine carefully all the “No” answers in the quiz. If you answered truthfully, you will discover the reasons why you can’t lose weight, and you will have a better understanding of the changes you need to make in order to lose weight.

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