Sustenance

Six reasons why your scale won’t budge

Sustenance

Six reasons why your scale won’t budge

Whether you only want to shed a few pounds or have already lost a significant amount of weight and cannot get the last 15 pounds to budge, weight loss can be a challenge. Kathirae Severson, D.O., an internal medicine physician at Piedmont, says one of the biggest complaints she hears from her patients is that they cannot get rid of those last few stubborn pounds.

Common weight loss saboteurs:

The following factors can slow your weight loss results, says Dr. Severson.

  1. Eating too few calories. Starving yourself will only decrease your metabolism. “I would encourage people not to go on a very low-calorie diet because it can slow down your metabolism. Even if you return to a normal, healthy meal plan after you lose the weight, you’ll start to gain it back. Your body will hold onto any calories it can get.”

  2. Following fad diets or quick-fix plans. While you may shed pounds with weight loss shakes or supplements, those results are usually short-lived because they cannot be sustained for a long period of time and supplements can be expensive.

  3. Eating too many processed foods. “I introduce a lot of my patients to lower-carb meal plans, like a modified Mediterranean diet,” says Dr. Severson. “In general, if nature made it, it’s okay. If someone else made it, it’s likely processed.”

  4. Skimping on strength training. “If people are walking, that is great, but it doesn’t increase muscle tone,” she says. “Your metabolism will go up if you increase muscle mass. You need to incorporate strength training. Just two to three sessions a week can be enough to help your body build muscle.”

  5. Losing weight too quickly. “If you want to keep weight off, aim to lose two to five pounds a month,” says Dr. Severson. “With super quick weight loss, you will likely gain it all back. You have to be consistent.”

  6. Not sticking to your regimen. By watching your calorie, carbohydrate and fat intake, as well as getting regular exercise, you should notice a change in a few weeks. Keep in mind that stress, dining out too often or even starting a new job can lead to weight gain. Get on the scale once a week and if you notice even a subtle weight gain, pay extra attention to your portion sizes and make sure you are getting enough exercise.

Weight loss tips that work

Dr. Severson suggests the following tips to lose weight for good:

  • Eat snacks throughout the day, but limit your daily caloric intake to 1,200 to 1,500 (for women) and 1,500 to 2,000 (for men).

  • When a sweet craving hits, try drinking spiced tea to curb your sweet tooth.

  • Limit your sweet tea and soda intake. Dr. Severson has seen patients lose up to 20 pounds in six months just by cutting out high calorie drinks. Replace these drinks with infused water or plain H20.

  • Get a yearly physical. This is a good way to keep up with your weight and make sure there is not an underlying issue. If you feel like weight loss is hopeless, your primary care physician can help troubleshoot.

  • To avoid impulsive splurges, plan your meals in advance and never go to the grocery store hungry.

How your physician can help

Your physician is there to help you meet your weight loss goals, whether you are starting a new regimen or have hit a plateau. During a routine wellness visit, he or she will calculate your body mass index (BMI), which can help determine if you need to lose weight or not. If you have been trying to lose weight for three months, but haven’t seen results, talk with your doctor.

Stalled weight loss efforts can be attributed to many factors, such as hormones, stress, age and metabolism.

“As you age, your metabolism slows down and stress can produce cortisol, which leads to weight gain,” she says. “It’s a normal process, but something we have to constantly monitor. It’s easy to gain five pounds a year if you don’t pay attention.”

Learn more about nutrition for cancer survivors.

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