The reasons why you’ve hit a weight loss plateau Print

What to do if you can’t seem to lose weight despite your best efforts

One of the areas that our nutrition counselling practice specializes in is helping our clients achieve their personal best weight. For some of our clients this involves weight loss and for others this involves weight maintenance and acceptance. You may have noticed losing weight and keeping it off seems to be easy for some people but incredibly hard for others. It is also common to experience weight loss plateaus. Why does this happen? In this article I will explore 3 of the most common reasons you may not lose weight and some food for thought on what you can do about it:weight loss plateau

  1. You are not a robot

We are all different. Just like we all have different shoe sizes we all have different body sizes. There are many genetic, family history and lifestyle factors that influence body weight and the rate at which weight loss (or weight gain) occurs. Some people are lean burning machines while others are better at storing and hanging onto weight. Weight loss is often faster if you have a very large amount of weight to lose and often is slower the closer you get to your body’s natural set point.

Plateaus are common especially if your body has lost a significant amount of weight. If you have been making good progress sometimes all you need is patience (not extra tweaking of your food and exercise program). Focus more on making a shift with healthy habits you can sustain over time and less on obsessively monitoring the scale. If you have been carrying extra weight for a long time and the scale trend is moving down at a few pounds per month the sustainable changes you are making are far more important than the speed of weight loss. Biggest sustainers trump biggest losers.

  1. Food and exercise habits are only PART of the equation

The diet and fitness industry widely promotes the myth that if you eat less and exercise you can lose weight. Of course your nutrition and exercise habits are important considerations that can help, but at some point you can’t eat any less or exercise any more. Food and exercise are only part of the weight loss equation.

Here is a list of ten important factors that influence body weight. Take some time to explore which of the above factors may be influencing your weight. Set goals around factors you can change and find peace and acceptance with those that you can’t change.

10 Factors that influence your weight

  1. Personal genetics – just like we each have a different shoe size, we each have a different body size.
  2. Family history – may play a role in overall body shape.
  3. Age & gender – metabolism declines with age in adulthood; puberty increase body fat for girls; menopause shifts more weight in midsection.
  4. Medical concerns & medications – thyroid issues or other medical conditions and medications can increase or decrease weight.
  5. Nutrition – calories consumed over time.
  6. Fluids – Body is ~50-60% water & changes dramatically with hydrating foods/fluids; carbs store more water (1g carb stores 3g water); caffeine is a diuretic.
  7. Exercise – calories burned; more muscle increases weight & metabolism.
  8. Body composition – bone structure and muscle mass increase weight; women require more body fat.
  9. Stress – chronic stress, inadequate sleep and starvation all cause your body to hang onto weight.
  10. Eating disorder behavior – bingeing, restricting, purging, laxative, diuretic use all influence body weight shifts in random ways.
  1. You may be over (or under) eating calories

Failing to consume enough calories is a form of stress for the body, which can adjust the hormones in your body to favor retaining weight. If you have read a diet magazine that suggests an adult needs only 1200 calories per day this is likely far too low to be sustainable, enjoyable and helpful to manage a healthy metabolism (after all a 2 year old needs 1000 calories a day and they are much smaller than an adult!). Find out more here: How many calories do I need per day?

Consuming too few calories compared to what your body requires is a form of stress for the body and will inevitably not help you manage your personal best weight and enjoy flexible eating habits over time. Your metabolism is like a furnace, if food is in short supply it slows the furnace or metabolism down.

On the other hand eating too many calories for what your body requires is one of the leading causes of obesity in North America. I often find many of our clients struggling to lose excess weight underestimate how much they are eating and overestimate how many calories are burned during physical activity. If you are carrying extra weight, hitting the gym and burning off 300 calories during your workout would not warrant an expanded extra-large supper and justify two helpings of dessert.

Where can I find out more information?

For a non-dieting approach to help you achieve your personal best weight contact our practice so you can speak with me for a complimentary call so we can explore if our nutrition counselling services or my online nutrition program is a good fit for you. CONTACT US

Watch this video on Weight Plateaus:

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About Andrea Holwegner

CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker

Andrea the «Chocoholic Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more

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"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. Andrea and her team really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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