Struggling to Lose Weight? Here Are 6 Often-Overlooked Factors

For many of us, January is the time of year when we work on losing weight. And it’s usually such a struggle—especially after living loose and large with all those holiday cookies. Ugh.

But if you’re not seeing the scale budge in the next few weeks, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure (really, you’re not). In fact, if you’re struggling to drop a few pounds, it might not even have anything to do with your diet. Here are six wellness factors we often overlook when we’re trying to lose weight.

Why You May Be Struggling to Lose Weight

If you've been dieting but still struggling to lose weight, these wellness factors could be holding you back. Diet is only one small piece of weight loss the puzzle.

1. Stress

When we experience near-constant, low-grade stress, we are putting ourselves in constant fight or flight mode. This encourages our body to produce the stress hormone cortisol, which signals the liver to release more glucose into the bloodstream, which then causes an increase in insulin production.

The issue with our modern stress is that it’s not the sort of stress that requires a physical fight or flight. Most of our stress happens in an office or in the comfort of our own home—places where we don’t really have much use all that excess sugar floating around in our blood. When this happens day in and day out, not only do you start storing that glucose as fat, but you begin to develop insulin resistance—a precursor to diabetes.

A bit of daily meditation might be just what the doctor (and your waistline) ordered.

Do not disturb

2. Sleep

Getting enough quality sleep is paramount for weight loss. If you sleep too little, your hunger hormones get thrown way off, making you feel hungrier than you should.

As if that weren’t enough, even one night of poor sleep has been shown to impair insulin sensitivity, meaning we immediately begin to store more energy as fat throughout the day. So poor sleep makes you hungrier and more likely to store fat—a dangerous combo.

If you’re regularly sleeping less than seven hours a night and struggling with your weight, consider it time to make some major changes.

3. Food Sensitivities

If you’re enjoying inflammatory foods often, things are probably getting thrown out of whack, especially your metabolism. If you are sensitive to gluten, dairy, or something else, consuming that food can tax your immune system, cause bloating and inflammation and encourage your body to cling on to/gain weight.

Seek out a professional for support in determining your unique sensitivities and consider trying an elimination diet to test which foods don’t work for you (which may potentially help you drop a few pounds in the process).

4. Hormones

If you’re struggling with your weight, you may have issues with hormonal imbalance. Over time, our bodies can develop resistance to important signaling hormones like insulin and leptin.

When insulin isn’t able to function properly, it causes your body to store energy as fat. And leptin is our hormone that signals when we’re full. However, in many overweight or obese individuals, leptin is less able to travel to the brain, meaning the brain never gets the signal that the body is full, which encourages consistent overeating.

If you’re struggling to lose weight, it’s important to see a doctor and get your hormones tested.

Active senior man having strength exercise with barbell in a gym.

5. Exercise (both type and quantity)

Not all exercise is created equal. While getting regular exercise is important to maintain a healthy weight, it’s not that simple.

For some, overdoing cardio exercise can actually stress the body and encourage it to hold on to excess weight, thanks in part to the stress hormone cortisol. That’s why it’s so important to incorporate weekly strength training into your fitness routine.

Increasing muscle mass boosts metabolism and helps your body burn more sugar, which means less of it gets stored as fat. Of course, you can still benefit from some cardio. Exercise, like diet, works best when you balance a little bit of everything.

6. Environmental Toxins

Chemicals like BPA, dioxin, phthalates, and certain pesticides disrupt the delicate balance of our endocrine system (our hormones). Known as obestrogens, these chemicals impair the communication between hormones and fat cells.

Our bodies often store obestrogens in the fat tissue itself, which can complicate things when you’re trying to lose weight and burn that toxin-laden fat.

Start minimizing your exposure to chemicals in plastics, non-organic foods, cleaning products and personal care products. Practicing detoxifying activities—like sauna or hot yoga—to help your body process and eradicate toxic fat doesn’t hurt, either.

If you’ve been dieting and are still struggling to lose weight, don’t give up. It may take some detective work and some self-discovery, but you’ll get there. Just realize that diet is only one small piece of the puzzle.

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Images via Getty


Helen C
Helen C21 days ago

Watch them carbs if you are diabetic

Leanne K
Leanne K28 days ago

Ditch the car, it works wonders

Georgina Elizab M
Georgina Elizab M2 months ago


Paulo R
Paulo R2 months ago


maria reis
maria reis2 months ago


Renata Kovacs
Renata Kovacs2 months ago

Thank you for sharing,,

Edgar Zuim
Edgar Zuim2 months ago


Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Mike R
Mike R2 months ago


Lorraine A
Lorraine A2 months ago

Thanks for sharing!