Our weight can be affected by lots of things and being aware of the things in our life that might have an impact can be helpful, for instance:
- Sleep – When you are tired you not only have less energy to move but are also more likely to eat more in an effort to feel more energetic. Lack of sleep can also have an impact on your hormones and this too can affect your appetite and cause you to eat more than you need.
- Stress- The more stressed we are the more our cortisol levels increase which has shown to cause weight to be stored around our midsection more easily. Feeling like you are constantly in a state of flight or fight can also affect our hormones and affect our weight.
- Age- Our metabolism does slow with age and so (especially for women around menopause where estrogen levels start to decrease) it can feel like it’s harder to maintain our weight as we get older. This is probably heightened by the fact that weight distribution can also change as we age (so we start to notice new ‘problem’ areas we’d never noticed before).
- Hydration Levels – Dehydration affects our body functioning properly and can affect amongst other things digestion. Some people will also confuse thirst with hunger, so whilst the old ‘you’re not hungry drink a glass of water’ saying may feel like outdated diet twaddle, if you haven’t drank much that day but have eaten recently you may indeed actually be thirsty.
- Genes- Yes how and where we gain weight is affected by genes and also family background, how we were taught to approach food , our families eating habits and so on will likely subconsciously affect how we think about food now and may be the source of some of our misconceptions about diets and certain food groups.
- Medication – Everyone reacts differently to medications but for some weight gain can be a side effect from taking medication long term. That may be because they cause carb cravings, water retention, affect your metabolism, increase appetite (some medications do the opposite and supress your appetite). Some medical conditions themselves can have an effect on your weight, be it through appetite changes or being less able to exercise / move, and thyroid conditions for instance have a direct effect on your weight away from food and movement.
All of these things can affect our weight and how easily we might find it to lose weight, of course this is just a selection of a variety of circumstances and factors that can play a part.
But whilst it’s good to be aware of these things (and beyond weight reducing stress, sleeping more, drinking more water are going to have a positive effect on us) let’s not forget that they alone are unlikely (medical conditions aside) to be the sole reason you aren’t losing weight.
If you are eating more calories than you are burning a day that is the reason you are not losing (or even gaining) weight. Your medication might be making it harder, stress and lack of sleep may not be helping, but these things are great things to review either for the other benefits they bring or as additional considerations AFTER you have established whether your energy in versus energy out is where it should be.
Think of it like trying to ice a cake before it’s cooked. You need to get the absolute basics (calories) right before looking into the minute (lifestyle factors, macros, whether your Deadlift on a Monday or Friday) aspects of your life for the results to turn out as you’d like.