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  • Writer's pictureHolly Heartz

What's preventing you from achieving long-term weight loss?

Updated: Jan 25

Are you struggling with long-term weight loss?  It’s more than just counting and expending calories.  Various factors play a role in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.


Sustaining lifestyle changes with diet and exercise are the accepted norm for achieving weight loss, however, these approaches don’t work for everyone.  In these instances, a more in-depth understanding of what might be affecting your weight loss efforts becomes essential.


Genetics can be a hurdle in the quest for weight loss.  Approximately 20% of Caucasians carry a gene variant called FTO, which can make your efforts to lose weight more difficult.  Various companies offer genetic testing to determine if you have the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene, resulting in a less efficient metabolism. Having this gene can make losing weight challenging by affecting your body’s ability to release energy during exercise.  Knowing if you have the FTO gene variant can provide insight into the difficulties in shedding stubborn fat.


Environmental factors also contribute.  While proper hydration and nutrition are vital, factors like sleep, relaxation, movement, exercise, and stress resilience contribute to effective weight management.


Trauma is another consideration.  Unresolved trauma can make weight loss more challenging, and seeking help from a counselor may be necessary.


Stress, a common aspect of daily life, can affect various organs, particularly the digestive system and its microbiome.  Overtraining, inadequate rest, and a rushed lifestyle can increase cortisol levels, leading to belly fat accumulation.  Hence, effective stress management becomes crucial.


Moreover, consuming ultra-processed foods and neglecting physical activity are stressors to the body and are linked to diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and hypertension.  Lifestyle choices have a direct impact on mortality and morbidity and it’s essential to address them.


Understanding what “consuming real foods” means is crucial.  Googling diets or following the latest diet may inadvertently stress the body as it may be missing nutrients it desperately needs to function correctly. Moreover, consuming foods to which you are allergic or sensitive can trigger a stress response in the body.


Effective stress management has wide-ranging benefits, influencing mood, concentration, pain intolerance, resilience, inflammation, insulin sensitivity, mitochondrial health, cardiovascular risk, and neuroplasticity.


Toxins, present in everyday items like makeup, shampoos, lotions, candles, and environmental pollutants, can affect appetite and the nervous system. While the body’s liver and kidneys naturally detoxify the body, long-term exposure can overwhelm organs already burdened with a poor diet, medications, stress, and toxins. 


In summary, a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and weight loss may not be effective for everyone.  It’s not just about calories in and out: our complexity as individuals means our nutritional needs differ.  Seeking guidance from a dietitian trained in integrative functional nutrition can help address the diverse factors influencing weight management discussed.


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