You’ve been working so hard to lose weight – eating the right foods and exercising – and the scale doesn’t budge. You do everything right and nothing seems to make a difference. No matter how little you eat, what diet you follow, or how vigorously you exercise, the weight just won’t come off. The question is, why?

Nothing is more discouraging than feeling like you’re giving 100% to your weight loss efforts – with no results. Weight loss resistance can feel like a lesson in futility.

But what if you knew that what you put in your mouth was only half the story behind your inability to lose weight? Here are 7 surprising reasons why your body might be weight loss resistant.

1. You’re under-eating and your body is going into a survival response.

Is it possible to be eating too little? Yes, it certainly is. If you’re consuming too few calories your body essentially goes into starvation mode and receives the message that it needs to protect itself. This means holding onto weight for protection’s sake.

The body perceives reduced calorie intake as a stressor. When we are stressed we produce high levels of cortisol and adrenaline. These stress hormones cause our bodies to slow down the rate at which we burn calories. Stress hinders our metabolism!

So consider taking a look at how much you’re eating. Be sure you’re feeding yourself when hungry and stopping when full. Tune into your body’s hunger cues. Don’t skip meals for the sake of dieting. Nourish yourself when your body is telling you that you need food and you might improve your weight loss efforts.

2. You’re over exercising and your body is going into a stress response.

Did you know that over-doing it with exercise could also cause a stress response in your body? Just like under eating, over-exercising can cause you to hang onto weight due to an increased amount of stress hormones in your body.

Everyone is different. We all have unique bodies and diverse capacities for exercise. So what works well for one person may not work well for you.

Tune into your body. Exercise should leave you feeling energetic, clear-headed and focused. If you find yourself feeling depleted every single day, one place to look is your movement. How long do you exercise? What type of exercise are you doing?

If you’re consistently overtired consider incorporating restorative movement rather than intense exercise into your day. Restorative movement includes slower types of exercise such as walking, yoga, tai chi or swimming. Experiment to find your sweet spot with movement – incorporate just the right amount so you stoke your metabolism rather than burning it out with stress hormones.

3. You’re deficient in essential fatty acids.

Fat is not the enemy. In fact, fat is essential for our bodies to function properly and well. If you’re someone who is over-focused on a fat free lifestyle you just might be getting the opposite of what you are seeking – inability to shed pounds.

Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are fats that our body needs for proper health and function. Common food sources include cold-water fish, such as salmon, herring and mackerel and vegetarian sources such as almonds, flax, hemp, walnuts, dark leafy green vegetables, whole grains and olive oil.

Lack of essential fatty acids in the body can trigger the body to store weight and resist weight loss. In fact, inability to lose weight has long been known to be a symptom of EFA deficiency. EFAs are the building blocks of many hormones in the body. Avoiding fat negatively impacts hormonal health and, therefore, challenges your metabolism. The bottom line is weight resistance can result from too little fat, not too much of it.

4. You’re not getting enough pleasure in your diet.

Did you know that you trigger the stress response in your body when you relate negatively to food? If you’re someone who constantly battles internally with challenging thoughts surrounding food it may be time to focus on finding pleasure with your meals.

Allowing yourself to enjoy the food that you eat brings you back into the present. It allows you to fully taste and experience your food and this has the benefit of helping you feel satiated and satisfied. Without pleasure in your diet you may experience more food cravings and feel hungry more often. You may find it difficult to avoid foods that you know do not sit well with your body.

Focusing on being present with your food and incorporating pleasure into the process of eating can positively impact your efforts to lose weight. By truly experiencing the food you’re eating, you may be able to let go of challenging eating behaviors, such as overeating and bingeing.

Letting go of your eating battles allows you to relax into the eating process. In doing this you send your body the message that you are worthy of love. Anytime you show yourself love and respect you improve your metabolism. The bottom line is you stand a greater chance of losing weight if you find pleasure in your relationship with food.

5. Your gut micro biome is imbalanced.

You may have heard these days about probiotics and the importance of having a healthy gut. A lot has been written in the mainstream media about intestinal health and the role it plays in health challenges, such as autoimmune disease. But a healthy gut does not just impact our immune system – it also plays a role in our weight.

The gut is considered our “second brain.” Also known as the Enteric Nervous System, the gut brain is actually housed under the mucosal lining and between the muscular layers of the esophagus, the stomach, and the small and large intestines. Through a complicated network of neurons and neurochemicals it senses and controls events in other parts of the body, including the brain.

Intestinal health requires making sure that the good bacteria in your gut outweighs the bad. You can increase the good bacteria in your gut by eating fermented foods such as yogurt or kefir or by taking a probiotic, which you can find at most pharmacies these days or a health food store.

An unhealthy gut can impact our weight loss efforts in a couple different ways. For one, it can cause us to experience low energy and poor moods. This can make it difficult to find motivation to exercise and avoid temptations with food.

Secondly, gut health impacts our ability to digest and assimilate nutrition. So less than optimal gut conditions prevent the body from taking full advantage of nutrients in food. A healthy gut improves overall metabolism and gives you increased capacity to shed weight.

6. You are trying to hate yourself into a body you will love.

You think that being hard on yourself will help produce the results you want with your weight. But what if you knew that every time you criticized yourself and your actions that you are actually hindering the process?

Insulting and criticizing yourself is just another way of triggering your stress response. And guess what that does? It makes it difficult to lose weight. So if you are actively beating yourself down on a daily basis it’s time to let that go. Focus instead on developing a more positive inner dialogue.

Even just a slight shift in tone with your inner voice can make a world of difference. So even if you cannot love the body you live in at least work on being thankful for how your body has served you. This is a good place to start.

7. Your body simply does not need to lose weight.

You may feel like you’re overweight based on a standard set by someone outside of yourself. Or perhaps you’re comparing yourself to airbrushed images in the media. But a scale that does not budge may actually be a sign that your body has found its natural weight.

This is an opportunity for you to consider that your body is right where it’s meant to be. While this may feel like a challenge, it may be time to work on accepting the miraculous and complex body that serves you so well. Focus on all the positives that it brings you and let go of the weight loss. You just might find that you feel better in your skin and the world around you.

Here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating we advocate a new approach to weight loss and body image. We understand that food and what we eat is only half the story when it comes to our bodies and good health. Through the fields of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition we encourage people to take the discussion one step further and consider that food is just a starting point for a deeper look at relationships with self and body.

Warm Regards,

The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014


The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, and Weight Loss

Get My Book!

Get Your FREE Video Series

New Insights to Forever Transform Your Relationship with Food

P.S. If you haven’t had a chance to check out our FREE information-packed video series, The Dynamic Eating Psychology Breakthrough, you can sign up for it HERE. It’s a great way to get a better sense of the work we do here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. If you’re inspired by this work and want to learn about how you can become certified as an Eating Psychology Coach, please go HERE to learn more. And if you’re interested in working on your own personal relationship with food, check out our breakthrough 8-week program designed for the public, Transform Your Relationship with Food, HERE.

  • Martine Zwijnenberg

    Also, losing weight causes fat soluble poisons to come into your blood stream. If the liver does not have the correct type and amount of nutrients to break these fat soluble poisons down into water soluble particles it will think: ‘Hey, lets store these back up in the fat’ and do whatever it can to prevent you from losing weight. This is why a detox before dieting is important AND the detox should contain the correct nutrients including proteine and vitamine B – this is not the case in a lot of detox programs because they mainly focus on greens and fruits.

    • Hi Martine! Thank you for sharing! Indeed, the liver works overtime as we attempt to lose weight and can get bogged down by toxins produced during that process, and a proper detox can really help. Before jumping into a detox though it’s important to check in with your naturopath or health care professional! Warmly, Emily

About The Author
Emily Rosen

Emily Rosen is the Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, where she oversees business development strategies, student affairs, marketing and public relations in addition to her role as Senior Teacher. With an extensive and varied background in nutritional science, counseling, natural foods, the culinary arts, conscious sex education, mind body practices, business management and marketing, Emily brings a unique skill-set to her role at the Institute. She has also been a long-term director and administrator for Weight Loss Camps and Programs serving teens and adults and has held the position of Executive Chef at various retreat centers. Her passion for health and transformation has provided her the opportunity to teach, counsel, manage, and be at the forefront of the new wave of professionals who are changing the way we understand the science and psychology of eating and sexuality. Emily is also co -founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.