5 reasons you can't lose weight


You're doing your best to slim down, but the scale doesn't seem to budge. Sound familiar? "Weight loss revolves around all aspects of your lifestyle — sleep, stress, even mood," says Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, the director of Sports Medicine Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "And if you're neglecting one of these, you may be sabotaging your success."

We've come up with the top five reasons you may not be dropping dress sizes. Read on to find out if one's affecting you — so you can get back to getting results.

1. You're skimping on sleep. "If you don't sleep enough, your body looks for another way to find energy," says Bonci. "More often than not, that means you end up overeating just to stay awake." Plus, she adds, when you're exhausted you're less inclined to make smart food choices, and may even reach for 'quick fuel' — think sugar-laden or starchy products like donuts. Aim for seven to nine hours of shut-eye a night.

2. You're not combining diet and exercise. "Many people think that if they work out, they can eat whatever they want," says Kelli Calabrese, MS, a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. "They may gain muscle, which is great, but they won't see their shape change significantly until they cut back on calories, too."

3. You're stressed out. Stress works similarly to sleep deprivation, in that many people reach for food to cope, says Calabrese. Plus, many avoid the gym when they're anxious or overloaded, thinking they don't have time. But Calabrese points out that a good workout is crucial during tough times: "Exercise is one of the best things you can do to bring your stress level down."

4. You look at food as the enemy. "Restricting your favorite foods or targeting foods as 'good' and 'bad' will only set you up for a binge," says Bonci. "The key to weight loss is overall calorie reduction. Eat what you like, but eat less of it." And remember that eating after exercise is a must, stresses Calabrese. "Don't skip meals post-workout thinking you'll burn even more calories," she says. "Without fuel, your body goes into starvation mode, and your metabolism becomes sluggish to compensate." She recommends a balanced snack or meal that combines protein, carbohydrates and fat (like yogurt).

5. You haven't tried a new approach. "Many people I work with relapse many times before successfully losing weight," says Bonci. "So don't give up if your first attempt isn't successful," she says. "Switch things up by lifting weights or eating several mini-meals a day, for example. Try, try again — sooner or later your persistence will pay off."