You have tried everything to lose weight, but the pounds just aren't going anywhere. So what's the rub? While you might be doing your best effort to live that healthy lifestyle, there may be an underlying factor to those extra pounds: your brain. (Yes, you read that correctly!) Studies show that your brain might be tricking you into staying overweight, so we're here to investigate.
1. Your brain and stomach don’t connect. Get ready for a healthy dose of science, folks. When you eat, the nerves within the stomach wall signal to your nervous system, telling it whether you feel full. Studies from the International Journal of Obesity have shown that those nerves are desensitized in people who are obese. That means they’ll eat a lot more food than necessary before their stomachs feel full. The nerves cannot be re-sensitized, which can make maintaining weight loss difficult.
Tip: Leave a couple bites on your plate when your stomach feels comfortable. Don’t eat to the point of feeling full!
2. Going on a diet has the same effects as drug withdrawal. If your body is used to consuming high-fat foods, then going on a diet can send you reeling into the pits of despair. Those who replace their high-fat diet with healthy foods often experience the same side effects as those suffering drug withdrawal, like stress, aggravation and being easily annoyed.
Tip: Avoid yo-yo dieting. That rush of dopamine as you binge on Cheetos followed by a few days of healthy eating will make dieting much harder than it needs to be.
3. The lure of cheap food. You’re cruising through Costco with your binder of coupons, and you swear you could take on the world. For the cost of one dinner at Olive Garden, you could have a year’s worth of animal crackers and juice boxes. What a steal! Now that these two unhealthy snacks are in your pantry, you’ll proceed to eat them at twice the rate you would have before you bought them in bulk. Calorie City: Population you.
Tip: Being thrifty has its benefits, but make sure you don’t purchase food just because it’s cheap.
>> Read More: 11 Foods to Prep Each Week and Eat as Often as Possible
4. Justifying your post-workout snack. Just because you had a fabulous workout doesn’t mean you’re entitled to eating a couple donuts or a fistful of Cheez-Its. Our brain is more than happy to trick us into thinking it’s all right to binge post-workout.
Tip: Are you hungry after your workout? That’s normal. Try our easy-to-make PB and Fruit Protein Balls or load up on good-for-you protein and restore your energy levels with our Skinny Mom Protein Powder. Either option will fill you up without filling you with unnecessary calories or unhealthy fat.
5. Artificial sweeteners are your mortal enemy. We’re talking aspartame. It comes in several forms and hides in zero-calorie sweeteners like Equal, NutraSweet and Spoonful. Study after study has shown that aspartame actually promotes weight gain, even though it hides in healthy packaging. In fact, aspartame keeps you feeling hungry, craving sweets and even increases your fat storage.
Tip: Start checking your food packaging for aspartame and the two chemicals it contains: phenylalanine and aspartate.
6. Don’t snack when you’ve been drinking. Your brain turns off all sense of logic when it’s two sheets to the wind, and suddenly that bowl of salty pretzels or large pepperoni pizza looks ultra appealing. Resist! Beer is also a quick way to use up your day’s allotment of calories.
Tip: Head to a bar that doesn’t have a kitchen or food menu! You might be craving mozzarella sticks, but lucky for you, the bar doesn’t serve them.
7. You’re embarrassed to go to the gym. This fear is all-too-real for those of us who want to shed a few pounds. The tight gym clothes, the testosterbros pumping iron, not knowing how to use the equipment…the reasons to avoid the gym seem to stretch on forever! This is one of the biggest reasons people don’t go to the gym, but it’s completely unfounded. Gym members are there to lose weight and build muscle, just like you, so don't be intimidated!
Tip: If the gym seems daunting, try going during the off-hours where you can practice your workout in solitude, or you can work out at home. We have tons of calorie-blasting at-home workouts that will get you sweating better than a treadmill ever will.
8. Skipping meals. Don’t do it! Your mind might rationalize with itself and convince you that skipping lunch before your anniversary dinner is a good idea, but it’s not. In fact, skipping a meal only makes you gain weight. Your metabolism will slow down and you’re more likely to overeat during your next meal. No, thanks!
Tips: People who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to lose weight! Lucky for you, we have some of the best breakfast recipes in town—and they won’t cost you any added poundage. Check out our breakfast recipe index here.
Losing weight is hard, and these mental obstacles make it even harder. This means it's even more important to stop the bad habits that are compounding the difficulties. Decide that you're ready, be more committed than ever, and stick with a plan. If you're ready for a new weight loss strategy that truly works, check out our 21-Day Shred food and fitness program that has helped thousands of women lose weight for good.