Why Can’t I Loose Weight?
As a thyroid and hormone specialist, I get this questions asked a lot. In fact, weight-related health concerns are a very, if not THE most common reason people come to seek help for.
“I can’t lose weight”, “I have put on 5 kg in the last 6 months and can’t seem to loose it”, “if I could just lose this weight I would feel so much better”.
These are just some of the comments I hear several times per day, and trust me I get it, so why don’t I want weight loss to be your health goal? Because like a watched pot that never boils, when you are focused on your weight it never seems to shift.
Patients presenting with weight loss problems often undertake drastic measures in order to lose weight: severely restrict their calories intake, follow restrictive and unhealthy diet trends that promise the perfect summer body in as little as six weeks, and worst of all, they ignore the root cause of their inability to lose their weight. These measures are nothing but harmful for several reasons:
- They damage your relationship with food – Food is strictly linked to culture, pleasure, wellbeing, good memories. Seeing it as an enemy and as the only cause of your inability to lose weight can lead to eating disorders that can paradoxically include binge-eating and trigger stress;
- You start to undertake a lifestyle that is not sustainable in the long run, let alone healthy, and your inability to stick to it will make you feel worse about yourself. It will also trigger some of the mechanisms behind weight gain, such as stress, low serotonin levels and hormonal fluctuations.
- Inability to lose weight can be a symptom of some underlying conditions that require medical attention;
So Why Do We Put On Weight?
I wish there was a white and black answer to this questions. However, the most simplistic and reductive one is “too many calories in and too little calories used”.
Unfortunately, weight gain can’t be boiled down to the above mentioned equation, and it is a lot more complicated than that as reasons for weight gain are multifaceted.
My area of speciality is hormones, and hormones have a lot to answer for in terms of weight gain.
Hormonal causes for weight gain include:
- Hypothyroidism – low thyroid hormones
- Menopause – low testosterone and oestrogen
- Stress – high cortisol hormone
- Hormonal fluctuations – menstrual cycles and pregnancy
- Low serotonin levels – which can be caused by all the above.
Hypothyroidism is an illness that can be treated. Advances in body identical HRT mean that menopause is much better managed these days as well, but if we look at the rest of the causes, you could say that these are just part of being a woman! Yet it is still women who are the most focused on weight and how they look – even in the winter of their lives. And what does this focus, and hopelessness lead to? Low self-esteem, emotional eating, and stress which then in turn causes stress which causes weight gain.
In my clinic I often talk about the thyroid snowball effect. This is where we start decent thyroid (or sex hormone) replacement, and a patient starts to feel better. This then leads to more energy and lust for life. Patients start to move more, exercise more, entertain more, eat better, have sex. Their whole wellbeing starts to improve exponentially and so their health does the same. They positively glow. They are focused on living, enjoying their life – and guess what?! They start to lose weight.
So next time I say to you please don’t focus on your weight, this will be the last thing to improve, this is the reason. Weight will come off when you are well. When your hormones are well balanced, and you have a lust for life again.