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Losing weight is a journey that many embark upon, often with enthusiasm and determination – many of us have been there, right? Yet, despite their best efforts, some people find themselves hitting a weight loss plateau or struggling to shed their unwanted fat tissue. While factors like diet and exercise play a significant role in weight management, there are several surprising things that can block weight loss progress. In this blog post, we’ll delve into some of these unexpected obstacles and explore how they can affect your weight loss journey.

Something I say a lot to the women I work with for weight loss is this – it’s not your fault. There are many hidden blockers to weight loss and if these aren’t addressed then it can make it very difficult to maintain a healthy weight and lose weight if that’s your goal.

  1. Lack of Sleep

You might be surprised to learn that the amount and quality of sleep you get can have a profound impact on your weight loss efforts. Sleep is when your body repairs and regenerates itself, and it plays a crucial role in regulating hormones that control hunger and appetite. When you don’t get enough sleep, the hormone ghrelin (which stimulates appetite) increases, while leptin (which signals fullness) decreases. This hormonal imbalance can lead to overeating and weight gain.

Additionally, sleep deprivation can also affect your willpower and decision-making abilities, making it harder to resist unhealthy food cravings. To enhance your weight loss journey, prioritize getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.


  1. Stress and Cortisol

Chronic stress can be a hidden culprit behind weight gain and the struggle to lose weight. When you’re stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol, which can lead to increased appetite, particularly for high-calorie, sugary, and fatty foods. Cortisol also encourages the storage of fat, especially around the abdominal area, which is linked to various health problems.

To combat stress-related weight gain, consider incorporating stress-reduction techniques into your routine, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. These practices can help lower cortisol levels and improve your overall well-being.


  1. Medications

Certain medications may come with weight gain as a side effect, making it difficult for individuals to lose weight. Medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and corticosteroids are known for their potential to cause weight gain. If you suspect that your medication might be contributing to your weight struggles, consult with your healthcare provider to explore alternative options or strategies to manage your weight.


  1. Hormonal Imbalances

Hormones play a significant role in regulating metabolism, appetite, and fat storage. Conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid disorders, and insulin resistance can disrupt hormonal balance and make weight loss challenging. I’m going to do a whole podcast next week on Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Weight Loss so stay tuned for that one.


  1. Lack of Nutrient-Dense Foods

Relying solely on low-calorie, processed foods can lead to nutrient deficiencies that hinder weight loss. A diet lacking in essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fibre can leave you feeling unsatisfied and craving unhealthy foods.

To overcome this obstacle, aim for a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These foods provide essential nutrients and promote satiety, making it easier to maintain a calorie deficit for weight loss.


  1. Inconsistent Meal Timing

The timing of your meals can impact your weight loss progress. Skipping meals or having irregular eating patterns can lead to overeating later in the day, as well as erratic blood sugar levels. This can result in increased cravings for sugary and high-calorie foods, making it challenging to stay on track with healthy eating.

Establishing a regular meal schedule with balanced portions can help stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent excessive hunger, making it easier to eat well and promote weight loss.


  1. Social and Environmental Factors

Your social and physical environment can significantly influence your eating habits and, consequently, your weight loss progress. Social gatherings, workplace snacks, and family traditions often involve high-sugar foods that can be challenging to resist. To navigate these situations successfully, plan ahead by bringing healthy snacks or eating a small, nutritious meal before attending events where unhealthy food choices are prevalent.


Achieving and maintaining your ideal weight involves more than just diet and exercise. Surprising factors such as sleep, stress, medications, hormonal imbalances, nutrient intake, meal timing, emotional eating and environmental influences can all play a role in your weight loss journey. Recognising and addressing these obstacles is essential for long-term success. Remember that weight loss is a complex process that requires patience, perseverance, and a holistic approach to overall well-being. By identifying and addressing these hidden challenges, you can enhance your chances of reaching your weight loss goals and enjoying a healthier, happier life.

Susie Garden | Clinical Nutritionist & Naturopath

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