Why Your Body May Be Refusing To Drop Weight No Matter What You Do

06/15/2015 02:21 pm ET | Updated Jun 15, 2015
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If you've been putting in the hard work that's necessary to lose weight, but your attempts have just felt like an endless series of banging your head against the same wall, hear me now. You're not crazy. Weight loss resistance is a description for an entire category of people who, due to certain physiological imbalances, are unable to lose fat through traditional methods of healthy diet and regular exercise.

The causes range from thyroid malfunction to hormone imbalance, sleep deprivation to food intolerances or digestive imbalance, and more. Because there are many potential sources of the problem, there isn't a one-size-fits-all treatment that works for all weight loss resistant individuals. The key is to uncover your own, specific chemical imbalance or physiological "glitch" so that your doctor can target it with a treatment plan tailored to you. Until you talk to your doctor, you cannot be sure what plan is best for you, including if [The 20/20 Diet] would help you lose weight. And thanks to all the research conducted on the subject in recent years, doctors are armed with more methods for you to manage and treat the core of your problem than ever before.

Having been an athlete for my entire life, it was more than a little alarming when I found, a few years ago, that I was struggling to maintain my target, healthy weight. I was moving in what felt like slow motion across the tennis court in my afternoon games and feeling winded far too easily. The subtle signs started to add up, and despite my efforts to push myself harder physically and becoming hyperaware of my food intake, my body simply said, "Sorry, Buddy, you're wasting your time here. Something is off." So I pushed the medical experts for answers.

It turned out that I have metabolic syndrome, a genetic disposition that was transmitted to me from my father. The test revealed that my triglycerides were sky high, as was my blood sugar, and to top it all off, I had insulin resistance, so I was not processing sugar properly. My body was just hanging on to absolutely everything I put in it and not letting go. I simply wasn't configured for weight loss.

The good news for me, and for you if you fit the bill, is that all of this is manageable with the right nutritional and medical plan. I got started right away working with my doctors to get my blood sugars stabilized and bring everything back into proper balance so my body would start releasing the weight again. I shudder to think where I might be now had I not jumped right on this problem, because I was unwittingly on the road to some devastating illnesses, including heart disease. Now that I've learned, with the help of my doctor, how to manage my body chemistry, my weight has remained in a safe range, and I am healthier overall. The very same can happen for you if you talk to your doctor.

I really want you to get this: You are not destined to be overweight or obese just because you got a raw deal in the metabolic or biochemical department. You do not have to feel trapped in your body anymore. I know you'd do anything to get out of the quicksand and onto dry land and win back control over your weight. I'm extending you a helping hand, so read carefully because it's more than just your weight we're talking about now; It's your life.

If all of this is resonating with you and you have serious concerns that there could be a physiological cause for your inability to lose weight, then the first order of business is to closely examine your symptoms so that you can present them to your physician.

To get you started on your internal inspection, here is a list of some common symptoms to discuss with your medical professional, because they might indicate weight loss resistance. But, just remember, this is not an exhaustive list and if you are experiencing any physical issues that you’re worried about, you should bring them to your doctor's attention.

  • Do you find yourself unable to lose weight, despite closely following a healthy eating plan and exercise program?
  • Has your physician diagnosed you with or medicated you for three or more of these conditions: high triglycerides (150 or higher), low HDL cholesterol (less than 50), high blood pressure, or elevated blood sugar?
  • Do you experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, nausea, vomiting, or bloating two times or more per month? Or, do you notice any of these digestive symptoms or headaches after eating wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, or nut products?
  • Is your natural waist measurement (the area 1 inch above your belly button) 35 inches or more if you're a woman, or 40 inches or more if you are a man?
  • Have you recently been experiencing disruptive sleep patterns such as waking up often during the night or finding it difficult to fall asleep, or do you sleep six or fewer hours most nights of the week?
  • Are you feeling any of these symptoms: increased sensitivity to cold, drastic changes in your body temperature, thinning hair, excessively dry skin, hoarseness, memory loss, or difficulty concentrating?
  • Have you recently been under chronic (ongoing) stress in your life? The kind of stress that you cannot seem to resolve? Take a moment here to measure your stress level on a sale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest level of stress and 1 being the lowest. Is your stress level 3 or higher?
  • Are you on any of these medications: antidepressants, diabetes medications, steroids, blood pressure medications, anti-seizure drugs, sleeping pills, birth control, or any form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT)?
  • Do you use or abuse illicit drugs or abuse prescription medications that have not been prescribed to you?
  • Women only: Have you been told by a doctor that you are menopausal or perimenopausal, or have you ever been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome? Or are you often experiencing two or more of these symptoms: hot flashes, mood swings, tender breasts, vaginal dryness, excessive sweating, or changes in menstruation?
You cannot know with certainty if you fall into this weight loss resistance category without a medical evaluation, because everyone's body chemistry is different. There are specific tests that can give your doctor the data needed to properly diagnose you and create a treatment plan, but the idea is to be an informed patient by asking the right questions and providing the right information when you visit your doctor.

Modified excerpt from The 20/20 Diet: Turn Your Weight Loss Vision Into Reality by Dr. Phil McGraw.

Have a question for Dr. Phil? Ask it here!

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