I often hear the sentence: “It’s not working.” I hear this from patients, and from myself.  I hear you. Frustrating. Totally frustrating. We think we are doing everything right, and the scale is not moving! What is going on? How do we break through this?

 To this complaint, I wish I had an easy answer; the reason is that the answer may not reside in the food you are eating, or not eating, but other factors. Presently, lack of movement is the most common thing I notice. I do strive for an hour of movement daily; my motivation for this stems from a health/longevity need. However, what really factors in, is my lack of movement. This has been made much worse for all of us with lockdowns and spending more time at home. We are simply moving much less throughout the day. Above and beyond our ‘daily walk’ or online exercise class, we are just sitting much more.

 What can we do? Add in more moments outside (hopefully warmer weather and longer light in the evening will help). Added push ups (wall, knee or full push-ups); squats anytime during the day; arm raises to the side and front; anything!  Can you play hide and seek with your child?  Can you have your grandchild set up an obstacle course to follow outside?  Can you turn on a great song and just dance around for the length of it?  All these little things add up to big returns on your health.

 What else can we do if we feel things aren’t progressing?  Possibly, it is the timing of your eating, and not what you are eating. At my age, it’s becoming harder and harder to really target body fat.  If I’m not shrinking, then metabolically there is something hormonally that’s being triggered (i.e. insulin, cortisol, leptin, etc.); on days that I do force myself to stop eating early in the evening, I can tell my body seems to move into fat burning. (But, like many others, I can make this observation, yet I’m very inconsistent with following through, daily).

 One solution might be to try a different timing of food, once or twice weekly, to see how you feel. Certainly there seems to be some anecdotal evidence that women (often when transitioning through menopause or after), seem to respond to a window of eating that has you eating from morning but stopping after 4 pm (not easy with family time, I realize). 

We all become a ‘human experiment”. We have to figure out what works in the context of our busy, stressful lives.  

Always be willing to try something new and stick with it for a while before  giving up.

Things to ask ourselves could be: am I drinking wine or other alcohol too regularly? How much am I actually moving during the day?  Could I increase this?  How’s my sleep?  Could I focus on sleep this week?  How much am I snacking? Am I snacking through the evening?

Reflect on one area that you think might be holding the body back, and just focus on one, small adjustment this week.  Be consistent, and see if it yields a result. Add in another adjustment next week.  Eventually, as we keep “tweaking” things, the body eventually responds.  But, we must focus on being compassionate with ourselves and not give up on the process. 

Never give up on reaching your goals!  Remind yourself of why you’re focusing on health and wellness, and what the benefits are.  Keep trying, and keep pushing forward!

Dr. Doug