Why is Weight Loss so Difficult?

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Why is Weight Loss so Difficult?

For decades (and still today), people have heard that weight loss is simply a matter of consuming fewer calories than they burn. But now we know that weight loss is more complex and difficult.

Your body maintains your weight, even if you’re overweight. When you start dropping pounds, your brain slows your metabolism, and changes occur in the hormones controlling hunger and fat burning.

Jaime K. Dodge, MD, and the team at Aletheia Integrative in Lincoln, Nebraska, understand your body’s physical changes and create a weight-loss program that overcomes the challenges sabotaging your efforts to lose weight. 

Here, they discuss the top five roadblocks to successful weight loss.

Dealing with hormonal changes

Hormones are powerful chemicals that control virtually every function in your body, including hunger, satiety (the feeling of fullness after you eat), fat burning, and fat storage. 

These hormones change in response to gaining and losing weight and change in ways that block weight loss. 

Here are three examples of hormones we may need to evaluate and manage to support your weight loss success:


Leptin decreases your appetite by telling your brain you’re full. Gaining weight makes your body less responsive to leptin, so your brain doesn’t get the message, and you feel hungry even after eating  enough.


Ghrelin increases your appetite by telling your brain that you need to eat. Unfortunately, your ghrelin levels rise after losing weight, making it hard to keep the weight off.


Cortisol levels rise when you’re under stress, then return to normal when you feel calm. But if you’re frequently or constantly stressed out, high cortisol levels make you gain weight.

Depending on fad diets

Fad diets make promises about dropping a lot of weight quickly. But nothing is worse for long-term weight loss than a fad diet.

These diets severely restrict your calories and the type of food you eat. While fad diets usually produce fast results, the weight returns as soon as you stop following the diet, with people often regaining more weight than they lost in the first place.

Fad diets are not sustainable, and worse, they’re not safe. They damage your health because you don’t get all the necessary nutrients and build healthy habits.

Our weight-loss program focuses on offering community, teaching about building healthy habits one at a time, nutrition (sustainable calorie intake, and how to fill your diet with natural, whole foods) and training — the only healthy way to reach and maintain your weight-loss goal for the rest of your life.

Struggling with emotional and behavioral challenges

One of the most challenging aspects of weight loss is recognizing and changing emotional and behavioral triggers that make you overeat.

Behavioral challenges have nothing to do with self-control. Overeating is often a learned behavior that becomes so ingrained you don’t even know you do it.

Subconscious behaviors could begin with a parent insisting you clean your plate or when you start eating a snack because you can’t sleep at night. You could be in the habit of getting meals from fast food restaurants because you don’t have enough time to cook.

Many people turn to food when they have strong emotions. The type of emotion doesn’t matter. You may overeat when you feel sad, happy, depressed, elated, angry, or stressed.

It’s hard to identify subconscious emotional and behavioral triggers on your own. Our team helps you explore and overcome your triggers.

Battling daily habits

Here, we’re talking about the purposeful choices you make every day, not the subconscious behaviors mentioned above.