We all know people who say “No matter how hard I try I can’t lose weight,” and they’re probably right. Besides the obvious things like calorie intake, the kinds of foods we eat, activity levels and exercise, there are other factors which influence our weight. These factors alone or in combination, contribute to our ability to maintain a normal weight. Some are listed here, in no particular order of importance.
Socioeconomic: Not everyone has the means to buy so-called healthy food. Let’s face it – when you’re concerned about feeding a hungry family, your food dollars may go farther buying mac and cheese and hot dogs instead of apples and a head of Romaine. Almost any food can be “good” food in the right amounts (i.e cheese in moderation), but if your budget only allows you to buy McDonald’s value meals, then it’s going to be difficult to keep a normal weight. Economics influences one’s ability to exercise as well. If your neighborhood is not a safe place to walk or bike, and you can’t afford a gym membership or exercise equipment, then it’s difficult to exercise.
Time: Committing to an exercise program requires a certain amount of time each day. Besides the time spent in the exercise itself (maybe 30-60 minutes) there may be travel time to get to a gym, or drop the kids off at daycare. Don’t forget the time it takes to change into exercise clothes, warm-up, cool-down, shower, and put away your equipment and sweaty clothes. All this, plus you still have to do all the other things each day that are good for you, like flossing, working, doing household chores, reading to your kids, calling your mom, and scheduling your colonoscopy. For time-crunched people, fitting in that 30-60+ minutes for exercise every day may just be the last straw.
Genetics: There is a large body of literature regarding genetic factors that may contribute to weight gain. Much of this is technical literature which some readers may choose to explore. Some explore genetic predisposition to obesity, obtained by studying overweight families, twins raised separately, and adopted children. Some we’ve heard about in the news – leptin deficiency for one, which at first seemed to be a promising answer to weight loss, but not necessarily borne out in research. Genetics factors also influence how our bodies store fat. Those who tend to store fat around their waist rather than hips often seem to have a harder time losing weight. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/e_txtbk/txgd/4112.htm
Plenty of information is available online.
Disease conditions: Obesity goes hand in hand with conditions such as metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome. These conditions not only contribute to obesity, but also make it harder to lose weight. Readers who want more information can find plenty online.
Medication: Some medications contribute to weight gain or weight loss. Major common culprits are medicine for depression and serious mental illnesses. Minor culprits are sedating antihistamines (Benadryl, maybe Zyrtec) amitryptiline (Elavil), muscle relaxants, hormones/birth control, prednisone. Sometimes the benefit received from the medication is so vital that it outweighs the risk of being overweight. Sometimes an alternative medication may work just as well, but have less weight gain. If you think your medication is causing weight gain, do not stop taking it on your own, but consult your health care provider.
So, what’s a person to do? If you are overweight, take a hard look at what may be contributing to it in your life. Change what you can, ask for help with what you can’t. Partner with your health care provider and don’t lose hope. Post your comments on what works for you.