If you missed "Help! I'm Eating Real Food in Balance and Not Losing Weight! (Part 1)," go catch up now and come back to continue reading here! Today we’ve got six more roadblocks to address that can get in the way of reaching weight loss goals when eating real food. 1. Your vitamin D status may be low. Too often we see clients come in with lab data revealing a vitamin D level in the teens or even the (super scary!) single digits. We want your vitamin D level between 50 and 80 ng/ml for a healthy metabolism, moods, immune function, bone density and so much more. We used to think vitamin D was just calcium’s wingman but that’s not the case! We recommend a vitamin D supplement for almost all of our clients. Yes, you can get it by exposing your uncovered skin to UVB rays from the sun and there are a few foods that contain vitamin D (mostly fortified ones, but also wild caught salmon and dairy products), but from what we see in our clients, these don’t usually do the trick. The best way to measure is with a lab test, but we think it’s pretty safe to assume your status is low and to supplement until you get it checked. Because of the convenience and effectiveness of a supplement, we think vitamin D is too important for too many aspects of our health (including weight loss!), and therefore, a no-brainer to take one. You might be thinking you’re off the hook since we’re based in Minnesota and everyone knows the sun only shines for 3 months of the year—obviously we need the extra vitamin D! But over half of our clients are from out of state or country and the vitamin D deficiency is common regardless of where they’re from; the deficiency is common even if you’re not a fellow Minnesotan. If you’re feeling frequently fatigued, down in the dumps, or having a tough time losing weight or just care about your health, we’d recommend checking your vitamin D status and supplementing if you’re not in that ideal range. Some docs will recommend lower ranges, like 20-80 ng/ml but we don’t see any reason for not wanting your level between 50 and 80. There are health risks associated with having a level in the 20-50 range, and it’s not difficult to get it higher. Our general recommendation for supplementation is usually 5,000IU/day of a highly absorbable vitamin D3 supplement. 2. You’re drinking too much alcohol. Not to be a Debbie Downer or Negative Nancy—you know I love a glass of wine or a kombucha cocktail every now and then, but you’re here to learn about what could be standing in the way of your desired weight loss, so consider me the messenger. Alcohol will definitely have an effect on your body, and you’ll need to determine whether or not it’s worth it as you work towards your goal. Alcohol most definitely affects your blood sugar levels. In some people, blood sugar drops immediately after consuming alcohol while in others, it spikes quickly, which is then followed by a precipitous drop. Either way, it messes with your blood sugar levels and it’s crucial to keep these stable for weight loss. Alcohol can also interfere with your ability to sleep soundly. If you wake up and don’t feel rested, think about how the drinks you consumed before bed may have caused your blood sugar to crash in the middle of the night, resulting in restless sleep. Lack of sleep, which I'll address in my next point, is well documented as a promoter of inflammation and weight gain. Less alcohol = better sleep = less inflammation = easier weight loss. Plus, one of your liver’s many jobs is metabolizing fat stores and moving them out of the body. If your liver is too busy metabolizing alcohol, you can bet that fat burning is going to take a back burner. Ultimately the choice is yours; you just need to be aware that it may take longer to reach your weight loss goals if you DO decide to include alcohol. If you love your drinks too much to cut back, that’s fine! The choice is yours. Just don’t complain when you’re eating well and can’t seem to shed the pounds you want to shed—what you’re drinking matters too. For more on alcohol, read my post What About Alcohol?. 3. You aren’t getting enough quality sleep. Inadequate sleep is all too common, thanks to our busy, busy schedules. So you’re eating all the right food combinations at the right times, but you’re sleeping like crap. Or, you’re sleeping well, but you’re only in your bed for (insert a number between 4 and 7 here) hours. Or, you’re so exhausted when you hit the pillow that you completely crash and can’t believe when morning rolls around. Sleep controls hormones which control your appetite AND your metabolism, not to mention the key role it plays in immunity, which you need working in your favor not only for staying healthy, but to lose weight too. All systems need to be working properly for your body to lose weight, and sleep plays a big role. If you’re having trouble with your sleep, pinpoint the problem and aim to fix it. If it’s getting all of your work done so that you can get to bed on time, then you may need to prioritize and figure out a way to be more efficient throughout the day or remove some things off your plate (so to speak). If it’s falling asleep that’s tough, give our favorite MyoCalm supplement a shot, about a half hour before bed with your bedtime snack. If falling asleep isn't the issue, but you wake up during the night for whatever reason, try Pure Magnesium. If it’s falling asleep AND staying asleep, it's safe to do both! They’re natural and they work—and we encourage these instead of OTC sleep aids ANY day. (Side note: Don’t go cheap on these supplements—you get what you pay for! Quality really DOES make a difference, and your sleep is worth it. You can find this out the hard way, losing sleep and wasting money along the way, or make the commitment for your health and weight loss goals up front.) Lastly, some of our clients are still sacrificing sleep for exercise—a huge no-no, as this messes up your hormonal balance which is critical for weight loss, and since we now know that it's not all about burning calories, it's not helpful to lose sleep just to clock in your time on the treadmill. So, sleep well and if you have time to get in a workout a few times a week, that's great, but don't stress over it. Stress isn't helpful for weight loss either. :) 4. Your thyroid might be under-active. Your thyroid is the master of your metabolism, and low thyroid function is common. In fact, different studies have shown as many as 1 in every 8 females or 10-40 percent of Americans have an underactive thyroid. This is confirmed by the number of clients we see struggling with their thyroid. The reasons for hypothyroidism is likely due to an increase of soy in our foods, decreased sodium recommendations, and low-fat diets. Regardless of the cause, if your thyroid function isn’t up to par, then it would make sense as to why you’re having trouble shedding pounds. A few things you can do on your own to support your thyroid include enjoying seafood often, salting your food with iodized salt, taking Thyrosol and Thyroid supplements (you can take these if you’re on a thyroid medication but we always recommend checking with your doc first) and balancing your blood sugars with real food. 5. You’re eating a lot of fruit. We're not saying that fruit is unhealthy; we're just saying that too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing. Although full of nutrients, antioxidants, fiber and phytonutrients, fruit is still high in sugar. If your portions aren’t in check, or you’re picking fruit for your carbohydrate choice at most meals and snack, then this may be your issue. In this case, we’d simply have you swap your fruit for veggies more often. For example, I choose veggies at meals and fruit at snacks. It works wonders and shouldn’t be a surprise, because the sugar content of veggies is much lower, helping to keep those blood sugar levels balanced and they won’t set you up for sugar cravings. On a side note, we've had clients on the opposite side of the spectrum — not eating ANY fruit and having MASSIVE sugar cravings that they found were resolved when they included fruit a couple times a day. As always, it's all about balance! 6. You aren't being realistic with your expectations. Be cautious about setting your expectations too high at the beginning of making lifestyle changes. Don't get me wrong—it's awesome (and important!) to set high goals (“aim high, if you miss, at least you land among the stars!” “if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time!”), and I truly believe you can reach them with the power of real food on your side. Eating this way is a healing process, and lifestyle changes take time. This ties back to taking your former thinking and habits related to past dieting and THROWING THEM OUT THE WINDOW! We are used to quick fixes and getting everything we want on-demand, but pause and ask yourself "How did that work for me?" For most people, it landed them back at the fridge and maybe at this blog post, physically hungry and hungry for something that provides lasting results. In the past, if a diet didn’t work, you probably quit after a few days or weeks and started on the next new diet. With real foods, it takes time to heal the damage we've done to our bodies through restriction and deprivation. It takes time for your body to trust that you are going to give it the nutrients it needs. It is normal to lose some weight and plateau before losing more weight. Believe in yourself and take necessary actions to reach your goals, but be realistic with your expectations. Your body has it’s own list of priorities, and they may not be the same as yours. If you have lots of inflammation, aren’t sleeping, have a hormone problem, are too stressed out, or _____________, your body is more interested in healing those issues than burring stored fat. If you can learn to listen to your body, give it time and good nutrition to heal, it will thank you by shedding a few pounds when it is ready. Check out Part 3 for more reasons why you could be having trouble reaching your weight loss goal. You may also want to pick up a copy of my bestselling book where I go into depth into each of the hidden keys to unlocking stubborn weight loss!