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Why Can't I Lose Weight?

You’ve cut back on your eating, started an exercise routine and just can’t seem to lose weight. What’s going on?

It could be a number of issues that are causing you to ask yourself, "Why can’t I lose weight?" The good news is that you can work through them.

“It's very complicated, which is what people need to remember. It's not a simple task to say I'm going to lose weight and it happens,” said Connie Diekman, a nationally known food and nutrition consultant and former president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “So, give yourself a break.”

Where to start with weight loss?

1. Eating

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Balancing food to make sure that it’s filling, nutritious and the right blend to stave off hunger is critical to weight loss.

A meal should have a balance of protein and carbohydrates, such as a tuna sandwich using whole grain bread and a side salad.

2. Exercising

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Start by getting the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity and two days per week of strength training, according to the CDC.

It probably needs to be higher than that to achieve weight loss, Diekman noted.

feature on the AARP website suggests increasing strength training to stave off both age- and weight loss-related muscle loss. Vary the pace of a cardio workout with bursts of faster activity, such as walking with a quicker stride for a bit.

3. Awareness

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Be in the moment, taking in the sight, scent and taste of your food.

Keeping a food journal can help you become more aware of what you’re actually eating, she added.

4. Timing

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When to eat a bigger meal or to stop eating continues to be a topic of debate.

"Hunger is one of the main reasons that people fail to comply to a weight-loss or calorie-restricted diet," study author Alexandra Johnstone, from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, said at the time. "So, if we have diet strategies that can help control hunger, then it would be beneficial in the real world."

The AARP suggests picking an earlier evening time to quit eating for the day, to prevent eating less healthy food at night when you’re tired.

5. Sleep, plateaus and medications

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Sleep can affect hunger and satiety hormones, Diekman said. Not getting enough sleep can make it harder to lose weight. At least five to six hours minimum a night are necessary.

Sometimes, a person who has been consistently losing weight will reach a “plateau,” where the weight stops coming off.

Some medications may also prevent weight loss, so talk to your doctor if you think that’s happening to you, the AARP suggests.

6. Source and more information

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Source: Connie Diekman, food and nutrition consultant and former president, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

For more information on general health, check out these additional resources:

18 Tips to Lose Weight in a Healthy, Sustainable Way

How Many Calories a Day Can Safely Spur Weight Loss?

Want to Lose Weight? Here Are the Best Exercises to Shed Pounds

How Many Daily Steps Do You Need to Lose Weight?