5 Reasons You're Not Losing Weight

You've tried every diet in the known universe. You've switched from people food to low- or no-calorie everything. You're eating so many salads that you're convinced you could sprout bunny ears. And yet, you're no closer to your goal weight than when you started. What on earth could you doing wrong? To find out, ask yourself the following five questions.

1. Have you gotten your thyroid checked?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 5 million Americans suffer from hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid produces fewer hormones than the body needs to function properly. If left untreated, it can lead to obesity. Other medical conditions that can cause weight gain include Cushing's disease and polycystic ovary syndrome. Before you start any weight-loss program, consult with your physician to ensure that such diseases are not contributing to your weight problems.

2. Do you have a strong support system?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about two-thirds of Americans are trying to lose weight or maintain their current weight, so there are plenty of people out there who you can lean on when you feel your resolve is fading. Joining a weight-loss group can not only strengthen your determination, but also help you set realistic goals and find the approach that works best for you. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that group support is a crucial component in changing negative habits such as overeating.

3. Do you look before you eat?

Sure, the packaging might claim it's a low-fat treat, but that doesn't always mean it won't impart a little more fat along your waistline. Many times, such items trade fat for more calories so as not to sacrifice taste. Careful examination of food labels will help you avoid such traps.

4. Are you keeping a food diary?

Many experts, including those at the CDC, agree that one of the best ways to shed pounds and keep them off is to maintain a detailed inventory of everything you eat in a day. Not only can you track the calories you consume daily; by taking note of factors such as your mood, the time of day, and how quickly you ate, you can gain some insight into what triggers you to overeat.

5. Are you exercising enough?

Research published by the International Journal of Obesity in late 2007 concluded that physical activity is the most effective factor in weight-loss maintenance. How much is just right? The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that if you want to lose weight or maintain weight loss, you may have to undertake 60 to 90 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. As daunting as that figure may sound, it can be broken down into 10-minute intervals sprinkled throughout your day and needn't be more complicated than a brisk walk.