Barriers to Weight Loss: Commonly Overlooked Obstacles to Shedding Those Unwanted Pounds

By: Dr. Brie Crerar, ND 

After the roller coaster of a ride we’ve all been on in 2020 I’m seeing a lot more individuals reaching out for support with their weight. Whether it’s the “Quarantine 15 (lbs)” that it’s time to ditch or the increased awareness around overall health, it’s so great to see so many of us eager to take more responsibility over our own well-being.

When it comes to weight loss, there’s nothing worse than mustering up the motivation to start a new eating and exercise routine, ‘doing it all right’ and yet still not seeing the scale budge. Here we’ll review a few of the biggest obstacles to consider when trying to lose weight whether we’re setting you up for success the first time, or you’re ready to try to lose the weight again – the right away.


Our thyroid is a butterfly shape gland that sits at the base of our neck and essentially controls our metabolism. I can’t begin to tell you how many thyroid problems I’ve diagnosed in the last few months. When it comes to understanding if your thyroid is working properly we need to see all of the following tests on blood work:

– TSH (we want between 1-2; anything higher is a problem)
– free T4 (we want between 14-19)
– free T3 ( we want between 4.2-5.8)
– anti-TPO, anti-TG (should both be negative)

If you haven’t had your thyroid properly assessed and have struggled with your weight, I highly recommend talking to one of us naturopathic doctors about having this done. Beyond inability to lose weight or weight gain, symptoms of underactive thyroid can include fatigue, low mood, anxiety, joint pain, cold hands and feet, hair thinning or loss. Some people only have one or two symptoms of thyroid issues and yet their thyroid is to blame.


“Stress fat” is a thing. Losing weight when your stress levels are through the roof is that much more difficult. When we stress our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. Inappropriate levels of cortisol can impact our moods, sleep, anxiety levels, digestive function, reproductive function and of course ability to lose weight.

Think about it, when you’re under constant stress why would your body want to shed those extra pounds – It just may need them as fuel.

If you think your stress levels might get in the way of your weight loss, a few things to consider:

– Keep a consistent sleep/wake schedule 
– Incorporate some pauses into your day to BREATHE deeply into your belly
– Get outside!
– Don’t over exercise

There are certain nutrients like our b vitamins, magnesium, vitamin C, and herbs like lavender, rhodiola, withania that can be incredibly supportive if stress is part of the problem. Intravenous therapy can be a game-changer here as well. We naturopathic doctors can work with you to come up with an individualized plan.


If you find you’re always wanting to eat, have an insatiable appetite or reaching for a snack within an hour or two after having a meal chances are, your body’s ability to use sugar is at least in part to blame.

When we eat carbohydrates (think breads, rice, pasta, fruit, oatmeal etc.) we break them down into their smallest component which is glucose aka sugar. Glucose is our main source of energy. We need to get glucose from our digestive system, into our blood stream, and then into all of our cells for fuel.

The Problem:

To get glucose from our blood stream into our cells where it ultimately it needs to end up as an energy source, we need insulin. Insulin works by acting as the key to open the door to allow glucose to go into our cells. It is estimated that 25%+ of the population in North America have what is called insulin resistance. You can think of insulin resistance as the key (aka insulin) not fitting the key hole. This means the door can’t open and we struggle to get glucose into our cells for fuel. In return our little cells haven’t been fed even though you just ate and thus continue to send out signals that you need to eat more. Ultimately you enter fat storage mode making weight loss near impossible.

How do we find out if this is your issue?

– Blood work: We need to check both Fasting Insulin and Fasting Glucose levels to determine your insulin resistance score. One of us naturopathic doctors can write up a requisition for you to have this assessed.

Once we determine if insulin-resistance is part of the problem there’s lots we can do:

– Making sure you’re eating enough protein daily.    Hint: most women I see are not
–  Matching carbohydrate rich meals with a source of protein and healthy fat
– Ensuring your vitamin D levels are adequate
– Certain nutrients like omega 3s, berberine, inositol, magnesium can help with insulin-resistance and blood sugar regulation


1- Under Eating and Skipping Meals: This may help with weight loss initially but once your body realizes what you’re doing it will go into starvation mode and store everything you give it. Ultimately this will stall weight loss and make it more likely for you to gain the weight back and then some.

2 – Not Addressing Digestive issues: If you struggle with digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas these are worth addressing if you want to lose weight. Your digestive system is the centre of everything else going on in our body and if digestion isn’t working properly chances are neither are other systems.

3 – Lack of Sleep: Lack of sleep messes with our hunger and satiety hormones and makes us more likely to reach for sugary foods for a quick source of energy. Make sure you’re getting 7-9 hours a night.

4 – Nutrient Deficiencies:  Multiple nutrient deficiencies can stall weight loss but having adequate Vitamin B12 levels are especially important as vitamin B12 plays a role in our metabolism. If you haven’t had your vitamin B12 levels checked, one us naturopathic doctors can write up a requisition for you to have this assessed.


Losing weight doesn’t have to be a struggle. You just need to have the right mindset, the right information, and the right care.

If you want to learn more about how we can support you with your weight, you can book a complimentary consultation by clicking here.

You don’t have to do this alone, we’re here for you.

In health,
Dr. Brie

For more health, tips and tricks and fun along the way follow me on Instagram: @drbriecrerar 

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