Weight Loss - What Really Matters

What Really Matters for Weight Loss by Registered Dietitian, Bridget Henderson (@thet1drd)

Gym? Check. Healthy meals and eating habits? Check. Determination and drive to make a change? Check.

Pounds lost? Inches lost? Not so fast…

Sometimes you can have every piece of the equation and still not receive the expected results. Losing weight, like many things in life, does not have a one size fits all approach. There are different factors that influence your body’s ability to shed the pounds every day. There is also a lot of misguided advice and speculations about what affects that number on the scale. Still with all of these “answers, the mystery in most people’s minds still remains unsolved-what REALLY matters for weight loss?

I’m sure we have all heard the saying, “Weight loss is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise”. While this may be somewhat true (nutritious meals are key and exercise does help burn those extra calories) it is well…mostly wrong. Hear me out! Yes, these factors DO ultimately determine your fate when you are on your weight loss journey but they are not the only pieces of the equation. External factors like sleep, stress, and composition of meals can all cause a delay in those pounds melting away.


How many hours of sleep do you get a night? If your answer is less than 6 hours a night, this could be the reason why you haven’t been able to achieve your goals! It is recommended that adults get anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep with 6 hours being acceptable. Anything less than that can lead to slowed brain function, an increased risk of developing diseases like heart disease and diabetes, and even weight gain.

When you don’t clock in enough ZZZ’s, your hormones begin to get out of whack. Specifically, leptin and ghrelin. Ghrelin levels rise, while leptin levels fall. It may not seem like a big deal but leptin is the hormone that is associated with not feeling full after eating and ghrelin is the hormone which stimulates appetite. Who would’ve thought lack of sleep could be causing all of those midnight cravings for PB and ice cream?


Breathe in, breathe out. Still feeling overwhelmed? As you may have heard before, stress can cause many diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Just like with lack of sleep, stress can cause your hormone levels to fluctuate. Cortisol and adrenaline both increase, which can affect hunger, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. They can be the difference between eating a nice bowl of fresh fruit or chocolate chip cookie (or 12).

Meal Composition

All calories are not created equal. When trying to lose weight it is necessary to maintain a balance. Fresh, nutritious well balanced meals are the best when it comes to weight loss. Severely restricting a food group (or eliminating them altogether) can lead to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals which can in turn lead to cravings and binging.

Now that we know all the things that REALLY matter for weight loss…what’s next?


Getting 6 hours of sleep would be great, but 7-9 hours would be ideal. With adequate sleep, you’re able to be the best you can be. In order to get good quality sleep it’s important to do a few things. Discontinue any intake of stimulants like caffeine and foods/beverages high in sugar before bed. They can keep you awake and decrease your sleep cycles. Making the room as quiet as possible and cool in temperature can improve your chances of getting a good night’s rest. That means no TV and no music. With that being said, the phone has got to go too. It is best to discontinue usage of electronic devices 1 to 2 hours before bed. That email can wait until tomorrow! Speaking of tomorrow, tomorrow is a new day. Leave today’s stresses in the past and in that day. I guarantee you’ll be more stressed out tomorrow without a good night’s rest!


When relieving stress, we know that it easier said than done. Mainly because you have to find ways that work for you. Do you like to cook? Make your favorite feel-good meal! Love reading? Read that book you’ve been hearing so much about or catch up on your favorite blog. Is exercising an escape for you? Go on a jog, do yoga, or simply go on a walk in your local park. Like to laugh? (Who doesn’t) Watch a comedy special on Netflix or your favorite Rom-Com. All of these things can help to alleviate stress. Whatever you choose, make sure you’re taking time out for YOU!

Meal Composition

Life can be busy, so our diets sometimes aren’t the best. Unfortunately, that really does hinder us when it comes to weight loss. If your food intake does not include fresh and healthy foods with appropriate portion sizes it can and will hold you back. Consuming a diet full of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates is key to your success and your body will thank you too. Take time at the beginning of the week to prepare your meals or let Roundabout Meal Prep do it for you! After all, who doesn’t love it when somebody cooks for them-especially when its delicious and healthy!Sources: