5 surprising habits that might be keeping you from slimming down

Whether you're struggling to shed extra pounds or you've just reached a stubborn plateau, making a few lifestyle changes to adjust your hormonal balances could make all the difference, says leading weight-loss specialist and endocrinologist Dr. Scott Isaacs, author of Hormonal Balance: How to Lose Weight by Understanding Your Hormones and Metabolism. The temperature you keep your house, or even how you wash your hands and store your food, could be impacting your ability to lose weight.

We asked Dr. Isaacs to reveal the most common "bad hormonal habits" that might be keeping you from slimming down.

You Crank Up the Heat


Researchers have discovered that higher temps indoors may slow metabolism and contribute to weight gain.

"When the body is kept warm, it doesn't need to burn as many calories. Conversely, when we are exposed to the cold, metabolism increases to generate more body heat, and brown fat is activated, which burns calories," Dr. Isaacs says.

You can burn up to 100 extra calories a day just by turning down the thermostat, exercising in cold weather, or simply by sipping a glass of ice water all day long.

You Use Plastic Tupperware


Bisphenol A (aka BPA) and phthalates are scary and hormone-disrupting chemicals found in common household items like plastic food containers, and if you're not careful, these toxic chemicals can leach into your food and drinks. These chemicals have been linked to a slew of problems, including increased appetite, weight gain, diabetes, infertility, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and even breast cancer, according to Dr. Isaacs.

Avoid these harmful toxins by using glass containers for storing, heating, and plating food whenever possible.

You Use Antibacterial Soap


We all know the importance of washing our hands, but all you really need to do is scrub with soap and hot water-forget all the other stuff.

"The chemical triclosan, which is found in antibacterial soap, acts as an endocrine disruptor by decreasing production of thyroid hormones, estrogen, and testosterone. Regular soap is just as effective in killing the germs on your hands without the endocrine-disrupting effect," Dr. Isaacs says.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.

Your Bedtime Varies


The body has a built-in biological clock that influences our basic functions like the sleep and wake cycle.

"A healthy balance of hormones requires that your body's internal clock is synchronized. Anything that disturbs the biological timekeeping system can have a detrimental impact on hormones, metabolism, and weight," Dr. Isaacs says.

He recommends establishing healthy sleep habits by going to bed at the same time (or as close as possible) every night, even on weekends.

You Exercise at Night


When you exercise in the morning, you're more likely to stick with your routine since there are fewer schedule changes to get in the way.

"It is easy to start the day with a plan to exercise in the evening, but it is just as easy to skip it when something more fun comes up like dinner with friends. Make exercise a priority in your life by making it the first task of your day," Dr. Isaacs says.