You’re hitting the gym every chance you get, and you’re trying to eat healthy – yet the numbers on the scale keep on creeping upwards! Why? Here’s ten reasons you’re gaining weight than have nothing to do with your exercise habits.

1. Take a Reality Check on Your Diet

Even if you exercise a lot, it doesn’t give you a free pass to eat whatever you like. People sometimes think when they are exercising, they can eat unhealthy food and just burn it off in the gym.

Dr. John Salerno, founder of The Salerno Center, says it doesn’t work like that. You need to combine exercise with healthy eating for maximum effect.

2. You’re Not Eating Smart

Even if a food is healthy, you can still eat too much of it and take in lots of extra calories – think avocado, for example. Very healthy, but eat too much and you’re just taking in empty calories.

Irina Pope-Irwin, nutrition coach, says that the amount of protein we eat each day is what is most important. Protein supports muscle, and metabolism is what helps your muscle burn the fat.

When we age, we don’t absorb the same amount of protein, or don’t eat the right amount, and that causes the metabolism to slow down. This leads to fat gain that won’t shift, no matter how far or fast you run.

3. You’re Eating Too Much

Salerno says that exercise often increases hunger, and people will eat a little bit more than usual. He says exercise is an important part of weight loss, but that people should be aware that the desire to eat more can be an issue.

If you’re hungry you should eat, but take a close look at the amount of food you’re having. Be careful of eating mindlessly, or letting yourself go too long without food.

4. The “Cheat Days” Are Adding Up

Many people eat smart and watch their calories all week, then loosen up and eat more junk on the weekends. Popa-Irwin says that this undermines your weight loss efforts, especially if you do it on a weekly basis.

5. You May Have a Hormonal Imbalance

Salerno says that 80% of his patients have hormonal imbalances, and this causes them to gain between 10 and 30 pounds of weight.

Thyroid problems account for much of it, as it is the master regulatory gland of calorie burning and metabolic function. If your thyroid gland isn’t working properly, you’ll burn less and less calories.

Salerno suggests exercise, de-stressing, good sleeping habits and good eating habits to help control your hormones and avoid imbalances.

6. Is Your Age Catching Up with You?

Sadly, as we age, our metabolism slows and we start losing muscle mass. The exercise you used to do no longer has the same effect on your weight.

Popa-Irwin says that some body enzymes are not produced in the same amount as we get older, and that makes losing weight harder with age.

7. Are You Stressed?

Stress is a common factor in weight gain, Popa-Irwin says, and it’s very common in women.

When we produce the stress hormone cortisol, our digestive tract becomes a bit inflamed and this leads to us storing fat. If a woman’s stress levels are very high, she can lose around 8 to 12 pounds, but then that’s it – the dreaded plateau.

8. Your Genetics May Play a Part

Salerno says that genetics in relation to your metabolism or insulin levels could be behind weight gain, but he says it is possible to defeat your genetics.

“You have to work harder, and you have to get your thyroid and your hormones regulated perhaps, but you can do it, absolutely,” he said.

9. Your Meds Could be Causing Your Weight Gain

The side effect of some drugs is weight gain, and some to watch out for are antidepressants, mood stabilizers, diabetes medications, corticosteroids, beta-blockers, antihistamines and medicine for preventing migraine and seizures.

10. You May Have a Medical Condition That Causes You to Gain Weight

There are some medical conditions and deficiencies that could cause you to gain weight. A very common one in women is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which causes an imbalance of reproductive hormones and can cause infertility.

Some brain injuries can also cause weight gain, and injuries to the hypothalamus are particularly prone to causing this, because that’s where the appetite centers are situated. There are medications that can help with appetite management for people with this medical condition.