Now before you go reading this and getting ready to defend it, keep reading!
As a woman who grew up overweight, tipping the scale at over 280 pounds by High School graduation, I recall countless times during my earlier years trying every weight loss plan I could find, from Susan Powder to Tony Little, to no avail. I also recall saying the phrase, "nothing works," on a fairly consistent basis.
Continuing to gain weight, I was at 305-ish when I finally turned the corner.
Then, like butter melting off a stick, it seemed to come off easily and effortlessly.
As I think back to the habits I changed which caused this shift. I can't tell you I had significant food changes at least initially; I was certainly moving more at that time. But, more so, I really stopped thinking about my weight or weight loss. I wasn't 'trying to lose weight (this was a game-changer and something we will come back to in future posts).
Through the years, I've been labeled as "obese – fat – heavy set," to name a few.
Ironically, I have been told I was "Too Skinny" when I hit my lowest weight of 140.
I have followed the "Eat less – Exercise more" approach and gained weight.
I've eaten more and moved about the same and lost weight.
I've followed healthy food plans, which included healthy fats, and gained weight.
I've focused on less cardio and more weight training and gained weight.
I've also done several of those mentioned above through the years and lost weight.
I've also been in situations where I was working out 5-6 days a week, and month over month, my BMI was actually increasing when you would usually see a decrease considering my food and fitness habits.
Now I am sure at this point, someone is reading this and thinking to themselves, "You must be doing it wrong." If this is you, please take some time to understand each person's biology and unique circumstances! People can literally be eating right and exercising, and if they have other certain factors out of whack, they can gain weight or have a hard time losing.
Stop judging people and start really getting to the heart of what they have going on!
Inevitably, the most consistent approach for me has been a mainly protein and vegetable food plan, balanced workout routine or cardio and strength, and most importantly, focus on total health instead of losing weight.
And, bigger than all of that, managing stress, emotions, and other environmental factors.
So, why is it that something works at some points in life and at other times it doesn't?
Or, why can it work for one person and be the right answer for them but be a horrible approach for someone else?
The simple answer is that we are all different.
Let's dive into more detailed reasons why different outcomes present for different people.
Ah, those good ole hormones!
Hormones play a significant role in our body's energy level, weight management, emotional resistance, and so much more.
One study by Dr. Sara Gottfried cited that up to 90% of weight loss resistance can be traced to hormones.
Several factors can impact hormones from Environmental, mental/emotional wellness, genetics, stress, age, health, medications, crash diets, sleep deprivation, and sugar, to name some of the major ones.
This is NOT a reason to stop trying to maintain good health. It is awareness to start working on getting your body chemistry in better balance to help stimulate the natural weight loss response. When I think about the "weight coming off like butter" that I referred to earlier. Although I wasn't aware of it at the time, I believe what I was doing naturally aligned my chemistry and hormones, which let my body do what it is meant to do.
Chemicals that impact weight loss include:
Leptin helps to regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger. This is the hormone that, when properly regulated, tells us we are full.
Ghrelin is your hunger hormone. Think of Leptin and Ghrelin as the Yin and Yang. Ghrelin tells you you're hungry, whereas Leptin tells you you're full.
Insulin balances micronutrient levels. It is the hormone that Converts excess carbs to fat.
Cortisol, or the "Stress hormone," regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body, including metabolism and the immune response. When our cortisol is high and especially high for too long, this hormone may tell our body to store fat, leading to abdominal weight gain. It can also cause a suppressed immune system.
Testosterone functions as an anabolic hormone that helps us build muscle and fat and increases fat burning in the body. When our testosterone is low, it can inadvertently impact our fat-burning ability (yes, woman, this is for you too)!
Estrogen is directly involved in weight management and metabolism. It also helps to regulate glucose and lipid metabolism. If estrogen levels drop, in turn, metabolic rate declines, your body can begin to store fat.
Thyroid Hormone helps to increase energy metabolism, build muscle, strengthen bones and regulate body weight. When thyroid hormones are off, it can make weight loss very difficult.
If you feel your hormones are out of balance, check with your medical practitioner or consult with a natural or homeopathic practitioner to assess them. I personally recommend Holistic or Natural practitioners.
I think it is fair to say, we all know that prolonged stress is not healthy for any of us. It can have a negative impact in all areas physically, mentally, and emotionally if not managed.
Not to mention how it impacts the people and environment around us.
As it relates to today's topic, stress directly impacts the way our body processes and, in turn, impacts weight management. Stress can influence appetite, regulatory metabolism, GI processes (our gut), and those good ole hormones we talked about earlier, one of the primary ones being cortisol.
When we are stressed, our adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol. When this happens, glucose is released into our bloodstream. This gives the body energy to basically "fight off" what caused the stress. When the perceived threat goes away, and you calm down, your blood sugar comes down, and cortisol kicks in to replenish the energy supply.
Being in this constant state of stress and firing hormones is like a ripple effect that may impact food cravings.
Aside from the hormonal response of chronic stress, it can impact overall happiness and energy levels, which can lead to changes in behavior and weight management.
Are you finding yourself in a heightened emotional or stressful state far too often? Take a look at the triggers or culprits of the stress and start addressing that; you will be glad you did!
Food Allergies or sensitivities
This can be tricky, if we eat foods and don't realize that they are impacting our GI tract. When our body responds poorly to certain foods, it affects our GI tract and, in turn, may cause low-grade inflammation. This, in turn, can impact overall digestion, how nutrients are assimilated in our body and may influence weight loss.
Common signs of food sensitivity may include nausea, headaches, diarrhea, bloating, hives, joint pain, abdominal cramps, constipation, or bloating.
A great way to determine how foods are impacting you is with a simple journal. Detail what you eat, how you felt before you ate, and how you feel after eating. Are there notable physical changes? If so, it may be worth removing that food and seeing how it impacts you moving forward?
Want more understanding of how your food impacts you? Pick up a Food awareness journal at https://amzn.to/3kUaPo6
You may want to also consider taking a food sensitivity test to better pinpoint how your foods impact you.
In today's world, we encounter toxins in many ways, from the foods we eat to daily products we use to simply going outside and the toxins in the air. All of this causes stress to our body and how our body regulates, in turn impacting our hormones and body function. This all affects our self-regulated metabolism; everything impacts something else.
Toxins can cause increased inflammation in our bodies.
It impacts our mitochondrial function, which in turn affects our ability to burn fat effectively.
Toxins also increase our liver's workload.
It also alters our body's circadian rhythm and autoimmune Nervous system.
Four ways to help reduce bodily toxins and support our body's natural processes include choosing natural products in the household when possible, eating anti-inflammatory foods, lowering stress, and doing things that detoxify the body.
How the brain perceives food/drink
Yes! Our brain has a major influence on how our food is digested and interprets the food we are eating. Let's look at 'dieting,' for example. This can bump your body in scarcity mode. When our brain feels that it is being starved, it, in turn, goes into survival mode and, in turn, stores fat; yes, it actually may store fat when you are 'dieting.' It also slows down the bodies natural processes.
One of the best things you can do for yourself and sustain more lasting long-term results is to create a better/stronger, more positive relationship with the foods you eat!
STOP judging or labeling your food!
Create a more consistent "healthy lifestyle" approach instead of a dieting or yo-yo approach to food.
Don't stop eating; shift what you eat.
Appreciate and give gratitude for your food. Quite literally, when our brain looks at food with a positive outlook, it better assimilates in our body and digests more effectively.
If you are going to indulge in the occasional meal off plan, do it in a calm state. When our body is stressed then we add unhealthy foods to the mix. It simply adds to that stress and further throws off all of the hormones we talked about earlier.
Now you may read that one and think, "What, get more sleep to lose weight?"
The answer is Yes!
Sleep absolutely can impact our ability to lose weight.
When we sleep, our body goes to work on repairing, restoring, and resetting. When we don't allow enough sleep time for these processes to happen, it can impact the natural reset of hormones. In fact, in two days of little or poor sleep, the hormonal changes that influence weight loss (Ghrelin and Leptin) can be impacted. This can also lead to metabolic disorders, weight gain, increased appetite, and/or diminished feeling of fullness.
Poor sleep can also impact oxidative stress, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and overall energy for movement and exercise.
A few tips for a good night sleep:
Control the room temperature
Get into a routine or sleep schedule
Eat at least 4 hours before bed when possible
Start a brain dump journal to clear everything that is on your mind before you go to bed.
Be an early bird
Leave the electronics out of your bedroom
Sleep in a dark room
Get your sleep, friends; your body and mind will be glad you did!
Although genes do impact one's genetic predisposition, it doesn't mean you can't lose weight. However, it does mean that getting on the right plan for your body/genes will help support your weight management goals.
According to Obesity Medicine Association, 43% of the population have a genetic predisposition to obesity. And 40-70% of obesity is from our genetics. The five genes associated with obesity are FTO, MC4R, Ankyrin-B, PANX1, and IRX3. Genetic predispositions can impact how you store fat, overeating, fullness, calorie intake, and hunger, to name a few.
Again, genetics may be impacting how you lose weight BUT, it is not a reason to stop working towards your goals.
Grab a journal https://amzn.to/3kUaPo6 and start monitoring how foods are impacting you.
For example, certain food categories may have varied influences because of your genes.
When you recognize adverse effects, try eliminating them to determine how it shifts your ability to lose weight.
And check with your medical provider to determine if you have the gene expressions that are more prone to obesity, then build steps to offset those.
Whatever you do, please don't use it as a reason not to work towards the goals you want!
Several studies suggest that gut bacteria plays a major role in the body's ability to lose weight and/or how someone gains weight. Gut bacteria can impact digestion, how nutrients from foods are absorbed into the body, how fat is stored, and that feeling of fullness.
The foods we eat and how those foods respond to your body significantly impact the gut bacteria.
Generally speaking, sugar and processed foods are not good for anyone's gut health. In addition to those, other foods that may impact some people include soy, dairy, red meat, gluten, eggs, corn, farmed fish, and nightshades. These foods, for certain people, may cause increased inflammation in the digestive system.
There are several food sensitivity tests on the market that can help narrow in on this. You can also pull out that trusty food journal again and start tracking what impacts you and adjusting from there.
Ah, that wonderful word of water! So drink up, friends; water helps us detox; it may keep you full longer, it's a natural appetite suppressant, it increases calorie burn, and it's necessary to burn fat.
When our body is dehydrated it slows down the bodies ability to process and clear toxins.
Medical Conditions and Medicine
Any number of medicines and medical conditions may impact your ability to maintain your weight. Check with your medical practitioner for advice on how to offset the impact of weight gain from medical reasons.
The bottom line…
The answer to losing weight is not one blanket answer or the same approach for everyone. If you are struggling or frustrated on this weight loss journey. Take some time to review how each one of the points mentioned above could be impacting you.
As someone with a genetic predisposition to obesity and no thyroid (which causes all kinds of hormonal hiccups); not to mention the foods I watch as they cause weight gain quickly for me. If I can overcome and maintain a Massive weight loss for decades, you can too. It comes with awareness and adjustments and the knowingness that you can get there!!
Start with a few small shifts to determine if it makes a difference.
If you are supporting people on their weight loss or fitness goals, keep these topics in mind and adjust your strategies to better support your clients.
You are not alone in this journey, my friends. If you are looking for support, let's talk https://calendly.com/jenzahari/30min !