5 Crucial Parts to Weight Loss
Tell me if you can relate to this phrase, “I’ve tried everything and I just can’t seem to lose the weight.” You probably answered yes because most people do. Many of my clients initially come to me to lose weight…and the work begins.
Weight loss is a puzzle. Learning how your body functions, listening to what your body is telling you, and adjusting as needed is the quickest way to lose weight. It’s not a shake, pill, product, or potion. Sure, you’ll lose some water weight quickly but you won’t lose fat and you won’t keep it off long-term.
Here’s another phrase…tell me if you can relate to it.
“I want to drop 10 lbs and then I want to gain it back in a few weeks.”
You probably can’t relate because most people don’t think or say this to themselves. It’s the opposite…wanting to lose it and keep it off.
Here’s the catch…you have to put in the work. Quality weight loss does not come overnight. And it’s usually not entirely based on what you’re eating. Many of my clients consume a solid diet. A diet that most nutritionists would be proud of. And yet they aren’t losing.
In this blog, we’re going to discuss the 5 primary puzzle pieces to losing weight and keeping it off. There are more than 5, however this is the prominent 5 I see in my office.
Balance your hormones
Your hormones are not the same when you’re 40 as they were when you were 20. Your body is in a constant state of change and keeping up with them is imperative. Lets first focus on estrogen.
As women, we all have varying amounts of estrogen at varying times during the month as well as in our lives. We can have excess estrogen in the body. This can lead to estrogen dominant breast cancer, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and endometriosis, to name a few. As we age, our estrogen levels slowly decline until we hit menopause. Men can also have excess estrogen...it’s not just a women’s issue.
Excess estrogen, in both men and women, can lead to increased weight retention or weight gain. Here are the common signs and symptoms of excess estrogen:
There are a few things you can do to balance your hormones. Reducing stress, improving sleep, and cleaning up your diet are a few. Increasing your fiber is a big one. And, when you increase fiber, you need to increase your fluid intake. Supporting the liver is another part to clearing excess estrogen. Often, I’ll use herbs or supplements to help the body clear estrogen better so we can reduce the amount in the body.
Progesterone is another hormone that needs to be balanced. You can feel like you have too much estrogen. What may be happening is that you have too little progesterone. The two balance each other out. The symptoms of excess estrogen are very similar to having too little progesterone. Here are the common ones:
Improving your stress and how you handle it can definitely help balance your hormones as well.
Reduce your stress
No one is stress free. We all have stress. The key is recognizing the stress and reducing the effects on the body.
When you’re stressed, your body goes through the exact same response. Your body doesn’t know that you’re working out, reading emails, or running from a bear.
First, we release epinephrine. This is the adrenaline that gets you going. You may notice staggered breathing, shaking hands, irritability, or increased heart rate.
Second, you release norepinephrine. This gives you laser focus to duck into alley ways or complete a task. Ever been against a deadline and notice the ideas you couldn’t conjure before now just start flowing? That’s your norepinephrine.
Last, we release cortisol. Cortisol tells the body you need energy. The body releases stored sugar so you can create energy to keep going. Any excess glucose that was released and not used, gets restored as fat.
This is where stress can cause weight gain. You’re not usually outrunning an attacker when stressed. Most are sitting when stressed. So, you aren’t using that massive influx of energy you’ve released, which means you restore it as fat.
Cortisol can be released by good or not so good things. Here are the common cortisol triggers:
Lack of sleep
When working out
Yes, exercise is a stressor (but usually a good one…unless we are over exercising). Cortisol also increases cravings, which leads to snacking.
You can’t always remove the stressor but you can implement strategies to reduce the effects on the body. Meditation, belly breathing, walking, or doing something you enjoy are all great methods to reducing the stress response in the body.
Get enough sleep
I can’t foot stomp this one enough. Most do not get enough sleep. You may get enough to function throughout the day. But you don’t get enough to thrive in health.
You need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. And it needs to be quality sleep. I know…that’s a tall order. Baby steps. Making small, sustainable changes to your sleep habits will do you wonders when it comes to weight loss.
I talk about sleep strategies in my 3-Steps to Overcome Fatigue blog.
When you’re tired, you produce more cortisol. We just talked about the damage excess cortisol does to the body, let alone the weight gain that comes from it. When you have a lack of sleep, you have an increased production in cortisol.
You could be doing everything right when it comes to your diet, but if you’re lacking in sleep, you’re likely not losing weight. You may even be gaining.
Eat your vegetables
Sometimes, you’re holding on to excess weight because you aren’t feeding the body. You may be reducing carbs or calories. But if you’re not eating whole foods, or excluding veg because you don’t like them…you’re cutting your progress short.
Don’t undermine the nutrient content of veg. I have had women in my office spark weight loss simply by increasing their vegetable intake. Most people overestimate the amount of vegetables they’re getting in their diet.
Most people I interact with think they are getting 2-3 servings of veg per day. When we take a deep look at their food log, they’re really getting 1-2 servings per day. You could spark some serious weight loss if we can get 7-9 servings per day. I know that seems like a lot, but let’s break it down.
1 servings = ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw
1 cup raw broccoli = 1 serving
1 cup cooked broccoli = 2 servings
Most people don’t consume veg because they don’t like it. There are a few ways around this. When you start cleaning up your diet, you’ll notice new flavors. By removing processed foods, you tend to like more “natural” foods better.
Another way is to give them a fair shot. If we try a new veg once and don’t like it, we likely won’t try it again. An adult needs to try veg at least 4 times cooked in a variety of ways before they can say they don’t like it.
Smoothies are a sneaky way to get in veg as well. Fruit will mask the veg taste in any smoothie. Why not add 2 cups of spinach to a smoothie with a banana? Now you’re 2 servings closer to your daily goal!
Heal your gut
Most people have a disordered gut. Healing the gut doesn’t happen overnight. And it’s always a work in progress. I’ve talked about gut issues in various blogs. You can read them here:
Many of my clients come to me because they are desperate to lose weight and everything they have tried just isn’t working. After a thorough intake session, I find that most have gut issues. We embark on healing the gut and within weeks, we have sparked weight loss.
When you have inflammation in the gut, you aren’t going to digest and absorb nutrients and you’re going to retain water. Once you start reducing inflammation, the body responds by letting go of the weight it was holding on to.
This is certainly not an all-inclusive list of reasons why people aren’t losing weight. This just happens to be the top reasons I see in my practice.
I recommend everyone seek the assistance of a nutritionist. They can give you a road map to get your from point A to B without a million detours. If you aren’t ready, pick one strategy and master it. Then move on to the next.
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