First, let me state that weight loss is not my favorite thing to talk about. I’m the person that thinks health should be priority #1, not weight loss. But, I have many clients that don’t feel comfortable in their own skin and really want to lose weight. I can appreciate that. So, you’re probably wondering…how the heck do I lose weight for good?
I’m getting there! I like to start by telling my clients that weight loss is something of a “bonus” that happens when the body is happy. Meaning, if you are dealing with inflammation of any sort…it’s gonna be a real b*$!ch to lose weight and keep it off. Excess weight is almost always a ‘symptom’ that there is some type of dysfunction in the body. Some of you reading this may be fabulous eaters, and are wondering why weight loss isn’t happening. Others may be…not so great eaters. I’ll address it all!
So let’s talk about a few possible scenarios:
Sounds so simple, but this one is huge, and often forgotten. If you are constantly in a fight or flight state, and are always stressed, then guess what? Losing weight becomes harder. This is often when people find themselves yo-yo dieting. A little weight loss happens, you get stressed and turn to comfort foods, the weight comes back, so you go on another diet. And this cycle continues.
To top if off, stress is going to affect your cortisol levels, which when you keep elevated, cause you to store body fat. You HAVE to get that stress under control. Even if you don’t think you’re stressed, you are (take it from someone who had that mentality for years). Spend at least 10 minutes a day working on your self care routine. That can be meditation, walking, deep breathing, EFT tapping…whatever.
This is one issue I see very often in both my clients, and friends. Hormones are a very tricky thing to balance, as so many factors can throw them out of balance (having babies, perimenopause, gut issues, stress, etc). I always advise some type of comprehensive hormone panel (I personally use DUTCH with my clients), along with a full thyroid panel if a hormone imbalance is detected. You may be dealing with excess estrogen (which does store as fat), or even subclinical hypothyroidism, which is rampant.
I’m sure some of you are going back to your old labs now, looking for some of these tests. And I’ll bet that many of you found some serum hormone tests and TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). I’m here to tell you that isn’t enough. Sure, you’ll get some insight from a serum panel, but…do you know if you’re clearing excess estrogen ok? How are your cortisol levels being metabolized? Those you can ONLY get from a DUTCH panel. And as far as thyroid goes, many practitioners are only running TSH. That’s like grinding your coffee beans, but then not adding the water to make the coffee. You’re not done. So always always always request a FULL thyroid panel (TSH, free T3, free T4, TPO/TG antibodies, and reverse T3) to make sure there are no other factors throwing your thyroid out of whack.
My second favorite thing to talk about, behind food ;). The gut microbiome (all the critters inside) outnumbers our own cells. We have trillions of bacteria in our body. Imagine what happens if they are not in balance? You guessed it, stubborn weight that you can’t lose, or even unexplained weight gain (especially in the stomach). Again, I’m a huge fan of testing. I exclusively use the GI Map for comprehensive stool tests, to see exactly what’s going on in the gut.
Many of my clients assume that because they don’t have typical digestive issues such as bloating, constipation or heartburn, then their gut is fine. Wrong. It is very common to have pathogens which lead to other issues, but you’d never know it because you aren’t experiencing “typical” symptoms. A happy gut is crucial to your health overall, happiness, and weight.
If testing isn’t in the cards right now, then I’m a huge fan of doing everything possible to make the gut happy. Chew your food well, eat a healthy diet (more on that below), load up on Omega 3 fats, and throw in some fermented foods on a regular basis. By keeping your bacteria balanced, weight loss can be sustained.
Dealing with insomnia AND have some weight you’d like to shed? It’s very possible the two are connected. Similar to stress, if you aren’t prioritizing sleep and getting a good 7-9 hours of interrupted rest, you may struggle to keep that weight off. Studies now show that poor sleep correlates to increased obesity and metabolic disorders. If you aren’t getting that, make sure of a few things: turn off the TV and cell phone a good hour before bed, or at least use amber glasses; keep the room a comfortable temperature; turn off wifi at night; have a bedtime routine to encourage the natural rise of melatonin. If sleep is still an issue…then of course, there are other factors that need to be explored.
You know I saved the best for last 😉 This one is a painful subject for many that I speak with. Let me ease into it… First, if you’re a yo-yo dieter, work on your mindset and get off that train. You simply cannot sustain weight loss if you’re bouncing back and forth between keto, Weight Watchers, vegan, paleo, etc. Take some time to evaluate what you liked best from each diet, and what made the most sense for your life, and take components of that to build your own diet.
Second, a calorie is not a calorie. I used to be guilty of this mentality. Let me explain. You can eat an apple with nut butter, or you can eat a Snickers bar. Both may be quite similar in calories (I’m guessing here, don’t quote me), but they are NOT perceived by the body as the same. If you think of it from a biochemical aspect, the body recognizes things with nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber) as food. If there are synthetic ingredients or sugar, the body recognizes it as a toxin, which just contributes to inflammation in the body. You want to put in more ‘food’ than ‘fake food’ in order to sustain weight loss.
Now, I’m not saying you have to entirely cut out some of the items that you love. In fact cutting them cold turkey may actually lead back to the yo-yo cycle. But, I’ve seen the best results when my clients take small, baby steps to make actual lifestyle changes. Again, not a diet. It has to become a lifestyle.
So, what is a healthy lifestyle? They all follow pretty similar principles if you think of it. Load up on lots of vegetables, get a good variety, opt for organic when possible, and if you eat meat, buy the ones that aren’t full of hormones and antibiotics. It also includes working to eliminate or drastically reduce boxed foods, artificial ingredients and sweeteners, and trans fats (canola, vegetable oil, etc).
Losing weight and keeping it off is absolutely doable. I see it all the time. But- it’s hard work and doesn’t happen overnight. I always advise starting first with diet and exercise, because those are gonna give you the most bang for your buck. Once you have those nailed down, if you still aren’t losing weight, or seem to gain it at the sip of a latte, then you’ll need to explore the other options above.