Most people tend to think that weight loss is one dimensional, that in order to lose weight you have to eat less, and exercise a little bit more.
This concept just scratches the surface of weight loss, in reality it is not that simple. The human body has complex mechanisms, enzymes and safety features if you will – that make it so what we don’t use i.e fat, is stored for later.
It is unfortunate that our work -life schedules and sedentary lifestyles have made it so that we reach for quick and easy rather than wholesome and healthy. Compounding this is the factor of food deserts or areas in which wholesome foods such as fresh produce, are simply not available and if so, they are at a much higher cost compared to the prepackaged counterpart. Ugh food deserts…so terrible! But that is a topic for another day.
Today I would like to bring to light what I feel are those factors we need to address when trying to achieve healthy weight loss.
- Often over looked, the quality of the food we consume is pivotal. We simply can not expect to cut calories and magically feel and look better. What I love most about nutrition is how a simple yet, nutrient dense meal can almost instantly change a persons’ overall health and mental outlook. Whether a food is organic or conventional does make a difference and I like to take it step further when shopping and choose foods or companies that strive to protect the environment (i.e palm oil free). But that’s just me.
- Our hormones are so important – and I probably should write a whole separate blog post about hormones, but let’s begin with the oh so important thyroid gland. Our thyroid gland regulates and this is important because those who find it difficult to lose weight (no matter the age) need to consider thyroid dysfunction as a possible issue because weight gain is a main sign of hypothyroidism. Unfortunately, this disorder has become overwhelmingly common and could be attributed to a variety of causes; poor diet, adrenal fatigue, hashimotos, or other autoimmune disorders and aging. However, that being said, everyone that I have known in my personal life to have hypothyroidism has been under 30 and female. Go figure.
- So, what do you do ? check for thyroid function with a simple blood test: TSH, T4, Free T4 and Free T3. The most active (important) hormone is T3 we want to see that the body is converting T4 into T3 and if you find that the T3 number is lower than range chances are that is whats causing the weight gain. Of course this is a very simple, watered down explanation, but a good integrative MD or Dietitian can spot thyroid inadequacies and make suggestions for thyroid hormone support. Let’s not forget about our sex hormones: DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, estrogen each play an important role in sending messages to different parts of the body. A decline in estrogen in a women can be attributed to weight gain and in men a low testosterone elevated estrogen are associated with increased belly fat.
- Of course this just scratches the surface of the topic of hormones. We cant forget about insulin (think blood sugar), ghrelin, leptin (hunger/statiety hormones) cortisol (stress) all important players in the weight game.
- Just like meal planning, exercise, the type and frequency, is unique for each and everyone of us. I tend not to lean towards a particular exercise type or routine because as I advocate for balance I understand that too much of one thing – even exercise can turn out to be not so good. That being said, exercise is necessary and not only for weight loss but should be practiced even by those just looking to maintain health, build bone density and maintain muscle status. I know… we all know exercise is important to any weight loss regimen but how do we know what type to do? The answer is simple, whatever suits you! If you have 20 minutes to scroll through Instagram, you have time for HIIT. If you have 1 hour after work to avoid traffic, hit the gym. Have some down-time on a Sunday? Head out for a run ! It is really that simple and in my opinion, as long as you are finding some way some how to get active, that is great in my book !
- A number of studies indicate that workplace stress is a major cause of stress for American adults. When the body is stressed, it produces a hormone called cortisol. While this is completely normal and necessary for stressful situations i.e escaping a burning building, a chronic high production of cortisol can lead to increased appetite – making us more hungry to fuel our escape, and thus increase our food intake.
- We all have a lot going on, it is not always possible to get a full 8 hours in and many don’t. What I want to emphasize is that sleep is when our body recovers and recoups. We have to sleep to restore our cells, and body for optimal performance. I like to say, if you think about it and really make it a point to be in bed by a certain time that is the first step and everything else will fall into place. Setting that intention is the part 1 of your sleep schedule. Meditation and yoga practice before bed can be very relaxing and helpful for sleep promotion.
- Main reason why I mention hydration in this post is because many of us (most) are not getting enough water in per day. So if were not getting water (no calorie, no sugar, nada) then what are we drinking? Coffee, frappuccinos, Gatorade, juice, energy drinks etc. Things with either cream, milk, sugar and or artificial sweeteners which all around leads to either excess calories in or increased cravings for more sugar-filled treats. Great thing about water is that it has no side effects! How amazing right? I know I preach about hydration in nearly every post of mine, but for good reason. It is applicable in almost all health topics!
I hope that with this post you consider those factors in your life that may or may not be getting in the way of achieving your weight goals and with my tips you make strides in the right direction! I love chatting about health and wellness and I try to keep it short, sweet and to the point. If you have burning questions for me let me know I would love to speak with you !
Be well my berries 🙂