This time of year is filled with the best intentions, and the best marketing for some of the most ridiculous diets around. Calorie this and low fat that fills our screens... if only we could just eat less and deprive ourselves whilst snacking on a 1 point piece of cardboard, we could watch the pounds fall away during our weekly weigh ins. Snore.
Not only is starvation and deprivation a counter productive approach in itself, but hardly anyone seems to be talking about root causes of weight gain.
Even for those eating the purest of foods and following a strict exercise regime, weight can still creep on and leave you feeling very demotivated.
There are many reasons why you're not able to lose weight, and these are the top six:
1. Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivities can cause low -grade inflammation and can contribute to bloating as well as insulin resistance leading to weight gain. The most common culprits are gluten (due to the hybridisation of wheat) and dairy, so I always recommend pulling these out, or undertaking a food intolerance test when weight doesn't want to shift. However... this doesn't mean reach for the free-from products in supermarket aisles, as these can be highly processed, full of toxins and can cause even more damage, leading to a further cycle of yuck in the body.
2. Low Thyroid Function
The thyroid controls the metabolism and so if it's slow and not functioning optimally, it can slow your metabolism and put you at risk for obesity. When clients come to see me with weight gain issues, and have other symptoms such as constipation, fatigue, or hair loss, it's likely that I will follow up with a thyroid panel to check their hormone levels. Sometimes, just correcting the hormone imbalance is enough to get the weight back on track. As thyroid imbalances can be linked to the stress response, fad diets and calorie reductions can actually cause more damage, as they further enhance the stress response. This is why you'll never hear me talk about a calorie reduced diet.
Prolonged stress increases cortisol production, which is the main stress hormone. Over time this can increase blood sugar, which creates weight gain around the middle. Cortisol can also negatively affect sleep, the thyroid, muscle loss and growth hormones, which encourage more weight gain. Rather than dieting or referring to certain foods as a "sin", taking the time out for self-care and chilling can be much more effective. Interestingly, too few calories can also put your body into stress mode as it thinks it's being starved. Just love yourself a little more, throw out processed foods, and make some healthier choices. It doesn't need to be hard!
4. Too Much Cardio
Interestingly, included in the stress response is the issue of too much exercise. If you're already a little bit wired and your adrenal glands are a little taxed... intense cardio exercise is not going to help. Despite what the shiny magazines say, hard cardio can increase cortisol, in turn telling your body to hold onto weight when you're already stressed. Doing more gentle exercises like yoga, or strength exercise classes like Barre for example, can be much more beneficial to get your body in shape.
5. Imbalanced Gut Flora
A highly processed diet with sugar and low fibre has majorly altered the bacteria in our gut. Additionally, our love of antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication, acid blockers, and the contraceptive pill have led to major imbalances, changing our gut flora and leading to inflammation. As this determines how our food and nutrients are broken down and absorbed, studies are now highlighting that it can determine how our calories are used and stored. If you have digestive issues as well as weight gain, chances are you need a gut healing protocol, not more processed food!
Toxins in the environment can interfere with blood sugar metabolism and cause weight issues. If you eat well, exercise and still can't lose weight, it may be a sign that your body needs some support and a detoxification boost. Now this doesn't mean go on a juice cleanse, but rather support your natural detoxification pathways with nutrients like methylating B vitamins, antioxidants, and detoxifying minerals. If you've been exposed to fumes, mould, smoke or consume medications, it may be worth using functional testing to see what heavy metals are present or what your liver is doing.
Weight loss is definitely much more than calories or restricted portions. You need to determine what is going on in your life, what state your body is in and what individual protocols you can put in place to heal your body. Weight gain is only really a sign that it's time to start listening to your body.
If you have any concerns or want advice and support with effective, deep rooted weight loss, please head on over to www.jodiebrandman.com/the-wellness-movement where myself and a colleague are launching a new programme encouraging healthier, more natural choices, and where regular weigh-ins are most definitely frowned upon!
Let's enjoy 2017 not begin with stress!