This time last year you committed to yourself that 2019 was going to be your year. You were going to start leading a healthier lifestyle by eating more greens, cutting out the fast food, and being more active. check – check and check! But for some reason, you’ve found that weight loss has proven more difficult than you anticipated and moving the needle on the scale has been the ultimate battle. So what are you doing wrong when you thought you were doing everything right?
Nothing can be more disheartening when you feel you are giving 100% and getting nothing back. Today I was to cover why even though your heart is in the right place, you may be focusing on the wrong things. Here are 5 reasons why an obsession with weight loss prevents weight loss.
Body image and weight loss
Let’s start with body image. You can’t hate yourself into a body you love for more reasons than one. It’s a contradiction and simple doesn’t work. An inner monologue that constantly criticizes or insults can be so detrimental to not only your physical health, but your mental and emotional health leading to states of distress such as low self-esteem and depression. When your self processes a negative inner monologue you may think you’re giving yourself ‘tough love’ but in reality the body is triggering a stress response which causes you to store fat and lock the vaults (having the adverse effect of what you wanted).
If loving your body is difficult for you focus on aspects of yourself you love and truly appreciate. It can be a physical attribute, skill, or trait. The goal is to unite you with yourself and create an environment where you are working with your body, not against it.
“If I don’t eat, my body will eat the fat first, right?”
No — wrong. It’s actually the last thing to go. Yes, yes stubborn ol’ fat. If you’re not eating due to fasting or simply eating too few calories, not eating will highly increases the risk of regaining any weight you may have lost — and that weight gain will most likely be in the form of fat. Why? Take a guess.
Starvation triggers a stress response causing you to hold on to that fat.
Believe it or not fat is essential to the body. It’s the back-up source of energy when you’re not eating enough (hint hint), it provides energy, helps to absorb nutrients in the foods you eat and maintains the body’s core temperature. Essentially, if you were starving — it would keep you alive.
So how do you get your body to stop storing fat? Close your eyes and snap 3 times. Just kidding! Remember the body will store and use fat as energy when it’s in starvation mode so to get the body out of starvation mode we need to make sure we are reducing stress, eating and exercising regularly. The body recognized patterns so when it sees you consistently bringing in a reliable source of nutrients and using the body to develop and build muscle groups, it loosens the grip on the fat storage because it knows it can rely on you to do your part.
Next up, workoutsN
Raise your hand if you can honestly say you enjoyed your last workout session? If you answered yes — you can most likely skip this section of the article — you get an A. Contrary to popular belief, exercising or working out was not intended to be strenuous and/or stressful. In fact, one of the primary functions of exercising regularly is simply to improve your health in order to reduce the risks of developing chronic diseases. Not be a source of stress. Exercising regularly can no doubt benefit the body by improving mental health, boosting self-esteem and self-confidence but there is definitely a fine line between working out to stay healthy and obsessively working out.
Working out causes the body to go into one of two modes : fight or flight. For example if you are running, you are either running to hunt or running because you are being hunted. This analogy no longer applies as I don’t believe any one of us is literally hunting on foot… but the rules of application remain the same. Are you working out to conquer a goal and be triumphant or is something forcing you i.e poor body image? When we are working out with our body it creates a harmony and a balance that restores and strengthens. When we work out against it, forcing it, working out too often, using negative self talk, or working out for the wrong reason we cause it work against us. It actually triggers the stress response starvation triggers — which causes your body to shut down and store fat. Common side effects of excessive or obsessive exercise are weakened immune system, insomnia and depression. These can all have major long term side effects! When you are working out, make sure to listen to your body and move with it.
“…But I like working out 2 times a day.”
Okay Hercules, everyone’s body is different and some people do have the capacity for more physical exertion than others. This is true, but if you are working out more than the recommended 3 to 4 times a week make sure you are working with a trainer and/or nutritionist to make sure your body is being alimented correctly to maintain optimal body function.
For the rest of us that do not enjoy working out twice a day, good physical health can be achieved by taking the time out 3 to 4 times a week to focus on major muscle groups such legs, arms, back or chest each day in 30-45 min intervals. Consider restorative exercises such as walking, yoga or swimming as an alternative to HIT, Cross-fit or Bootcamp style workouts. They are just as effective and use natural movements the body uses organically making it a less strenuous activity that creates a positive return such as improved memory and boosted happiness levels sans the induction of stress.
Check your gut health
Pop quiz — what are Probiotics? If you guessed good bacteria and yeast living in the gut that helps the digestive system than you guessed correct! But did you also know that Probiotics not only play a role in having a healthy gut but also plays a role in weight loss?
Back to the gut. The gut is considered the body’s “second brain” and lives under the mucosal lining and between the muscular layers of the esophagus, the stomach, and the intestines AKA your digestive system. Through an incredible network of neurons and neurochemicals it senses and has the power to control other parts of the body but it can only do this if the gut remains healthy. You can increase the good bacteria in your gut by adding fermented foods such as sauerkraut or live bacteria yogurt to your diet. If you’re interested in making sauerkraut at home check out my workshop. But what does gut health have to do with weight loss? For starters, an unhealthy gut can cause you to experience low energy levels and mood swings making it difficult to stay motivated about your health kick. A healthy gut also plays a key role in your digestive system helping to flush out toxins, absorb nutrients and improve your metabolism. If you feel you are doing everything right yet struggling with weight loss — an unhealthy gut may be the culprit.
Your body weight is where it should be
We have all fallen victim of wanting someone’s else body at one time or another but maybe the needle on the scale isn’t moving because your body is right where it should be. Provided you are not suffering with health complications or ailments, this may be an opportunity to accept your body for what it is — which is far more than a number on a scale. Celebrate your body by working with it, not against it, by focusing on having a positive body image and maintaining a supportive inner monologue.