As a Health Coach, and someone who works a lot with food, I often get asked if I can help them lose weight. And my first response is always, that my clients do end up achieving their optimal weight, but that we need to look beyond the weight.
Why is this?
Weight gain is just an outward symptom of a number of factors. Each of these causes a cascade of inner inflammation which starts a whole other cascade of hormonal processes which lead to weight gain and excess weight retention. Some of the common ones are:
Inflammation – From childhood, we have been taught to think of either tasty things or just calories. As long as it tastes good, it’s usually okay. What we haven’t been trained to be mindful of, is whether these certain foods are actually inflaming us. The only time we avoid certain foods is if we are obviously allergic to them. This leads to a problem: a lot of us eat foods that we have a subtle or obvious intolerance to. And these foods are different for everyone. Sure there are foods which I would say are ALWAYS inflammatory (such as wheat, processed vegetable oils and very sugary foods) but other than that it is a very individual thing. Intolerance can manifest in a LOT of subtle ways, not just digestive symptoms. It can come in the form of migraines, aches and pains, runny noses, eczema.. the list goes on. And all of those are signs of silent inflammation within the body. INFLAMMATION = EXCESS WEIGHT.
Stress – we live in a world which constantly demands so much of us. We are constantly expected to be available for others, to perform, to be connected electronically… The sources of stress are different for different people, but the bottom-line is that the unrelenting stress (even though it is just mild stress), coupled with our unhealthy ways of dealing with stress (through food, or by beating ourselves up mentally and emotionally, or by giving up our sleep), is a direct physical cause of silent inflammation. STRESS = MORE CORTISOL = WEIGHT GAIN AND WEIGHT RETENTION.
Blood Sugar Issues / Insulin Resistance – this is a more specific sub-set of the hormonal processes which I mentioned above. Blood sugar issues can be genetic but this post’s purpose I will discuss blood sugar issues caused by an unrelenting barrage of sugar or foods that turn to sugar in the body. These are usually foods which break down into simple carbohydrates (or “quick” fuel) such as most breads, pastries, confectionery, most muesli bars and cereals, syrups, fruit juices (especially processed ones) and similar foods. It can also be caused by a combination of constant stress, and eating inflammatory foods. BLOOD SUGAR ISSUES = STRESS ON THE BODY = WEIGHT ISSUES.
Emotional Eating – I have clients who think they are eating the “right things” but feel triggered to eat, usually mindlessly, by stressful situations or by certain events (usually stressful ones). Or they are triggered to eat more and more of certain foods because they actually have intolerances to those foods. Sneaky huh?
There are obviously the more obvious reasons such as overconsumption of food, especially processed foods, and lack of movement.
The common direct approach to weight loss is always to go on a diet and exercise a lot more. This is not how I work, mainly because I have found that dieting and lots of traditional exercise is counterintuitive to reducing the inflammation and downstream hormonal effects of a stressful lifestyle (more about this in another blog post). Especially if you’re busy and stressed, juggling career and family and multiple other balls in the air, or you’re already tired, suffering from other physical issues and drained of energy. The only thing that I will say about this for now is that I believe that everyone should find a way of moving that they truly love and crave, and that is sustainable for them…. something they will always make time for into their 70’s and 80’s. And that perhaps this is not going to the gym lifting weights and doing spin classes.
Why? Because IT’S TOO HARD.
Any weight loss program that focuses on just eating less and exercising, and doesn’t consider the other factors, more is likely bound to fail and not be sustainable. As opposed to this, my experience shows me that barring serious medical factors, most people can reach their optimal weight by finding a way of eating and moving and living that is sustainable for them.
So what should you aim for?
Know your food intolerances.
Reduce your inflammation.
Cope more effectively with stress.
Balance your blood sugar and decrease and / or eliminate insulin resistance.
Create a more positive relationship with food.
And then you achieve your optimal weight and feel great… while enjoying food and life and not being shackled with routines that give you the guilts if you can’t maintain them.
If you have been through all sorts of diets and gym memberships in the past, and are sick and tired of not losing weight, just hit Reply Or click here to have a 15-minute “tea chat” (just long enough to have a culpa!). We’ll chat about what’s bothering you and 1 thing you can do to get started.
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