“I have tried every diet out there…and nothing has worked.” A common statement I hear in my practice from clients who are frustrated and desperate to find answers. Food has become “foe” vs. “friend” …reduced to a mere struggle against calories.
“Eat less, move more, eliminate certain food groups, and use willpower to control your weight/health” is advice that is ineffective and outdated. Not only are our bodies more complex than this… but our environment has changed, forcing us to look at weight loss through a “new lens”!
Achieving optimal health and weight loss is truly a complex interplay between our “one of a kind” genes, dietary intake, biochemistry, metabolism, hormones, emotions, exercise, stress, sleep, exposure to toxins, inflammation and belief systems!
This is why I believe in (and practice) a holistic and functional approach. AND why my Signature program, the 5-Step ECF System ( 6-month intensive) addresses all these areas to help clients transform their health… and discover “Solutions to their Struggle”!
There was a recent study out of New York University in Toronto, which further confirms that the battle of weight goes beyond just diet and physical activity related to our BMI’s. What they found was that lifestyle and environmental factors are likely keys in why “maintaining a healthy body weight is now more challenging than ever.”
The study concluded that “factors other than diet and physical activity may be contributing to the increase in BMI over time.” (Not surprising! It is just not that simple.) Although the study did not investigate the possible factors, it did suggest some culprits.
Here are some they mentioned, as well as ones I know to be true in my work with clients:
1. Exposure to environmental toxins
We come into contact with hundreds of chemicals on a daily basis, from common items like pesticides, furniture, food and food packaging, plastics, building supplies, and household cleaners. Among those that have been associated with obesity are the endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which include bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, found especially in plastics and personal care products. Think back to your childhood days if you are over the age of 40…how much exposure did YOU have to processed and packaged food, plastics, harsh cleaners and more….
While these chemicals are rampant in our modern world, there are some things you can do to avoid exposure such as select glass and stainless-steel containers instead of plastic, choose organic produce, buy products in BPA-free tins and cans, make your own household cleaners, and opt for natural beauty products.
2. Changes in your microbiome
The microbiome — the population of bacteria and other microorganisms living in and on our bodies — may have a role in the obesity rise. While research is ongoing, these changes may be related to the growing use of artificial sweeteners and processed and genetically modified foods, which may have a negative impact on bacteria in the gut. As well as increase use of antibiotics and other prescription medications.
In fact, experts have established a close relationship between the gut microbiome, obesity, and insulin resistance, with the hope that further understanding will help in the fight against this epidemic. It’s one more reason to make sure you not only take a high-quality probiotic supplement but also eat your pre-biotic foods!
3. The use of prescription medications (especially anti-depressants)
The use of antidepressants has skyrocketed by nearly 400% since 1988, and now 11% of people aged 12 years and older are taking at least one of these drugs. Weight gain is one of the side effects of these drugs, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) such as Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft.
Other drugs that may contribute to weight gain include beta-blockers, corticosteroids, diabetes medications, and mood stabilizers. These medications may also lead to micronutrient deficiencies that impact your metabolism, leaving it compromised to function at its best.
Talk to your health care provider about alternatives to prescription antidepressants you may be taking. Or learn what nutrient deficiencies may be impacting your health and how to effectively find foods or high quality supplements to maintain optimal health and metabolic function.
4. Chronic stress and cortisol
Stress takes a massive toll on health, resulting in unhealthy behaviors such as emotional over- eating. According to a 2012 American Psychological Association report, “Stress in America,” the nation is on the verge of a stress-induced public health crisis” and the concern is especially critical among people who are obese or depressed.
The connection between stress and weight gain lies mainly within hormones, especially the stress hormone cortisol. When stress levels remain elevated, so do cortisol levels, which can increase your appetite. Emotional eating — turning to comfort foods when faced with tension, stress, anxiety, and depression — can become part of this pattern as well.
Practice stress management techniques daily, such as meditation, progressive relaxation, deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, or visualization. Learn and experience the value of key principles that help with mindful eating and living.
5. Lack of sleep
Research has shown there’s a clear relationship between lack of sufficient sleep and weight gain. One such study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention evaluated data from 13,742 adults and looked at how long they slept and their weight. The authors found that compared with individuals who slept seven to nine hours per night, individuals who got six or fewer hours of shuteye were more likely to have abdominal obesity.
A recent Gallup poll indicates we’re getting less sleep today than our peers did back in the 1940s. In 1942, Americans got nearly eight hours of sleep per night, compared with an average of 6.8 hours today.
Make sleep a priority by establishing an optimal sleeping environments and a time to go to bed and rise each day. Aim for a minimum of seven to eight hours of sleep every night. And don’t forget to establish an optimal sleeping environment…that includes no electronics in the room and keeping it cool and dark!
6. Lower metabolism and nutrient deficiencies
The fight against weight gain can become a vicious cycle and losing battle (especially after several years) for many people who restrict calories for a while and then experience the yo-yo effect: weight loss followed by weight gain over and over again. This weight cycling can lead to a reduction in metabolic rate (often due to loss of lean muscle), a significant hurdle when one is trying to drop and keep off the pounds. More fatty tissue (vs. lean tissue) requires less energy to maintain, causing even greater struggle. In addition, restrictive “diets”, multiple medications, stress, genetic and environmental factors can impact key nutrients important for optimal metabolic function and also lead to resistant weight loss.
There’s not a simple solution to maintaining a healthy weight — it is typically more complicated than eating less and exercising more. It’s about having our physical, mental, hormonal, and digestive systems working in harmony. This is what I love helping clients to achieve optimal health!
Are you looking for answers and solutions to your struggle? Ready for a highly personalized and integrated 5-Step approach to transform your health….then check out my 6-month Intensive called the 5-STEP ECF SYSTEM!
I would love to hear from you!