Weight loss ranks high when it comes to health goals. Was it one of your New Year's resolutions?
If it was, great! Just make sure you are putting your health first. Health is so much more than a number on the scale... If I were you, I wouldn't even use the scale! Could you live without it? I bet you could.
There are at least 5 things that could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts. These 5 things are often pushed to the back burner (especially by women) but if you bring them to the forefront, your health will improve and I bet your weight will move in the direction you want it to.
We live in a fast paced, stressful world. Many people are trying to everything for everyone (except taking care of themselves). Stress plays a huge role in our health (and weight). When you are in high-gear all the time, your body has no choice but to pump out Cortisol all the time. This is not how the body is supposed to work. Cortisol is our "fight or flight" hormone -- it should only be released a certain times. In a nutshell, a constant influx of cortisol to your body, means that your hunger signals are continually going off. Your body thinks it needs quick energy, so what do you reach for .... yup, SUGAR! You don't really NEED it, your body just thinks you need it. Hello belly-fat! It's time to combat that stress! What can you do this year to decrease the stress in your life? Here are some of my favorite stress busting techniques:
Epsom Salt Baths
Limit caffeine and alcohol
Here's a great breath technique you can use anytime of the day (even when you wake between 2am-4am because your cortisol is surging)
Breathe in for 4 counts
Hold for 7 counts
Release for 8 counts
Repeat 3-4 times!
Sleep is very important yet it seems that many people are getting less instead of more of it! Sleep is when our body repairs itself and if you are skimping on your zzzz's, your doing your body an injustice. You should be aiming to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night with the hours between 10-12pm being the 2 most important hours. Even though it is only 2 hours on the clock, it is like 4 hours to your body! If you are waking between 2-4am, it is likely that your cortisol levels are out of whack (refer back the the section on stress). Have you ever noticed when you don't get enough sleep, you are more hungry the next day? This is because your grehlin and leptin (2 hormones that control hunger) are out of balance. It is important to have good sleep hygiene. Here is a list of things you should be doing to help get a better nights sleep:
No screens 2 hours before bed
Sleep in a dark, cool room
Do some relaxation exercises before bed
Eat a good source of starchy carbohydrate 4 hours before bed
Eat a good source of protein 4 hours before bed
Listen to some relaxing music before going to sleep
Exercise is important for our health but more is not necessarily better. The key is to find the best exercise for your body and the goals that you have. Spending hours on the treadmill is not going to help your weight loss efforts. Long bouts of cardio puts too much stress (yup, there it is again) on your body. The machine may tell you that you've burned "x" number of calories but it is also likely increasing your already too high cortisol levels. I hate to break it to you, but the number on that cardio machine ARE NOT accurate! Instead of the long cardio sessions, you should be doing some HIIT training along with strength training. Strength training is going to increase your lean muscle mass which means you are going to burn more calories at rest and HIIT training will help boost your Human Growth Hormone -- which helps you burn more calories too! If you are new to either of these 2 types of exercise, I would highly recommend investing in a personal trainer who can help develop a program for you!
This is the most important piece when it comes to weight loss! It is also where I see my clients struggling the most. The world of nutrition is a confusing place and it can be very hard to navigate -- especially for women. The biggest mistake I see women make when it comes to weight loss is....they are eating ENOUGH!! Yes, you read that right. Not enough calories (and not enough of the right calories) can stall your weight loss. It may work for the short term, but 1200 calories is not enough!! Now this doesn't mean that its time for a free-for-all but it does mean that you need to make an effort to get more calories in. Yes, that might be scary, and it likely goes against everything that you've read, but your body needs more food! Here is a breakdown of the minimums that you should be getting in a day:
100 grams of quality protein (for satiety)
40-50 grams of good quality fat (about 1 Tbsp/meal)
100 grams of nutrient dense carbohydrates (think root veggies)
This is just a starting point! Get the minimums and see how you feel. Adjust as needed. But...give it some time. How do you know if you are getting enough food? Here are some questions you should be asking yourself. How is your sleep? How is your energy? How are your bowel movements? How is your mood? When your body is getting what it needs, it will show you love in ways that you hadn't thought of!
5. Food 2.0
Yes...I am going to talk food again! Another common mistake I see with my clients is they are eating the same thing their best friend or co-worker is eating. Please stop doing this... you are your own person. Find food that makes you feel amazing, not that makes your friend or co-worker feel amazing. Just because they have jumped on the latest fad diet or hottest (at the moment) MLM and have lost 20 pounds, doesn't mean that you should be doing it too. You don't have the same needs as she/he does. You may have undiagnosed food sensitives or undiagnosed hormone issue that is at the root of your weight loss problem. You need to get the bottom of the issue and following some cookie cutter program is not the way to go about it.
Putting health before a number on the scale will likely get you the results you've been hoping for. Who knows, it may even get you more than you bargained for!