You've sweat it out in your kickboxing, spin or Pilates class, lifted ridiculously heavy weights, knocked out a few extra miles on the treadmill and done more burpees than you care to admit....but the weight is NOT coming off! (insert profanity rant here)
One of the biggest myths about weight loss is that it requires endless trips to the gym where you spend hours going nowhere on a machine or lifting weights to the point that walking up stairs becomes a workout in itself. As with overall Health and Wellness, weight loss requires a balance between multiple dimensions. Poor eating habits, lack of sleep and stress are some of the biggest culprits keeping you from your goal weight. So put down the dumbbells and keep reading for some helpful ways to battle the bulge without the sweat.
Weight Loss Happens in the Kitchen
The Standard American Diet (SAD for short) is primarily composed of highly processed, refined "food" that has no right calling itself food in the first place. The 80's brought us big hair, remarkable style and longer lists of unpronounceable ingredients that promised our beloved snacks would be fat free. Chemicals replaced flavors and sweeteners were magically derived from corn. Coming from a generation that invented the Fat Free potato chip, butter that, believe it or not, isn't butter and low sodium salt (??), I can personally confess to eating some strange foods all in the name of slimming my waistline.
Not weight loss! In fact, my weight constantly yo-yoed, I was tired all the time and symptoms of depression were prevalent while I was in denial. Can you relate? As more and more "diet" foods hit the shelves, more and more Americans became overweight. The 1 in 30 children who were obese became the 1 in 6 with a bonus risk of Type II diabetes. I was one of the SAD diets sad stories.
My ah-ha moment came when I checked out a little book with a whole lot of simple information. Food Rules by Michael Pollan is the must have beginner guide to healthy eating. Rules as simple as "Eat Food...Not Too Much...Mostly Plants", "Don't Eat Anything Your Great-Great Grandmother Wouldn't Recognize" and "Don't Eat Breakfast Cereals that Change the Color of the Milk" became my mantras. I learned to cook and hoarded recipes from magazines in waiting rooms (pre-Pinterest of course), I began reading and understanding the information on nutrition facts labels. I realized the cause of my weight issues did not come from calories or fat (a once deemed naughty F-word) but from the unrecognizable ingredients I was consuming.
Keeping track of portions and calories is important, but fueling the body with real food takes priority. Food delivers the vitamins and nutrients necessary for muscle growth, cell regeneration, and basic bodily functions. Real food can be digested to deliver these nutrients throughout. The proper balance of macro-nutrients can keep the body energized while balancing the calories that come in with the calories that are burned.
These rules take a while to adopt as habit, but with each small step, a healthier weight and lifestyle is within reach!
Get Your zzzzzz's
How long does it take for your phone or device to recharge to 100%? I bet your evening routine includes plugging it in every night to be sure it is fully charged for the busy day of texting, browsing, calling and streaming the next day, am I right?
So how many hours do YOU recharge each night? Do you get the full 7-8 hours of sleep necessary to recharge your body to 100% for the following busy day?
If you are like most overworked and multitasking Americans, you likely sacrifice sleep to "get everything done" rather than sacrifice one more season of your favorite Netflix binge.
Growing evidence from both laboratory and epidemiological studies points to short sleep duration and poor sleep quality as new risk factors for the development of obesity. NCBI:
In Simpler terms, lack of sleep causes disruption of the hormones that regulate hunger and satiety and increased weight gain by 32% in women who averaged 5 hours of sleep a night. So plug the devices in, diffuse your favorite sleep inducing essential oils, turn out the lights and tuck yourself in for a solid 7-8 hours of recharging. You will feel more energized and boost your weight loss efforts.
You are out for your morning walk when suddenly a large dog lunges towards you. You immediately jump and either defend yourself or hightail it out of there. A quick dose of adrenaline and cortisol gets your heart racing and provides you with a surge of energy and strength that will help you fight off the threat or escape. This is referred to as the Fight or Flight Response, a built in defense mechanism to keep us alive in a dangerous situation.
When you realize the lunging dog is securely leashed and safely behind a fence, the Stress Response deactivates and the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in to bring you back to equilibrium.
Sounds great, right?
Only problem is, the Stress Response does not know the difference between a viscous dog, a looming deadline, traffic or a screaming toddler...each of these situations elicits the stress response and the corresponding impact on the body with one big difference....the latter situations tend to last a lot longer, putting continuous strain on the Adrenal glands and cause hormonal imbalance. Translation: the adrenal glands continuously pump adrenaline and cortisol resulting in adrenal fatigue and weight gain.
This process truly highlights the need for strategies to manage and reduce stress. Yoga, hobbies, nature and mindfulness are all great ways to reduce stress. Check out my blog on Mindful Practice for the Beginner to get started on one of the easiest and fastest way to bring on the Relaxation Response, Mindfulness. There are also a variety of apps and podcasts that will help guide you through meditations while the use of certain essential oils such as lavender or this set De-Stress Essential Oil Set have been shown to help reduce stress.
The Bottom Line
So, does this all mean that you should ditch your exercise? NO!! Weight loss and a Healthy Lifestyle are a balance of healthy eating, sleep, stress reduction AND exercise., You do not need to spend hours in the gym, 30 minutes a day should suffice along with a healthy diet, time to rest and recharge and identifying triggers for stress and the strategies that help keep it in control.
My 12 Week Spring Weight Loss Challenge, starting March 7th, provides support and accountability. Through this group coaching program, you will visualize optimal health and set realistic goals that will get you closer to your healthiest you, learn how to crowd out unhealthy habits as you make room for healthier behaviors and practice stress reducing activities specific to your needs and interests.
If you are ready to take this journey and incorporate these practices to lose weight into your life, be sure to check out the Spring Weight Loss Challenge.
Health and Happiness!
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links to product I personally use and recommend to achieve balance in health and wellness. I receive compensation from the sales of any linked items which helps me continue with my business providing clients with the skills and tools to reach their wellness goals. Thank you for your support