By Jen Gendron: Health & Wellness Coach
Seeing the same numbers on the scale week after week and not liking what you see? Exercising and dieting and getting no results? Unsure why you are working so hard and not seeing the changes you want?
Sometimes, our best intentions and weight loss plans are being self-sabotaged without us even realizing it. There are many factors that can be working against you in your efforts and the biggest one, which is a surprise to most, can often be that you are not eating enough? What?!? I can hear your thoughts – isn’t “dieting” the best way to lose weight? Don’t we need to restrict our calories in order to achieve the weight loss we desire? While making changes to our eating habits is an important part of healthy living, chronic “dieting” can actually inhibit our weight loss, reducing our body’s ability to release the extra weight.
What tends to happen when we decide to go on a “diet” is that we restrict our calories so far that our body decides to hang on tight! While your mind is thinking “this is going to be great, I am going to cut my calories way back and lose this extra weight”, your brain is thinking “What the heck is happening here? I am starving! Are we in a time of scarcity? I better slow things down here as I don’t know when I am going to get my next meal – I need to hang on to whatever I can”. Our bodies are smart and well-oiled machines. They are designed for self-preservation. These primal instincts go way back to the cave man days when we literally did not know when we would get our next meal and our body and metabolism had to shift regularly into conservation mode to get through the tough times. For this reason, extreme calorie reduction can actually work against you when you are trying to release weight. Rather than restriction, you should be looking at changes to your eating habits, incorporating more whole foods and less junk. Cutting out sugar and processed foods to eat clean and healthy so that your body is supported and getting the nutrients it needs.
Aside from the calorie restriction issue, there are other factors that affect our ability to lose weight that we might not realize. A big one is sleep. Many of us are not getting the adequate sleep our bodies need to function at an optimum level and when we are sleep deprived, we also affect our metabolism and our body’s ability to regulate. Another crucial factor is stress. In times of high stress (which, let’s face it, is pretty much all the time in today’s crazy, fast-paced world!) or metabolism is also greatly affected as stress hormones are released at high rates and our body becomes trapped in a constant state of “fight or flight”.
So if releasing weight or weight management is a goal you are focusing on this spring, rather than making extreme cut backs to your food consumption and drastically reducing your calories, take the time to look at your lifestyle habits from a higher level and see what changes you could make to support your overall health which in turn will help you to put your body in to a state of optimum functioning to support your goals. Weight release will be a natural side affect of these healthy lifestyle changes!