It’s been proven that when self-reporting our daily habits, like how much we eat or how much we move, we underestimate the amount of food and overestimate how much we’ve burned by moving. It’s just human nature to want to be “good” at this taking care of ourselves stuff.
With this in mind, I thought I’d put together a list of things that could be hampering your weight loss efforts. I’ll be the first one to review it closely as it’s time to shake off the winter extra.
Start with a little honest self-assessment then read on.
If you think you are eating too much, you probably are.
No diet plan or style of eating alone is going to get you to the weight you want and keep you there. What works early on may need to be tweaked going forward, and one of the places to look is quantity.
If you are eating and say to yourself, “I’m getting full, I should probably stop,” but you keep on eating ‘til it’s all gone, you’ve ignored your body’s wisdom telling you that you’ve had enough. If you suspect you are eating too many nuts for a snack, cut back. Think your serving of cheese is more than you need to fuel you between meals? Cut it in half or by one third.
There are carbs and there are carbs
By now you might be tired of the whole carbohydrates are good / bad conversation, but bear with me because lately I’ve had some new clients who were still not clear on this.
There is no dietary requirement for carbohydrates like there is for fat and protein. This does not mean don’t eat them. Plants all have carbs but range from very low, leaves like spinach and kale, to high, like corn and potatoes. Eating from the low end of the list without reservation is good. Adding in a modest amount of the starchier ones like beets, sweet potatoes, new potatoes, roots, etc. is a good idea if they agree with you.
If you eat more than two servings of processed carbs like bread, pasta, cakes and cookies per day, depending on how much weight you want/need to lose either cut back to one per day — less than optimal if you want to jump start your loss — or none per day for 2 weeks for better results. You’ll be eliminating extra sugar at the same time and this will also help with inflammation and joint pain.
What’s in Your Pantry?
Foods with a long shelf life, made with vegetable oils like soy, corn or canola, and preserved with sugar and chemicals have got to go. If you haven’t read my book, which has a discussion about obesogens, you might want to grab it. (It goes into much more detail about what could be sabotaging your weight loss.)
Obesogens are chemicals that are used in foods, household products, lawn care products, thermal paper and so much more that we interact with daily. They mess with the endocrine (hormone) system, and cause weight gain or prevent weight loss. While you can’t eliminate them from the environment, you can take a look at what’s in your kitchen and bathroom (at your skincare products) and ditch what’s dirty. Here’s a link to a video I did about the skincare nasties.
Time to make the switch to healthy fats like coconut oil, ghee, organic butter, avocado, macadamia and extra virgin olive oils. Get your shelf-stable items like crackers, jar sauces and pastas with 5 or fewer ingredients. And if anything is day-glo, think sports drinks, party mix, it’s time to up-level your treats. Those dyes could be contributing not just to pounds but to headaches, joint pain and sleeplessness.
Your Only Exercise is High Intensity Long Bouts of Cardio
High intensity exercise can be fun and I’m a fan, but not as my only workout. Do you know any dedicated spin classers or elliptical maniacs who don’t look especially toned and thin? Their heart muscle gets a great workout, and some of the big muscles in the legs do too, but if you want to burn fat and avoid stimulating cortisol production — which leads to fat storage — you’ll want to incorporate some moderate exercise like walking, hiking, biking and swimming with some weights and bursts of intensity in and among those or separately. Have a read if you want to learn more. This was written by Mark Sisson who comes at this from a Paleo/ Ancestral point of view, but it’s all proven with recent science.
Speaking of Cortisol How’s Your Sleep?
This cannot be stated enough: lack of sleep is responsible for stress, which produces cortisol, which is a storage hormone. It causes fat storage specifically. In addition, less sleep than you need alters your appetite hormones, producing extra of the one that tells you you’re hungry and lowering the levels of the one that tells you you’re full. Oh, and then there are the cravings for sugar and other carbohydrates. It’s a weight loss triple-play disaster.
Nothing Works or This isn’t working
There is a very small percentage of people in the world who are genetically programmed to be obese. The disease is called Prader-Willi syndrome. “It is a rare chromosomal abnormality which causes low muscle tone and impairs signaling between the brain and the stomach,” according to an article in The New York Times by author Kim Tingley. Then there are people who have genes that predispose them to gain weight or have a harder time losing weight than the rest of us. They are not the majority, and as we know environment has a big influence on how we experience life.
When you feel you’ve tried everything and nothing works, it simply means that you are missing some information that will make the difference. Rather than trying a new book or program, why not find an expert to help?
If you feel that your chosen program isn’t working after some success but not what you’d like, don’t quit. Our bodies do not respond to our timing. As we age, things like losing weight and building muscle takes longer than in our early years. Do a little self-analysis with the above categories and take that honest look at what you are eating, how much you are moving, how your overall stress level is.
You can have the results you want. Keep at it, find out what works for your body, and be gentle but honest with yourself about how committed you are.