It’s common place for people to blame themselves for failing to lose weight. Worse still, maybe their doctor or personal trainer blames them too. They say, “You need to exercise more and eat less”. Great advice… don’t you think I’ve tried that!!
This attitude sends a message that it’s your fault. Truth is… IT’S NOT ALWAYS YOUR FAULT!!
Sure, you need to take some responsibility. However, you can exercise as hard as you like and eat as little as you can, but your body still may not drop weight.
Why is this happening and what can you do about it?
There are many things influencing your metabolism, the rate at which you burn fat for fuel. One major disruption may be toxins. Our planet has never been more toxic. In fact, children are now born toxic.
In 2004 the EWG (Environmental Working Group) conducted a study that showed more than 287 industrial chemicals in the blood of the umbilical cord which is supposed to deliver nutrients and oxygen to your growing baby. In fact, they found toxins that were known carcinogens (cancer causing), endocrine (hormonal) disrupters and neurotoxins (brain damaging).
Polar bears in the Arctic (that are supposedly isolated from humans and our chemicals) have been found to have brain related decline and hormonal disruption due to mercury toxicity. Scientists believe this has come from the burning of fossil fuel along with pollutants and chemicals humans are dumping into the ocean.
Toxins are a leading cause of inflammation and this chronic inflammation is leading to poor nutrient absorption and excessive water retention. Within days of starting an anti-inflammatory diet, participants may notice incredible weight loss and physique improvements due to a reduction of subcutaneous water retention that may result from detoxification.
So how does toxicity cause fat gain?
The human body is generally good at detoxifying. However, the burden has become so high now that it’s almost impossible to completely detoxify. So, as a survival mechanism we store toxins that could hurt us in a little bubble of fat. Therefore, the more toxic we are the more fat we form to protect ourselves.
Toxins cause endocrine disruptions. These hormonal changes may result in impaired thyroid function, reduced adrenal function and imbalanced sex hormones which may lead to weight gain and the inability to lose weight.
How do we remove toxins and balance our health?
Increase fat intake: Fat loves to grab hold of toxins. In fact, there is a procedure called ‘oil pulling’ which is the process of swishing coconut oil around in your mouth for 5 – 10 minutes to draw the toxins from your gums. So, it stands to reason eating more healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil etc. may help you detox. However, you need to simultaneously reduce your processed carbohydrates.
Drink more water: All four (4) pathways by which we detox are water dependant. You either pee them out, poop them out, sweat them out or breathe them out. Each pathway needs sufficient water to properly function. You need to also be aware that the water you drink may be toxic with halides like fluoride which has been clinically shown to lower thyroid function. Drinking 2 – 4 litres a day of filtered or spring water that is in a BPA (Bisphenol A) free container or glass is recommended.
Move more: The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that remove toxic waste from the body. It doesn’t have a pump like the circulatory system (heart) and relies entirely on movement. Moving for 10 minutes every hour helps improve health, detoxify your body, enhance brain function and increase productivity in the workplace.
Use a greens supplement: We try to eat plenty of greens but you can never have too much. In fact, greens are effective at chelating (binding) toxins and removing them from your body. You should use a green supplement every day to boost health, increase vitality and help remove toxins.
Consume turmeric: Mix turmeric with your fats. The active compound in turmeric (curcumin) is fat soluble and helps enhance detoxification pathways. Turmeric is a super Ayurvedic root that possess powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
It could be argued that stress is THE most toxic poison ever. Stress comes in many forms… physical, emotional, psychological and immunological. We are constantly under more and more stress and its incredibly difficult to remove. We need to learn how to manage stress and support our adrenals.
As a survival mechanism, when our bodies are under stress they hold onto energy (body fat) as a backup fuel. This is because historically when our ancestors were under stress (which was 100x less frequent than today) it was a clever idea to preserve energy as the stress was probably coming from famine or war.
How do we manage stress?
Have more fun: Fun is the antagonist of stress. The two struggle to exist in the same space so having more fun automatically results in less stress, greater release of serotonin, dopamine and lowered cortisol.
Meditate and breath: This is easy for some and harder for others, however there is no denying that it helps with stress management and detoxification. Try starting with 10 deep breaths through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
Hug more: Physical connection with the ones we love (including fur family) has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve markers of health by reducing stress.
Support adrenals: Using herbs that help to regulate adrenal function like Ashwagandha and Schisandra may improve cortisol levels. Once cortisol regulates you will sleep better, wake up with more energy, be less hungry and burn fat more efficiently.
Sleep: Getting between 6 – 8 hours of quality sleep every night helps to improve muscle recovery, boost metabolic rate, lower stress and control hunger. Sleep deprivation is so effective at increasing stress that it was used as a form of torture to get captured enemies to crack during war.
You may or may not have heard of the HPTA (Hypothalamus – Pituitary – Thyroid – Adrenal) axis. This is where one gland influences another to release or stop releasing a hormone. So, when we are under stress our adrenals pump out cortisol which causes weight gain, muscle loss and generally a slowing of your thyroid function.
The thyroid is critically involved in your metabolism (utilisation of energy for the maintenance of cellular life). In fact, your thyroid is your body fat thermostat. If its broken you can gain weight rapidly without changing your diet or exercise.
As you gain weight you are told to lower your calories (restrict your food) and increase your exercise (add more physical stress) which produces more cortisol and the process repeats so you continue to gain weight.
Cortisol steals the Pregnenolone which should be used to support your sex hormone production (see illustration below), resulting in lowered or imbalanced Testosterone, DHEA, Estrogen and Progesterone. These hormones help maintain lean muscle mass, bone mass, mood, energy, libido, fat burning and much more.
Then (ladies) we add in the pharmaceutical equation of the birth control pill. One of the most commonly prescribed medications on the planet. The contraceptive pill lists numerous major potential side effects including breast cancer, liver disease and blood clots that may lead to death.
In addition, they mention carbohydrate and lipid (fat) metabolism issues. These issues include diabetes and poor fat metabolism. These are the last things you want to hear when you are trying to lose weight as they will lead to potential weight gain.
In addition, the synthetic estrogen you are adding to your body may cause estrogen dominance which can lead to further weight gain.
As you can see, hormones have a major effect on the way we look, feel and function. They are often closely interrelated and when one is out of balance it may cause a downstream disaster for other hormones and your goals.
How do we balance hormones?
Because of the synchronicity of hormones, balancing them is incredibly hard. However, there are many things you can do to help.
Avoid the birth control pill: There are other ways to prevent pregnancy. In fact, there is generally only a small window (6 days) every month where a woman can get pregnant. Abstinence or using a condom during those six days may be the best option.
Avoid BPA plastic: The petrochemicals that go into the manufacturing of plastic containers and the plastic linings of canned goods have been shown to cause endocrine (hormonal) disruptions. This may lead to estrogen dominance and weight gain. Use glass or stainless steel where possible and choose BPA free.
Avoid fluoride: As a halide, this chemical can compete with iodine which makes up your thyroid hormones. Therefore, less T3 and T4 is produced which reduces your metabolism, leading to weight gain. Drink filtered and spring water that does NOT contain fluoride.
Reduce alcohol: Alcohol disrupts the microbiome of the intestinal tract and increases an enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase converts testosterone to estrogen which again leads to estrogenic weight gain of visceral fat and breast/chest fat.
Consume fibre: High fibre diets help improve the microbiome of the gut leading to greater nourishment and improved appetite signalling. This means you will be less hungry and more satiated. Also, fibre helps to remove toxins including excess estrogen.
Lower simple carbs: The over consumption of simple and starchy carbohydrates leads to chronically producing insulin which is an anabolic (storing) hormone. Consumed at the right time simple carbs can assist with muscle growth. However, consumed regularly away from exercise they can lead to an increase in fat tissue. Eat more complex carbs, or better still replace some of your carbs with healthy detoxifying fats.
Support your adrenals: Using Ashwagandha and magnesium can help support your adrenal function which may balance your cortisol levels and reduce the fat storing effect of chronic cortisol production.
There are many different environmental and emotional reasons for weight gain. This includes our obsession to regain a body we once had (in our younger years) or the body of a fitness model we may never have no matter how strict we are with our nutrition and training. It is important to realise that our bodies change with age, but we can make them healthier and fitter with what we eat, what we drink, how we move and how we treat ourselves and others emotionally.
Try to focus on the positive changes that you can control and maintain. Move more often and make it fun, choose to eat real unprocessed food and try to reduce stress. Small healthy habits added together can see big results. Not to mention, you will feel healthier and happier and that is surely the most important thing after all.