Every day we are bombarded by diet and exercise programs to help us get to our “ideal weight”. And yet some of the underlying reasons for weight changes in our bodies never get taken into consideration.
Ideal weight does not mean being skinny, it means being at a weight that allows your body’s systems to work optimally. If we are underweight or overweight our body will not be able to preform basic functions well. So before you look at the number on the scale, here are a few things to keep in mind when you want to make the most of your healthy eating.
A skinny person can be very unhealthy and an overweight person can be fit as a fiddle. Where do you fall on this scale?
Weight changes, especially ones that happen quickly (rapid gain or loss), should be paid attention to, because the body is sending you an important message. Here are five of these changes and how we can understand them better.
Stress: Being under high stress will either increase or decrease our appetite. The mind and body go into protective mode when we are experiencing elevated stress, and so it seeks comfort. For some this means we eat more while for others the idea of food is gut wrenching. Neither of these scenarios is good, so when we are under stress taking care of ourselves becomes vital. Exercise, mediation, a relaxing bath or getting help from friends and family can help us manage stress and dietary needs more effectively. For comfort food, try healthier options like fruit and vegetables. Don’t go for long periods of time without eating either. Stabilizing blood sugars helps us manage stress better.
Hormonal Changes: This applies to both men and women. Stress can elevate cortisol levels in the body, and decrease estrogen and testosterone. These hormonal imbalances can induce weight gain or loss in a big way, because they are related to your hunger hormones, gherlin and leptin. Leptin suppresses hunger and gherlin is the hunger hormone. Regular exercise can bring the body back into balance. Asking your doctor about a hormone test will give you better insight as to which hormones are out of balance. Understanding your body and hormone levels is an excellent way to stabilize your weight!
Sleeping Dysfunction: Insomnia and other sleep disorders can also affect our hormone levels, and weight gain can lead to sleep apnea. It becomes this vicious cycle. The body needs proper rest to rejuvenate. When we have a regular sleep schedule the body is naturally going to burn calories, and we wake refreshed. Feeling the restoration of a good nights sleep will help us make better choices, manage stress and stay in balance. Stop eating 3 to 4 hours before going to sleep. If your go to bed at 10:00 PM, stop eating around 7:00 PM and try to give yourself twelve hours of fasting. You will sleep more soundly.
Age: Yes, it is sad but true that as we get older our dietary needs change too. Our metabolic rate slows as we age and the need for nutrient rich foods with fewer calories increases. Being sure to have enough calcium, vitamins B12, D and omega-3 is essential to maintain a healthy weight. We’ve all been in our twenties when we could eat anything we wanted and not have indigestion or bloating. After forty the body processes food differently, so eating empty calories (high sugar, high fat foods) can make use feel lethargic and spike insulin. Which then contributes to more stress, less sleep, and unbalanced hormones.
Life Style: Our social, work and family life is another area that we often don’t think about, and yet it can contribute to our eating patterns. For example if you have a very active social life, or treat clients to dinners, these are times when it’s easy to not make healthy choices. Finding a balance when in social settings can be as simple as planning ahead, eating before you go our or stick to living foods (fruits, veggies and nuts). Stay away from fast food, fried food or overly rich foods. Conversely, if you are more reclusive put yourself on a schedule, so you don’t forget to eat.
Where do you fit in? Maybe you checked multiple boxes and sometimes all of the above can be contributing to weight changes. Adjusting our relationship to our weight and eating is one of the toughest areas to assess in our lives. There is one big secret to supporting positive changes. Are you ready for it? First you simply need to decide you want to make a change. It begins with your internal dialogue.
You already know all you need to know to be at your healthiest. Changes can only come from within you. No one is going to do it for you. Did that last statement rub you the wrong way? GOOD! Now let’s talk about how to be the change we want to see! Asking for help can be the first step to your success. I'd love to help coach you with your health and fitness journey! Let's connect soon:)