We have patients come into our office and frequently say things like, “I want to lose weight because I’m getting married” or, “There is this outfit I want to wear.” While those are wonderful goals, losing weight isn’t the hard part. The hard part is keeping the weight off long term. There is any number of best-selling books and diet programs out there that will result in rapid weight loss. But the secret is, can they keep it off?
Changing the Body’s Setpoint
If you want to lose weight and keep it off for good, you have to start with understanding why your body seems to thwart your best efforts. The body seeks a specific weight range and finds what is called a “set point.” This “set point” weight is an overall reflection of the state of things in your body. Sustained weight loss requires an approach that addresses all the conditions that are involved in creating your set point. It’s not a two- or three-week, quick-fix solution. Long-term weight loss requires an actual investigation into finding the imbalances and blockages of your whole life system.
While a complete investigation might sound daunting, the joy of success is sublime. Because ultimately, if you can get to the root cause of your weight issues, reduce inflammation, and regain hormone balance, your body will arrive at a new set point. And this new setpoint will be what the body will naturally want to sustain.
It’s helpful to understand that your weight is not a problem. Your weight is a symptom. Weight is simply evidence of the status of your world and how comfortable your body is in it. That is why it is crucial to abandon quick-loss diet trends. Unfortunately, because of how hormones work in the body, the quick-loss approach usually leads to “yo-yo” dieting. This kind of dieting often causes the body to find a higher and higher set point as a defensive reaction. To address your weight loss dreams successfully, you need to dig deep to get to the underlying root cause of your body’s choice to be heavier than optimal.
Sustaining the Weight Loss Journey
But the journey to your ideal weight can feel so long. It can be full of frustrations. That’s why it is vital to find ways to sustain yourself on the journey.
One way to sustain yourself is to see your weight loss journey from your body’s point of view. Your body sees extra weight as a good thing! Excess fat is the body’s safety net, the body’s fuel for the future. In case of crisis or famine, our bodies keep excess calories and turn them into fat, which is then stored all over our hips, thighs, and bellies. Nowadays, we don’t face famine the way our ancestors did. However, we do face crises in the form of illness, excessive stress, or injury. And so it’s important to have patience with the process of weight loss, knowing that our bodies are trying to protect us from harm.
Another mindset shift that sustains weight loss is to acknowledge that sustainable weight loss takes time. In some cases, it may even take a long time. Sustained weight loss is a downstream by-product of addressing several factors, like hormonal imbalances, which have contributed to extra weight in the first place. But there is nothing more detrimental than losing hope because the weight loss is not happening fast enough. Setting realistic time expectations is an essential beginning step on the road to wellness.
It is also essential to address your body size expectations. Being hyper-focused on the scale can ultimately undermine your efforts. It is entirely possible to remain the same weight and yet lose inches around your waist or hips. It is possible that your body fat decreases while the scale remains the same. And if you’ve been working out, your weight may have increased through the building of muscle mass. The scale won’t communicate these victories to you.
One great idea that may help you avoid this pitfall is to purchase a “goal outfit”; something that currently doesn’t fit exactly right, is too tight, doesn’t button or zip up or doesn’t allow you to bend over easily, etc. The idea is to find something that encourages you to put the scale away. Then once a week or so, try on that outfit and see how it feels. The clothing will provide you with a feedback tool that gets your attention away from the scale and allows you to appreciate the smaller, more incremental changes that occur over time.
Addressing Hormonal Wellness: Getting to the Root Problem
Assessing one’s diet–which foods we eat, why we eat, and how much we are eating–and using such things as food diaries or food trackers are helpful in the weight loss journey. However, these habits generally do not get to the root cause of people’s weight problems. Often there are underlying medical imbalances that need to be addressed. These imbalances may include hormones.
Hormones are messenger molecules. We produce hormones from a variety of glands in the body. Hormones can communicate the status of your world, cell to cell. Hormones help our bodies keep coordinated and “up to speed” on what’s going on internally. So understanding how hormones are playing a role in fat storage is incredibly critical when wanting to optimize wellness. The fact is, if you genuinely want to lose weight and keep it off for good, hormone dynamics must be addressed.
These hormones fall into four different categories:
- Thyroid function. Tests ensure you are not suffering from hypothyroidism, which slows weight loss down to a crawl.
- Cortisol levels. Tests address whether your stress activation is turning down your metabolism, making weight loss an uphill battle.
- Insulin production. Potential insulin resistance brings weight loss to a halt and can develop into more severe health issues.
- Estrogen. As a powerful sex hormone that influences thyroid production and increases body fat, tests will measure whether its dominance is affecting weight gain.
Diet Tricks of the Trade
Once hormonal imbalances are corrected, diet habits can be explored to maximize the weight you want to lose. These explorations may lead to finding diet tools–or tricks of the trade–that can build up weight loss momentum. Some of our favorite recommendations include intermittent fasting and green tea. There is an incredible amount of science behind the powerful effects that both fasting and green tea have made for people who have struggled for years with their weight.
From Struggle to Sublime Success
Perhaps this kind of journey to wellness resonates with you. If it does, and you want this to be the last time you climb the mountain, the last time you journey down this road, we can help get you there!
Even if you’ve struggled for years, it is still possible to change your weight set point, develop a sustainable weight loss mindset, find the root cause of your weight issues, and discover new diet tricks that make it easier and healthier as you lose weight. You can go from struggling with your weight to finding sublime joy in the journey and ultimately reach your health and wellness goals.
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