Losing weight is hard. But look at all your options! Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Slim Fast, countless ephedrine-fueled diet pills, The Special K diet (replace 2 meals with special K cereal. Of course you’ll lose weight–you’re only consuming about 1200 calories daily). The main thing these diets have in common is that they do not address the underlying reason behind the weight gain or inability to shed weight. And they do not change your habits; they merely offer a magic pill or 3 highly refined meals delivered to your door (what happens when you go off the meals, in most cases? You can guess).
The math is pretty easy: you’ll lose weight if you eat less and exercise more, taking in fewer calories than you are burning. But the physiology isn’t always that easy. You may find it difficult to lose weight if you are overly stressed and have high cortisol, low thyroid hormone, bad bacteria overgrowth in your gut, or too many toxins stored in the body from your environment, lifestyle, or food supply. Or you may hit a plateau, meaning you can’t lose those 5-10 pounds. Here are a few tips.
1. Sorry, but you have to exercise. With that said, change up your routine so that your body doesn’t get used to your exercise pattern. Always integrate strength training into your routine for 2-3 days a week–it boosts metabolism and increases bone density. Interval training is very effective. Instead of running 5 miles, try sprinting for 1 minute and jogging for 2 in intervals. Do this only for 30 minutes, and your performance will increase dramatically over jogging at the same pace for an hour. Plus, long term jogging is extremely hard on the joints.
2. Reduce stress. If you have high or low cortisol due to chronic stress, you will have low thyroid hormone, so no matter what you’re doing, you won’t lose weight. Take time each day for meditation/deep breathing/yoga/whatever relaxes you. Consider adaptogenic herbs to boost adrenal hormone levels, which will normalize thyroid. Try a combo of ashwaganda, rhodiola, licorice root, schizandra berry. Also try tyrosine to boost thyroid levels naturally.
3. Correct dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is a fancy way of saying your gut is off balance. We have billions of bacteria living in our intestinal tract: some good, some bad. When the bad overtake the good due to poor diet, antibiotic or birth control use, or too much sugar, it wreaks havoc on your body chemistry and can prevent weight loss. Take a high quality full spectrum probiotic, do an herbal digestive cleanse, and eat more probiotic food: cultured vegetables and krauts, miso, kefir, rejuvelac, kombucha.
4. Remove gluten, dairy, soy for 8 weeks. These are the most common allergenic foods, and if you consume foods to which you are sensitive/allergic, it affects everything from hormone balance to gut ecology (see above), sabotaging weight loss efforts. If you’re really feeling adventurous, cut out refined sugar for this period too. You’ll be amazed by how much your energy will increase. Your cells need glucose to function, but too much is stored as fat.
5. Try a 2-3 week liver cleanse. Your body stores toxins in your fat cells to protect your organs (smart!), and when these toxins build up, you cannot shed weight because your body knows when the weight comes off, the toxins will recirculate in the blood stream, and you’ll feel crappy. If you’re very toxic, you’ll feel somewhat crappy on a liver cleanse, but this means it’s working! Eliminate gluten, dairy, soy, alcohol, coffee, and sugar for 2-3 weeks. Eat seasonal, organic whole foods and lots of leafy greens. Ask me about our detox workshops, or click the workshops tab above for more.
Good luck and stay motivated! Don’t weigh yourself every day–only once a week.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.