Weight Loss and Weight Management
Weight loss (and management) is one of the most misunderstood and complex issues. Until recently, Americans and healthcare professionals typically viewed weight management only in terms of calories in (eaten) vs. calories out (energy expended). All we needed to do was “eat right and exercise.” While this is not untrue (portion control is an important piece to understand and exercise in essential), these are not the only contributors to weight gain or a lack of weight loss. If we were machines this would hold true – energy in (fuel) equals energy out (how long it will run). However, humans are not fixed, we are living organisms that respond differently to different types of fuels and factors; the toxins in our environment, stressors, etc. And, all calories are not equal. A simplified example: 100 calories of sugar will store fat - because when insulin is released it becomes a fat storage hormone, while 100 calories of “good fat” (always considered taboo) such as flax oil, will help burn fat.
For those having trouble losing weight, it’s not just about willpower. There are often strong chemical messengers that create cravings, or hormones (thyroid hormone, insulin, cortisol, etc.) that engage fat storage. The body interprets these deficiencies as life threatening; the cravings (hormone messages) are very strong and commanding. People should NOT blame themselves for not having enough “willpower” to overcome what the body is doing. Here’s more detail:
- Sugar and carbohydrate cravings are often caused by a need to increase serotonin levels, as an attempt to raise low blood sugar, and in response to stress. Yeast overgrowth can also affect strong sugar cravings.
- Fat cravings are the result of a deficiency in essential fatty acids. The consumption of fried foods or the lack of omega 3’s and other essential fatty acids, creates a serious essential fatty acid deficiency – therefore the body craves fats such as fried foods.
- Bread and dairy cravings. Wheat and dairy are common “food allergies” (actually food sensitivities) can create endorphins and opiates – two HIGHLY addictive substances.
Additionally, here are some important factors about the biochemistry of weight gain.
- Blood sugar imbalances (hypoglycemia and diabetes) – Low blood sugar causes extreme cravings for empty sugar calories and high insulin production causes fat storage.
- Stress, sleep deprivation, and high cortisol levels – Stress and lack of sleep cause the adrenals to release cortisol, another fat storage mechanism. Additionally, imbalanced cortisol can cause night waking (contributing to sleep deprivation).
- Low thyroid – Most people know low thyroid function creates a slow metabolism, but most are not aware that some people can have sluggish (slightly low) thyroid and that these individual variations may not become apparent through lab tests alone.
- Food sensitivities – Food sensitivities create strong cravings causing the person to eat more than necessary. They can also cause water and fat storage to buffer these foods from the body because the body perceives them as toxins.
- Low calorie diets are not sustainable. There are not enough calories to live on and as such eventually the body slows its metabolism and/or most people loosen up on the diet – eventually leading to weight gain.
Further, childhood trauma around food and weight and belief systems (by family and society) can create serious emotional factors that impede weight loss and the restoration of balance in the body. Self-sabotage, or an inability to make the changes necessary, can often be addressed effectively with hypnotherapy and other therapies that can address the emotions and beliefs holding someone back.
We want people to understand that there are many factors influencing weight gain and weight loss. Certainly, food quantity (calories) and exercise are important, but other biochemical imbalances must be addressed or they will surely “catch up” to the person. People should not feel guilty, ashamed, or like a failure if they have not YET succeeded in reducing their weight. There are many physical, biochemical, and emotional reasons that contribute to success – all of which can be explored to find what’s right for you. Our bodies are “designed” to be healthy and maintain a healthy weight. Restoring balance to our entire selves through holistic approaches is the key to safe and sustainable weight loss.