If you’ve ever struggled with weight gain or obesity, you know that shedding that excess weight oftentimes involves more than a simplistic “eat less, exercise more” approach. There’s more to body composition than diet and exercise. That being said, if we nail those two elements most of the time, we’ll definitely be on a better path to achieve a healthier weight.
Rarely is there one sole reason why we gain weight in the first place. Likewise, we need to take a broader look at how to effectively shed excess weight and body fat. Often, there are countless lifestyle and environmental factors at play that will determine how our genes express themselves. This is the science of Epigenetics.
In the years we’ve been working with patients on healthy, sustainable weight loss programs, several common and predictable factors come into play when someone either isn’t losing their excess weight, or they’ve reached a plateau.
1. Too much toxicity.
This can be from food, stress, drugs/medication, the environment, movement patterns – a number of sources. Chronic toxicity makes us fat. The toxins are harbored in fat cells as a protective mechanism. Until you address toxicity, you will not achieve your optimal body composition or level of health.
Chronic toxicity and chronic inflammation cause congestion in our cells. We can’t get toxins out of the cells effectively, and we can’t get proper nutrients in. Also, the function of the hormone receptors on the cell membranes gets skewed. We can end up with insulin resistance and leptin resistance, both of which interfere with our body’s ability to metabolize effectively.
Dumping in drugs and supplements thinking this will “fix” things is not the right way to go. Correct the cause. Address the reasons for the toxicity and inflammation in the first place, and be sure to work with the right professionals to help you address this.
2. You think you’re eating “healthy”, but you’re actually not.
The marketing from the food industry can get to us! Time and time again I hear people choosing products because they said “healthy” or “natural” or “low calorie” or “low fat” or “low carb” on the package. If your diet is primarily from boxes, bags, cans, jars, and other packaging, it’s not as healthy as you may think. Eat real food.
3. Too much stress.
Stress is a form of toxicity. Stress is normal. We are supposed to be able to adapt to stress – it’s why we have the “fight or flight” response. It’s perfect for short-term, acute stress. Unfortunately, our culture seems to suffer from chronic stress! Some sources are blatantly obvious, like financial stress, career stress, relationship stress, and so on.
Others may hide beneath the surface a bit, like sleep deprivation, medication, stress from our toxic diets, excessive “screen time”, sedentary living, too much time in an “urban” setting, traffic, excessive sitting, injury and poor posture, and on and on.
The brain doesn’t care what the source of stress is. It dumps out stress hormones (like cortisol and insulin) all the same. These promote fat storage and muscle breakdown, and increase the risk factors for every chronic illness known. Get control of your stress – eliminate the sources of chronic stress that you’re able to. Find healthy outlets for the rest of it, like exercise, meditation, breathing exercises, and most definitely get outside and get with nature!
Whether you’re taking prescribed drugs or you’re self-medicating with over-the-counter concoctions, you need to keep the cumulative effect of these drugs in mind. Drugs alter physiology – they can certainly add to the toxic load, but they may also have the direct effect of adding to our body weight, too. Some are obvious, like steroids that make you want to devour everything in sight, while others can be more insidious. Chronic drug use takes a toll. Buyer beware.