Why weight loss shouldn’t be your primary goal

Why weight loss shouldn’t be your primary goal

Weight loss

A couple weeks ago I shared a post about 5 reasons why you might not be losing weight. While I think these are important aspects to consider, I also wanted to share more about my general philosophy around weight loss – and how I don’t think it should be your primary goal.

While many people seek out the help of a nutritionist just for this, I try and steer clients away from placing weight loss at the top of their wish list and help them understand why there are so many other aspects to focus on instead.

Excess weight tends to be a symptom – not the problem

If you are indeed holding on to excess weight (and we’ll come to the discussion of real versus perceived in a minute), it’s often as a symptom of another issue. And it can be that by focusing on the true underlying issue that the excess weight will also stabilize itself naturally.

This could be caused by hormone imbalances, for example estrogen dominance. If your estrogen levels are too high on their own or compared to your other hormones, weight gain can be one of the symptoms experienced. Estrogen can stimulate your fat cells to store more fat, often leading to weight gain in the hips, butt, and thighs and can decrease the amount of thyroid hormone being produced (thus slowing your metabolism).

Your gut health also impacts how effectively your body can rid itself of excess hormones. If you’re experiencing gut issues it may be resulting in excess estrogen hanging around, causing estrogen dominance, and yup, you guessed it, weight gain! Leaky gut or other gut infections, a lack of diverse gut microbiota, inflammation, and other hormonal imbalances are all gut related issues that could cause excess weight or an inability to lose excess weight. 

And, of course, we can’t forget to mention stress! Stress causes our body, through the adrenal glands, to produce cortisol. Chronic stress results in an over production of cortisol which increases inflammation, downregulates our immune system, and notably promotes weight gain in the belly region. An increased cortisol production can also start to steal nutrients from other hormone production processes, creating imbalances in our hormones and a deficiency in some key nutrients. This can lead to strange cravings and a high propensity for over eating or consuming inflammatory foods (such as overconsuming sugary, salty, or greasy foods).

The “ideal weight” is just a social construct

Let’s dive briefly into the mental game of weight and body image. While I’m only going to scratch the surface if this complex topic, it’s always important to be honest about whether or not you actually need to lose weight. Could it be that you just feel pressured by images in the media to conform to what society has deemed the “healthy body”?

If you have abundant energy, feel great, and are overall healthy, then chances are you are already at an ideal weight for your body. Your ideal weight is going to look completely different than someone else’s even if you’re exactly the same age, height, and live similar lifestyles. 

Being overweight itself is not necessarily a health risk. It’s often the other things that go hand in hand with weight gain that are the culprits (poor diet, lack of exercise, too much stress, not enough sleep, etc.). 

It’s also important to note that the stigma attached to being “overweight” is more harmful than the weight itself (whether real excess weight or perceived). This can lead to psychological stress (which our body cannot differentiate from real or physical stress – increasing our cortisol production) and disordered eating behaviours. 

Rather than struggling on your own, trying to tackle excess weight by restrictive and/or fad diets, it’s always best to work with a professional. Having an outside, objective opinion can help give you the perspective you need to proceed in a healthy, sustainable direction.

Click here to learn more about how I work with clients to create their own unique plans to tackle their goals and build healthy habits. 

5 Reasons Why You Aren’t Losing Weight (and eating too much isn’t one of them)

5 Reasons Why You Aren’t Losing Weight (and eating too much isn’t one of them)

  Photo by    Ashley Green    on    Unsplash

Photo by Ashley Green on Unsplash

So you’ve decided you want to lose weight… maybe it’s the “last 10 pounds” or “just a bit of holiday weight” that you want to shift. 

But for some reason the stubborn scale just won’t budge!

It’s frustrating. You feel like you’re doing everything right; eating the good stuff, skipping the bad stuff. 

Perhaps you’re restricting your calorie intake to be sure you’re burning off more than you’re eating.

Maybe you saw some positive changes at first, but now it’s plateaued. 

What to do?

Give up and binge that pizza you’ve been craving all week?

Restrict a bit more, diet harder?

I think, intuitively, you know these aren’t the answer. (Although if I had to choose, I’d tell you to go for that pizza!)

Restrictive diets don’t work, definitely not in the long-term.

I want you to feel effortlessly healthy in your body, every. damn. day.

The only “diet” that works is one that makes you feel amazing and that you don’t have to think about – it’s become your status quo. 

It’s about an overall healthy lifestyle, not restricting yourself and under eating.

And I want to preface all of this by saying that I don’t like working with weight loss as the number one goal. If you’re holding onto a bit of extra weight for your body, then usually it’s a symptom of something else. Address this underlying issue and you might very well come to your ideal weight naturally. 

Along those lines, here’s a brief explanation of 5 key reasons why you might not be losing weight – and none of them have to do with eating too much.

  Photo by    Caroline Attwood    on    Unsplash

Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

One: You’re not eating enough

Maybe you’ve calculated on one of those online calculators how many calories your body generally needs per day. The same calculators often will also tell you how much you need to restrict to lose “x” amount of weight in “y” amount of time. These calculators don’t tend to have a bottom limit!

Sure, mathematically, if you cut out 1000 calories a day you could lose 1kg of weight in roughly just over a week. But it’s just not this black and white in reality.

For one, our body’s caloric needs vary from day-to-day depending on a variety of factors, like our activity level, our sleep, our health, and even the climate. Plus, all these things can also mean that your personal calorie needs can vary compared to what the calculator may be saying.

But the bottom line is, that your body is always searching for balance. 

If you’re restricting calories too much and/or for too long, your body is going to decrease your metabolism and find a way to function on less calories, slowing or plateauing any weight loss. Not to mention that this could be at a detriment to other bodily functions and your overall health.

  Photo by    Thomas Kelley    on    Unsplash

Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

Two: You’re eating nutrient-poor food

Maintaining a healthy weight isn’t just about the number of calories you consume. Just as important, or perhaps even more important, are the amount of nutrients in your diet. Everybody needs to ensure they get adequate fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals from their diet. While the amounts of each vary by individual, there are recommended minimums that everyone should try to maintain.

A nutrient-poor diet can lead to various food cravings or excessive hunger which could cause overeating and choosing more of the foods that perpetuate this cycle. Not to mention that deficiencies can manifest with physical symptoms. 

Nutrient dense foods are ones that pack in the vitamins and minerals for a reasonable number of calories, whereas nutrient-poor foods either lack these substances or have relatively little nutrients for a high number of calories. In general, these tend to be processed, convenience foods. 

  Photo by    bruce mars    on    Unsplash

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Three: You’re not getting enough sleep

Sleep is absolutely vital to ensuring our body is able to rest and recover from the activities of our day. Lack of sleep has been linked to overeating as well as increasing our likelihood of making poor food choices (since you’re so tired and just craving easy energy!). Sleep loss can increase your risk of insulin resistance and can wreak havoc on your hormone levels (see point 5). 

Sleep loss does accumulate night after night, and if you aren’t sleeping enough during the week it’s highly likely that having a lie-in on weekends isn’t completely getting you out of the red. Plus just one night of poor sleep can already profoundly affect our energy levels and needs the next day. 

Remember that adults tend to need 7-9 hours of sleep every night. To find out what your body needs try to head to bed at the same time every night for at least a week and wake without an alarm clock. After a few days (once you’ve recovered from any deficit you may have been in) you should naturally find your body’s set point.

  Photo by    bruce mars    on    Unsplash

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Four: You’re exercising TOO much

While getting some healthy movement in every day is key to living well, if we push things too far and start over exercising, we can end up having the opposite effect. It can be a major stressor on the body disrupting our hormone balance, down-regulating our immune system, and even impacting our gut health. 

An hour or so after exercising you should at a minimum feel as energetic as you did prior to the workout, but ideally you should feel even more energized than before! If you regularly feel completely depleted and exhausted even after this recovery time, then chances are you’re overdoing it with your exercise.

  Photo by    Ben White    on    Unsplash

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Five: Your hormones are out of whack

Our body’s hormone balance is like a finely tuned orchestra, that can too easily fall out of sync. All of the factors already mentioned like under eating, over exercising, sleep deprivation, along with other issues like environmental toxins and hormonal contraception (just to name a few!) can all impact your hormone levels.

All of these factors are stressors on the body which could lead to excess cortisol or inflammation causing us to hold onto extra weight. Cortisol is known for causing us to store fat around the belly – a clear red flag that your body is struggling under too much stress!

When we are under too much stress our body will prioritize cortisol production over the other hormones, increasing our need for certain nutrients and overall throwing the entire balance off. 

What to do?

In the end, all these factors are interconnected, and you may be experiencing more than one.  The bottom line is that they are all contributing stress to the body which is causing you to hold on to the excess weight. 

The key is to look to make some changes in your lifestyle and habits to decrease the stressors on your body. Living healthfully should feel easy and effortless – not cause you even more stress on top of everything else!

If you’re still unsure if stress is really the culprit, take my quiz “is your body trying to tell you it’s overload?”. This can be a great starting point to objectively see where you stand!

I work with clients helping them overcome all of these obstacles and learn to live an effortlessly healthy lifestyle. If you think working one-on-one together may be for you, book in now for a free 15-minute discovery call and we can chat about your goals and desired results!

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