Even after you have subjected yourself to unimaginably boring menus, or stringent workouts, you might find your weight is still not where you want it to be.
It is possible to work with your body to lose weight by addressing these surprising complementary and contributing factors to weight and overall good health.
Your body sometimes sends you too many signals, or the wrong kind of signals, to eat and store weight.
According to Rangan Chatterjee, the author of Feel Great, Lose Weight, we must get familiar with these signals: hunger, full, store fat, weight point.
The first two things are pretty self-explanatory. The third is related to your body’s use of insulin. And the 4th is the signal in your brain that can trigger the others – silently telling your body you need to lose or gain weight according to its own calculus.
Reset the hunger signal
Occasionally celebrating with bliss-inducing foods covered in sugar, like that donut you stole on your way in to the office, can set off a cascade of bad effects. Among them, it will reduce your desire for real, unprocessed fruits and vegetables. You know, the kind that have natural sugars delivered in a healthy way for our bodies.
So these moments of indulgence in processed foods stimulate you by rewarding you with dopamine. This indulgence makes the next donut slightly less satisfying, and slopes you down into deteriorating eating habits. It also shoots out insulin which overpowers your full signal.
A weekend cleanse doesn’t reset this. Only building the habit of eating unprocessed foods can help your hunger signal kick in at the right time.
Trick the full signal and store fat signals to communicate
Lepatin is the chemical that tells your body you’re full. Insulin can shut it down, as we saw before, allowing you to blow through your intended calorie limits, and triggering your “store fat” signal.
Indulging in a second helping, or overeating late in the day, can also overpower your natural system for maintaining the correct weight.
If you eat most of your calories in the first half of the day, studies show that you will trend down toward your ideal weight. Going to bed with a full stomach is a recipe for fat storage.
Eating too late, or too frequently, will keep your body in “store fat” mode.
This information has helped spur the current trend of intermittent fasting. This is a technique that takes advantage of the simple fact that your waking self burns more calories than your inactive, sleeping self. You don’t have to starve yourself each day, but you are doing yourself a favor when you shrink your eating window, and put as much of it as possible in the first half of your day.
There is evidence that our active ancestors didn’t actually burn more calories than us.
Movement, rather than exercise, is the key to burning calories. Fidgeting or toe tapping, and other non-exercise movement, can be just as effective as a concentrated workout to reduce weight.
You can build movement into your commute by adding walking to your day. The 10,000 daily step goal remains a proven level to contribute to better health and weight management.
Even modest changes to your activity level, when accompanied by other small changes, can help you maintain your ideal weight.
We all know we probably need more sleep, but cramming in those last few minutes of alone-time with social media, or the TV, and taking that time away from sleep, contributes to unwanted weight gain.
Studies have shown that a bad night’s sleep often triggers people to eat, on average, 300 more calories the next day.
It seems to wear down your willpower, and increase your stress hormone, cortisol, and that triggers your body’s effort to store fat. So not getting enough sleep is an enemy to your diet and exercise.
Set a sleep routine. Reduce or eliminate afternoon caffeine and late night alcohol. Finally, light – including that from our phone screens – serves to disrupt our sleep cycles.
Studies show that obesity is linked to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). These different traumas, which include events as extreme as rape and robbery or as seemingly mild as being raised in poverty, create ongoing needs. This includes a desire to eat to seek security.
Life has stress and pressures. It’s part of the deal. Talking to a licensed therapist can help you unpack your childhood traumas, or your daily stresses. This can help make sure food is no longer your source of comfort.
You can hit the red button on this page for a free, no obligation consultation with Sakina Issa, and see how therapy can help you make sense of your days.