What is it about dieting that makes you want to give up and eat everything in sight? Then there’s your bathroom scale that – shock of all shocks –moves in the opposite direction! Or how about this one: You cut calories, go to bed hungry, exercise like a fiend and get stuck making absolutely no progress; You weigh the same as when you started your diet. Even when you’ve included fat-burning exercises in your program and still nothing moves, it makes you ask yourself, “Why try?”
If you identify with any of these scenarios, I hear you. All is not lost. I’m going to share five incredible pound-shedding gems that will help you become successful at losing pounds and speed up your weight loss without having to put incredible effort into it, without feeling like you’re attempting the impossible, without having to adopt the self-control of a Buddhist monk.
- You’re One of a Kind
First off, understand that everyone is different. The diet that helped melt away your girlfriend’s 20 pounds may not work for you. The name of the game is “personalize.” Your weight loss program needs to fit you and only you. Get to know better how your body responds to a weight loss regimen. Consider the rest of these important principles as you embark on your personalized weight loss journey.
- Timing Is Everything
Eating any time of the day can block your ability to lose weight. This is so important! Timing is everything in order for your weight loss program to succeed. Many health experts support the concept of incorporating fasting to improve weight loss and also overall wellness.
Fasting sounds serious … radical. But it’s nothing more than a chunk of time that you don’t eat anything. Fasting can be whatever length of time it takes your body to burn fat. A regimen that has caught on in a big way is “intermittent fasting.” Simply put, it’s scheduled eating and there are some general guidelines. Twelve hours is a good place to start with intermittent fasting. Usually, the best time is to eat is from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., then nothing until 8 a.m. the next day. That’s 12 hours of fasting right there. Simple.
Not eating for at least 12 hours signals your body to start burning fat for energy because you’re not feeding it carbohydrates or sugar, which your body likes to use for instant energy. When you’re burning fat instead of storing it, you lose weight.
This goes against everything you may have heard about eating. It’s been drilled into you from a young age: Your biggest meal should be breakfast. But if you’re trying to drop pounds, that heavy morning meal won’t serve you well. Waiting until a little later in the day for your larger meal is better because your body needs the higher energy a little later on, the time that you’re most active. Then, when your body goes into relaxation mode in the evening and during sleep, it requires less energy. Less energy, less food. Makes sense, right? That gives you 12 daytime hours to use those calories for fuel and 12 nighttime hours let your body burn fat for weight loss. So try this 12-hour food and fasting cycle. Modify the eating and fasting hours to get the results you want and that fit your schedule.
- Poor Digestion Counters Weight Loss
Digestion begins in the mouth; it starts with chewing. If you don’t chew your food thoroughly, you’re contributing to an inflammatory condition in your gut. Inflammation blocks your ability to lose weight. That’s just how our bodies are made. Once food reaches the stomach, further digestion occurs. Stomach acid further breaks down your food.
- Some Medications Block Digestion
That brings us to the fourth leading cause of weight gain and the inability to lose weight: certain medications. Why is that? Medications such as acid blockers (over-the-counter Prilosec, for example) can prevent your body from producing stomach acid. This just doesn’t make sense to me. You need the gastric acids in your stomach to break down your food. Lack of gastric acids kicks off an inflammatory process which can inhibit weight loss. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take medications that you need to remedy medical conditions. I am pointing out that long-term use of some medications can hamper your ability to shed pounds.
- At the Root Is Stress
Does stress really cause you to gain weight? You betcha! It’s the root of all evil AND weight loss. Stress raises your cortisol level. Cortisol is a stress hormone that signals your body there’s danger– which can be a good thing if you really are in danger. But when cortisol levels rise chronically, it creates an inflammatory environment. Are you starting to see a trend? Inflammation occurs under various conditions and interferes with many body processes. The ability to lose weight is one of them. Raised cortisol levels also cause sugar cravings. That evil cortisol …
This phenomenon of cortisol-induced sugar cravings has to do with one of the functions of cortisol … and that’s sugar regulation. Sugar cravings can be so powerful when cortisol does its thing. The reaction is almost uncontrollable … enough to get you eating an entire package of cookies! You’ve been there … you know … So, you want to lose weight? You gotta control that stress. This may involve serious lifestyle changes or changes as simple and enjoyable as practicing yoga, exercising, dancing or meditating. And don’t bite off more than you can chew – literally and figuratively speaking. Say “no” when you’ve reached your physical and mental limits.
- It Could Be Your Thyroid
Is the thyroid really an issue when it comes to weight loss? Yes, it can be! A sluggish thyroid makes it hard or near impossible to lose weight. If your thyroid isn’t optimized, you can’t burn fat. The key word is “optimized.” I’m not necessarily saying you need thyroid hormone replacement. Supplements and certain foods can support good thyroid functioning. Zinc or selenium can do the trick. Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, lamb and grass-fed beef are high in zinc. Selenium-rich foods include brazil nuts, garlic, pasture-raised chicken and turkey, and mushrooms. But start with having your thyroid levels checked if you’re not losing weight, despite all your best efforts. I always include free and reverse T3 tests when doing a complete thyroid workup.
- Bonus Tip: Get Real
I’m throwing in a bonus tip … and that is to have realistic expectations. You might not ever reach your ideal weight, but you can keep trying. Remember, if you’re impatient, if you want to look like the queen of pinup models and you want it yesterday, you could get discouraged, you could throw in the towel. Working on yourself isn’t an overnight turnaround. Be realistic. With persistence and self-dedication you will get there. And don’t be so hard on yourself. Enjoy the journey. Bask in your accomplishment of the work you’re putting in on a new beautiful you in the making.