Losing weight can feel like an uphill battle when we feel like we’re doing ‘everything right’, ‘eating healthy’, and yet the scale hasn’t budged and our clothes feel the same. Unfortunately a calorie is not just a calorie, and the way our biochemistry works is unique to us, and the way we process food both in what we eat and how we live our lifestyle can make our goal even more complicated. Weight, however, is a symptom that something is not right.
Physiologically, thyroid conditions, hormone imbalances (commonly high estrogen in men and women, or low testosterone in men), blood sugar dysregulation (pre- or diabetic), autoimmune disease with either too much cortisol, growth hormone, liver issues, gut issues, and more.
I have listed some of the more common issues that you can begin to adjust at home potentially on your own under a few different categories.
* Not getting enough sleep, or going to bed too late- The first four hours of sleep are most important, and ideally we’re in bed before 10:30pm. Melatonin, our body’s most potent endogenous (we produce our own) antioxidant and what puts us to sleep is optimally made from 11pm-3am. It varies inversely with cortisol (stress hormone), the same hormone that can put weight around our belly, so when we’re not sleeping right or too late, we have more cortisol in our body.
* Beauty products: Unfortunately chemicals in beauty and cleaning products are loosely regulated, which means constant exposure (even more so if you’re living in an urban area versus countryside), which can add to our body burden (especially our liver, a huge detoxification organ). Fat cells also store toxins we cannot release. Go to www.ewg.org/skindeep and toss anything over a 4/10.
* Not enough exercise or constant cardio
Strength train! Muscle burns fat in the long-term, versus cardio is a quick breakdown. Or utilize HIIT (high intensity interval training), which is where you really challenge yourself in a workout for a brief period of time and then an even longer rest period. Consider working with a trainer for proper workouts and form.
* Food intake: Eating too much? Be honest with yourself.. or eating to little? This can mess up thyroid and send our body into a stress response (think elevated cortisol which adds weight). And most importantly, is it the RIGHT food? A rainbow of vegetables, especially those dark leafy greens? Consider working with someone who can really customize a plan specific to your needs.
* Too much alcohol: (more than 1 drink per day for women, or 2 drinks per day for men) or smoking cigarettes could also pack on the pounds.
* Constant snacking: Our bodies were not meant to have food 24/7. We have mechanisms that allow our digestive system to rest (think of when we sleep), and in that time our body receives a beneficial re-set. Consider 12 hours between dinner and breakfast, and 3-4 hours between each meal.
* Water: Drink at least half your body weight in water in ounces every day, more if you workout or sweat. Our hunger signal is often confused with thirst, so have some water if you’re hungry soon after a big meal (or we can work on getting enough fiber, fats, and protein to improve satiety!). It helps flush out toxins, provides valuable minerals, and makes sense to consume plenty of as we’re made of 60-70% water.
* Certain medications- Psych drugs (e.g. SSRI’s, tricyclic, benzodiazapenes), hormonal birth control, thyroid medication, corticosteroids, metformin, and a few others have weight gain as a side effect. They may also deplete critical vitamins and minerals that actually help take the weight off and balance blood sugar/cravings.
It’s best to work with a knowledgeable professional who can truly tease out even the reasons not present, and work with you to develop a plan that fits your lifestyle. Lab tests and other tests may be needed, as well as certain supplements depending on the underlying reason. Ultimately, a multi-systems approach to address diet, sleep, stress and lifestyle to peel back the proverbial layers of the onion of dis-ease can also double as prevention for future conditions.
As always, discuss your concerns and questions with your attending physician.
We welcome your comments. If you have any questions on this or any other topic, feel free to write us at: info@cancerTamer.org
Dr. Serena Goldstein, ND
Natural solutions for Common Sense Medicine
Dr. Serena Goldstein, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor in NYC specializing in natural hormonal balance utilizing nutrition, botanical medicine, and homeopathy to discover the underlying cause of disease. She works with patients in navigating through natural and conventional care, while empowering patients to understand all options and trajectory of health. Dr. Serena is a native New Yorker who studied on the west coast for nearly 10 years, affording great versatility when creating individualized plans for patients. She is published in numerous wellness resources like MindBodyGreen, Better Nutrition, and the HeartySoul, and has spoken at places like Lehman College and the American Cancer Society. Dr. Serena is in her own practice, and lends her expertise to fellow doctors at NYU-Hospital Poison Control Center.