It is not always true that “what you put into it is what you get out of it!”. You may diet and exercise until you are blue and are wondering why your body is not changing. You attribute it to discipline, until you realize you are doing a lot right and this is just taking too much to lose a pound of fat. Should it really take an all out effort to get lean every time or could something be out of whack? It’s a frustrating thing to experience. It often starts to happen, no coincidence as you hit forty. Over thirty five and things start to change. However, you may be in your twenties and are struggling with weight loss. There are reasons why even a young girl or boy just can’t get the weight off no matter how hard they try. The eating disorders we see with kids today are often not just psychological, but there is a physical reason that needs to be considered. The hormones dictate hunger, satiety, fat gain or loss, muscle gain or loss, mood swings and more. When you gain weight the easy answer most general doctors will give you is to go on a “diet” or “eat less”. But, of what and how often and what time? Vague information doesn’t cut it nor does the referral to a general dietician/nutritionist. You need to know what is causing the problem in order to create a viable solution. It is not just about exercising more and eating less in some cases. Vague information doesn’t serve you, but facts do. You need to get your blood work done and go a little further than beyond the surface. Dig in deeper to find the real cause of the issue. This is to ensure you are not up against a hormonal wall.
Most of us don’t want fat hanging onto our bodies, especially around the hips and waistline. Abdominal fat we know is the stubborn dangerous fat most people struggle to lose. It is the first thing to appear and the last place we lose unwanted fat. Unwanted weight gain cannot only affect your appearance. If your weight gain is a symptom of a hormonal imbalance it can also impact your moods. If you feel you have a weak or sluggish metabolism it may not mean “thyroid imbalance” it could mean that the way you are timing your meals is creating signals to the body to gain weight versus lose it. To store fat vs burn it. To lose muscle vs gain it. Cutting calories and exercising more will often be the simple path people think will solve problem. Calories in vs. Calories Out. Weight Loss 101 right? If I eat less and less and less…I will lose more and more and more. If I exercise three hours a day, it will all disappear. No, it won’t, but you may! Instead guess what happens, the opposite. You get fatter. You may not look the part of a “fat person” but you are thin with body fat. This is called “Skinny fat”. Would you be surprised to learn that if you eat less than your BMR you are losing muscle and when you lose muscle guess what you gain? FAT!!!! This is why the body eventually rebels and makes a bad situation worse. This is how uneducated fitness enthusiasts operate. I see this all day at the health club.
Many of us, myself included, simply need a plan that is structured and organized in a way we have a baseline to work off us. We need precision and direction on how to. This is to ensure what we are doing does not trigger ghrelin (responsible for hunger)& leptin (fat/obesity hormone) levels in a negative way. For instance, stress hormones trigger imbalances. Cholecystokinin (CCK) is responsible for the digestion of fat and protein. It lets you know you are full and insulin helps you burn your fat. The key to good health and your metabolism has everything to do with the healthy balance of your hormones and I know it’s a lot to take in. So don’t try to take that role on and instead hire someone that can lead the way. If you want to know if the person you are working with knows what they are doing ask about their background, resume of results and make sure they are using natural methods versus a diet pill or alternative to get you there. Cheating the endocrine system may work short term, but your body WILL ABSOLUTELY REBOUND after. This leads to a vicious cycle of you again trying to manipulate your hormones with alternative substances that also have other side effects. Eventually, your body is a toxic soup and your mind goes along with it. You lose your faith in your ability to control the situation without a substance. Now you are having to correct a host of hormonal problems you created being a cheater cheater pumpkin eater.
Most people do not understand how their endocrine system works even if they learned it in school. So I am going to school you in this post. It may be a refresher for some of you. It may be a reminder. If you want to master your metabolism than do listen up! Most of us are not educated on how our team of hormones relate to fat gain and loss, your ability to grow muscle and what it takes to create the ultimate balance. If one hormone rebels against the team, you are going to experience the “battle of the bulge”. If that one team player flares up in a negative way, it starts to influence the team player next to it or it passes to and suddenly like a weed the whole team is infected. What a vicious cycle that can be to try and fix that hot mess. Since you can’t cut that team player out you have to find a way to work with and not against it. You have to find a way to get it to cooperate so that all your hormones play nicely together. One bad seed will begin to wreck havoc on the whole so watch for the red flags once you know what some of them are. You can be in danger if you don’t correct this and stop ignoring the warning signs. That very bulge that you may think is just a little over eating or awfully cute on your hubby, can be dangerous and cause diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and other health issues related to hormonal imbalance.
By resetting your hormones you can accelerate your metabolism. This is the foundation of the Accelerator Program. Everything you eat related to this program strives to keep you’re hormonal and energy systems in balance. In turn, this optimizes your performance and ensures you reach your goals. It’s finding that perfect balance versus staying in overdrive all the time. Too much effort is not a good thing either. If you always have to work that hard, something is wrong! It should not be a near death experience when you have to lose weight or fat. This would explain why you are not motivated to get started, stall and procrastinate. It becomes hell!!!! This is because your hormones are not firing on your behalf because of many variables. Weight and fat gain is often a sign of imbalance. It’s a side effect. If you know you eat relatively well, are not eating carbs in excess, have kept a food diary to ensure you are really not overeating and you are not going under your BMR, than you are right to assume that “something is up!” You just want t be be sure you are not in denial. Alcohol consumption not only leads to a ton of sugar poured right into your liver keeping your liver toxic and unable to absorb nutrients, but it also leads to fat gain due to all the sugar. Very few drink in the day time when they are more likely to burn it. Drinkers also usually have more than 1-2 drinks and not only does the sugar – which turns to fat – but, calories build up. If this now sounds like you, you may either 1) Want to consider NOT DRINKING and if you can’t go to AA to stop drinking or get your drinking under control. This is sending a lot of whacky signals to your body and your body can’t keep up. For a few days to a week post a few drinks, your metabolism is sluggish making it harder for you to burn calories. You can’t erase this, it’s a done deal. If none of this is your issue then it’s time to alert your doctor to the issue you are having. Your doctor may look at you and say, “you are fine”, but you may want to get leaner. So be sure if you are struggling to go and see an endocrinologist. I always suggest a good body fat reading as well. I use a nine point body fat caliper system. There are a lot of inconsistencies with body fat readings so go with the most reality to get a reality check. Check charts to see where you need to be for your age. In the sport of bodybuilding and fitness models may go below the norm and look great, but it’s hard to maintain low body fat. Be realistic about what is healthy and manageable long term.
Too much fat can keep you feeling sluggish and uncomfortable enough to not want to be active. As you lose fat, you will naturally gain more energy. So instead of relying on fat burners or caffeine for energy, try getting leaner the right way! It’s important to have an understanding of the role your hormones play behind the scenes so you can figure out if it is bully that is in the way of all your fat loss efforts. Wouldn’t you be relieved to know that it is not your level of discipline afterall? You can now stop bashing yourself for enjoying the holidays, having that glass of wine or indulging in just one cookie.
Here is a list of some of your super star hormones that play a key role in your success:
- Cortisol – If you have PTSD, Anxiety, stress, depression, a temperament or mood swings than your body ramps up cortisol automatically. If you are not getting enough sleep and have disrupted sleep that causes the release of it too. This is one area many take for granted. This fuels the appetite and sets you up for failure because you start to have cravings. It causes your leptin levels to rise. This is the hormone responsible for satiety. If you skip meals you will send your blood sugar into a tizzy and this leads to a rollercoaster ride for your cortisol levels, as well. This is why eating every 2.5-3 hours is HUGE for your weight management goals. Eating small meals is better than NO meals and not eating carbs and sugars, but more protein, healthy fats and vegetables will best serve you.
- Insulin – If you have high insulin. The best thing to do is eat more protein. 20-25 grams per meal is sufficient. Most people are eating more than their body can ingest in one sitting. 21 grams is the average amount your kidneys can handle without it being too taxing and coming out in your urine. Eat protein that is the lowest in fat. Don’t buy into skim or no fat. Notice how the sodium changes on those labels and benefits.
- Estrogen – When men have high fat in the belly, it is often a sign of a drop in testosterone and an increase in estrogen. Yes, you alpha males reading this suck it up. You are becoming more estrogen dominant. More estrogen means more fat and in the waistline especially. Hip fat is a result of estrogen dominance, as well. This is why during menopausal women and men have low libido, memory loss, lose energy, become more lethargic, depressed and lose muscle mass. The loss of muscle caused by this along with other factors you will read below, lead to more fat gain.
- Testosterone – This hormone naturally gets lower with aging and why the loss of muscle mass. According to Dr. Oz, we are seeing a decline in this hormone much earlier in life. Low “T” can lead to heart disease and death even in extreme cases. That potbelly you see on many men is not just overeating. Research at the University of Washington shows that when men have low “T” they are more likely to develop a “pot belly”. This hormone can play a positive role when increased with the reduction of body fat. It’s important that when you do testing for this hormone that you also check the Free and Total Testosterone. A lot can be done with high intensity exercise to boost testosterone naturally along with eating foods that boost it like lean red meat and high protein. Avoiding foods that cause the release of estrogen is an important part of the treatment plan. The herb that many testosterone-boosting products have in it is tribulus terrestris and taking a zinc supplement or foods with zinc in them. Weight training is key.
- Growth Hormone – This hormone affects all the cells in your body, your feelings, actions and your appearance. Many people say it is the fountain of youth for those who want to slow down the aging process. This hormone ensures that you maintain and grow muscle. It is most dominant when you are sleeping and why a lack of sleep can also wreck havoc on whether you grow muscle or not, lose fat or not and more. It helps you with tissue repair and relates to your bone density. It was used to help children with delays in growth spurts, grow. However, under the table this often is not the supplement it is suppose to be. Buying it from China or in a way that is not prescribed by a doctor can impair your health. There are ethical issues when it comes to doctors prescribing this. The best way to activate what you have of it in your own body is through intensive training, getting good sleep. GH is active around 11pm. Sleep in a cool room that is dark ensures you tap into it best. Exercise natural boosts growth hormone levels along with some supplementation on the market that may or may not be effective.
- DHEA – This is produced by your adrenals. They are best measured in blood or a saliva test. You don’t want to be quick to take DHEA Supplements because they can be harmful. You need to be sure you are first DHEA deficient before assuming. Supplements like Relora can help lower cortisol and raise DHEA. Boosting your DHEA is great to counteract the negative impact that cortisol can have on your body. When your DHEA is balanced you feel more energetic, your libido is in check and you have no problem losing fat and gaining muscle. This hormone keeps us feeling the drive we need to reach our goals because it is responsible for higher energy levels.
Before you go into a panic and start taking any supplements or calling your doctor for hormonal replacement therapy, read below. These are steps I would take to be sure I don’t invest in anything that could add fuel to the fire. In turn, you will not be wasting your value time, hire the wrong professional, buy anymore supplement or spend money on anything that leads you back to where you started.
See my checklist below:
Get a basic panel worked up that shows your vitamin and hormonal balances. Tell your doctor you want to look into your hormones. If you are over 40 you should be doing this anyways every time you go to the doctor. As you transition with your age so do your hormones.
Go through this checklist and get honest about what you are really doing and not doing well:
- Do you know your personal formulas? A) For your BMR (not your BMI, this is different?
- Could you be eating too many colorful veggies & fruits or too many carbs?
- How much fat are you really getting? Consider good fat vs. bad fats. Do you know the difference?
- How active are you? Are you doing enough, pushing hard enough and working out enough days to justify your calorie intake?
- Do you get your carbs at the right time of day and not when you are the least active?
- How much alcohol are you really drinking?
Know your weak spots. A good coach will help you discover them. The hardest ones for a coach to address is your mental ones weakness since many people are defensive about them. Some that can really get in the way of dieting and training follow through are: Inconsistency, ADHD, ADD, Bipolar disorder, moodiness, low energy and/or wanting a quick fix without having to work hard for them. When you expect instant gratification or get antsy you may consistently alter the plan you are given and not even be aware of how often you are doing. Mindfulness, breathwork and mediation can help you gain better focus. You have to learn to stick with the plan so the hormones can reset or there is not hope for you or your coach. If you keep changing coaches you will set your body up for a lot of this and that and that can be another formula for failure. Never hire someone you are not sure of. Do your research and commit fully. Over time you will make a great comeback or gain momentum, but not overnight. This is a process.
When you are mentally not steady or at ease this can present challenges for your coach and you. These mental habits can also a side effect of your hormonal imbalance too. Not everything is etched in stone. Medication is only a band-aid it does not cure the problem. Just like under the table drugs that get quick results. Those become addicting and can lead to psychological and physical dependency. Once the drugs where off, then what? Are you going to be able to maintain it on your own?
Everything matters to me as a coach. What I do when I assess my clients is take a full inventory. This inventory is of everything you are eating, doing for exercise, taking supplement wise, their health issues (signs of imbalances), energy levels, times they eat and train, what they eat and do for exercise and more. I often ask for blood work, especially if I see any red flags. I also look at my client’s eyes for dehydration, fatigue, possible drug use and I can tell by their results often if there is something they are not telling me. We all have our secrets.
These weak spots and possibly some of the things you are struggling with can be a big part of the problems. What you eat, supplement with and take into your body can be firing the wrong reaction and this in turn creates a negative dominos effect on your endocrine system.
Here is my final bit of advice for you:
Understand and get to know the whys. You must get clear on the fact that everything you put in your body has a hormonal impact. If something is deficient don’t buy drugs because they can make it work and put you at risk for other things. Start out naturally manipulating your body in a way the is going to utilize your natural resources. Every movement, mood, how you supplement, how you sleep and what you cook with, chemicals and even types of plastics that are in your environment.
Learning how to marry all of these things together in a way that is balanced can be tricky business and why many need a seasoned coach to give them this direction. Most people don’t want to have to get an entire education, but a solid coach should have your back with the right background. What you need to know is how to follow the plan they give you and ask questions that you feel are relevant to your success. All the details may not be of interest to you and if they are start doing your research. There is a well of information out there to assist you with your education. Always double check things you are so eager to ingest and that can affect your hormones. Make sure you understand the reasons you need it or not. If you want to be lean happily ever after, than be sure you hire professionals who have respected certification and a proven history of results with long-term benefits. Drug Dealers & Doctors who give you vague information will not cut it. A book or a magazine is not going to consider your personal situation either.
Be a wise consumer and hire the best. This does not mean most popular. Your health should be worth the value. You will save money, time and energy by being in the right hands. This could be a long term solution versus a short term fix that has you buying into one more program you think is the cure. There is no easy way. Corrective work is often needed as a result of bunk programs.
Knowing this information could even save your life keeping you from a host of health issues down the road. Your body is powerful and resourceful, but it’s up to you to trigger the right cues so it knows how to respond.
Too many people are looking for non-holistic approaches because they feel trapped in their own bodies. They blame it on their level of discipline and often it all relates back to the same thing, not eating and training in a way that supports the proper release of hormones. Gimmicks can be a lot of hype and misleading. Consumers often have a big misunderstanding about how to time foods better to serve them.
If you are looking for an educated professional to serve you, I do understand the big picture and have helped thousands improve and even overcome the following:
1) Weight gain related to thyroid disorder
2) Metabolic Syndrome
3) Adrenal Fatigue
4) Chronic Fatigue (which I have suffered from)
6) High blood Pressure
7) High Cholesterol
9) Fibromyalgia (which I have suffered from)
10) High body fat related to being a vegetarian or vegan
I do know how to master the metabolism and am not eager to blame you. I know if you are struggling to get it together, it may not just be a lifestyle issue. It may be a drinking issue though! Until you know the cause you have no idea how to proceed with the solution.
We all have to start from where we are at and a good solid inventory of all the factors is important. There has to be analysis. In the meantime, let’s get started learning a few important things below. Watch out for gimmicks and broken promises. Anything that is FREE…and know your danger zones!
Be Careful of Danger Zones That Lead to Long Term Weight Management Drama:
Losing weight or fat short term is not enough. The reason it is short term is that you did not balance your hormones to get there, instead you took something like fat burners, diet aids or used something under the table to get there. You may have cut your calories significantly and guess what happened after, you started binge eating.
You can justify your suspicions of your hormones if your checklist is in tact. Many people on the flip side are surprised to learn their hormones are fine, but their eating and exercise habits are truly what are causing the problem. Even over exercising can lead to stubborn fat loss. Your body being inflamed all of the time does not serve it and that’s a whole different article to write about. If you wan to learn the secret to my transformation and the success of all my clients be sure to join the ACCELERATOR PROGRAM. I will help you rev up your metabolism, gain lean muscle and not gain fat, but the body you dream of!
Join the Accelerator Program here:
Start with an initial assessment: click here Assessment and email firstname.lastname@example.org after
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Michelle Johnson, CPN, SN, CFT witht he ISSA (International Sports Science Association). Michelle holds certifications in Schwinn Cycling, Tabata, Shockwave, Pilates and is a 300 Registed Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance. She has been a recognized fitness authority who writes for multiple health and fitness magazines. She is a bodybuilding competition coach who has transformed thousands of bodies since 2002. She is a weight management and wellness coach full time who is also an IFBB Pro.