In my 12 years in the ‘health’ industry, I’ve spent my fair share of time encouraging people to exercise more and eat less. It’s still the expected message but a shift to a different approach is gaining momentum – I can feel it within myself and I can see it through the industry internationally.
If you’ve been dieting since your teenage years and you’re exercising like mad the basic calories in/calories out equation says the results should be clear. If you’re not seeing the results you expect given the time, effort and sacrifice you’ve put in over the years, it could be that it’s far more complicated than simply calories in/calories out.
Sure, the calories in and out equation is still relevant but there’s growing recognition there could be more to it. Hormones are complicated and when they get out of balance, they start affecting all the systems in our body including weight regulation.
All our focus on fighting the fat by starving ourselves and partaking in endless exercise over the years could have done more harm than good.
I’ve talked about the role of cortisol previously and how stress can impair your weight loss efforts. If you’re already highly stressed about life, work, family and finances putting strenuous exercise on top will only add to your stress load, further increasing cortisol production and decreasing production of your rest and repair hormones – the ones you need to be working to help you lose weight.
This doesn’t mean that you need to stop exercising – it just means we need to recognise your physiological stress load and manage your exercise more intelligently – reducing volume and adding breathing and working in exercises, restorative yoga, tai chi or chi kung and addressing other lifestyle factors like sleep, hydration, nutrition to reduce stress levels. We need to shift the focus from losing weight to get healthy and instead look to get healthy to lose weight.
If you’ve been running on empty for a while now, the process will take time, a shift in mindset and a change in lifestyle but if you’ve been slowly reducing your calorie intake to next to nothing over the years, and the weight is still steadily piling on, what have you got to lose by taking a chance on a new approach?
Some of the tools I have available to help us design a more intelligent gameplan for your health include adrenal fatigue and food sensitivity testing together with a series of health coaching sessions addressing lifestyle issues.
Adrenal fatigue testing will give us useful information about the state of your cortisol and repair hormone production so that we can ensure your exercise and lifestyle plan is targeted at restoring balance.
Food sensitivity testing identifies foods that could be causing inflammation in your gastrointestinal system, undermining your weight loss programme. When we take these foods out of your diet it allows your gut to heal and makes your digestive system more efficient. The amount of stress on your system reduces and your weight will follow.
Support these tools with small sustainable changes to your lifestyle over time and your health, energy and vitality will increase.