From the feedback I received about my first blog post on hormones and fat loss, I'm gathering that many women out there are frustrated and confused with all the wellness information available to them in terms of what actually works to "lose weight", particularly if one's battling with a hormone imbalance or autoimmune illness.
In the previous post, "Want to Lose Weight? Honor Your Hormones. Here's Why", I explored why we're looking at body transformation from the wrong perspective, as "weight loss" is often what's emphasized in the fitness & wellness community. But, focusing on losing weight is not the most empowering way to think about this journey and scientifically, it's not an accurate framework.
In this post, I'm going to cover how you'll know if a plan is working for you and go over the general points of a successful approach that takes hormone balance into account. First, it's important to be honest with yourself about the reasons you've signed up for a fitness journey and nutrition overhaul. It's also necessary to shift away from an extreme dieting or "temporary" perspective, which only does the body harm in the long run. So, are you looking to lose 40 pounds in 4 months through extreme dieting and the "exercise more, eat less" approach, or do you want to adopt a sustainable way of healthy living and fat loss that lasts over a lifetime?
A successful "weight loss" plan is one that not only achieves overall fat loss, but that also keeps your hormonal system in check. Without access to high technology instruments on a daily basis,
we can simply rely on feedback from these following 5 lifestyle factors:
1. Sleep quality: How has your sleep been in the last week, the last few months or even years?
Your quality of sleep impacts how your body metabolizes glucose, which in turn will also
affect your insulin levels. It also impacts your hunger and appetite hormones, ghrelin and leptin, which means that if you're not getting an adequate amount of sleep, you're more likely to reach for that bag of chips, ice cream or other late night treat. If your current nutrition and exercise plan is not supporting consistently good sleep quality, you've got to adjust the plan. If you aren't sleeping well, your efforts with exercise and balanced nutrition will be compromised. Get your quality sleep in. This means shutting off all blue light emitted from our phones or television sets at least 60 minutes before bed. You may wish to get yourself in the relaxing mood with some low frequency music, a soothing herbal tea, or diffusing relaxing aromas such as lavender essential oil.
2. Mood quality: Be honest with yourself here....
- Are you truly happy and fulfilled daily?
- Does you go through extreme mood swings on a daily basis?
- Do you feel like one day you are motivated and driven and the next day you are flat out?
- Is your mood influenced by any type of addiction- food, iPhone, or alcohol, for instance?
- Do you feel like your brain is not as sharp as you'd like it to be?
- Are you depressed for no apparent reason?
- Are you in scarcity mindset- do you constantly worry that there is not enough?
Your mood can be a good indicator of what's going on with your hormones and brain chemistry, and it's also affected by your current nutrition and lifestyle regime. Easy changes can have a big positive impact on your mood, such as drinking chamomile tea, adding herbs like Lemon Balm and Kava to your diet, or enjoying a bit of cacao.
3. Energy levels: Do you find that your energy levels fluctuate throughout the day? Do you feel you need your caffeine or sugar fix to get through the morning? Low energy levels will drain your willpower to eat well for your body, especially towards the end of the day. And, that equates to making poor choices in the nutrition and relaxation department, like bingeing on cookies in front of the TV set. If your energy levels are consistently low, it's worth looking into adrenal and thyroid function- important endocrine glands for keeping your metabolism in balance. If you suspect that your current fitness and nutrition program is zapping your energy, take a closer look at your macronutrient intake as well as the frequency and intensity of your workouts.
4. Hunger levels: Are you constantly hungry? Is your stomach always growling? If you're hungry all the time, then your nutrition plan is not sustainable, since your leptin and ghrelin are constantly going through extreme fluctuations, which will eventually lead to a resistance to either one of the hormones. Leptin resistance is now thought to be one of the leading drivers of fat gain in people, so this is important! Here's a little trick- if you find yourself going through the hunger games, eat your protein and fiber first, before consuming anything starchy.
5. Cravings: Whether it's PMS, pregnancy, or being stressed to the max, we women know that when we have food cravings, all hell tends to break loose- typically at night, when alone, or over the weekends. Most cravings can be managed pretty simply by doing things like adding sugar-free cocoa powder to a healthy snack or by enjoying leucine-rich foods such as parmesan cheese, eggs, spirulina algae, red and white meat, and pumpkin seeds.
You might be reading this and thinking, "wow, I'm already overwhelmed!" Remember, sustainable change does not happen overnight. You've got to start looking at this from a long-term holistic perspective and treating it as a learning journey.
So, there you have it- these are five indicators that will let you know if your current plan is working for you, and can be used to measure hormone balance and overall fat loss success moving forward. One note, when it comes to endocrine-related illnesses and autoimmune disorders, finding the proper nutrition and exercise approach is a delicate and somewhat experimental process. It's critical to be patient, and to collaborate with someone who is trained and experienced in working successfully with clients who deal with these issues. We're all individuals with our unique needs and challenges, and addressing fat loss from a hormonal perspective means creating a tailored plan and approach.
Thanks for reading this post- I hope you found it helpful! In my next post, I'll be detailing how to get started on a hormonal approach to fat loss. If you have any questions for me, just leave a comment here or email me at Yan@tangramwellness.com- I'm always here to help. If you'd like to set up a complimentary consultation with me, email and we'll schedule some time together.
In Love, Health & Wellness,