Similar to addictions, weight loss is less about the “fight” for more self-control and more about meeting your body’s needs so it will stop yelling at you.
We have an internal set-point for our weight. It’s how homeostasis works. There is something in your genes telling your body how much weight it should weigh and if you stray from that, it will work on getting it back there. So, you could theoretically lose and then gain back weight using every conceivable diet known to man your entire life and still weigh essentially the same (or more!) at the end as when you started.
When you’ve got your intestines literally asking you to give it some comfort food, no amount of replacing it with other foods is going to shut that message off. It’s asking because it feels it needs it. So the game is then, how do we get our bodies to not need that and instead ask for other foods. Franken-foods high in anti-nutrient grains, sugars, simple carbs and synthetic chemicals will keep your body fatter and keep you in a broken loop. Real, whole fat foods and proteins with essential amino acids will help your body lose weight.
A body in crisis can’t lose weight in a healthy way, anyway, so if you aren’t a few months into healing with your gut working correctly, come back to this section later.
Here is the checklist you should be completely already on board with for a few months before you start trying to lose weight:
- Getting enough sleep for your body.
- Cutting out all processed foods, synthetic chemicals, alcohol, excess caffeine.
- Talking to and about yourself in a positive way.
- Hydrating like crazy.
- Oxygenating your body daily with deep breathing and moving in a healthy, non-stressful way.
- Using self-care and other holistic tools in a beneficial way
When those things are second nature and not a struggle for about 90 days, something magic happens. Your body starts to believe you and it starts to let go.
Up until now, your body has been holding on for dear life, doing the best if could do with the resources it had and gripping with talons to all the processes it deemed vital for survival.
But after about 90 days of consistent care? Your set point starts to reset. It believes that you’re going to put in good, whole fats and proteins on a continual basis and that it’s going to get all the essential amino acids it needs. It believes that you’ll keep moving your body and exercising in a positive way. It believes you when you look in the mirror and say, “Good job, Body! I love you!” And because you are no longer giving it franken-foods, it begins to expect the other kind and appreciate them, letting go of the fear of not getting what it needs.
And then? It starts to release excess weight. Your body doesn’t really want to be carrying it around anyway, and if it doesn’t need it to protect your organs or prepare for a famine or because it’s confused, it simply lets it go.
To encourage your body and keep it on track, add in some simple and gentle detox strategies and short-burst strength exercises. Step up the amount of times you tell yourself how awesome you’re doing at releasing excess weight and thank your body often.
Men’s bodies have about the same amount of fat cells from puberty until they die. Women’s bodies can gain new fat cells during pregnancy, depending on what shape their body is in going into it. Those cells don’t “get lost” when we lose weight and we don’t get more fat cells when we gain weight, unless we increase more than about 50 pounds, at which point our bodies are prompted to create new fat cells.
The fat cells we have expand and contract, depending on our set point. The only way to actually “lose” the cells it to have liposuction. And then, you want to know something interesting? In almost all cases, our bodies try to rebuild and actually create new fat cells to replace them! Our body will defend its right to own that fat because it feels it needs it.
Ready to get a little science-y?
Here’s what we know about body fat: Fat cells are very specialized. They are your store of energy – cells full of triglycerides. When you need energy, the fat breaks down into a free fatty acid and releases from the cells, then goes to the liver to create energy. When you have excess fat, the liver can’t handle all the free fatty acid, so it stores it.
The number of fat cells you have when you start releasing weight, those are the amount you will always have. You don’t lose them – they empty out and shrink, but they have a long memory and will be waiting and always ready to re-expand if needed in case of a crisis.
The traditional thinking of dieting has been this formula – Your body needs X calories a day to survive. You’re currently expending Y amount of energy in activity. So, decrease X and increase Y – your body will be burning fat instead of keeping those calories as storage.
When you go on a traditional diet and restrict your calories very low and up your aerobic activity in such a way as to try and prompt weight releasing, your fat cells see that as a coming famine with the added stress of extra physical activity on the horizon.
Yes, you may fight and work really hard and get some weight to release, but the ratio of fat to muscle being burned is about 40/60, meaning you’re burning up slightly more muscle than fat during the process. Which means that even if you’re only eating 1,000 calories a day, you have less muscle to help burn them, which makes your metabolism slow down, and your fat cells will eventually increase in size again trying to store the extra fat and sugar floating around in your bloodstream, which it has to do to avoid having a stroke or a heart attack and avoid diabetes. Your body is doing it because it thinks it’s a good thing and saving your life.
All of this is controlled in your hypothalamus. No matter what you think you’re doing, it’s your hypothalamus that’s actually calling all the shots. If you have excess fat and sugar in your blood stream, it’s telling your fat cells to soak it up. If it feels a famine is in the future, it will send you message after message to eat more high fat foods to prepare. And if you’re used to eating processed foods high in sugar and broken fats, those are the messages that will hit you the hardest until all you can do is give in and eat an entire platter of mac-n-cheese, of which practically all gets stored as fat.
You can’t lie to your brain. It will win. You have to work with it, love it and make it believe you when you make changes and those changes have to stick long enough that it believes a famine isn’t coming. When it believes you, you will be eating way more calories a day and shedding pounds at the same time.
So. 90 days. That’s about how long it takes for your brain and body to really, really get on track and on board with the program. That’s how long it takes for the endorphins of happy-talking to your body and oxygenating to stick before it trusts you. That’s how long it takes for your gut to do a fair amount of healing.
If you are a person that has never had any type of weight issue and you don’t have any pressing physical or mental needs to address, you may be a person that can try and sculpt your muscles to look like a rippling river with great success. The fat layer over your muscles contains very small, tight fat cells that are happy to stay that way if you take good care of them. However, I don’t actually know anyone like that, but I do believe they exist. I’ve seen the magazines! I also imagine those people think about their bodies and work on their bodies for most of the day, where I’d prefer to just be a regular-sized person with regular-type muscles and no bulging veins and not spend my entire day thinking about how to sculpt my body, but to each his own!
To help with the process and quiet the cravings during those 90 days, check Food Cravings for ideas on coping. Use your holistic tools and stay hydrated. Think about including a liquid mineral supplement. You are most likely missing micronutrients like Magnesium, Selenium and Vitamin K that you need to convert energy to electricity, and if you aren’t putting them in and/or your body can find them, it will look to and pull from your bones, teeth and organs to keep your blood sugar in the right zone.
Don’t use a diuretic diet aid at any time. Diuretics work against you hydrating and promote quick flushing of your vitamins and minerals. Make sure you are hydrating all throughout the day and not just when you work out. Having enough water in your body systems is vital to healthy weight balancing and positive energy flow. By drinking enough water, your body should be prompted to release urine at regular intervals anyway.
Taking a diuretic is normally associated with trying to lose weight and because it’s water weight you lose, you can become dehydrated. Once you finish using the diuretic, the weight will come right back on, plus maybe more because you stressed your hypothalamus into thinking there was a crisis and it needs to do damage control before a famine. That can also reset your current weight set point to something heavier.
It’s important to remember that you look like you look.And that’s ok. It’s great. Our bodies want to be appreciated for what they are. Sending messages of love and acceptance and encouragement instead of, “I wish I had different legs,” or “I hate the way my arms look,” will go a long, long way. Learn to appreciate what your body looks like right now. Find things you truly do love about you. Eyelashes. Fingernails. Smile. Hair. Strength. You can do it. Be real and genuine and work up to other body parts.
Imperfection is part of what makes us truly beautiful. Your nose that turns just so and your thighs that are dimpled and your toes and your freckles and your pock scars and all the parts of you – they all make you truly beautiful and unique. Embrace You.
Lastly, we store toxins in our fat cells, so as soon as you start releasing weight, you’ve naturally got a heavier toxic load going on. You may feel more tired than you did before or get leg cramps and joint aches. This is why it’s so important to already have a habit of doing things to help your body with detoxing on a regular basis.
If you are a specific body type (Apple, Pear) and wonder what that means and how you might be off hormonally, check the Hormonal Body Shape charts for strategies of support.
Add Something Good
Add a cup of coconut water to your afternoon routine. It’s a natural version of a sports drink, full of potassium, some sodium and little calcium, magnesium and other stuff your body needs, Coconut water is great at hydrating the body. (Make sure the ingredients list only coconut water!)