With weight loss often being one of the top few health goals for many people, most would consider it to be a problem. However, try shifting that way of thinking to consider that being overweight may actually be a symptom of chronic stress and a signal from your body that there is an imbalance that should be addressed at the root.
The body is designed perfectly – the heart beats, the lungs breathe, the gut digests, the brain thinks and everything works in an interconnected relationship within the body. However, when a system, organ, or tissue is stressed, your body’s way of letting you know is through a symptom.
Our bodies are challenged with stress everyday, which includes toxins from our environment, water and food. We are able to filter out these impurities, but sometimes the burden is too great and it leads to a chronic stress. The result can be headaches, fatigue, indigestion, aches and pains, skin rashes, autoimmune conditions, memory and focus problems, hormonal imbalances and EXCESS WEIGHT.
Weight Loss Beliefs – Eat Less, Exercise More
From the sedentary lifestyle to the processed, packaged foods, it is no surprise that weight is a problem in the US. However, everywhere you turn is an ad for a new diet, shake, supplement, or exercise program promising to help you shed pounds. There are calorie counting phone apps, watches that monitor your exercise, and a new trendy headline everyday about the latest celebrity weight-loss success.
I fell for these mainstream weight loss recommendations when I had an office job while living in Boston. I went to boot camp classes 3 times per week and on the other days I’d run along the Charles River. In addition, I was an active equestrian riding 2-3 horses about five days per week.
I’d record every calorie of my vegetarian diet that past my mouth and I’d always opt for low fat selections. I even tried a colon cleanse, where you drink powder in water for 7 days (I didn’t make it past day 3). My heart rate monitor calculated the calories I burned exercising and the distances I ran.
Just tracking my diet and exercise was a stress!
Eventually, I’d burn out. Not only emotionally, but my body was exhausted and I wasn’t eating enough or the proper foods. Yet I was still the same weight, I just felt worse about it. After a few weeks off, I’d go back to the restrictive diet and over-exercising, and the cycle would start all over.
What I failed to consider is why I wasn’t able to lose weight, why my abdomen hurt… I couldn’t sleep… my mood was poor.
The thing overlooked with the gimmicky diets and extreme workouts is the WHY. Why is the individual overweight in the first place? Sure 30 days of smoothies or a month long intense exercise program will help with weight loss, but then what? If these programs are not sustainable, they are not helpful – in fact, they could even be detrimental.
My story seems to be fairly similar to a lot of clients I speak with about health. They believe that if they restrict themselves enough, they’ll eventually hit that goal weight. Or if they commit to working out hard everyday, the pounds will eventually fall off. Typical “eat less, exercise more” thinking pushed by popular culture. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not promoting overindulgence or not exercising – but it is wise to consider what may be the root of the imbalance instead of depriving yourself of nourishment and depleting your body in the name of weight loss.
Most people looking to lose weight (including myself at one time) focus on the weight as the problem. Of course there are other symptoms that can stem from being overweight such as joint pain, diabetes and an increased risk for cardiac disease, so it certainly can be a problem. But consider that excess weight may actually be a sign from your body that something is wrong.
Getting to the root cause as to WHY the body may holding onto weight will help to uncover a more permanent solution.
The Root of the Symptom
There are countless reasons why someone may have the symptom of being overweight. These stressors include: improper balance of macronutrients, not eating right for your metabolic type, having a food sensitivity, experiencing hormonal imbalances, uncontrolled blood sugar levels, mental / emotional challenges, thyroid dysfunction, sleep deprivation, parasitic infections, and poor detoxification just to point out a few.
For me, the “pastry vegetarian” diet I was on did not serve my health. It was loaded with simple sugars that spiked my blood sugar, often leaving me with low energy. I was eating all wrong for my unique body. After shifting to a whole foods diet rich in vegetables, organic animal proteins, and healthy fats, I noticed the inflammation in my body decrease. Further lab testing revealed low hormone output and a chronic infection. Addressing these underlying conditions aided my weight loss without the difficult restrictions and strenuous exercise.
Instead of just hopping from one trendy diet to the next, I turned to functional lab testing to guide me. After learning about the kinds of foods that would best fuel my body and which ones I was sensitive to, I began to see improvements in not only my weight, but also my mood and energy. Discovering that I have a low output of certain hormones made me realize that the extreme exercising I thought I needed in order to lose weight would actually be more stressful for my body and potentially cause additional inflammation.
Correcting the underlying stress is first step to losing weight in a healthy, sustainable manner. While it may not be the fast track some trendy programs promote, getting to the root of the problem will support you in overcoming the symptom of being overweight and will be more beneficial for long-term health.
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I have suffered from numerous health challenges conventional medicine couldn't fix. This blog is a place for me to share my experiences and information with others who want to feel better again too. Please share your thoughts in the comments. I always look forward to supporting you to improve your health!