Your body has the ability to heal you but if it is constantly fighting to keep you well, then the luxurious idea of losing weight is put on the back burner while your body just tries to keep you afloat.
Here are just a few examples of the pro-inflammatory chemicals that we come into contact with daily that prevent our systems from functioning at full capacity:
I hope you can see how delicate our systems are. Our bodies want to heal, but if they are bombarded in an unhealthy environment daily, then sometimes this becomes a much bigger task than nature intended it be.
So first and foremost, please detox your life from chemicals! This means household cleaning products, makeup, skincare routines, shampoo, soaps, air fresheners, water filters, and food choices. Once that is done, we can address the other factors that predispose you to stubborn fat, especially around the abdomen.
I cannot stress this stress topic enough (ok enough of my corny jokes). We have severely underplayed the importance of stress in western culture and sometimes, even applaud it. How many times have you been rewarded for wiping yourself out for a deadline at work? Or complimented on your unwavering dedication to a company? Being burnt out, unfortunately, is a badge of honor in our culture. This badge of honor is disguised as SUCCESS, however, whos success are you counting on? Your bosses? Or your own health and soul success? Many of us need a prespective change in order to heal. It is ok to unplug, to need a moment to recenter, or to have a life outside of your work. Let me explain the physiological basis behind stress and what you need to do to lighten the load.
We contain an autonomic nervous system that houses the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. Ideally, these two systems work in tandem in a physiologic manner. However, most of us run around like chickens with our heads cut off while we try to please everyone else. Jobs, long hours, less sleep, hard exercise, overthinking, skipping meals and keeping up with the Jones’ has left us frazzled and unable to recognize when we need a self loving break. This sets off our sympathetic nervous systems and keeps us in fight or flight mode. It does not matter if the situation or circumstance is ACTUALLY a fight or flight situation, if the mind perceives it that way, then the body follows suit.
When we are stressed, the hormone, cortisol is released from the outer layer of the adrenal glands, called the adrenal cortex. The adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys. Cortisol prepares the body for a fight or a flight and oversees the sympathetic nervous system. This means if our mind perceives a threat, then cortisol is released to prepare the body to ACT; our blood sugar increases as our muscles plan to engage in order to run away from the threat. Blood pressure rises in preparation for the body to run or to fight. All necessary backups are employed in order to give the body energy it believes it will need to survive. Our bodies are so intelligent, so you can see this is an ingenious system when the environment is one that keeps us calm and in a balanced state. Unfortunately, in our hurried lifestyles, we have tipped the system into imbalance, where most of us are now constantly in sympathetic mode.
There is one exception however. Cortisol should be elevated in the mornings when we first wake up and then slowly decreases as the day goes on so it is lower at night, preparing us for a good night’s sleep.
Blood sugar imbalance and risk for diabetes – in the short term, under stressful conditions, cortisol taps into glucose stores in the liver by breaking down protein. This helps us have enough energy to fight or flee. If this continues unchecked, glucose stores are constantly being produced and released into the bloodstream where they cause blood sugar regulation issues and possibly even diabetes. A principal function of cortisol is to thwart the effects of insulin, which leaves the cells in an insulin-resistant state, unable to bring blood sugar into the cells to nourish them.
When I was in medical school, I ate like a rabbit because I had so much anxiety. The pressure from 8 hour long tests, 80 hour work weeks and grueling overnight calls left me with pretty severe adrenal dysfunction and that “wired but tired” feeling. I remember getting “hangry” in between meals because it stressed my body out to be in starvation mode as I was already running on fumes most days. I also could never seem to keep the last 10 lbs off either. I was young, in my mid 20’s but I had to literally work my ass off to look like I wanted. Why? I bet you guys know by now…yep…cortisol.
Chronic stress or adrenal fatigue or dysfunction can lead to weight gain or the inability to lose the weight you want. So many female patients come to me stating they are eating a bird’s diet and the scale has not budged. The more questions I ask them, the more I see that chronic overstimulation of cortisol has caused blood sugar issues and hormonal imbalances that make it impossible to burn fat stores! Instead, cortisol can mobilize triglycerides from storage and relocate them to visceral fat cells. Unfortunately, visceral fat cells have more cortisol receptors than subcutaneous fat, exacerbating the issue.
Another way cortisol may cause weight gain is the blood sugar cycle that I mentioned earlier. High blood sugar levels, caused by chronic cortisol, cause the insulin receptors to become “intolerant” to glucose, and this staves the cells of glucose. When these cells are starved, they send signals to the brain that they are HUNGRY. This is one reason why diabetics have so much trouble losing weight.
Don’t forget that cortisol also raises inflammation levels in the body and inflammation alone can cause puffiness and swelling leading to weight gain.
One other thing. Have you ever noticed when you’re really stressed that you crave salty snacks or sugary guilty pleasures? There’s a reason for this! It seems cortisol might directly influence cravings by binding to receptors in an area of the brain called the hypothalamus. Cortisol also speaks a chemical language with our other hormones and stress factors. All of this together can and does influence appetite and cravings.
Although this is not all of the cortisol’s effects on the body, these are the most relevant ones concerning weight loss. It is so imperative to check in internally to ensure that we are treating our minds and bodies with self-love and respect. This is a necessary ingredient when healing adrenal fatigue.
I first want to say that without healing the root cause of the problem, which is HPA hypothalamus-pituitary axis dysfunction, often called adrenal fatigue, (overthinking, overstressing, physical exertion, etc) then it will be nearly impossible to lose weight. Once your habits and self-care routine have been addressed, then these herbs/minerals will be very useful in your journey to get the last few pounds off. Spot treating deficiencies does not help in the long run…so if y9ur diet is on point, but you still cannot lose weight, begin to examine other reasons for inflammation besides chemicals. This includes pathogens and heavy metals.
This compound made from has been used for years to enhance weight loss. It works by mobilizing free fatty acid stores from visceral tissue and moving them into the mitochondria where they can be broken down and used for energy. It is synthesized in the body from combining the amino acids methionine and lysine. 1
These vitamins include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, vitamins B-6, B-12, and biotin. They are water-soluble vitamins, which means that your body is unable to store them and urinates them out. This means you must get them from your food. Their association with weight loss may be related to their ability to help your body metabolize carbs, protein, and fat. All of the B vitamins are extremely important, especially methylB12 which is used in methylation activities all over the body! Vitamin B5 is necessary for stress relief and hormone balance which can lead to weight loss if askew. If you have absorption issues, then try out B12 injections which can last for up to a week.
Some studies show magnesium may help obese patients lose weight by helping to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels. Magnesium is also a very calming mineral that can help calm anxiety or stress. It can also help you sleep! Both insomnia and stress have been shown to affect hormone levels which can predispose us to weight gain or the inability to lose weight. Moreover, according to research published in the February 2009 edition of “Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis,” an increased intake of magnesium can promote enhanced levels of free testosterone in your body. As most guys know, testosterone can reduce your levels of body fat and can increase your lean muscle mass. (Hint: women need some testosterone too!) Pick up some Magnesium glycinate for the best absorption!
Zinc is pretty awesome at a number of things in our body, but one amazing thing it can do is help to break down and absorb our nutrients. It does this by helping fo form hydrochloric acid in the gut, which is integral for absorbing our food. When the body is receiving the proper ratios of minerals and vitamins, it does not have extensive cravings. This alone can prevent overeating. Another study published in 2013 in “Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin” found that obese study subjects who consumed zinc supplements containing 30 milligrams of zinc gluconate daily had improved body mass indices, lost weight, and showed improvements in triglyceride levels. Be sure to not go above 50mg chronically as zinc toxicity can occur.
Close runner ups include vitamin D, caffeine, hawthorn berry, ginseng, cinnamon, and turmeric.
You guys can totally lose that last 10lbs with self-love! Eat correct, sleep well, correct hormones, and find a practitioner that listens to you.