The REAL Reason You Can’t Lose Weight And 6 Ways To Fix It

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Eat less, move more.

That’s what mainstream wellness advice is often telling you to do.

Sprinkle that plate of advice with eat more veggies, drink more water, get more sleep, and boost your diet with fibrous foods.

Sound advice? For some it is, especially if you are doing little to none of that. But for others? Perhaps not as in-depth as you may need.

If you are a women who is going through hormonal changes (at any life stage), in peri-menopause, or in menopause itself, you probably know that real struggle of body change and how mainstream wellness advice may not give you the results you are looking for. 

Weight gain, weight shift, mood changes, digestive problems, fatigue, joint pain — you may know these all too well. But if you are doing all the right things, or at least most of them, and still not getting results, what do you do?

First stop? Make sure that your hormones are being supported.

Imbalanced hormones create a whirlwind in the body that can cause a spiraling effect of physical symptoms and problems. Your hormonal needs are going to be different than mine, but there are a few hormones that are key factors in the balance game for all of us. Let’s take a quick look at them…

Insulin

Insulin is a fat-storage hormone. Insulin resistance or block means your cells can’t absorb the extra blood glucose your body generates from the food you eat—when that happens, your liver converts the glucose into fat. Insulin resistance usually causes weight gain and sugar addiction. This is one reason that it is imperative to keep blood sugar levels balanced when looking to balance out hormonal levels.

Leptin

Leptin is nature’s appetite suppressant. When you’ve had enough to eat, leptin says to your brain, “Hey it is time to stop eating.” High leptin can cause weight gain and excessive hunger. When you are overweight, your fat cells produce excess leptin. When your brain gets bombarded with leptin signals from too many fat cells, it shuts down; leptin levels keep rising, receptors stop functioning, your body doesn’t get the leptin signal, and you don’t feel full. You keep eating the wrong foods in an addictive pattern, and you keep gaining weight. An imbalance in this hormone can really make it challenging to gather your willpower to push away food that you know is not going to help you achieve your goals. 

Estrogen

For women, estrogen can greatly fluctuate through many stages of life — pregnancy, peri-menopause, menopause, etc. Estrogen dominance is when you have too much estrogen compared with its counter-hormone, progesterone. Having too much estrogen in the body causes a number of symptoms, including resistance to weight loss, moodiness, PMS, and heavy periods.

Thyroid

Your thyroid is directly tied to your metabolism. It is like the gas pedal, managing how fast or how slow you burn those calories. When the thyroid is sluggish, hypothyroidism, it can cause weight gain, fluid retention, hair loss or thinning, depression, and constipation, among other problems. When it is excessive, hyperthyroidism, it can cause appetite changes (decrease or increase), difficulty sleeping, fatigue, frequent bowel movements, heart palpitations, heat intolerance, increased sweating, irritability, just to name a few. 

Getting Your Hormones Back On Track 

Addressing your HPA axis is going to be the first step. If you missed my blog on the HPA axis and it’s involvement in hormonal balancing, make sure that you read that first. After addressing that, now we have to look at the other lifestyle changes essential to getting your hormones back on track. There are 4 main essential changes needed to correct the hormonal misfiring. These are changes in:

  • How you eat (this makes up approximately 80% of your overall results)
  • How you think
  • How you move
  • How you supplement 
  1. Choose wisely what you eat and drink. Eating whole, unprocessed foods that are abundant in healthy fats, vegetables, protein, and some fruits are the best place to start. Each person’s needs will be different, but if you start incorporating more of these foods, you will start to notice differences. Greatly limit processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugars and sugar substitutes from your diet. These foods create an imbalance in your blood sugar levels and an imbalance in your overall hormonal disposition. Eliminate alcohol for 30 days. A single serving of this can reduce a woman’s metabolism by more than 70% and, even though, it is temporary, it can add up if you have a drink most nights.
  2. Support your digestion. Hippocrates stated that “All disease begins in the gut.” It is not only where approximately 80% of your immune cells reside, but it is also the gateway to nutrient absorption. If your digestive health is out of whack (think excessive gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pains after eating, etc), then the way your body uses your food and your hormonal balance will be following suit. Foods such as processed foods, sugar, gluten-containing foods, refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats (i.e., vegetable oils, canola oil, trans fats), and foods you are allergic/sensitive to can all decrease the health of your digestion (aka your gut health). Eating supporting foods (refer back to #1), fermented foods (i.e., sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, etc), decreasing your stress levels, and taking supportive supplements can all help to get your gut health solid. 
  3. Watch your thoughts. Stress and our reactions to life start with the thoughts we think. Finding ways to alter your inner dialogue and understand why you think and believe what you do can make a significant difference on your stress levels. It really is about discovering yourself, what stresses you out, and how you can change your approach so that it is not so taxing on your energy (and your hormones). Negative thoughts and increased stress also raise your cortisol levels, putting you in a fight or flight mindset. And, the more you go to that place of being, the more your cortisol levels chronically stay elevated. Long-term exposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can wreck havoc on almost all of your body’s processes, increasing your risk of many health issues, from heart disease and obesity to anxiety and depression. 
  4. Add targeted body movement into your day. It is important to move the way that you and your body love — that will help to keep you committed to moving. But when balancing hormones, there is a hierarchy in what will get you the best results. Chronic cardio and long distance training are not as likely to stabilize your cortisol, which can actually be raised dramatically after these sorts of activities. Burst training, HIIT training, and adaptive exercise (i.e. Pilates and yoga) are more likely to stabilize cortisol. Burst training is incredibly efficient because it involves short periods of high intensity exercise with moderate-level exercise as recovery. This allows your body to raise cortisol, but only for a bit, allowing you to get the benefits of exercise, but not create a huge imbalance. Not only that, but it is extremely effective at raising growth hormone, the growth-and-repair hormone that maintains your lean body mass, a crucial indicator of how your body is aging biologically. 
  5. Consider genetic testing. It can guide the best ways for you to eat, move, think, and supplement for hormonal harmony and weight loss. This way, there is no guessing game and you can truly discover what might be the factors holding you back. 
  6. Use supplements as needed to improve your hormone levels. In a perfect world, you can get all you need from the food you eat and the healthy lifestyle choices you make. Unfortunately in our modern society, that becomes a challenge. Our food system has been so greatly depleted nutritionally and replaced with much processed, chemically-laden foods. We are inundated with environmental hazards such as toxins, pesticides, EMF’s, and poor air quality that our body is under daily attack — more for some people than others. Adding appropriate supplementation into your nutrition plan can greatly enhance how your body manages all of these modern day obstacles, but can also help offload some of the stress so that your hormones can get better balance. Outside of the adaptogens that are often associated with hormonal balances (ashwagandha, rhodiola, maca) and the common vitamins and minerals that can offset other health woes (Vitamin D, B complex, magnesium, etc), there are a few others that are highly researched: 
  • Cortisol Manager: You need 7 to 8.5 hours of sleep to break through weight loss resistance. An excellent supplement for improved sleep and less stress is called Cortisol Manager, by Integrative Therapeutics. It is a combination of phosphatidyl serine and ashwagandha. It dials down the HPA so that you don’t feel stressed and can wind down for a good night of sleep. Too much cortisol raises blood sugar and deposits fat at night. 
  • Berberine. Berberine, (a great brand is Integrative Therapeutics) is the most proven supplement to reset insulin and support weight loss in women. It activates an important enzyme called adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase, or AMP, nicknamed the “metabolic master switch.” It has been shown to work better when combined with milk thistle.
  • ION Biome Gut Health. Want a supplement that not only supplements, rather it supports your health? This is it. The active ingredient, Terrahydrite, has been shown to support the integrity of the gut lining, even in the face of damage from toxins such as glyphosate. I use this when I know that I will be consuming foods or drinks that may not be the healthiest or when I suspect potential issues may be present.

If you suspect that you are struggling with imbalanced hormones and they are causing you to not get the results you want, it doesn’t have to be that way. There is hope. I encourage you to investigate all areas of your life and get really real with yourself to see what might be the main culprit in holding you back to going exactly where you want to go!

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Women, Weight-Loss, And How To Balance Your Hormones

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It all shifts.

Every single inch seems to shift to a part of the body that it wasn’t meant to be. 

The thighs move up to the hips, the butt moves up the belly, and the back of the arms extend their goodbye with just a little extra jiggle than you might want. 

The shift happens for men and women, but women are more afflicted because of their delicate hormonal balance that can easily get upset. 

It Isn’t All About The Calories

People have been brainwashed to think if we eat a little less or follow the latest fad diet, that the weight will just melt off of us — regardless of your age or current hormonal disposition. 

Unfortunately, there continues numerous dieting models that place this hypothesis on a pedestal, promising their female clients success. And then when it doesn’t work or only works for a short period of time? 

Well…

You blame yourself. You must have done something wrong or did not have the magical willpower unicorn to help you stay on track.

I discovered that the calorie-in/calorie-out hypothesis has been widely disproven and remains the greatest misconception women have about diet and weight loss. Calories matter, more to some women than others, but hormones matter more.

Most diets don’t work for women. They fail to address the hormonal root causes that are the most common reasons for resisting weight loss resistance — excess cortisol, insulin and/or leptin blockage, estrogen dominance, a sluggish thyroid, low testosterone, and problems with the HPA (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal) control system.

The HPA (Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal) Axis

The HPA axis is the boss of all your hormones. It sits up high looking out over the hormonal kingdom and communicating based on how it interacts with other hormones. The root cause of cortisol imbalance is usually a dysregulated HPA axis. 

When the HPA is up-regulated, you churn out too much cortisol. Think muffin top, feeling like you’re constantly racing from task to task, feeling wired but tired, quickness to anger and irritability, and rapid weight gain.

When the HPA is constantly up-regulated, it can get super burned out, like how you feel after those days of back-to-back meetings and then coming home to making dinner and managing your kid’s soccer schedules.

At this point, the HPA becomes down-regulated and suddenly you have a lack of stamina, you are quick to catch a cold, your viewpoint turns more negative, and your thyroid begins to show imbalances.

Since the HPA is often the root cause, the key is resetting it. Any other attempt at fixing the hormones will likely fail in the long run if the HPA is not addressed and stabilized.

It All Starts With Cortisol

There are so many steps you can take to address your cortisol and it really is bio-individual. Some are more researched than others, with my suggestions below being some of the most researched and successful with my clients. Here is my simple protocol to get you started for balancing cortisol.

  • Start a regular massage routine. Getting a massage once or twice a month not only prioritizes self-care, but it also helps the muscles and the fascia to release tightness and it helps to move stuck energy throughout the body. You can do this by paying for massage and/or you can start a foam roller practice, which acts like a self massage. 
  • Add B Vitamins and Omega-3’s if you are deficient. Both of these nutritional gems helps to soothe the nervous system. You can get them in supplemental form or you can eat foods like salmon, leafy greens, liver, beef, eggs, sunflower seeds, and nutritional yeast for B vitamins. Want more Omega-3’s? Fill your meals with foods like walnuts, almonds, fatty fishes, avocados, and chia seeds.
  • Honor your voice. This was the biggest action step for my own personal success! Talk through what’s stressing you with someone you trust. Get it off your chest and learn how you can work through it so it doesn’t consume you. While you are at it…
  • Honor your energy. Restore your energy by regular meditation or yoga sessions to help calm the nervous system and bring your conscious awareness back into homeostasis and alignment.
  • Drink more green tea. L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, helps to reduce stress. Limit your coffee and alcohol, especially if you are more sensitive to either of these. 
  • Eat more dark chocolate. Yes, eat more dark chocolate, but make sure that it is the 75% or higher variety or raw cacao. Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, a mineral necessary to balancing your stress response. 
  • Take phosphatidylserine.  Phosphatidylserine is helpful to take until you perceive less stress and your HPA is no longer hypervigilant. 
  • Add an adaptogen that helps to reset cortisol. You can try Ashwagandha or Rhodiola, often being successful when taken at night. To help increase your testosterone, you can try some Maca in the morning. 

As you get older and your hormones begin to naturally transition into a peri-, post-, and menopausal stage, it is even more important to pay attention to your stress levels and to the hormones that play critical roles. Next blog, I will be talking about the key hormonal players that you need to know about that keep you in balance and living your best life yet!

References: 

  1. Cuciureanu MD, Vink R. Magnesium and stress. In: Vink R, Nechifor M, editors. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2011. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507250/
  2. Hellhammer, J., Vogt, D., Franz, N., Freitas, U., & Rutenberg, D. (2014). A soy-based phosphatidylserine/ phosphatidic acid complex (PAS) normalizes the stress reactivity of hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal-axis in chronically stressed male subjects: a randomized, placebo-controlled study. Lipids in health and disease, 13, 121. https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-511X-13-121

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Create The BEST Morning Routine For You (Personalized Plan)—Part 4

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A good morning routine can really set the tone for the rest of the day. Some days you’re dialed into every detail: cooking a healthy breakfast, experimenting with new hairstyles, trying to meditate.

Other days… well, your routine gets skipped and you slip into work through the backdoor with a wrinkled shirt and a coffee stain on your pants and your hair having seen better days. It happens.

Yet, like clockwork, the yearn for a smooth, stress-free morning quietly taunts you as dawn breaks. When the “other days” arrive, your perfect morning can feel like a sparkly pink unicorn with ribbons running through a field of pixie dust. It just doesn’t exist. 

And even though your perfect morning can feel like you are riding on this magical creature, there is more to creating it than mystical forces at work. You really do have more control than you think!

Having a strong, consistent morning routine is essential for creating less stress, gaining more confidence, and being more productive throughout your day. It just does. The key factor that most people miss is that it really depends on what is right for you and taking that into consideration when establishing your morning routine. 

Right now, you might be wondering how do you find out what works for you? How do you even know where to start? Let’s start by taking these two thoughts into consideration:

  1. Know yourself
  2. Model some of the most successful people and their morning routines that they swear by. 

Doesn’t sound to bad, right? Let’s dive into the details of these great routine habits, and how successful people get a routine to stick day in, day out and learn how you can apply it to your own life.

1. Wake Up At YOUR Right Time

We have all heard phrases like “The early bird gets the worm” or “Be part of the 5am club.” If you wake up past 6 am are you destined to a day of laze and despair? And isn’t is said that morning people are just more happier and more productive overall?

There is a disconnect between conventional daytime expectations and nighttime preferences. This can make it harder for the person who is a night owl. When someone is more a night owl and forces themselves to wake up early and perform at their peak during the day, they can experience more sleep loss and emotional distress. This is called “social jet lag.” This could make them less happy.

According to this 2012 study, researchers found that morning people had higher positive affect across the board, compared to night people. But mood isn’t the same as general happiness and contentment. The standard American 9-5 pm work schedule may also lead you to believe that this is when the most productive times occurs and if you can’t fit into that, well, then there might be something wrong with you. Forcing yourself to live out of your authenticity may decrease your happiness. 

Mike Vardy, founder of “ The Productivityist” is a writer, speaker, and productivity specialist. He is also a self-proclaimed night owl and he talks about how he found success when he lived with authenticity and intention. He also states in a blog “There Is Nothing Wrong With Being A Night Owl” that “I don’t work like others do when I start my day, either. I don’t adhere to the “first things first” mentality that Covey preaches because my brain isn’t ready to do the creative heavy lifting at that time. Instead, I like to get the low energy stuff out of the way. By doing that, I gradually build up my energy to where it needs to be for when I know I’m at my best — in the afternoon and evening hours.” But what he does do is that he has his morning routine when he wakes up and he does that consistently. It is still supporting his personal growth, but he knows his rhythm and what decreases his stress and makes him feel more productive and he sticks to it. 

If you find that you have to wake early and this is not your best fit, then wake up at your best time that fits with your schedule demands and do light self-care that only take 15-20 minutes so that you can prioritize both. If you feel that you are a morning person but bad habits have caused you to stay up late and wake up late, then work to slowly adjust that by changing those times to fit your goals. 

A healthy morning routine may be the most important — no matter what time you wake up. Your body actually knows what it should be doing and when. Don’t force yourself to be part of the 5 am club if you can’t fall asleep before midnight.

2. Create A Morning Routine To Focus Your Mind

How you start your day anchors you and grounds you. This is important because you feel at your least stressed when grounded and anchored, not to mention more mental clarity and focus.  If you take all of these qualities and add them together, they tend to equal more productivity and commitment to your day’s tasks that you want to get done. 

Kevin Kruse, CEO of LEADx and author of Great Leaders Have No Rules, includes 20-minutes of HIIT on the treadmill and yoga stretches while he completes a simple gratitude meditation, mission reflection, and intentions around his goals. 

My morning routine looks something like this:

  • 16 oz water with lemon
  • Inspirational passages
  • 15 minutes meditation
  • Journaling (occasionally)
  • 3 mile run followed by strength training and/or flexibility work while listening to self-growth podcasts
  • Shower and healthy breakfast

Morning routines do not have to be lengthy, but they should be consistent and promoting inner growth!

3. Create Your Day’s Tasks In The Evening

The first 20-30 minutes after waking is prime time for your subconscious brain to soak in what you feed it. This is great news because real habit change and mindset work occur when your subconscious mind shifts. With that being said, it is also susceptible to deepening your negative stress response if you feed it too much stress. 

Setting your schedule up for the day first thing in the morning can cause stress, especially if you have a large to-do list. This added stress first thing in the morning can cause dread and worry that can not only last for the entire day, but also encourage your subconscious mind to automatically respond with dread and worry. 

We also have a limited amount of willpower and decision-making ability every day. If you have to make too many decisions first thing in the morning, you can cause yourself to drain your brain and not have the amount of vital decision-making capabilities for the rest of the day. Not only that, but you have suddenly opened your morning up to having more time for personal growth. 

Want to work out in the morning? Lay out your clothes the night before and have them ready to go. Want to read a book? Pick it out and have it sitting where you will complete your morning routine. 

woman doing yoga pose on pink yoga mat
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

4. Move Your Body And Hydrate

Moving your body makes you feel better. And that doesn’t have to be a full workout program. Just getting up and going for a walk, doing some light stretches, or even standing from your desk and stretching your arms overhead, all can increase your energy and brain activity. You probably already know how important it is to exercise for your health, but did you know how important it is for overall energy production and for mental clarity? Some of the most successful people prioritize body movement in the morning:

  • Kevin Kruse does a daily 20-minute HIIT session on the treadmill.
  • Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square, jogs every morning.
  • Howard Schulz, CEO of Starbucks, bikes first thing.
  • Congresswoman and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi power walks before she sits down to work.
  • Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk works out with his personal trainer.
  • Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary gets on his elliptical or exercise bike.
  • Starwood Hotels CEO Frits van Paaschen runs 10 miles each morning!

Moving your body or not, hydration is still important first thing in the morning. Not only is your body dehydrated from sleeping all night, but water also replenishes in many other ways — Increases digestion, increases energy, flushes out toxins, decreases headaches, increases mental clarity and mood, just to name a few. 

Start your morning out with 16-20 oz of filtered water. 

5. Eat That Frog

Now it’s time to take action. Brian Tracy, author of “Eat the Frog,” bases his morning philosophy off of a quote from Mark Twain:

“If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.”

Tackle your hardest task first to help bring you satisfaction and feelings of accomplishment. Feeling accomplished helps you feel more content and happy throughout your day. Especially if it is a daunting task. Dreading a task on your to-do list is a mighty energy drainer. Why sit in worry thinking about it when you can just get it done and over with. If you have many little tadpoles that you need to accomplish, then start there. 

Just find your rhythm and get started!

Throughout this series on morning routines, I have talked about the importance of creating your own personal process that nurtures your mind, body, and spirit (click on the links to reread parts 1-3). As we finish this series, I want to emphasis — it is not how much you do or finding the perfect routine, it is what fits you in this season of your life. Take these tips and personalize them to fit your needs.  It is what nourishes your soul and takes care of you and creates the grounding your need to have your most productive days. Just get started!

References: 

1. Biss, R. K., & Hasher, L. (2012). Happy as a lark: Morning-type younger and older adults are higher in positive affect. Emotion, 12(3), 437–441. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027071

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Simple, Effective Workout To Reduce Stress

The in between. That’s a hard place to live when you got places to go.

And by places to go, I mean to-do lists to cross off and goals to achieve. To go for your goals, but to be totally fine and love yourself just as you are. To want to lose weight and still be confident in your own skin. To be an active go-getter but know that sometimes, you have to slow yourself down. 

yellow and brown textile
Photo by Anny Patterson on Pexels.com

It’s that space in between that can feel like it is just out of reach — like swinging between the two extremes on a balance board. Yet, it is the in between that is often the most healthiest of places to visit. What your body needs. What your mind needs. What your wellness is craving. 

Sometimes it is easy to just pick the extremes. That is the advice they give you. Push harder. Hustle more. Take less breaks. Be extreme and aggressive. 

Or maybe it’s to sit back and relax. Give your body a break. Chill out because you deserve it.

But these extremes don’t seem to sit well for the long haul. They are unsustainable and can cause more stress and more anxiety and less wellness. Living in the in between can be a hard place to navigate. 

Sometimes it is knowing when you need to be in the in between that feels the most foreign. All you have ever known is the extremes. And each time they have failed you (or, you tell yourself that you have failed them!). 

Body movement and living in the in between can be just as mind-boggling. Yet, the most expert of experty-ness would agree that for longevity and anti-aging, there are key factors that must exist.

Hint: The in between is one of them.

With a beautiful dance between strength, flexibility, cardio, and mind-body connectedness, longevity and anti-aging are within your grasp. And that dance consists of choreography involving both extremes, but also the in between. The down time with body movement. The less intense, yet still challenging your day to day norm. This gives the body a chance to move and flex and build functional strength. It gives the mind a chance to connect in and lower your stress. It gives your wellness a boost by allowing your adrenals to not be obliterated with yet one more exhausting workout. It lowers stress but also deepens the quality of your health.

body stretching yoga beauty
Photo by Roman Davayposmotrim on Pexels.com

If you feel like you: 

  • Are tired all the time and you are not sure why
  • Have aches and pains that just will not go away
  • Are bored with your workouts and need to experiment
  • Work out all the time, but can not seem to lose the weight
  • Have a racing heart or an elevated resting pulse rate
  • Have minor injuries that will not heal
  • Are stressed out and need to dial it back
  • Just need to start moving again but don’t know where to start
  • Are peri-menopausal, menopausal, post-menopausal or are dealing with hormonal imbalances

Here is a workout designed for the in between. Try this 2-3 times a week to shake your body, mind, and spirit up —

  1. Plank alternating knee to chest (Pilates): 10x each leg
  2. Kneeling side kick/leg sweep (Pilates): 10x each leg
  3. One-legged downward dog (Yoga): 10 times each leg
  4. Extended triangle pose (Yoga): Hold for 5 deep breathes, repeat 3 times. Switch to the other side

Repeat sequence for a total of 2 times

  1. Bob and weave with squat (Kickboxing): 30 seconds
  2. Alternating front punches in squat (Kickboxing): 30 seconds
  3. Warrior 3 INTO Front kick INTO torso twist cross punch (Yoga/Kickboxing Combo): 10x each side

Repeat sequence for a total of 2 times

Simple_Stress_reducing_workout

It is time to start doing, but doing with purpose. Are you going to be an in betweener?

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