We all know that weight loss isn’t simple; it takes dedication to a healthier diet, a commitment to fitness, and, most importantly, a respect for your body. But if you talk to Dana James, the triple-certified nutritionist who touts celebrities like Margot Robbie among her clients, the formula is even more complex. James has been working in the nutrition industry for more than a decade, and during that time, she’s found so many other factors that go into the weight loss equation for women, including sleep, hormones, gut health, inflammation, medication, emotions and genes. But while this list might make you think that weight loss is nearly impossible given all those factors, James says, “This equation should be empowering, not overwhelming. You have the ability to influence all of these factors, except your genes, but genes play the weakest role in the equation because of how your environment interacts with them. A clean diet makes cleaner genes.” So, read on to find out what you have wrong about weight loss, and what changes you need to make to get you on the right path.
Wrong! You can’t just eat lean proteins and complex carbs and go for a run a few times a week and expect results. To completely harness our body’s ability to lose weight, we need to take other factors into account. While eating well and keeping fit are integral to the weight loss journey, they aren’t the whole journey.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to look not just at how you’re spending your waking hours, but your sleeping hours, too. “Lack of sleep can increase hunger and food intake,” James says, and when you’re famished from a lack of z’s, you’re not going to be reaching for the healthy snacks in the fridge. Sleep deprivation causes more activity in the reward centers of our brains and less in the parts that control impulses, meaning your brain is far more likely to reach for the leftover Halloween candy stashed in the cabinet. Aim for seven hours a night to ensure your body’s hunger and food intake stays consistent.
In the last few years, probiotic products like natural yogurts, kombucha and sauerkraut have seen a huge increase in popularity, but unlike the kale phenomenon of 2013, this isn’t a fad. The reason people are snacking on yogurt and sipping on kombucha is because these foods promote a healthy gut microbiome, and a healthy gut is essential for weight loss. Bad gut bacteria can extract more calories from food, interfere with fat burning, and change appetite signals. In short, “The wrong composition of gut bacteria can slow weight loss.” Make sure you’re including plenty of probiotic foods in your diet to keep your gut healthy.
Ever noticed how even the dentist always asks what medication you’re on? That’s because medications can affect everything from our teeth to weight loss, and knowing their side effects is essential for total health. If you’re on certain types of birth control or antidepressants, side effects can include weight gain, so it’s important to speak to your medical practitioner if you’ve noticed an increase in your weight or difficulty losing weight while on these prescriptions.
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While it’s difficult to measure the exact effect our emotions have on our weight, there is plenty of evidence that people can gain or lose weight according to their emotions. Grief, for example, can cause serious gained or lost weight, so if you’re experiencing intense emotions or have been through a traumatic experience, it’s important to seek help. Find a support group, meet up with a therapist, or even talk to a friend, because as James says, “If emotions are stuck inside you, the weight can also stay stuck.” Letting your emotions out can help you feel lighter both mentally and physically.
James notes that among the most common causes of inflammation are diet and food sensitivities. When we come into contact with something that doesn’t agree with our body, our levels of cortisol are raised, which spurs long-term fat storage in the body, leading to weight gain. Over time, if you continue coming into contact with whatever is aggravating your body, that weight can stick around and become hard to shift. To solve this, try an elimination diet to see what’s causing the adverse effects and eliminate those foods from your diet.
Make sure to keep these 6 things in mind for your weight loss journey. You’ll be happier, healthier, and you’ll be able to lose weight and keep it off.