You: A clean-eating, gym-going, do-it-all superstar.
The problem: You can’t get the scale to budge. The harder you work, the cleaner you eat, the more you work out, the more things stay the same. Or worse! [gasp] The scale moves in the WRONG direction. UGH!
I feel your pain. I know how hard you work and the frustration you feel. I know this because I work with TONS of women in your same situation. But also, I know this because I too have suffered through this.
The solution: Read on! Spoiler alert – it’s not throw in the towel and binge on pizza and ice cream (although truth be told I certainly did my fair share of this too).
Why you’re not losing weight
Every day, at least one [if not ten] women just like you walk through the Simply Nourished doors. They walk in with their [seemingly] perfect diet and workout plan, but the stubborn pounds just won’t come off. If this sounds like you then know this- there is help. And even more importantly, know you’re not alone! After working with so many women in this situation, including MYSELF I’ve got a list of my top 5 reasons you’re holding on to unwanted pounds and what you can do about it.
1. Your macronutrients need a macro overhaul:
If I had a penny for every time I heard weight loss is all about calories in vs. calories out, I’d be a very rich gal. I’m embarrassed to say that some of these pennies would have been paid out from my own pockets because fresh out of dietetics training many years ago this was my mantra. While yes, to a certain extent, calories do count, it should not the be the main focus of a healthy eating plan. Focusing on the right types of foods in the right amounts is so much more important and impactful.
Even with the keto diet fad, I can’t tell you how many women still fear the F word [FAT] in their diet. I find this especially common in women my generation and older – those gen xer’s and baby boomers. I get it. Back in the 90’s fat was demonized. Eat fat and you’ll get fat. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Fat is an ESSENTIAL part of the diet. Literally, certain fatty acids, vital to your health, must be eaten – our bodies can’t make them on their own. Think omega 3’s in fatty fish, walnuts, and chia seeds. Healthy fats such as those omega-3’s and monounsaturated fatty acids found in olive oil and avocados can play a role in fighting inflammation, reducing hunger and increasing metabolism. So ladies, it’s time to embrace fat not fear it. While fat should be invited to every meal, I like to make it the guest of honor at breakfast. Fueling your mornings with fat will help keep you feeling full and energized throughout the day, while keeping your blood sugar levels stable.
Want to learn more about fat…. check out Ellie’s blog for an in-depth look.
Protein is another macro that has to be prioritized for weight loss. So often I hear clients list off what they think is the perfect salad for lunch. A rainbow of veggies such as spinach, kale, carrots, peppers and tomatoes, bursting at the seams with vitamins, minerals and fiber but often lacking one key nutrient necessary for weight loss- protein. Whether from animal sources such as poultry, seafood, beef, or pork OR plant-based sources such as beans, legumes, soy or quinoa, simply put protein must be prioritized! Protein helps you lose weight through a number of mechanism including increasing metabolism, maintaining muscle mass and reducing appetite. Ensure that a high-quality protein source is included at every meal AND snack, but if one meal should highlight protein it’s lunch. This will help you get through the rest of the day + will keeping cravings in check and energy levels high.
2. You’re cardio crazed
Physical activity must be a part of your weight loss plan. But when it comes to cardio it can be too much of a good thing. For weight loss to happen, interval training like HIIT workouts or resistance training is needed. If you’re an elliptical lover or treadmill junkie, please don’t bench yourself. Instead ensure that you are doing strength training exercises and add some sprint intervals to your cardio routine.
3. You’re subtly stressed
If you’re an avid Simply Nourished fan I know you’ve heard it before, but this issue is so important it bears repeating. Stress is public enemy number one when it comes to weight loss and dare I say your health in general. It zaps your energy and can increase your appetite, leaving you with cravings for sweets and other carb-rich comfort foods. It also works in sneaky, more subtle ways, like messing with your metabolism, hormones, immune system, microbiome and GI tract.
Most of us know that going through stressful events have a negative impact on our health, but subtle, low-grade, constant stress is just as bad. And believe it or not, stressing about what you eat is considered one of those types of stress. Studies demonstrate that over attention to what you eat, and chronic dieting tend to backfire.
Now I know what you are saying… I’m too busy [and too stressed] to add stress management to my to-do list. But it’s much easier than you think. Just focusing on your breath and practicing deep breathing techniques can have a profound effect on your mood, stress level, heart rate and cortisol levels. And you can do it anywhere – in the car, while washing the dishes, while trying to fall asleep at night. Give this method a try. Breath in through your nose for a count of 4. Hold for a count of 4. Slowly exhale through your mouth for 4. Hold on empty for a count of 4. Repeat a few times and feel the tension melt away.
4. You have a vitamin S deficiency
Vitamin S you ask? Yes, SLEEP. And while no it’s not technically a “vitamin,” a deficiency in it can be impacting your weight loss efforts. Women who skimp on sleep tend to have higher caloric intakes, imbalances in hormones such as insulin and leptin [key players in metabolism] and decreased metabolism. Make sure you prioritize sleep. Set up a nightly sleep routine that signals to you mind and your body that it’s time to get some zzz’s. And turn off the electronics. Light of any kind, but especially blue light from our tablets, TV’s, phones and computers is detrimental to melatonin [your sleep promoting hormone] release and ultimately our sleep.
5. Your hormones have gone haywire
As women we are more susceptible to weight issues due to our delicate hormone balance. Adrenal hormones, thyroid hormones and our sex hormones all play a role in our weight. As we age, our bodies naturally go through fluctuations in hormone levels. I know for me it feels like I went to bed at age 39 and when I woke up to 40 everything had changed. What worked in the past to keep my weight in check was no longer working and every year it seemed like a few more pounds snuck their way in. I’m here to tell you that just because your age may be going up, your weight does not have to. Through balancing hormones, managing stress and maximizing my macro’s I was able to get those stubborn pounds off and you can too!
Jen Scheinman, RDN
Baylor, L. S., & Hackney, A. C. (2003). Resting thyroid and leptin hormone changes in women following intense, prolonged exercise training. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 88(4–5), 480–484. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-002-0737-7
Bloomfield, H. E., Koeller, E., Greer, N., MacDonald, R., Kane, R., & Wilt, T. J. (2016). Effects on Health Outcomes of a Mediterranean Diet With No Restriction on Fat Intake: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 165(7), 491. https://doi.org/10.7326/M16-0361
Gerling, C. J., Whitfield, J., Mukai, K., & Spriet, L. L. (2014). Variable effects of 12 weeks of omega-3 supplementation on resting skeletal muscle metabolism. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism = Physiologie Appliquee, Nutrition Et Metabolisme, 39(9), 1083–1091. https://doi.org/10.1139/apnm-2014-0049
Halton, T. L., & Hu, F. B. (2004). The Effects of High Protein Diets on Thermogenesis, Satiety and Weight Loss: A Critical Review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(5), 373–385. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2004.10719381
Khazaei, M. (2012). Chronic Low-grade Inflammation after Exercise: Controversies. Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences, 15(5), 1008–1009.
Lowe, M. R., Doshi, S. D., Katterman, S. N., & Feig, E. H. (2013). Dieting and restrained eating as prospective predictors of weight gain. Frontiers in Psychology, 4. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00577
Markwald, R. R., Melanson, E. L., Smith, M. R., Higgins, J., Perreault, L., Eckel, R. H., & Wright, K. P. (2013). Impact of insufficient sleep on total daily energy expenditure, food intake, and weight gain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201216951. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1216951110
Parra, D., Ramel, A., Bandarra, N., Kiely, M., Martínez, J. A., & Thorsdottir, I. (2008). A diet rich in long chain omega-3 fatty acids modulates satiety in overweight and obese volunteers during weight loss. Appetite, 51(3), 676–680. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2008.06.003
Pesta, D. H., & Samuel, V. T. (2014). A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutrition & Metabolism, 11. https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-11-53
Shiraev, T., & Barclay, G. (2012). Evidence based exercise: Clinical benefits of high intensity interval training. Australian Family Physician, 41(12), 960.