What if you’re doing all the right things when it comes to weight loss, but you’re still struggling?
Did you doctor tell you weight gain is just part of getting older?
Makes you feel a little hopeless, right?
Well, I want to turn that frown upside down and let you know there is SO MUCH you can do to lose weight as you get older.
I spent years chasing after what I thought were the most important things when it comes to weight loss — counting calories and working out more.
You know what that got me?
Hungry and exhausted. And then I had kids. And you know what I didn’t need to feel while trying to raise kids?
Hungry and exhausted.
I needed to feel satisfied from what I ate and full of energy. I also wanted to feel 30 pounds lighter.
It took me some time but I’m here to tell you if you can master the 3 key pillars that I highlight here, you’ll get there too. You’ll have a much easier time getting to your goal weight.
Those 3 pillars are hormones, emotional eating and gut microbiome health. I’m going to break it all down for you so don’t get overwhelmed before you even get started, ok?
Hormones, Emotional Eating, and Gut Health
When it comes to weight loss and why it’s not happening for you, you have to look at your hormones, any elements of eating for emotional reasons, and your gut health.
Once you understand these three key elements for weight loss, you’ll start taking different actions and you’ll start losing weight.
Let’s dive in.
If your metabolic hormones are out of balance, you won’t lose weight. Hormones are powerful chemical messengers in your body. When your hormones are balanced, you are able to lose weight much more easily.
There are dozens of hormones in the body but we’re mainly going to look at one key hormone when it comes to weight loss.
The key hormone to master when it comes to weight loss is thyroid. And you keep your thyroid healthy by eating enough healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
Before I knew what I know now about the thyroid, I thought it was just a butterfly shaped gland in your neck that makes thyroid hormones. But it turns out your thyroid is your KEY metabolic gland that needs to be healthy if you want to lose weight.
Blood sugar controls the health of your thyroid gland. If you’re not eating enough or you’re eating the wrong foods, your thyroid hormones can’t get into your cells and your body will make cortisol to compensate. This creates a vicious cycle of insulin resistance and weight gain.
So the cells say no more to any blood sugar coming in but your blood sugar has to go somewhere, so insulin spreads it around your belly and this causes you to store fat.
Good thyroid health and healthy insulin control are key for weight loss.
How to balance your metabolic hormones so you start burning fat
Your body is an amazing system! You just need to know what foods to eat to have a healthy thyroid function.
Healthy foods that nourish your thyroid are fats like coconut oil, butter, avocado, and olive oil. Also eat enough protein like fish, chicken, shrimp, turkey, and grass fed beef. Carbohydrates like ripe fruit, potatoes, zucchini, onion, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, and cucumbers help your thyroid thrive.
Eating the right fats for your thyroid is KEY! Your thyroid thrives with adding in saturated fat and using less polyunsaturated fats like vegetable oils. So instead of corn oil or soybean oil, use coconut oil, MCT oil and butter. Olive oil is a good fat for the thyroid too due to the many antioxidants that come from quality olive oil.
So make sure you’re eating enough healthy fat, protein, and carbs at your meals. Play around with adding a bit more or less coconut oil or healthy protein at meals and see if weight loss starts happening. Everyone needs different amounts of nutrients to get to their goal weight.
Another way to help boost your metabolism and keep your thyroid healthy is to cut down or eliminate refined flour from your diet. Refined flour breaks down into a type of sugar that makes your thyroid have to work even harder.
Instead of eating the muffin made with refined wheat flour, have a muffin made with almond meal.
There are several other hormones that affect how much you weigh. These include cortisol, adrenaline, insulin, sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone, leptin and glucagon; to name a few.
I usually focus on thyroid first. If, after doing all the things to correct your thyroid, you are still struggling with your weight, other hormones are likely out of balance as well.
You can get testing done to see if your hormones are out of range. It’s best to work with someone trained to help you navigate functional nutrition testing to see if this is something that would help you.
But for now, just focus on your metabolic hormones like thyroid.
In order to lose weight for good, you also have to address emotional eating. Many people tend to eat emotionally in response to certain feelings.
Does this sound like you?
Eating emotionally means you’re eating when you aren’t physically hungry. You aren’t truly hungry but you’re eating something like chips, or cookies, or french fries.
Most clients I work with tell me they eat when they are stressed. This is a very common occurrence in today’s busy, stressful world.
If you eat when you aren’t physically hungry, this indicates you’re feeling something you don’t want to feel.
Feelings like stress, boredom, inadequacy, confusion, anger, loneliness, or anxiety can make you emotionally eat. If you’re feeling something like stress, then it is time to use some stress management techniques.
Remember, you can’t get rid of stress but you can learn to manage your thoughts about stress.
When you learn how to manage your stress better, you are less likely to turn to food when you feel difficult emotions. And this will make weight loss much easier.
How to start managing emotional eating
If you eat emotionally, what’s your comfort food of choice? Start to put some awareness here. Awareness is so important when it comes to changing a behavior.
Maybe you just automatically do something without giving it too much thought — perhaps you’ve done it almost your whole life. Just being aware that this is something you do can help you start to shift your actions.
The main problem with using food to alleviate stress is that in the end, eating for emotional reasons actually causes more stress.
When you eat emotionally, you are trying to change from a stressful emotional state to an unstressful emotional state.
Maybe you are like most humans and were taught that negative emotions are to be avoided. But know this…..you are going to feel negative emotions as a human being.
Everyone feels them.
And you have to be ok with that. It is normal to feel sad. It is normal to feel anxious sometimes. It is normal to feel stressed. You have to be ok with letting these feelings come and wash over you and not eat because of them.
Of course, this is easier said than done. It takes practice to be ok letting feelings wash over you and not eat in response.
It is important to know that your feelings of stress, anxiety, worry or anger come from your thoughts. This is a fundamental truth. Your feelings come from your thoughts.
So your feeling of stress might be coming from the thought “I have so much to do and not enough time to do everything.” Or maybe your thought is “I’ll never lose weight because I’ve tried so hard and it’s not working. It will never work.”
These thoughts are causing you to feel stress. It’s ok to want to soothe negative feelings. But it’s not ok to do it with food, alcohol, drugs or any other addiction.
When you soothe difficult emotions with food, your mind creates neural connections that create strong urges to eat in response to emotional cues in the future. This leads to a habit. And we all know that habits can be hard to break.
Because you developed the habit of eating when you’re stressed, you automatically eat now when you have stress-inducing thoughts, even if you don’t realize you’re having those thoughts.
The result is you eat emotionally and you gain more weight, creating even more stress. It is a vicious cycle.
So start becoming aware of your thoughts and your feelings. It can be helpful to journal, do some meditation, or work with someone trained to help you navigate your thoughts and emotions and how you turn to food for comfort.
This will help make weight loss easier.
Lastly, let’s talk about how your gut microbiome affects your weight.
Did you know that you’re walking around with about 5 pounds of healthy bacteria and other friendly microbes in your gut?
Your gut microbiome is made up of bacteria, healthy fungi, protozoas and viruses – they all make up how your body functions.
These microbes are found in your colon and on your skin in large amounts.
Your metabolism and your immune system rely on a healthy gut microbiome. If you have dysbiosis, or if your gut microbiome is off-kilter, then your health suffers big time.
Your gut microbiome is like another organ, just like your heart, brain, and lungs.
Did you know that you have more microbes on your body and in your gut than you have human cells? Your microbes or little bacteria, outnumber your own body’s cells 10 to 1.
If your gut microbiome is out of balance, you are at risk for sickness, autoimmune disease, obesity, depression, anxiety and more.
As I mentioned, most of us have some gut imbalances.
Antibiotic overuse, taking antacids, not getting enough fiber, being delivered by c-section, eating too much sugar, stress, anti-bacterial wipes, and all the anti-bacterial body care products we use throw our microbiome out of balance. This makes weight loss more difficult than it needs to be.
How to fix your gut microbiome to make weight loss happen
The good news is you can reverse a poor microbiome. You can do this in many ways.
One of the most important things you can do to boost the health of your gut microbiome is by eating a diet rich in colors with fresh vegetables and some fruit.
You can also boost your gut microbiome by getting enough sleep, limiting screen time, managing stress, and using house and body care products that do not interfere with your microbiome.
But your diet or what you eat plays a HUGE role in your gut health, which means you have the power to create a healthier gut microbiome.
Let’s talk for a minute about candida overgrowth.
Candida is a natural yeast that is found in and on your body. It’s normal to have some candida. However, when it overgrows, it can cause several challenges and make weight loss and being healthy more difficult.
When you do not address a candida overgrowth, your health suffers.
It’s best to work with a trained healthcare provider to determine if you have candida overgrowth.
What do you do if you have a candida overgrowth? First, you eliminate sugar and refined flour as much as possible. Also, eliminate wine and beer for a period of time, usually 1 to 2 months.
There are anti-candida supplements you can take but it’s best to work with a trained healthcare provider who can help you determine what is best for you to take.
There are also anti-fungal prescriptions that your doctor can prescribe. But most people find that the anti-candida supplements work just as well if not better than the anti-fungal prescriptions.
Functional nutrition testing will help you understand what is going on in your gut microbiome. Again, working with a trained provider will help you determine the best course of action for you.
Helping your gut microbiome come more into balance will make weight loss easier.
This was a lot of information! You get high-fives for sticking with it till the end.
I want you to be aware of all of this, so you don’t give up hope if you’re struggling with your weight.
Of course, you have to start with a solid foundation of eating well including lots of veggies, healthy proteins and fats. You also need to get in some daily movement.
However, if you’re doing those things and you’re still struggling with your weight, please know there is still so much more you can do.
Remember, your hormones are key messengers in your body. If they’re off, weight loss will be more difficult. Emotional eating has to be addressed. Figure out why you’re turning to food when you’re not physically hungry. And lastly, work on repairing your gut microbiome with the tips I listed.
What will you do next?
Remember, there is help out there. If you’re someone who struggles with your weight, why not set up a time with someone trained to help you.
I can help you focus on specifically what to do first and in what order. That’s what I do and it’s what I’ve helped hundreds of clients do.
You can set up a free appointment to chat and see if we’d be a good fit to work together by clicking here.
I look forward to helping you uncover what is stopping you from achieving your weight loss goals.
-Caitlin Russell MS RDN CLT