One of the hardest things to do is to lose weight. I have spoken to many people who have experienced this frustration. It seems that, no matter what they do, they cannot get past a sticking point. The weight stays on and they grow frustrated.
The ISSA has listed four factors that cause this problem. Let’s take the time to review each of these factors with the ISSA.
#1 – Consistency and Putting in the Time
Consistency is the most important factor in weight loss. Period.
Why? Sit down. This is a hard pill to swallow:
Because you ARE what you CONSISTENTLY DO.
To get to where you are now, took some serious time. Has it been a rough year? Five years? Or maybe even 20 years?
However long it’s been for you, your total weight and body composition are a direct result of thousands of different factors that have adapted over your total lifespan.
For instance, if you spent the last 10 years of your life eating sugary desserts a few times a week, getting poor sleep, propping up the bar at happy hour instead of exercising, and getting stressed out at work, your health, your weight, and your energy levels reflect those actions.
You need to come to the realization that undoing years of these lifestyle habits takes time. Lasting weight loss transformation takes about one-quarter of the time that it took to gain the weight in the first place.
In other words, if you spent the last eight years in an unhealthy spiral of weight gain and crash dieting, then you can expect it to take at least two years to get back to a healthy weight. (That is to make sure you lose the weight and keep it off.)
It’s discouraging. I get it. So, focus on the small wins in the meantime.
Did you make it to the gym five days this week? WIN.
Did you limit your sugar intake to less than 30g every day? WIN.
Are your energy levels up? WIN.
Can you deadlift more than last month? WIN.
Celebrate these wins and hold onto those high fives.
#2 – Recovery
Consistency is essential, but recovery is the second most crucial factor that impacts weight loss.
In short, it’s about how long and deeply you sleep, how well your hormone system bounces back from daily stressors, how well you refuel your body’s nutrients, and how well your body adjusts after working out.
This is so important, but I find that most people with a weight loss goal do a great job exercising, but fail to recover correctly.
Here’s what you need to know:
The MAGIC of your WORKOUT happens during the RECOVERY from that WORKOUT.
If you are not creating the proper environment for positive adaptations to occur during the one to three days following a training session, then your workout – no matter how brilliantly planned – was essentially a waste.
A regimen of 60- to 90-minute workouts, four to five days a week, combined with an appropriate diet, should lead to weight loss.
If it doesn’t, recovery may be the problem.
#3 – Carb Tolerance
Oh carbs, how we all love you!
If only you weren’t so delicious and the research about you so confusing!
Seriously, though, this is what a lot of people are asking:
“Are carbs good or bad?”
“What kinds of carbs are best?”
“When should I eat them?”
If you ask these questions, you’re not alone. And, even for us professionals, the right answers can be murky.
There is some interesting research, though, that can give us some insight into carbs and weight loss.
According to a recent study, there is a link between a person’s genetic ability to produce amylase (the enzyme in saliva that breaks down carbs) and BMI.
It turns out that some bodies GENETICALLY do a better job of regulating carbohydrates than others (likely a number of genes, not just amylase).
If you are on the “gifted end” of carb-genetics, then a slice of cheesecake registers as lower on the glycemic index in your body than most AND you may be satisfied for a week after just that one slice.
On the other hand, if you are at the “not-so-gifted end,” that one piece of cheesecake has a HIGHER glycemic index and it goes right to your love handles.
So, in other words, life isn’t fair.
Being carbohydrate-intolerant could be what is derailing your weight loss. If you suspect this is the case, follow these simple guidelines:
- Don’t cut out carbs totally.
- Get carbs from veggies and other foods low on the glycemic index.
- Take a probiotic supplement.
- Try an “ultra-low” glycemic index carb supplement like Ucan to curb cravings.
#4 – Hormone Therapy
Finally, we have hormones.
They affect every system in your body in some way, but, thanks to modern medicine, we can manipulate them.
Hormone-replacement therapy is a multi-million-dollar industry. But is it really good for us? In the ISSA’s opinion, no; unless there is a real, medical reason for it. Here’s what an over-50 client said:
“My doctor wants my hormones to look like that of a 30-year-old woman.”
So what’s wrong with that?
Unless the doctor can match your hormone therapy to YOUR 30-year-old self, they are actually trying to match you to a “medically normal” 30-year-old hormone panel which may or may not be YOU.
So, in affect, without your past 20 years of history, they are “flying blind” and it is going to take YEARS of trial and error to get the right cocktail for you.
You introduce external hormones into your system that should be adapting internally, so you may disrupt or even derail the natural adaptations that are a result of your nutrition and exercise.
As an example, consider the hunger-regulating system of the hormones leptin and grehlin. There is extensive research on the effects of exercise on this system, which can be summarized in one sentence:
The natural hormonal response to exercise can regulate hunger signaling, resulting in eating habits that promote weight loss and improved body composition.
However, not a single one of the 75 studies on this was done on a hormone-replacement-therapy patient. Why?
Because those patients don’t respond normally and that throws off the results that the study is trying to measure.
Furthermore, the only body composition-related studies of note regarding HRT look at increased muscle mass and function, NOT weight loss. In other words, hormone replacement therapy can aid your workout performance and recovery after age 50, but cannot claim to help you lose weight.6
Additionally, weight loss is never mentioned as a potential benefit to outweigh the risks of stroke, VTE, or the development of various cancers associated with HRT. The North American Menopause Society (which is traditionally pro-HRT) says “Women should use the lowest dose that successfully treats their symptoms.” 7 Those symptoms being hot flashes, night sweats, memory loss, and bone-density decrease, all of which have been shown to be improved through exercise without HRT.
ISSA is not anti-hormone replacement therapy by any means, but they highly recommend that their clients see what lifestyle, nutrition, and exercise changes can accomplish for weight loss for at least six months before trying hormone therapy.
Fitness and weight loss can seem complicated and it is. But before you get frustrated with your level of weight loss success, look closely at these four reasons and don’t lose focus. It took years to get overweight and you will not lose all of the weight you need overnight. So, hang in there. It is tough work, but it is worth it!