It’s March! Time to take a cold, hard look at those resolutions and see where we are at.
For many of us, this means assessing our current body situation. Sigh.
A total bummer, right?
But, before you know it, it will be swimsuit season and you don’t want to be left wishing that you had when you have all of the opportunity available to you RIGHT NOW!
Am I suggesting diets and weight loss? Not necessarily.
But what I am suggesting is a body overhaul. Time to get real about body issues.
Many of you may have started out your new year with realistic or even lofty resolutions to lose weight, but somewhere around March, most of us tend to fall off the wagon with those goals.
But what if you are doing all the exercise and eliminating the calories you thought would shake those love handles and tone those hips and thighs? Trying and trying…but have very little success?
I hear this all the time from the women I mentor. What you might not realize is there might be a missing piece to your weight loss puzzle.
I know most of us think, ‘Sure, I’ll watch what I eat a little more closely and exercise more,’ but you know from previous blogs that what you eat matters and the amount and type of exercise you do plays a huge role in your success! Sometimes there is even more to it than that.
You all know I am all about keeping it real and getting to the bottom of the issue. Let’s check out the list below and see if one or more of these “missing pieces” will solve your puzzle.
Be honest – are you getting enough sleep? I mean, REALLY getting the hours that you need? Our technology and screen time have drastically impacted our ability to calm down and relax, keeping our bodies from producing the melatonin that we need to get into that slumber. Of course, our work schedules sometimes mess with our sleep schedules, and, if you’re a parent, especially with infants or young children, obviously you do the best that you can when it comes to sleep habits. That being said, the standard recommendation for sleep is 7-8 hours per night for most adults.
But did you know that skimping on sleep may undermine your weight loss efforts? A few studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation alters our levels of hormones that control hunger. Ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates our appetite, can increase in individuals who are sleep-deprived, while Leptin, the hormone that induces feelings of satiety, was shown to decrease in sleep-deprived individuals. And let’s face it, when we’re tired and stressed we tend to reach for more calorie-dense, nutrient-deficient comfort foods.
Yes, I know calories are your least favorite thing to discuss but indulge me for a moment. While the majority of us could stand to decrease our caloric intake, there is a distinct possibility that some of you, in your efforts to restrict calories, may be restricting them too much. Your body has a Basal Metabolic Rate, which is basically the minimum number of calories your body requires just to be alive and at rest. Without these calories, your body would not have the energy required just to keep you breathing or to maintain the functions of your organs. So, if you restrict your calories too much, your body goes into starvation mode, resulting in a lowered metabolism.
How do you calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate? Check out this nifty calculator at My Fitness Pal’s website. Keep in mind that this is simply a guideline and doesn’t take into consideration your activity level, but you can download the app for a more detailed plan. The bare minimum, men should be taking in at least 1,800 calories per day and women should be at no lower than 1,200 calories. And let’s be sure to focus on those macronutrients – proteins, healthy fats, and carbs – to make sure our calories are beneficial to our bodies!
Regular exercise should be a no-brainer here, however, the type of exercise you’re doing makes a difference. Cardiovascular exercises, such as walking, running, biking and swimming, are a great place to start. You should also be incorporating some resistance training exercises (weights, resistance bands, yoga, Pilates, etc.) 2-3 times per week. This form of exercise builds and strengthens your muscles, which, in turn, increases your metabolism. In practical terms, this means that a 150-lb. person with greater muscle mass burns more calories than someone of the same weight with less muscle mass.
Have you been stuck in a rut doing the same form of exercise for weeks or months? Switch things up and add some variety. Confuse those muscles that may have gotten too used to the same challenge. Take a spinning class or try some water aerobics. Go for a hike and enjoy the scenery while you’re exercising. But, most of all, have fun! There are also some great on-demand programs available online that can keep you in a different routine each day so those muscles never get bored!
Oh, those dreaded hormones! We are all well aware that sometimes they can fluctuate, overcompensate, or malfunction. As I have discussed before in the blog, balancing your hormones are key to getting your body back on track. Or, you may be dealing with a serious issue such as thyroid problems, especially hypothyroidism, making weight loss very challenging. Insulin resistance and an imbalance of cortisol levels due to stress are other factors that may contribute to difficulties in achieving weight loss. I would definitely recommend checking in with your trusted healthcare professional before embarking on a new weight loss routine to be sure that hormones aren’t a cause or aren’t preventing you from achieving your goals. Women especially should keep an eye on their estrogen and progesterone levels, so it may be time to have those checked out!
I know we hear all the time that we aren’t getting enough water, but it is the truth. The body has a hard time distinguishing between thirst and hunger, and many of us grab a snack when we should be guzzling another 8 oz. of water. In fact, by the time the body registers to us that we are thirsty, many of us are already dehydrated. Don’t let yourself fall into this rut. You need to be drinking water ALL DAY LONG. Carry a refillable water bottle or thermos with you and refill it at least 3-4 times per day. In addition to drinking water during meals, I also recommend having a glass as soon as you wake up, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and in evening an hour or two before bedtime. And you need to amp up your water intake during exercise, during sickness, when the temperature increases, when you’re outside in the elements, after consuming alcohol, and especially during monthly hormonal fluctuations. Drink up!
If you are interested in really digging into the nitty-gritty of health and nutrition, check out this comprehensive study for overall health and wellness at the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion’s website. Most importantly, take a moment to assess your plan and potentially identify anything that could be impeding your progress. And, finally…of course…essential oils can always be very helpful in not only losing weight but also increasing your overall wellness and mindset. Be sure to check out Parts Two and Three of this Weighing In On Weight Loss series for practical tips you can implement immediately for supporting your goals with high-quality essential oils!