I have scores of friends who have followed weight loss programs with little or no effect. Most of them have followed the same approach of only focusing on calories. Weight loss plans should focus on health & wellness and weight loss should be the by-product of that. I will give you a simple example – if you are having a stomachache due to constipation, will you try to treat constipation or have a pill for stomachache?
So putting effort in the right direction is important. Attack the problem and not the symptom. Weight Gain is a symptom. Find the root cause of that symptom and try to solve that.
It’s important to remember that weight loss may not have much to do with how much you eat and how much you exercise. We get stuck at eating and overlook some critical issues, which am going to discuss right here.
You would argue that sleep would have no direct relation with weight loss. Sleeping less to do some exercise should be better for weight loss ? But fortunately that is not true. Sleep is necessary for several functions like production of leptin which makes you feel full; detoxification by liver happens mostly during the sleep; sound sleep in the night leads to lesser craving of sugar & carbohydrates in the morning. So a good night sleep might be one of the most effective ways of weight loss. To make sure you sleep well, good nutritious food and exercise are necessary. We will talk about nutrition separately. Phones/laptops just before the bedtime is a sure shot way of not getting good sleep and hence wasting all your weight loss efforts.
Hormonal Imbalance – How would hormones really matter in weight loss?
Hormonal disorders can lead to diseases such as diabetes, thyroid, obesity, PCOS, high cholesterol etc etc. And hormonal imbalance happens when you constantly treat your body to bad food, go for binge eating, do not drink enough water and eat imbalanced food. However, this is something you can work on consciously.
I’ll give you another example of Leptin - Leptin is a hormone that regulates energy balance in the body by inhibiting hunger. But when we eat food rich in sugar content, the oversupply of fructose gets converted to fat that gets deposited in the liver, belly and other regions of the body.
Now how can you do something about it? By consuming no more than 3 servings of fruit per day and avoiding foods with high sugar content, eat a lot of dark green leafy vegetables.
Yes, all bacteria are not bad. There are good bacteria too; infact around 80-85% of bacteria in our stomach are good bacteria. These good bacteria are responsible for keeping your metabolism and intestines healthy. Every country has some traditional foods rich in probiotics – Miso in Japan, Kimchi in Korea, Cheese in many countries of Europe and in India, we do have buttermilk, pickles, Idlis in addition to yogurt/curd. So now you know from which foods to get probiotics and not depend on supplements or sugary probiotic drinks.
One of the most ignored factors in weight loss plans is Body Toxins. In today’s world, there are toxins everywhere - pollution in the air, pesticides & other chemicals in the food, preservatives in processed food, and plastics. Yes you read it right, plastics (plastic boxes for storing foods, plastic bags used in packaged foods, plastic water bottles; even plastic plates & glasses and that too for kids – it is criminal) is responsible for high degree of toxins in our body. Now you must be thinking, toxins are bad for health but what it has to with weight loss. Toxins in large quantities are stored in fat and which makes them less harmful for the body but hinders your weight loss program. Toxins also lead to change in hormone levels in the body which might further affect various functions like metabolism & enzyme production in the body. Therefore, detoxification should be the first step in any weight loss plan. Detoxification can happen through food, water or body massage.
One of my friend who had been trying to lose weight for quite some time albeit unsuccessfully went for a long vacation. She cheated on her weight loss plan every day and when she came back after 3 weeks lounging on a beach in Thailand, she had lost 2 kgs! She had not lost that weight even with strictest dieting in the last 6 months.
Yes, it was STRESS which was making it impossible to lose weight. After that she went to a dietitian who put her on walks, massages, sauna, good food and sleep. The goal was to make her brain and nervous system more relaxed. She lost another 5 kgs in the next 3 months. In some cases, stress leads to weight loss too but that is unhealthy as in that case there is no appetite and body becomes weak. In either case, handling of stress is essential for your well-being and weight management.
If you eat less and don’t take care of nutrition you might lose weight but your body will become weak. So it is important to eat in moderate quantity but it is more important to make sure that the food is nutritious. An apple & a cola can or a small piece of cake and a small portion of nuts have similar calories but I don’t need to tell you which one is better for your health. So good nutritious food is the key.