I don't like talking about weight loss, I just need to get that out here at the beginning. I feel like there are plenty of other great sources talking about it from a healthy standpoint, and nearly every magazine you can pick up in a waiting room has an article about it. However, I have had some conversations recently that have made me feel the need to clarify some things for my audience.
As moms, we are especially vulnerable to the weight loss fads as we try to lose that baby-weight that we feel ashamed is still hanging around. And there is sooo much advice not just from exercise and shake companies, and magazines, but from our friends who SWEAR by this product or that diet.
The truth is, that we are all unique and we can't treat weight loss as if we are a carbon copy of our best friend, or our sister in law, or that girl at the office that never seems to gain a pound.
So, while I can't and won't give you a formula for weight loss, I do want to address 4 mistakes that I see women commonly making, that are sure to set you up for disappointment and failure.
1.) Ignoring Hormones
If you didn't see hormones coming then we obviously need to get to know each other better. ;) The truth is that hormones control EVERYTHING in our bodies. They are the chemical messengers that set off systems and reactions and tell our glands and organs when and how to do their jobs.
For women especially, our hormones are tied intricately to our weight. Women were made to store more fat than men, as it is necessary for fertility, breastfeeding, and even building the hormones themselves. I have seen too many women over-diet and lose so much weight that they also lose their periods.
On the other hand, hormone imbalances frequently CAUSE weight gain (hello PCOS), and to try to address this often sudden, unexplained weight gain without addressing the underlying hormonal imbalance is a recipe for frustration and discouragement.
2.) Restricting Calories
This one makes me sooooo sad y'all. We have been fed the lie that just eating less will magically make all the weight fall off, and I have seen so many women lose their energy, lose their joy, and screw up their hormones massively, just to keep to a ridiculously low calorie diet.
When you don't eat enough calories, then you don't have the energy that you need to function, you often feel like your head is stuck in fog, and back to point #1, you often throw underlying hormone imbalances even further out of whack. Not to mention, that many times your body thinks you are in a starvation situation which causes you to hold on to and store all the calories you do eat as extra fat, just in case you can't eat tomorrow.
I recommend consulting with a dietician or using an app like MyFitness Pal, to figure out how many calories you need to eat daily to thrive, then compare that to what you are eating now. If you are under-eating, then you need to take steps to get your calorie count up to a healthy level, or seek professional help if you suspect an underlying eating disorder.
This one goes hand-in-hand with the last point, as we have all heard the "Just eat less and exercise more" advice. This has led to a generation of women who think that the only way to lose weight is to spend hours at a gym every week, or push their bodies to the limit every day, just to maintain results.
The problem with this goes back to #1 (hormones are everything, y'all!). When we over-exercise, our bodies see this is a stressful situation and release cortisol, the stress hormone. However, because many of us are stressed already with jobs, or little kids, or other issues, more cortisol is the exact opposite of what we need!
This chronically raised cortisol leads to many different health issues for women including: lowered immunity, insomnia, anxiety, and weight gain!
Now, moving every day is also important for lowering cortisol, but the key is to do so in a way that will release excess cortisol, without adding more to your system. I recommend low impact exercises like yoga, walking, and swimming, and not exercising more than 20 minutes with higher impact exercises, as that is when the body begins to release cortisol.
4.) Under-Emphasizing Sleep
This is KEY to having healthy, sustainable weight loss. Not only does lack of sleep increase cortisol, but it throws off the hormones leptin and ghrelin which are in charge of our appetite.
Leptin is the hormone that tells us when we are full, while Ghrelin triggers our appetite to make us hungry. When we don't get a full night of sleep (at least 7 hours) these hormones become less responsive. Our Leptin hormone sort of takes a nap and decides not to tell us we are full when it should, whole Ghrelin goes into overtime giving us a bad case of the munchies.
If you are constantly beating yourself up over your lack of "willpower" and you can't figure out why you are always snacking, check your sleep. If sleep is an issue for you, then I encourage you to check out my Bedtime Bootcamp Masterclass, where I go in-depth on how to get the best nights sleep.
Do you see yourself in any (or all!) of these mistakes? If so, please don't make this another opportunity to beat yourself up. Instead, pick one or two of these to start working on, and create realistic, sustainable habits that will support your goals, instead of working against them.