Can there be anything more frustrating than exercising, eating properly, and STILL not losing a pound? Many of us have been there (or are here) and want to know, “What’s going on? What am I doing wrong?”
You’re not doing anything wrong—consciously. What you may not know is that due to an imbalance of hormones, your body is resisting weight loss. We’re not just talking about estrogen; there are many hormones that work together, all supplying assistance to different parts of your body.
Let’s first discuss the estrogen issue. It’s impossible to state that too little or too much estrogen conclusively acts a certain way for each woman, across the board. One woman, for example, may be sensitive to soy (including soy milk), which may increase estrogen levels.
Too much estrogen puts a strain on cells that produce insulin. If less glucose is traveling to your liver, then more winds up in your bloodstream. The excess glucose in your bloodstream is then stored as fat.
Too little estrogen may also cause the body to use starches and blood sugar less effectively. This too may increase fat storage. So, now we’re back to scratching our heads. Before committing to hormone replacement therapy, you may want to examine the possibility of other hormones being out of whack, which may contribute to an estrogen imbalance.
We know stress is a killer. Finding successful ways to combat stress is a constant exploration and practice. When we get stressed out, our cortisol levels increase. Cortisol is the “protect yourself from threat” hormone. When it’s released, your body automatically goes into “survival” mode, and it starts storing fat cells.
Meditation, exercise, vacation—they’re all great for stress reduction, but if you’re drinking eight cups of coffee a day, you’re undoing your healthy efforts. Moderating or greatly limiting caffeine intake can help keep cortisol levels in check.
Other hormone levels worth checking, (which greatly affect weight gain or the ability to maintain a desired weight) are insulin and TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone.) Blood tests can reveal the levels, which will inform you if there’s an imbalance. Diet and exercise play a tremendous part in their functionality.
Another lesser-familiar hormone, Leptin, lets your brain know when you’re full. When there’s too much leptin, your brain cannot receive its important message to stop eating. Fat produces leptin. Excessive sugar and processed foods contain an abundance of fructose.
Too much fructose and your liver can’t filter through it fast enough to create it into fuel for energy. The overload is converted into fats. More fructose, more fat, too much leptin, hence, more overeating.
As with the overabundance of any hormone, our brains become less impervious to the messages being sent. So, if we want estrogen to do its job, we don’t want high levels of it. One reason for increased estrogen levels is not ingesting enough fiber.
Vegetables and other fiber-rich foods keep bowel movements regular, which allows for any excess estrogen to be discarded. Eating a diet high in animal-based foods subjects your body to all the antibiotics, steroids, and other chemicals that were fed to the animals. Also beware pesticides used on fruits and vegetables.
All of those chemicals (including others used in skin care products, shampoo, cosmetics, plastics, and the list goes on…), they act like estrogen when they’re absorbed into the body either by eating, drinking, through our skin, and even through the air we breathe. These chemicals are considered endocrine disruptors and affect our balance of estrogen as well as most of our hormones.
This may all sounds so scary, but there is a light somewhere in this hormonal tunnel. Mindful eating can certainly help. Mindful product shopping can also be added to your list. Continue to get daily exercise and keep stress levels at a minimum.
Stick with your program and it may be possible to rebalance your hormonal system. Before too long, you should notice the shedding of unwanted pounds—and then be able to keep them off.