Losing weight can be a tremendous challenge at the best of times. With obesity continuing to be such a hot topic in this country, countless people have undertaken personal crusades drop to a new weight as part of a New Year’s resolution or preparation for the perfect “summer body.” However, such efforts are often thwarted by a poor understanding of what’s actually causing their weight issues.
A lot of the time, people associate poor body weight with dietary matters. You’re either eating too much, or at least eating too much of the wrong food. While on a basic level this is frequently the case, this sort of thinking can sometimes lead to “diets” that are actually just as harmful as a person’s regular eating habits, such as unnecessary and irregular fasting or unbalanced diets that remove entire food groups that may contain important nutrients.
But what’s often not realized, is that sometimes a person’s weight may not be tied to calories or unsaturated fats at all. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a hormonal imbalance.
On Hormones and Weight
Your hormones are, in essence, chemicals within the body that regulate how it develops, behaves, and performs. Everything from your muscle and bone growth to your mood and behavior is regulated by the hormones in your body. Most famously, they kick in during puberty, when the body starts undergoing a large number of physical and chemical changes. However, their activities never cease to control every aspect of our bodies.
But there are occasions in which hormones can become imbalanced. Frequently, this is still an issue associated with age. And it’s true — just as our hormones are thrown out of whack during puberty, they can be similarly upset as we start to age. Other considerations, such as stress and diet, can also cause fluctuations in our hormones. But sometimes, these imbalances can be caused by health issues that aren’t as easy to pin down without consulting with a doctor.
It’s worth noting that there’s no universal “level” that your hormones need to be at in order to lose weight or feel normal. Everyone’s chemical makeup is unique, and the normal resting level of one person will probably not be the same as another’s. It’s also worth noting that while hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to weight gain, the majority of weight gained during pregnancy can generally be attributed to the requirements of the process — that is, an expectant mother should expect to gain some 20 to 40 pounds depending on their starting weight, and, in fact, doctors will frequently recommend that an expectant mother not attempt to lose any weight during their term.
On Stress, Nutrition, and Cortisol
A stressful lifestyle may cause high levels of a hormone called “cortisol.” Once you’ve reached a certain limit, your hunger levels will increase, and you’ll start eating more frequently. This then leads to “comfort eating” as your body tries to get its stress back under control, leading to undesired weight changes. Look for ways that you can cut down on or mitigate stressful situations in your life. While it can be difficult to change how stressful our working lives are, there may be better ways for you to handle that stress so that its impact on your body and overall health are improved. Ensure that your sleep hygiene is good, and don’t let the stress convince you to sleep less — less sleep means more stress.
Nutrition is a frequent cause of hormonal imbalance, so you should take close care of how and what you’re eating. Make sure that you enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables and limit processed foods that have had much of their nutrients removed. While you might avoid carbs and heavier foods, don’t neglect healthy fats and fatty acids. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as much as possible, as both can affect the levels of cortisol in your body and alcohol can interfere with the production of estrogen.
How to Rebalance Your Hormones
If you’ve examined your diet and lifestyle but find that it’s still difficult to control your weight, you may want to discuss the potential of a hormonal imbalance with your doctor. In cases where hormones just aren’t being produced anymore, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be necessary to restore balance. While there was a bit of a scare about HRT a while back, those fears have now been re-examined in light of recent changes of medical opinion and the development of more advanced methods of bio-identical hormone replacement therapies.
Whatever you might expect from HRT, it’s important that you get a professional opinion on the matter. These treatments will alter your hormonal makeup and, therefore, how your body functions. A medical professional can better assess your health and biochemical makeup to make sure that there is an imbalance to be treated and work with clinics like Body Concepts and Wellness to develop the treatment plan that fits your situation.