Weight loss is a western cultural buzzword and goal of millions – if not billions – of people around the world. It can be frustrating when some people seemingly drop weight just because they thought about it, while other people stop eating completely and gain weight. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?
What is that extra weight?
There is a common misconception that unwanted body weight is always fat. Sometimes “fat” is inflammation. What’s the difference?
- Fat is made up of triglycerides. They’re unique cells – typically white cells appearing yellow – that stick together and make themselves cozy unless they’re put to use and told what to do.
- Inflammation is typically created by an imbalance in your gut flora, allergens, stress/chemical reactions, environmental toxins, and more.
Both things are beneficial in small amounts and turn fatal in copious amounts. You begin to feel depleted, overwhelmed more easily, and probably a little spacey or forgetful. You might notice yourself forgetting more often and finding minor inconvenient pains throughout your body like joint, stomach, or headaches. Inflammation is where most diseases seed and thrive. When doctors recommend weight loss for optimal health, they’re not trying to body-shame their patients – most of the time. They’re encouraging the patient to lose inflammation in order to significantly lower their risk for conditions like
- Autoimmune diseases
- Heart problems
- Common cold/Flu
- High cholesterol
- Loss of vision
- Joint pain
- Seasonal/environmental allergies and sensitivities
- Sleep apnea
- Brain fog
- Bipolar Disorder
As you can see, an overabundance of inflammation is responsible for more than just undesirable weight. Unfortunately, western culture has been conditioned to obsess over pills, calories, and deprivation in order to achieve your goal weight. How can you leave the rat race to find lasting results without harmful short-term and long-term side effects?
The science behind body weight.
Meet historic arch enemies leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is a naturally occurring chemical that tells your body you’re full. Ghrelin is like the annoying twin that comes behind leptin and says “Yeahhh, he’s lying. There better be more food down here STAT or else we’ll unleash the Demon of Hanger.” In short, ghrelin tells your body it’s hungry. When your leptin levels go up, your ghrelin levels go down and vice versa. If you skip a meal, your leptin most likely goes down and ghrelin kicks in alerting your body that it’s time to eat. Ghrelin isn’t always the bad guy, just not a very patient one.
Leptin is released by fat cells and other tissues such as muscle cells, which store energy as glycogen or fatty acids. The more fat tissue someone has on their body, therefore the higher their level of stored energy, and the more leptin they produce.
Instead of pouring money into body suits and pills that act as appetite suppressants, you can simply naturally control your leptin and ghrelin levels with the exact same budget you’re already using.
1. Cut back on inflammatory foods
Sweet and grainy foods like bread and pasta hold a lot of empty calories and little nutritional value, despite what we’ve been taught in school. Jay Leno once joked that the CDC decided to retire the food pyramid because abiding Americans were still looking like pyramids and he had a point. Grains and sugar are incredibly inflammatory. Culturally, we normally eat a lot more than we should because the empty calories don’t offer the body the nutrients it’s looking for, therefore, it sounds the alarm for more food in hopes of getting useful nutrients the next time around. What can you replace these daily favorites with? I’m glad you asked!
2. Incorporate whole foods rich in leptin
That’s right, you can eat leptin! Your food will tell your brain, “We’re here! Don’t invite any more friends to the party.” Foods like berries, nuts, and leafy greens hold leptin and real nutrients that help your body run smoothly and serve you well.
3. Sleep well
Have you ever wondered where the fat goes when you lose weight? The answer is the air! Your fat cells are released through a slowed, calm breathing pattern. When you get great sleep, you’re giving fat and inflammation the opportunity to leave. Going to sleep no later than 10pm and getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep on a regular basis also help balance your leptin and ghrelin hormones. Shutting off screens and diffusing calming essential oils should assist your body in getting quality sleep.
Losing weight is not always easy, but it can be an exciting journey. Remember that losing weight and getting healthy is not necessarily the same thing; it’s all about your methods, mental state, and reasons for doing so.
If you feel like you know the right things to do but struggle to stay on track, understand that food addiction is just as real as drug addiction. If you find yourself spending uncontrolled amounts of money on food, hiding or hoarding snacks and meals from people close to you, and becoming a nervous wreck when thinking about food becoming unavailable for any amount of time, these are just a few signs of food addiction. You’re not helpless. You’re not to blame. Remember a few paragraphs back when we talked about sugars, grains, and empty nutrients? Often, these foods are processed and made in labs where they are scientifically engineered to be addictive. They’re designed to hook you like a drug. It’s why you’ll find yourself drowning in big emotions over cravings or thoughts about food. If you feel like you may be struggling with food addiction, here are three things you should do right now:
- Stop listening to people who tell you it’s okay to eat whatever. Would you tell a meth addict it’s okay to keep doing meth? No, you find them the help they need to redirect their dopamine source.
- Get holistic professional support. Having a trained professional who can help you heal mentally, strengthen emotionally, and prepare physically is invaluable. You will not be able to tackle this on your own. But the world will look so much brighter when you have someone by your side to help you make a plan, stay accountable, celebrate your wins, and comfort you during the turbulent parts of your journey.
- Affirm yourself. You’re not defined by your relationship with food. More importantly, you’re not defined by the measurements of your body. There are far more important things about yourself that most likely mean the world to those around you.
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Sakinah is an Army Veteran, Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Wellness Advocate, Best Selling Author, Keynote Speaker, and Home Grown Chef.
After the untimely death of her husband and business partner and autoimmune complications suffered by her daughter, Sakinah realized life was no longer business as usual. She made the collective decision to redefine how she and her family approached health and healthcare. She has a passion for helping families come back to the table by restoring healthy relationships with food, others, and self. Sakinah believes that when women, the family’s cornerstone, learn to restore healthy relationships with food, others, and themselves, it creates a ripple effect for the entire family and generations to come.
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