For the women who feel they are healthy but are still carrying those extra 5-10 pounds they want to get rid of, this information is for you. Listed below are the top areas women tend to neglect, even when they think they have a healthy lifestyle. This article examines the root of your possible problems.
There are seven things you may not have thought to add to your healthy lifestyle that could help you lose those pesky last few pounds!
1. You May Have an Estrogen to Progesterone Imbalance
Many women, especially those of child-bearing age, have an estrogen dominance (or low progesterone) problem. If you exercise daily, it's possible that you are using up your progesterone and estrogen is dominating. Other causes of estrogen dominance include stress (which leads to excess cortisol and insulin), low fiber diet, impaired immune function and environmental factors such as pesticides, plastics, and pollution.
Diet, environmental avoidance of xenoestrogens (things that have estrogenic properties), and taking certain supplements can bolster your progesterone and decrease estrogen dominance.
2. You Need More Vitamin D
Possibly due to our awareness of skin cancer and the use of sunscreen, our vitamin D levels are lower than they were decades ago. Vitamin D acts as a hormone in our bodies, and deficiency has been linked to allergies, asthma, weight gain, fatigue, food allergies, and even cancer. If your levels are low, you may need to incorporate more vitamin D-containing foods and/or a supplemental vitamin D. Vitamin D levels can be determined with a simple blood test.
Vitamin D deficiency is especially common in areas with little-to-no sunshine, so if you reside in such an area, it's a good idea to get tested or start taking supplements to be proactive.
3. Your Cortisol Level is High
High cortisol levels, aka "the stress hormone,” is another big reason we sometimes keep weight around our abdominal area. Everyday life activities like exercise, child care, chores, meal planning, and work can affect our stress levels and cortisol when not in sync with our normal routine, and this works against having a lean body. If you feel like you need caffeine all day, it could mean you have too many fluctuations (highs and lows) in your cortisol levels. Cortisol is associated with increased appetite, cravings for sugar, and weight gain.
To reduce cortisol levels, it's important to manage stress and prioritize self-care. This can include activities like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or getting enough sleep. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of whole foods and avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol can also help regulate cortisol levels. Regular exercise can also be beneficial—but don't overdo it, as excessive exercise can actually increase cortisol levels.
4. You're Eating “Healthy” Processed Foods
Excess sodium, additives, preservatives, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and sugars are all hidden ingredients that are both inflammatory and proven causes of excess weight gain. Just because it's at a health food store and it's “gluten-free,” “low fat,” or “natural” does NOT mean it's good for you.
Focus on consuming whole, natural foods that are as close to their original state as possible. Opt for fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. When shopping for packaged foods, read the labels carefully and look for products with minimal ingredients, no added sugars, and no artificial additives or preservatives. Cooking your meals at home using fresh ingredients is also a great way to ensure you consume a healthy, unprocessed diet.
5. You're Eating Too Much Fat
While some women may thrive on higher-fat diets, others may not respond as well. It's important not to assume that a certain diet will work for you just because it's popular or worked for someone else. Additionally, consuming too much fat can lead to excess calorie intake, which can contribute to weight gain. It's important to find the right balance of macronutrients for your individual needs and goals.
Our bodies can do well with fat, especially when added to greens, but be careful not to go overboard. Make sure the fat is healthy, focus on nuts, healthy oils, greek yogurt, and wild-caught fish, and then add in some dark chocolate.
6. You'Re Not Getting Quality Sleep
This remains true -- you need to sleep! Your hormones need it. Your muscles need it for repair, and your brain especially needs it. The two hormones that are key in the relationship between sleep and weight loss are leptin and ghrelin. Leptin tells us when to stop eating and when you're sleep deprived. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you're sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin = more hunger. Studies also show that a lack of sleep can decrease your metabolism by 15%. I don't know about you, but I'd like to keep that extra 15% in my corner.
Adult women should get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night. To improve the quality of your sleep, establish a consistent sleep schedule and create a relaxing sleep environment. Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime, turn off electronic devices an hour before bed, and keep the room dark, cool, and quiet. Also, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation can help calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep.
7. You're Not Including Cruciferous Vegetables in Your Diet
Cruciferous vegetables from the vegetable family Brassicaceae include cabbage, kale, cauliflower, bok choy, broccoli, and other similar green vegetables. Not only are they good for you because of the feeling of fullness you get from the fiber, but they're also good for estrogen metabolism through a compound called indole-3-carbinol (I3C). It is a natural source of DIM (3,3-Diindolylmethane) that helps promote estrogen balance. This is by far the cheapest, easiest way to get your hormones and your weight in balance. Plus, if you love broccoli and cabbage, you also get the extra bonus of better blood sugar control and more cellular energy production.
Consider Medical Weight Loss
Still struggling to lose weight, even though you're doing everything right? It might be time for some extra help. Our medical weight loss programs provide a variety of options to help you meet your goals and keep the weight off. Contact us to learn more.