It comes as no surprise to menopausal women (no matter where you fall in the spectrum of pre to post), that once your hormones loose their balance you pack on the pounds, and they don’t want to budge.
Weight loss resistance can be a attributed to a number of factors that interfere with the body’s ability to maintain a healthy metabolism, or to drop body fat.
Here are some common causes of weight loss resistance:
Female Hormone imbalance
* Female Hormone imbalance can occur at any age, but in peri-menopause when progesterone levels drop, women find themselves on that slippery slope of hormone imbalance. Initially progesterone drops more quickly and to a greater degree than estrogen, which sets you up for estrogen dominance.
Add to that the chemicals that mimic estrogen found in plastics, pesticides, cosmetics, the environment and hormones in animal products and you will soon be feeling the effects of estrogen dominance.
This includes weight gain around the middle and lower body, fatigue, anxiety, mood swings, bloating, headaches and weight loss resistance.
Further, excess sugar, refined carbohydrates and alcohol all elevate estrogen levels, suppress thyroid function and lower serotonin levels. Hello tired, sad and chubby.
Adding insult to injury, those extra fat cells you are carrying around make their own estrogen, compounding the problem.
* Stress causes an increase in the hormone cortisol, which signals the body to raise blood sugar levels resulting in elevated insulin.
Prolonged stress and high cortisol results in adrenal exhaustion, a slower metabolism, elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol, while simultaneously causing you to put on fat around the belly.
As insulin is constantly being secreted to deal with the elevated blood sugar brought on by stress (cortisol), your cells become insulin resistant, which leads to metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
High levels of insulin, (also caused by high levels of estrogen) will also promote fat storage, and can damage the brain, heart and gut.
Remember, stress can be real or imagined, your body reacts to it with the same cascade of hormones.
* Inflammation is often hidden in the form of a damaged gut, which could be caused by a poor diet of processed foods full of sugar and trans fats. Gluten has also been found to damage the lining of the gut.
Food intolerances or sensitivities also drive inflammation as the body mounts an immune response to what it perceives as a foreign object. Toxins, chronic infections, or over-exercise also cause inflammation.
No matter what the cause, in an attempt to quell the inflammation, the adrenal glands react to this physical stress the same way they react to emotional and mental stress, by secreting cortisol, which causes elevated blood sugar, which leads to high insulin, which can lead to further inflammation. Quite a weight loss resistance cycle.
* Toxins in general are a real block to dropping body fat. We are exposed to toxins everyday from our foods, the environment, cosmetics, municipal water, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, plastics, household cleaners and heavy metals, (as a short list).
To keep such toxins from circulating in our blood stream, they are trapped in our fat cells. Thus the body resists burning fat because that would release the toxins into the blood stream, causing damage to the tissues.
Also, fat cells produce the hormone leptin, which signals the brain when we have taken in enough calories and are “satiated”. The more fat, the more leptin, which leads to leptin resistance in the brain, so you never get the signal that you are full and to stop eating.
Believing that you are starving, the brain actually sends signals to take in more food, and to slow the metabolism to maintain the fat stores you have.
As well as your body fat, heavy metals like mercury and lead can hide in your bones, brain and kidneys, damaging these organs.
* A damaged metabolism occurs when your metabolism is breaking down more than it is building up.
All of the conditions above contribute to a damaged metabolism. You are basically burning yourself out without doing what is necessary to recover and rebuild.
A poor diet of excess sugars, refined and processed foods, along with stress be it mental, physical or imagined, over-exercise, food intolerances and toxins will all cause inflammation, and damage your metabolism.
How do you heal your metabolism, gently detox, lower inflammation, reduce stress, and balance your hormones?
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet of whole foods, heavy on the plants. The high mineral content and fiber of plants keep the gut healthy and aid in the elimination of toxins. Include a clean protein, animals raised to range free and are not given growth hormones, antibiotics or fed grain laden with toxins. Add some healthy fats, and you have a balanced meal providing you with the nutrients you need to build a healthy metabolism.
- Cut down on your toxic load by eating organic when possible, choosing organic personal care products and cleaning products, and filter your water.
- Add green drinks to your daily routine to help with detoxification and supercharge with valuable nutrients.
- Add probiotics to our daily regime to help build a healthy gut.
- Exercise appropriately for your level of fitness and stress. Do not over-exercise. (Start easy and build slowly).
- De-stress throughout the day. Deep breathing, visualizations, meditations, yoga, qi gong, or taking a nap will all help reduce inflammation.
- Include supplements like a multi-vitamin, B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C, and omega 3 essential fatty acids, as a very short list to provide your body with missing nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Get your beauty sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours.
- Turn negative self-talk into positive affirmations.
- Don’t rule out bioidentical hormones to replenish what your body is no longer producing on its own.
As always, it is best to have a personalized program designed for your specific needs based on your specific metabolism.
For guidance and support on your journey to hormone balance, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at 301-332-5732.