Posts Tagged With: stress

Hormones that Hinder Weight Loss

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Hello wellness friends. I have not forgotten about you. I hope you are sticking with your program and working out/eating well. Tonight I wanted to talk about hormones. When we think of metabolism, some don’t think that our hormones tell our bodies to lose weight or gain weight. So, it is not simply calories in and calories out all the time. If our hormones are out of whack, we can exercise and workout and gain weight! Let’s start with some definitions.

Disclaimer: I am not a physician. I am a scientist. This site is not set up to diagnose or treat any illness. Consult your Primary Care Physician (PCP) or Endocrinologist (specializing in treating metabolic disorders).

Hormone: A chemical substance produced in the body that controls and regulates the activity of certain cells or organs. Many hormones are secreted by special glands, such as thyroid hormone produced by the thyroid gland. Hormones are essential for every activity of life, including the processes of digestion, metabolism, growth, reproduction, and mood control. Many hormones, such as neurotransmitters, are active in more than one physical process (MedicineNet.com).

Metabolism: The whole range of biochemical processes that occur within a living organism. Metabolism consists of anabolism (the buildup of substances) and catabolism (the breakdown of substances). The term metabolism is commonly used to refer specifically to the breakdown of food and its transformation into energy (MedicineNet.com).

Here are some (not all) of the hormones that may be inhibiting your weight loss.

Thyroid hormones. If you are not producing enough thyroid hormone, you will not be able to lose weight and even on a diet you may gain weight. A condition known as hypothyroidism leads to weight gain, puffy face, intolerance to cold, brittle hair, fatigue, poor muscle tone, and more. If you are working out and eating right and not seeing any results, contact your PCP and have your thyroid hormones checked. A simple blood test (T4 and TSH) will let your doctor know whether you are not producing enough of this hormone.

If you are not producing enough thyroid hormone, your doctor may prescribe synthroid or a generic form of thyroid hormone to help your body return to normal functioning.

Cortisol. It’s also called the stress hormone though synthetic forms are used to treat disease. High, prolonged stress, and even over consumption of salt can trigger the body to produce this lovely hormone. This hormone causes weight gain!

  • Its primary functions are to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis; suppress the immune system; and aid in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.It also decreases bone formation. Various synthetic forms of cortisol are used to treat a variety of diseases (Wikipedia).

A great way to combat cortisol is to get plenty of sleep, workout daily (but not excessively), cut back on salt, rest, and find ways to minimize stress. There are many supplements marketed to treat Adrenal Fatigue or excess cortisol. Talk to your PCP before taking supplements. Some can have serious side effects.

Insulin. Stable blood sugar is key for weight loss. Dips and peaks in blood sugar tell the body to store fat. Some people suffer from insulin resistance due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (POS) and find it difficult to lose weight.

  • It is a peptide hormone, produced by beta cells of the pancreas, and is central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. Insulin causes cells in the liver, skeletal muscles, and fat tissue to absorb glucose from the blood (Wikipedia).

Ways we can combat insulin issues. 1. Talk to your doctor if you believe you have diabetes, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), or POS. 2. Eat healthy. Ditch the sugary foods and opt for fiber, veggies, and lean protein. Don’t eat dessert or foods with loads of sugar alone (causes spikes in blood sugar). Add protein and or fiber to meals with desserts. Cut back or cut out high glycemic foods (white potatoes, bread (white and wheat), white rice). Opt for sweet potatoes, quinoa, greens, and lean proteins.

Ghrelin (Appetite regulator) and Leptin (Full/Not Full). We talked about these hormones before. They tell your body it’s hungry and when it’s full. When these two hormones are out of whack, you feel hungry all the time and never full. Lack of sleep is normally the culprit for messing with the balance of these two hormones.

Try to sleep 6.5 to 8 hours a night! Turn off that computer, TV, smart phone an hour before bed.

Well, my friends I want to end here. I might do a follow-up post on more hormones later like estrogen, testosterone, etc… The summary is this. If you are eating healthy, working out, and do everything right and you’re still not losing weight or seeing improvement-talk to your doctor.

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Keep up the good work! I am cheering for you!! xoxo Erin.

Categories: Emotional Health, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Are You Sabotaging Your Health?

If one part of the body suffers, the entire body suffers. We spend time trying to fix one symptom when there are many root issues at work.

Last time we talked about stress and sleep and the impact it has on weight loss and health. Today I want to talk about ways we can minimize stress.

1. Let go. Seems simple, but there are so many things that are outside of our realm of control. We can’t fix everything. There’s deep truth in the serenity prayer.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Letting go of the things we cannot change brings peace to our minds, spirits, and souls.

2. Cease being all things to all people. Someone once said the key to failure is to try to please everyone. It’s not going to happen. Over-extending ourselves is a sure fire way to be stressed. What has to be done and what can be done by someone else?

Also trying to make everyone happy is unhealthy. We are not responsible for another person’s happiness. They alone control their happiness. You can do all that you know to do and someone still end up unhappy.

3. Nix perfectionism. Perfectionism is self abuse. Excellence, seeking to do the very best job possible is good. Perfectionism is a cruel task master that says, “If it’s not perfect, it’s not good.” I’m a painter in my free time. Some of my favorite paintings aren’t perfect, but they are still beautiful to me. Aim for excellence and be okay with not having perfection in everything.

4. Celebrate your accomplishments. I don’t mean brag, but if you achieve a goal, take a moment to celebrate that victory…no matter how small. It’s so easy to overlook the good and focus on the next thing. We need to slow down and give thanks.

5. Do something fun. All work and no play makes life dull and boring. We work for the weekend. Find something you love to do and do it! Life is too short not to be enjoyed. If you have a family, see if you can slip away for some alone time every so often. Solitude is often good in our fast paced lives.

There are many other things that help with stress like exercising, journaling, prayer, etc…just wanted to share a few with you that I find helpful. Here’s to your journey to wellness.

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Salt, Sleep, Stress, and Your Body

Ah, the three S’s-Salt, Sleep, and Stress. These three things all impact your health. I will break them down by category.

Salt: Our bodies need salt as an electrolyte*. Salt is an important component. Over consumption of salt causes our bodies to retain water. Water retention causes us to be heavy on the scale. You can hold more water weight than you’d think. Some people can hold 5 to 7 pounds worth of water. Have you ever given up salt for a period of time, then eaten something with salt in it? You feel swollen the next day, bloated, and full. The amount of salt we are eating nowadays is far above what we should consume. 2,000 mg  is a good target. If you look at most fast food places you can consume half your days worth of sodium in one meal! Processed foods are loaded with sodium. Especially frozen dinners, canned soups, and chips, etc…Maybe some of the extra weight you are holding is water weight. The people I know who are weight lifters for competition purposes give up extra salt as well as sugar. Over-consumption of salt also helps cellulite appear more pronounced. Excessive consumption can also negatively affect blood pressure.

“The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day — or 1,500 mg if you’re age 51 or older, or if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease,” Mayo Clinic.

*Electrolytes affect the amount of water in your body, the acidity of your blood (pH), your muscle function, and other important processes. You lose electrolytes when you sweat. You must replace them by drinking fluids, Medicine Plus.

Sleep: Inadequate sleep will sabotage your fitness goals and your health. Your body needs rest to function properly. When you don’t sleep your hormones become imbalanced. The hormones that control hunger and telling you when you are full cease to function properly. They are called ghrelin (tells you to eat/you’re hungry) and leptin (tells your brain you’re full). People begin to overeat when they are not sleeping well. Not only does the lack of sleep lead to overeating, lack of sleep leads to disruption of growth hormones. Growth hormones stimulates growth, cell reproduction and restoration.

“When you don’t get enough sleep, it drives leptin levels down, which means you don’t feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise, which means your appetite is stimulated, so you want more food,” Dr. Breus tells WebMD,” How Sleep Affects Your Weight Loss article,  http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/lose-weight-while-sleeping.

Lack of sleep also causes mental and emotional issues. Our bodies and minds require sleep. Most adults should aim for 6-8 hours of sleep. Children and teenagers require more sleep.

Stress: Ah, the dreaded stress word. Stress over long periods of time or extreme stress will cause your body to store fat. Yes, fat. A hormone called cortisol is released in fight or flight situations. Excessive amounts of cortisol increases the amount of  fat stored on your abdomen. It’s a contributing factor to abdominal fat. Look up cortisol and fat. Minimizing stress is good for your health. It’s good for your mind as well. Prolonged stress lowers the immune system response and is damaging all around. Stress also drives us to make poor choices with food. We reach for the items that are high in fat, sugar, and salt. All those choices cause us to eat more.  Stress is aggravated by lack of sleep, rest, and our poor food choices do not help us. Working out regularly, resting, and unplugging from social media, all help to reduce stress. I box/kick-box as a stress reliever or paint or take a walk outside or read. Managing stress levels is a key to healthy living.

As previously stated talk to your primary care doctor about any changes in diet or before starting an exercise program. I am simply sharing what I have learned, and I am not a physician. I am a Researcher & Engineer. Also, do some of your own research on stress, lack of sleep, and over-consumption of salt. Your doctor will be able to provide even more information, especially an endocrinologist. Wishing you the best on this journey to wellness. Best wishes friends.

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Categories: Emotional Health, Mental Health, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Beginning

It all started with exhaustion…

You know you are tired when no amount of sleep helps. You go to bed tired. You wake up tired. You live tired. I tried running because maybe my body needed a more strenuous workout to prep it for slumber. Epic failure! I was simply exhausted. The doctor’s said, “You’re fine. Your blood work is normal. There is nothing physically wrong with you.” Well, there was something wrong. Here’s the list of the culprits that were draining my life of energy. Maybe you will see the same issues in your life.

1. My high stress job. I won’t complain, as I am thankful to be employed. However, stress if not managed will cause damage to your health and immune system.

2. Poor nutrition. Yes, I was one of those people who ate what was quick and felt lousy because of poor choices with food.

3. Lack of relaxation. Along with my job, I was also hosting and leading a women’s group, volunteering in the community, working on writing books, and not taking time for myself. I rarely had time alone, and there was no real chill time. And my body was ticked off about it.

4. Toxic relationships. Some people we can not get away from, like family. Other’s we have to pick and choose. If you surround yourself with people who are negative, pessimistic, doom and gloom, continually gossip about people, are hot-tempered, etc…your body will respond to it as stress.

5. Lack of water. I am a Researcher. I don’t have the liberty all the time to run out to the ladies room. It’s not possible. So, dehydration became a way of life. We need water to live and survive.

How do you get out of the rut? It starts with a decision. Do you want the best life possible? Are you willing to do what it takes to have that life? If so, then make a decision to change. The change starts with you. You can’t force other people to change, but you can change yourself.

How did I do it? I started with taking things off my schedule and my plate. I resigned from my women’s group. Attendance had diminished, and I was putting far more effort into than I should. I started drinking water. Seventy Five (75) days ago I gave up sugar, processed foods, white bread, white rice, high glycemic foods, and switched to whole foods. I started arranging my work schedule so there were breaks, and I could eat every 4 hours. I started taking classes such as Krav Maga, boxing, and even going to a massage therapist. I stopped spending time with people who were dragging my spirit into the dumps or treating me like a garbage can (i.e. gossiping about others). I surrendered busyness, and set firm boundaries with people. Sometimes, you have to say no! Do you hear me? NO! No, I can not help you. No, I cannot be there for you. No, I cannot add another activity to my plate. It feels selfish, but if you don’t learn balance, you will kill yourself. You’ll die, everyone else will keep on living.

Dear friends, the world is an amazing place waiting to be explored. What on earth are you waiting for? Ask yourself, “What am I doing to live the best life possible?” The choice is up to you. No one can live life for you. You have to make a decision, and set your eyes on the prize! Be kind to yourself. You cannot love your neighbor as yourself, if you don’t love yourself.

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