Weight loss is a goal many people have and it can have varying degrees of effectiveness. Though why is it so many people follow all the right advice and still have trouble shifting the weight or keeping it off permanently?
The answer has to do with lifestyle. Of course everyone is aware of the standard advice about eating good foods and exercising but just as important is maintaining a healthy control over stress and also sleep hygiene.
Stress can cause issues with losing weight as it hampers the digestive system and either slows it down and makes it sluggish or speeds things up to make you constantly hungry; this is seen in Chinese Medicine as damage to spleen and stomach (energetics) however in biomedicine it is also the effect of cortisol – the primary hormone relating to stress.
When the body is under high levels of unregulated stress it can alter the brain structure and create a metabolic imbalance. As stress levels increase (via cortisol) there is an increased desire for sweet food as glucose metabolism has been kicked into overdrive depending on the amount of cortisol in the system. I see this quite often in patients who work ten to twelve hour shifts then go get fast food as they are exhausted, hungry and time poor – the convenience of fast food off sets the need to cook but creates a viciously dangerous cycle.
Sleep is another contributor to weight gain or inability to lose weight. It seems like a strange link however sleep is when our brain reboots and processes so not getting enough sleep will not allow the body to follow the lead of the brain. Think of your body as a computer. If you leave your computer on for days, weeks, months then it eventually becomes very sluggish as the software has not had a chance to cycle through all the information nor has any of the other pieces of hardware had the opportunity to cool down so everything is overheated and slow. The brain works exactly the same way and not sleeping properly will make the digestive system sluggish and can lead to stress and stress can cause insomnia.
The good news is you can generally help your stress and sleep. Find hobbies that allow you to de-stress as life will never be truly stress-free however it can be managed. If you do not have the time, make the time. There are 168 hours in a week and if you just give yourself one hour a week to do what you enjoy doing – it can make a world of difference. Sleep hygiene is also just about habit. Ensure you are in bed by 11pm and make sure you have no screen time (TV, PC, tablet, phone, Alexia/Google home) for an hour before bed and thirty minutes after you get up in the morning.
On a side note, it is very difficult for shift workers (evening/graveyard shift) to follow the above guidelines and there has been research linked to shorter life span due to prolonged shift work. If you are a shift worker it would be recommended to get regular treatments to keep you in the best condition possible and attempt to offset the damage shift work does to your biorhythms.
If following the above advice still does not help in your weight loss then and you would like some assistance then please feel free to contact us.