There is a very common complaint I have been getting a lot from my patients: “After I turned 35, the scale won’t budge. In fact, it seems like it keeps going up no matter what I do.”
I see people try so hard to get themselves back on track with their weight with no success. They seemingly do all of the right things, but feel like it’s an uphill battle they can’t quite tackle. Why is this?
Diet is extremely important but is not the only thing at play when tackling age and even menopausal-related weight gain. It is a vital combination of sleep, stress management, exercise, environment as well as the functioning of other hormone producing organs in the body. It is important that all of these factors are properly addressed when searching for answers on why those pounds just don’t seem to want to budge.
These are my top 7 additional factors to consider for weight loss.
Besides a healthy diet, this is probably the second most highly talked about part of weight loss and it is incredibly important and effective if used properly. There is the constant debate about whether cardio or resistance training is better for weight loss. In this case, the answer is both! As we discussed in the last article on menopause, muscles tend to decrease in size and strength after estrogen significantly decreases in the body.5
Therefore, it is extremely important that we maintain regular exercise to combat this decline. Muscles are a driver for metabolism, therefore, the more we build and strengthen our muscles, the more calories and fat we continue to burn.
Weight and resistance training exercises help to prevent this muscle depletion and have been shown to decrease abdominal obesity. Specifically, more repetitions and more frequent weight training elicits better results in the decline of abdominal fat.1 Aerobic exercise or cardio is also extremely important at reducing your waistline. It has been shown that aerobic activities are typically more beneficial at reducing the fat mass than resistance training in overweight individuals2. However, combining both aerobic and resistance training has shown the highest amount of fat loss overall3.
Aim to spend at least 30 minutes exercising 4-5 days per week- this can make a massive difference in overall health and weight loss goals.
Before every work-out, try my favorite combination for an amazing pre-workout drink that gives you so much energy and endurance- might as well get the maximum calorie burn out of that workout!
Dr. Cassidy’s Must-Have Pre-workout Drink
1-2 Scoops Revive Beets + Roots (2 scoops if you are going to be doing cardio!)
1 Scoop Immunity Wellness
4 -6 oz iced water
Just scoop into a shaker, and shoot it like a delicious shot! If you prefer to sip on it throughout your workout, I have also added it into a big 16 oz shaker cup and taken it with me to the gym!
Chronic dehydration is one of the most common things I see among my patients. In addition to being supportive for almost every function in the body, it is a key factor for weight loss. Often, our brain confuses thirst for hunger and makes us feel like we are hungry when we are actually just dehydrated. This is because caloric drinks have become a prominent part of our diet, which causes a confusion in our hunger and thirst signaling6. A goal I often set for my patients is drinking at minimum ½ of their body weight in ounces of water per day.
A great way to keep your fluid levels at an optimal level is to keep drinking your Smart Pressed Juices throughout the day. That way it’s fun and it keeps it interesting all day, while getting all those amazing antioxidants as well.
This is my favorite juice to sip on when I need a hydration boost:
Dr. Cassidy’s Fancy Greens Juice
1 Scoop Organic Pressed Greens
20 oz iced water
½ cup fresh pineapple chunks, muddled
Shake it up in a shaker cup and take it with you wherever you go! I promise, everybody will be asking where you got your green juice from!
When you’re not sleeping, you tend to eat more. This is because your body produces more ghrelin (the hormone that makes you feel hungry) and cortisol (the stress hormone), which makes your body think it requires more food. Ghrelin can also be responsible for causing your body to hold on to fat. In a study comparing people eating the same number of calories one group slept for 5.5 hours per night and the other group slept for 8.5 hours per night. The group getting 8.5 hours lost 55% more body fat than the group only getting 5.5 hours4. If you are having difficulty sleeping or do not wake up feeling rested, there could be more underlying problems that may need addressed. Consulting with your doctor can help you to attain more restful sleep.
Best tip to keep those late night munchies at bay- make my soothing Pineapple Chia bedtime drink to send you off to sweet dreams.
Dr. Cassidy’s Bedtime Pineapple Chia Soother
1 Scoop Pineapple Chia Cleanse
8 oz plant milk
¼ tsp cinnamon or pumpkin spice
Shake in a shaker cup and enjoy!
We are exposed to toxins daily that disrupt our endocrine system, affecting our fat storage. These chemicals negatively impact our endocrine system and the functioning of our hormones. Exposure to these toxins causes accumulation in the body. As a way of protecting our body from the influx of toxins, it stores them in fat, so they are not able to circulate and cause damage as easily. Therefore, our bodies hang onto that fat as a protective mechanism.
When we are able to reduce those toxins from our environment and help the body’s natural detoxification abilities, it can make a major impact in promoting fat loss. Common endocrine disruptors in our environment can be found in detergents and dryer sheets, cleaning products, pesticides, makeup, hair products, plastic food storage containers and drinking cups, pots and pans and more9.
Help support your body release toxins regularly with a periodic juice cleanse, which can allow your body to rest from normal functions and focus its attention on getting those toxins out of your body. At the very minimum, take your Pineapple Chia Cleanse daily to assist with elimination of those toxins every single day.
Insulin resistance is when the cells of your body don’t respond well to insulin and therefore, cannot utilize the glucose for energy needs. This can be the first step to diabetes and is more commonly seen after menopause. Insulin resistance, on its own, is a factor that contributes to weight gain. Insulin resistance most commonly happens when we eat a diet that is high in sugar and carbohydrates. Our body has to keep pumping out more and more insulin to compensate for the increased glucose in our body until eventually our cells decide they just don’t care as much. In other words, the cells become “resistant” to insulin’s presence.
Eating a clean diet that regulates the blood sugar (i.e. avoiding processed foods, sugary foods and simple carbohydrates and focusing on vegetables, fruits, meat and good fats) can help to decrease insulin resistance, which therefore promotes weight loss. Fiber is the most powerful tool there is to manage insulin levels. That’s why again and again, I recommend taking Pineapple Chia Cleanse to keep insulin levels low and steady every single day.
There is no doubt that stress takes its toll on the body, however, it seems to be an ever-present part of our daily lives. We have a culture that compares worth and accomplishment with how busy you are. This is the exact opposite of what your body needs! I would encourage you, if you don’t already, to schedule some “you” time into your week. This can look different for everyone. However, it is important you choose something that is rejuvenating and helps you to feel better equipped to handle the rest of your tasks for the week.
Exercise, yoga, meditation, journaling, prayer, being outdoors, meeting a friend for lunch can all be great avenues for stress relief. The reason stress is correlated with weight is because of a hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol is our fight or flight hormone that is secreted by the adrenal glands. When we are under a chronic source of stress, our cortisol can be chronically elevated. There is evidence that those with higher levels of cortisol have a higher amount of abdominal fat7. Also, as we discussed in the sleep section above, having more cortisol can increase how hungry you feel. Therefore, mindful eating becomes more challenging because your body is telling you that you need more calories than you actually do.
There is a key triad of hormones that should be examined- sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone), thyroid hormones and adrenal hormones (specifically cortisol). The interrelationship of these hormones means when one is imbalanced, it can cause a shift and an imbalance of the others. This is crucial for weight loss because all of these hormones have the ability to influence your weight and metabolism.
We now know that a decrease in estrogen and an increase in cortisol can both cause an increase in abdominal fat. However, the thyroid is the other piece of the puzzle that should be examined. The thyroid is a key factor in metabolism regulation. Hypothyroidism (or the under functioning of the thyroid gland) can cause symptoms like weight gain, hair loss, constipation, cold intolerance and more.
This is when I would recommend seeking professional help. Sometimes, there are more factors at play such as dysbiosis, food allergies or chronic infections. This may require the skills of a well-trained physician to really help you find the root cause of your weight loss challenges and make the necessary changes to help you achieve your weight loss goal. Naturopathic doctors, integrative medicine and functional medicine practitioners are all equipped to help you get on a treatment plan that will help support your body and shed the pounds.
I hope this information has given you a clear roadmap of the best things you can do for supporting your weight loss journey. While it may seem daunting, there is plenty of science and clinical success achieved from following my protocol above. If you are just getting started, I recommend you pick up the Everything Bundle, which is a complete system to getting back on track. Once you get your bundle, post in our Facebook Group and let us know- I look forward to hearing your amazing results! Remember, we are always on your side!
By Dr. Cassidy Miller, ND
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