Help! I'm eating healthy and still gaining weight!
True story, you can eat healthy 100% of the time and still gain weight, especially as you move from your late 30’s into your 40’s, and it only gets more tricky from there.
There are a number of factors why this might be happening to you, but for most women it's simply biology. That doesn't mean that you are doomed to gain weight no matter what you do.
Let's talk about why you're gaining weight...
Your body wants to be fat
Harsh but true. Your body was designed to store energy at all costs. Energy is stored as, you guessed it, fat.
As far as your body is concerned big hips mean surviving a difficult winter. Hips don’t understand grocery stores exist! When you try to lose weight you’re actually fighting your own survival mechanisms- no wonder it’s so forking hard.
In fact, when you lose weight, your metabolism works overtime to adjust to your new level of fat storage and become more efficient- so the whole “move more, eat less” advice is actually hurting your chances of ever eating a cookie ever again.
The good news is that you’re not destined to keep gaining weight for ever and ever, you can outsmart the system.
As much as your body likes to hang on to excess energy, it also really appreciates having strong and toned muscles and an efficient cardiovascular system- both factors in boosted metabolism. The crux of the problem falls to hormone balance. Specifically, the hormones that regulate hunger, satiety, and fat storage- or leptin, ghrelin, and insulin.
As we age the fluctuations in reproductive hormones tosses the finely tuned balance out the window influencing how efficiently you use and store fat. In short- estrogen does not play well with others.
In order to lose weight, keep your metabolism humming, and be able to wear your favorite yoga pants you need to learn how to keep this whole system in balance, and simply eating the right foods isn’t always enough.
In the case of most women, your metabolism is going to slow down as you lose estrogen but this isn’t the final answer. This is why you may have heard that weight training is so important as you age. Muscles boost metabolism, and with the reduction in estrogen your natural muscle tone is going to start to become less and less, the only way to keep it lean and humming is by creating more muscles hence strength training. This is why strength training is better for women as they head towards midlife over cardio. Cardio just creates more stress on the body- stress equals survival mode, which tells your body to: “conserve energy!! Store more fat!!”
The second piece of the puzzle is timing. Again, this is a hormone situation. Insulin is sensitive to estrogen fluctuations and as a result your body might get very good at storing fat with very few calories- even healthy calories. It may not matter if you had a garden salad with no dressing or a 6-piece chicken nugget meal, if there is insulin (which there is) you will store some of that as fat.
I’ve over simplified this to a degree, but you get the gist. What you eat, when you eat, and how you move your body all matter- just differently than they did when you were 23 years old.
If there was just one answer no one would be struggling- Oprah would have patented it years ago, and the pharmaceutical companies would have put it into a pill. But you do have hope, you can work with the system to still lose weight despite the hurdles. Here’s how you get started:
Start pumping iron- or do some kind of strength training- regularly. I’m partial to yoga as it’s low impact, efficient, and has the bonus benefit of keeping anxiety levels low.
Use your natural timing- eat when you are hungry, and don’t eat when you aren’t. Of course this is easier said than done, but mindful eating techniques are a real asset to balancing hormones.
Use healthy food to your advantage- you’re already doing it, now use your healthy eating habits to balance hormones by choosing the right ones! High fiber foods are excellent for balancing hormones and keeping insulin behaving. Add protein to your meals, and remember that the portions you once needed may have changed.
Don't give up on healthy eating just because you haven't seen results- sometimes the results you get can't be seen. If weight loss is your goal stick with it- you'll get there! Are you in the private Facebook group yet? Join a community of women just like you- working on living their best lives despite the struggles of aging.
Get started with my weight loss accelerator program- 6 weeks to jump start your weight loss habits and start losing weight faster. Only one more session left this year- schedule your kick starter session today.