Is losing weight on your resolution list? If you’ve found dropping excess weight is more of a struggle than in the past, there might be more to the weight than that sneaky block of chocolate each week.
Before we go any further, let me be very upfront. Wanting to lose weight needs to come from a place of BODY LOVE, not low self esteem. What that means is no deprivation diets, no punishing or excessive exercise and no self-loathing. Those things never work long term and they are damaging to both your physical and emotional health.
In my weight loss program, I work with clients on healthy lifestyle changes that bring lasting results. Instead of feeling like they’re starving all the time, they feel satisfied and have way more energy than ever before.
Now that’s all said, let’s look at some of the ways that weight gain can be a symptom of a problem, rather than just a problem in itself.
Weight Gain Is Like the Petrol Light in Your Car
I explain to my clients how symptoms are a little like the petrol light in your car. It comes on when you are low on fuel, to warn you and remind you to go fill up at the petrol bowser.
Think of times when you have had a headache… it could be a sign of something else. Maybe you are dehydrated, or your muscles are tight because of too much desk-sitting, or you are tired. The headache is the symptom, it’s the petrol light telling you to listen to your body. You could just stick some masking tape over the light so you can’t see it anymore (eg take a panadol) or you could work out what’s CAUSING the headache and fix that.
Sometimes, weight gain can be a symptom of something else. In fact, in my opinion, carrying excess weight is always a sign of a body out of balance. When you’re a healthy weight for your frame, it generally means that your body is healthier.
Again, this isn’t about dieting or being skinny – it’s about feeling vibrantly healthy and loving your body regardless of your dress size. Wanting to improve your health and feel comfortable in your skin is a good thing.
So, what are some of the main drivers of Weight Gain?
Weight gain and thyroid health
One of the main underlying causes of weight gain is thyroid function. The thyroid is like the master gland of your body, running your metabolism. If your thyroid isn’t happy, your weight could fluctuate rapidly – either up or down. It also impacts other hormones in your body as well as your mood. You might also experience symptoms such as:
- Low energy
- Low mood/depression
- Intolerance to cold
- Dry skin
- Sleep issues
- Brain Fog
An underactive thyroid is something that is becoming more and more common. I see it daily in my practice, and actually have one myself (although she is functioning beautifully now, but that’s a whole other post!)
Thyroid issues tend to impact women at three key stages in life – Puberty, Pregnancy and Perimenopause.
If you’ve never had your Thyroid tested, and you have any of the above signs or symptoms, I highly encourage you to get a blood test. You need to check TSH, free T4, free T3 and Thyroid Antibodies at a bare minimum. Other tests that are helpful are Reverse T3, Iodine and Vitamin D. I think this is probably the most common panel I request in clinic!
Weight gain and stress
Everyone experiences some form of stress from time to time. But chronic stress can take its toll on your entire endocrine system, playing havoc with hormone levels.
Stress can deplete nutrients that are vital for energy and metabolism, like Magnesium, our B vitamins, Zinc and Vitamin C. Elevated stress hormone levels can also interact with thyroid function and sex hormone production. These factors all add up to difficulty with losing weight, and even weight gain.
I see this often with my clients who run their own businesses, work in demanding jobs or juggle work and family life (holy moly, isn’t that all of us these days?!)
Weight gain and hormone balance
Despite what many people assume, our sex hormones are not just about making babies. Balanced sex hormones play a supportive role with other factors such as bone density and skin health. They can also affect how we hold weight, particularly fatty tissue.
Different sex hormone imbalances can lead to weight gain, particularly high testosterone and high oestrogen. Yes, women need testosterone too… just is smaller amounts than men.
Signs of hormone imbalances can include:
- Changes in body hair growth/distribution
- Skin problems including dry skin and breakouts
- Irregular or painful menstrual cycles, spotting between periods, tender breasts
- Pre-menstrual symptoms such as mood swings and cravings
Weight gain and blood sugar regulation
Have you ever eaten a sweet treat, and had an almost instant rush? Then within the hour, you felt your energy drop back down? Or you feel sleepy after eating a meal? This is blood sugar regulation at work.
Blood sugar is your source of instant energy for things like exercise and even brain function. A steady level of blood sugar is best, as it keeps you going at a steady pace throughout the day. But problems with blood sugar regulation can lead to weight gain.
It can also be a chicken-or-egg scenario between blood sugar levels and weight gain, as weight gain can lead to issues such as insulin resistance, but insulin resistance makes it harder to lose or even maintain weight. Insulin is our ‘fat storage hormone’ and elevated insulin levels also block us from losing fat. So if what and when we eat causes elevated insulin levels, we are never going to lose weight, no matter what we do! (That’s why in my weight loss program, one of the key things I teach you is what, when and how to eat in order to keep blood sugar stable and insulin levels low.)
Blood sugar dysregulation may have no obvious symptoms. But you may notice things like:
- Feeling hungry even after a meal – needing to snack
- Craving sweets
- Getting ‘hangry’ (feeling irritable when you need to eat)
- More frequent urination that is not related to fluid intake
- Increased thirst for no apparent reason
The good news is that all of these factors can be supported with proper nutrition and lifestyle advice that is tailored to your specific needs.
If you’re ready to explore healthy weight loss, book in a FREE 15 minute chat with me and we can talk about what might be holding you back from feeling vibrantly healthy. You can click here to book: