“In less than 40 years, the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. has increased by over 50%, so that two of every three American adults are now overweight or obese.” - Harvard Men's Health Watch
American’s are getting heavier. Do you agree?
For many of us, we know we need to do something about the increasing number on the scale or the tightness in our clothes. But we don't.
With so much confusing information on different diets and weight loss tips and tricks we can get paralyzed by information overload.
Or we wait about making healthy changes thinking we still have time to do something about it.
Until we don't. For many, weight loss isn't easy. And for others, there comes the point when what used to work- no longer does.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Meaning it's easier to take simple action steps or make healthy choices now than it is to reclaim your health later- like I had to in my story below.
I want to strongly and nicely encourage you to do what you need to do now to get the results you want. Whether it's losing weight, improving energy, reducing stress- take action now- while you still can.
Before I share the basics of weight loss …
… I'm pulling back the curtain and revealing one of my greatest struggles at the moment.
Difficulty losing weight. It will make sense in a little bit- please keep reading.
Since this blog is all about stress, why am I writing a blog on weight loss basics? What does difficulty losing weight have to do with stress? A lot! Especially the stress and frustration of not being able to lose weight- consistently.
Unresolved chronic stress played a huge role with me gaining weight fast and then not losing it (like I could in the past).
STRESS AND WEIGHT CONNECTION
Since this blog and my coaching practice are about stress-related health problems, let me tie stress and weight issues together.
Chronic stress can lead to something called Metabolic Syndrome or Insulin Resistance. (Click on the link above to read more about chronic stress, cortisol, and elevated insulin.)
Plus, eating processed or simple carbs (carbohydrates) increases insulin. Many people eat too many simple carbs every day with little to no exercise, so their insulin stays high.
Do you see the issue?
Eating too many simple carbs + chronic stress keeps our insulin at consistently high levels. After long periods of high insulin, our cells stop responding, and we can become Insulin Resistant.
Insulin Resistance can lead to prediabetes then to Diabetes II if left unchecked... and difficulties with losing weight.
Chronic stress can also lead to thyroid issues like hypothyroidism.
"The impact of stress on the thyroid occurs by slowing your body's metabolism. This is another way that stress and weight gain are linked. When thyroid function slows during stress, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) hormone levels fall. Also, the conversion of T4 hormone to T3 may not occur, leading to higher level of reverse T3.
Insulin resistance and issues balancing blood sugar often occur alongside hypothyroidism. Increased levels of glucocorticoids lower the levels of TSH in the blood. A delicate balance between stress hormones and cortisol must exist for proper thyroid function. If this delicate balance changes, your thyroid symptoms may increase.
Lab tests cannot always depict the right picture of how you're feeling, and medications cannot always keep up with the changes that stress causes. Chronic stress can cause problems in your body for years before lab tests show a problem." - Jill Eisnaugle
When my thyroid went on strike, or in other words, at the first signs of hypothyroidism (low thyroid), I started gaining weight fast, sometimes several pounds in a couple of weeks-fast. I had many other symptoms of hypothyroid like ...
Cold hands and feet
The doctor I was seeing (and trusting) at the time let me go for many years with undiagnosed hypothyroidism. He only looked at my blood test, which was on the low side of the normal range.
He didn't seem to pay much attention to my numerous symptoms that were classic hypothyroid symptoms. Nor did he seem to understand that there is an optimal range for blood tests.
My low/normal might be perfect for someone else. But it wasn't for me. I was symptomatic (showing symptoms) at a low/normal range.
At the beginning of my health crisis, I weighed 140 and wore a size 8. At my highest, I weighed 197, and a size 16 was getting too tight. At that point, I marched into his office and demanded he do something about my thyroid. I knew something was wrong.
At my insistence that he do something, he referred me to a nurse who specialized in hormones. Later she referred me to a Nurse Practitioner specializing in the endocrine system. After feeling my enlarged thyroid during a routine exam, she ordered specific thyroid tests and an ultrasound of my thyroid. I had nodules on my thyroid- thankfully, they were not cancerous.
After finally getting the necessary help for my thyroid and making food and lifestyle changes, I'm happy to report that my thyroid is no longer enlarged and that I have been able to improve and/or reverse almost all of my symptoms- the lingering weight is still an issue.
Thankfully I'm no longer 197. I'm getting closer to cracking the code so that I can keep losing the excess weight consistently.
FACTS ABOUT OVERWEIGHT & OBESITY
Carrying excess weight can promote serious health issues and increase wear and tear on hip and knee joints and play a role in painful foot problems. Pastor Steven Furtick mentioned how when his mother lost 80 pounds, her back and knee pain went away. It wasn't her back or knees that were the problem. It was the excess weight she carried.
Carrying excess weight- whether physical, emotional, or mental-
can cause us problems.
Did you know ...
Nearly 40% of American adults aged 20 and over are obese. 71.6% of adults aged 20 and over are overweight, including obesity. (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2017-2018; Harvard School of Public Health, 2020)
COVID was especially challenging for overweight or obese people.
"According to the CDC and based on evidence from recent studies, obesity and severe obesity are also conditions that increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 at any age." -Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh.
Let's take a quick look at the differences between "overweight" and "obesity."
The following categories are from Calculate Your Body Mass Index.
Underweight = <18.5
Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
Overweight = 25–29.9
Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater
After reading this post, click this link to enter your height and weight to determine your BMI (body mass index) if you know you need to do something about your weight.
I remember sitting on the exam table at my doctor's office and seeing the BMI chart on the wall while waiting for the doctor to come into the room. I got off the exam table and walked closer to the chart so I could see the numbers. Using my height and weight with the BMI Chart, I was shocked to learn I wasn't overweight; I was, in fact, in the obese category.
The rapid weight gain was mainly from the impaired function of my thyroid left untreated, however, it was also partially because I was an emotional eater. I ate to soothe my emotions.
If I was angry, sad, frustrated, and so on, I found comfort in sweets. In the past, when I could lose weight anytime I wanted, that wasn't a big deal or an issue (or so I thought). However, once my thyroid's function was impaired- losing weight became a battle I couldn't win.
This isn't a post about body shaming. It's to shine the light on the negative health effects of unresolved chronic stress. Plus the health issues from carrying excess weight and what to do about it.
By the way, "unresolved" chronic stress is the day in and day out, ongoing stress that we are not relieving, managing, and, when possible- preventing.
WEIGHT LOSS BASICS (aka Essentials)
Back to weight loss… let's look at some simple, doable basics of losing weight.
There are some universal basics or essentials of weight loss- when everything is working correctly in our body.
Eat mostly healthy food
Treat foods on occasion
Move or exercise regularly
Essential Steps for Healthy (and lasting) Weight Loss
1) Use more calories than you eat. Food is our energy source. If we consume more 'energy' than we use, the excess gets stored as fat. Plain and simple. We need to tap into the stored energy to 'burn' the excess fat to lose weight.
2) Choose primarily healthy foods.
Fruits & veggies
Lean high quality proteins
Small amount of healthy fats
Whole grains in moderation
Not all calories are equal. A 100 calorie donut isn't the same thing as 100 calories of carrots. In fact, one original glazed Krispy Kreme donut is 190 calories. Four medium-size carrots roughly equal 100 calories.
I know the donut would tickle our taste buds more than the carrots- but the donut would spike our sugar, which would increase our insulin. And besides... most of the time, we don't eat just one donut- we eat two or three.
Choosing a yummy snack like hummus, celery and carrots would be a filling and satisfying choice. There are even 'smart swaps' for when we need a little soothing sweet.
3) Exercise. Exercise relieves stress, helps us think clearer, aids in digestion, moves lymph, and, yes, burns calories.
Exercise can be walking, biking, swimming, dancing, anything that gets our bodies moving.
4) Track your food and exercise.
Weight Watchers worked well for me- before my health crisis of low thyroid, chronic fatigue, and more- but not after.
MyFitnessPal is my favorite tracking app. It may take a few minutes, in the beginning, to set up any new food or exercise. However, MyFitnessPal saves the information for quick tracking later. Usually, we're surprised to see how many calories we're consuming every day.
There are other essentials like getting restorative sleep, staying hydrated and more. I'll share more about those later in the post.
Fad Diets, Fasting, and Peer Pressure
I'm not a fan of limiting or extreme diets like keto. Maybe for a short time but not for long periods. The Mediterranean Diet is a more well-rounded, highly studied, sustainable, and easy food plan. My favorite food plan and the one that works best for me is the Blood Type Diet.
Also, intermittent fasting doesn't work for me. I do better with smaller frequent meals.
Resist the pressure of sticking with a 'diet' or weight loss plan that worked for your co-worker, sister, or best friend but not for you. Discover what works for you. Tweak as needed. I'm now on the Missy Food Plan. I've tweaked the Mediterranean, AIP Diet, and Blood Type diet to suit my needs.
WHAT TO DO WHEN WEIGHT LOSS ISN'T HAPPENING
I know I'm not the only one who says, "I've tried keto, paleo, low carb, Atkins, etc., and still the weight fluctuates!"
And if you're a medical professional, you may be silently judged, like me, for carrying extra weight. I have had many looks of "you don't look like a health coach."
When I sold my house, I was chatting with one of the people at the title company. She mentioned how tired she was and how stressed she was. I slid my business card across the table and mentioned that I was a health coach and could help with what she was sharing. She looked me up and down and wouldn't even glance at my business card. Her face had kind of a smirk on it.
No problem. I'm used to that reaction. I shared with her my quick 'from bedridden to back to work' story. Her eyes widened as she grabbed my card. She studied the front and flipped it over to read the back as well. After reading my business card, she said, "then I could definitely use your help."
I shared my story because sometimes chronic stress and other health issues need to be addressed and improved before tackling stubborn weight issues.
Start with the basics outlined above. After 4-5 weeks of consistently following the basics- and you still aren't losing weight- it may be time to seek help. Have your thyroid, hormones, and glucose levels tested. Maybe try an elimination diet. Those are great places to start.
I won't overload you with my specifics. What I need and needed to do may not be what you need to do. I will encourage you to take action by focusing on the basics or essentials of healthy habits before tackling the specifics.
Why? Well, it's like this… would you paint a run-down house first? No. You would fix the windows, the falling gutters, the missing shingles first. Right?
Once you've mastered or are regularly practicing essential healthy habits, it's time to move on to optimizing the specific areas that may be out of balance.
Start with the basics and grow from there.
Carpe Diem (make the most of the present time)
Here are some steps you can do -- right now.
If you eat fast food more than three times a week- cut back to once or twice a week at the most. A salad with grilled chicken is a great choice. Have the dressing on the side and dip your fork into the dressing instead of pouring it over the salad.
Substitute grilled or roasted for fried foods. Try smaller portions. Stay hydrated.
Track what you eat and how much you exercise. You might be surprised how much food you're consuming. Again, my favorite tracking app is MyFitnessPal.
I have the advantage of being a health coach. I went to an accredited school for my training and have 1000s of research hours and additional training in my specialty-- stress and related health issues. I first studied health and nutrition for my sake. I wasn't finding the help I needed to get back to living, so I went back to school to learn more.
Once I started feeling better and improving my health, I knew I wanted to help others.
I've shared some of the basics or essential health-promoting habits here that not only help with weight loss, but also help to relieve stress. There's even more covered in my action guide.
In fact, that's what my first book, Stress Less SOS Action Guide is all about.
Essentials Things like
How to Set Boundaries
How to Get Restorative Sleep
Best Food Plan plus easy meal planning guide
Quick ways to relieve stress and tips for preventing it too.
And lots more
The action guide started as my workbook to remind me what to do. In my coaching practice, I noticed that many of my clients weren't practicing the essentials or basics of managing, relieving, and preventing stress. So I created this simple yet powerful book (available for Kindle or paperback).
Here’s what other are saying
"A must-have book. It's a practical guide that is enjoyable, usable, and easy to read." Susan C.
"It so, so beautifully written. I greatly enjoyed it. I could relate to so many points that you [Missy] were making." - C.K.
"When you are in a difficult place in your life, it is very hard to take on anything else, but sometimes it is what you need to do to get better. The simplicity of this guide with the action steps at the end has been very helpful, and Missy's gentle encouragement throughout the guide is very comforting." JCB
To help you get started on your weight loss journey & managing, relieving, and in many cases preventing stress ...
Get your Stress Less SOS Action Guide today! Available on Kindle and paperback.
Start reclaiming your life and health from stress and its damaging effects.
Here’s to your health!
"Heal the past, enjoy the present, look forward to the future."
- Missy Rankin, CTNC, CHC
No More Distractions | How To Get Your Focus Back by Terri Savelle Foy
It is my goal to teach, encourage, and empower you to make health-promoting decisions so you can reclaim your life and health from stress and emotional pain.
Missy Rankin, CTNC, CHC
Certified Transformation Coach
Certified Hormone Coach
Science and/or Fact-Based: I write blogs based on science-backed and/or evidence-based information. I add my experience(s) and education where applicable.
Faith-Based: I may also add scriptures and faith-based information as well.
The information shared here is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as sharing of information only. Legal Policies
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