Why Diet And Exercise May Not Help You Lose Weight
Only one week into the new year, and many people are already struggling to stick to their new year resolutions. Of course, the most popular resolution of all time is weight loss and the diet and exercise that goes along with it.
So what if you knew that no matter how hard you tried, and no matter how badly you wanted to lose weight, the needle on the scale would barely move? Would you even bother?
Well, that’s why SO many people give up even before the end of January, and more than half of the people that make new year’s resolutions throw in the towel before the end of the year.
But what if I told you that there’s a very high probability that it ISN’T YOUR FAULT, especially if you’re over the age of 35?
So what is to blame when you just can’t lose weight, no matter what you do? The answer may lie with your hormones, and it’s simply a matter of the biological clock that’s ticking inside of all of us. The good news is that it doesn’t have to stop you from losing weight, and it’s not something that you have to resign yourself to live with.
Hormone Imbalances Make Weight Loss Impossible
Everyone knows that, as we age, we start to go through the “change of life”, also known as menopause and andropause(6). But what many people don’t realize is that your hormones can start changing as early as your twenties(4,5), and into your thirties. For women, these periods of time are referred to as pre-menopause and peri-menopause. These phases are actually far more difficult for most, as hormones can fluctuate daily during this time, causing all kinds of unwanted side effects, including those stubborn to impossible-to-lose extra pounds.
That’s right- even if you’re eating a whole foods, healthy diet free of toxic chemicals, avoiding sugary snacks and soft drinks and working out religiously 4 to 5 times per week, you could be fighting a losing battle if your hormones are out of whack. This is especially true if the weight gain is in your mid section, and holds true for both men and women.
In fact, those extra pounds that just won’t come off, could be due to any number of (or a combination of) hormonal imbalances, including excess or low estrogen, a thyroid disorder, overtaxed adrenal glands, low testosterone or DHEA and more.
And these issues aren’t just specific to women. Men can end up with either high or low levels of testosterone(6), DHEA, and even estrogen(1). Each one bringing its own list of unwanted side effects, which can include increased body fat, loss of muscle and the development of “man cans” (as my friend, Heather, calls them).
Additionally, low testosterone can make it nearly impossible to maintain and increase lean muscle mass, which creates a vicious cycle; the more lean muscle mass we have in our bodies, the more calories and fat we burn, even when we’re sleeping or resting. This is why it’s SO much easier to lose weight or stay thin when you’re younger, and it becomes more and more difficult as we age. But to add the lean muscle, your hormones must be in balance, and you must have some of them in your body to begin with.
That’s why I suggest that, if you really want to lose weight, your number one new year resolution should be to get into a doctor’s office and get your hormone levels checked AND buy a copy of Dr Sara Gottfried’s book, The Hormone Cure. Dr Sara (as she’s called) is an MIT and Harvard graduate, and balancing hormones is her absolute specialty! She has helped thousands of men and women get healthy and shed pounds with her tried and true methods. Dr Sara also makes it crazy easy by putting the dots really close together- She provides a step by step guide to healing, based on your personal situation and imbalances and gives you the natural, hormone free way to get balanced, as well as a last resort, bio-identical and safe prescription med path.
And how do I personally know that Dr Sara’s advice works and that she’s awesome? Because I began struggling with this same issue when I hit 41, even though my eating habits hadn’t changed, and I had been lifting weights and working out consistently since I was 15 years old. I knew that something was terribly wrong, and I tried everything, but I continued to gain weight, especially around my waist. I even tried a natural hormone doctor in my area, but she was not as well versed as Dr Sara, and her basic methods did nothing to stop and reverse my weight gain. Then, after a lot of research, I came across Dr Sara’s website and book. I read it from cover to cover, answered all of the questions that she includes, followed Dr Sara’s recommended, natural protocols, and everything began to change for the better.
So the second new year’s resolution you need to make is to read the book and follow her advice, of course ; ) because I know how many times people buy books or supplements, with the best of intentions, and then… But seriously, this book can literally change your life and help you lose weight, without any extra effort at all.
Weight Loss And The Right Doctor
Unless your doctor is one that specializes in hormone dysfunction and has worked with men and women, to balance their hormones naturally, I would not recommend that you allow your current doctor to treat you. Why? Because traditional doctors, even gynocologists, are only trained in standard medical practices, which means that they will most likely prescribe dangerous, synthetic hormone replacement drugs, which can cause a host of additional health problems and diseases, including cancer(2,3,4). They’ve also been taught to use “one size fits all” type drugs and that if a patient’s hormone levels fall within the “normal” range, then there’s nothing wrong with them. However, this is completely false, and an outdated way of thinking. Your hormone levels are only a part of the puzzle and, as Dr Sara explains in her book, how you feel is more of an indication that something is out of balance, rather than your lab results.
Do not believe your doctor if he or she gives you any of the following, typical, uninformed answers:
- It’s all in your head
- You just need to eat less and exercise more
- This is normal for people your age/It’s just what happens when we get older
- There’s nothing you can do about it
When it comes to hormone levels, the “normal range” is for the average person, but a portion of the population has a range that differs from the masses. Your “normal” could be higher or lower than the average person, and that’s the sweet spot for you, and where your hormone levels need to be, in order for you to feel good and maintain a healthy weight.
A great resource for finding well-trained hormone specialists is Suzanne Somer’s website, Forever Health. Apparently, she screens each doctor, and includes only those that follow natural, healthy protocols. I will say, though, that these doctors are not what I would call affordable.
To save some money, I suggest that you read Dr Sara’s book first and make a list of all of the hormone tests that she recommends. This is an important step, because there are some hormones that the average doctor rarely includes in a blood panel, based on their lack of knowledge in this area. Once you have the list, take it to your primary care doctor (a cheaper option than a specialist) or contact a lab that Dr Sara mentions in the book, and have them order the lab work. By law, you’re entitled to a copy of your lab results, so you’ll be able to use these results to self diagnose (with Dr Sara’s book and help) and follow her recommended protocol. Optionally, you could find a more affordable hormone specialist and provide him or her with a copy of your lab results.
So which hormones should you have checked if you want to lose weight? ALL of them, especially if you’re over the age of 35, because that’s when things can start to go all wonky, particularly for women.
- Joel S. Finkelstein, M.D., Hang Lee, Ph.D., Sherri-Ann M. Burnett-Bowie, M.D., M.P.H., J. Carl Pallais, M.D., M.P.H., Elaine W. Yu, M.D., Lawrence F. Borges, M.D., Brent F. Jones, M.D., Christopher V. Barry, M.P.H., Kendra E. Wulczyn, B.A., Bijoy Thomas, M.D., and Benjamin Z. Leder, M.D. N Engl J Med 2013; 369:1011-1022 September 12, 2013DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1206168
- Menopausal hormone use and ovarian cancer risk: individual participant meta-analysis of 52 epidemiological studies http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61687-1
- NingqiHou, Susan Hong, Wenli Wang, OlufunmilayoOlopade, James J. Dignam and DezhengHuoHormone Replacement Therapy and Breast Cancer: Heterogeneous Risks by Race, Weight, and Breast Density JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (2013) 105 (18): 1365-1372. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt207
- I’m Too Young For This; The Natural Hormone Solution to Enjoy Perimenopause Suzanne Somers, 2013
- The Hormone Cure, Sara Gottfried MD, 2013
- Michael K Brawer, MD Testosterone Replacement in Men With Andropause: An Overview, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472881/ Rev Urol. 2004; 6(Suppl 6): S9–S15