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The Habits Setting You Back

How do you know if one of your habits is getting in the way of you making progress with your health, wellness and weight loss goals?

Okay, so habits are what, exactly? They are those things you do on a VERY regular basis, usually by default or at least done very consistently.

Some habits bring you comfort temporarily and in the moment and act as a kind of Band-Aid.

These kinds of habits are the type that do NOT serve your health and actually get in the way of you making any sort of progress with getting closer to your health goals.

Here's a few examples that might sound familiar:

Late-night junk-food grazing when you JUST ate dinner (eating out of boredom, fatigue, stress, emotion, ect.)

Pressing the "Watch Next Episode" button at 11pm at night, when you KNOW you need to go to bed.

Saying YES, when you desperately want to say NO. (Where are my fellow people-pleasers at?)

These three examples fall into three distinct categories that many of us need help managing:

Eating when NOT physically hungry,

NOT prioritizing sleep,

and NOT managing Stress.

Which one of these resonates with you the most?

Question: How do you plan to address and change these habits? If weight loss or becoming a more healthy you is your priority, these MUST be addressed.

Here are some ideas to help foster some new, healthier habits:

  1. Prioritize sleep.

  2. Prioritize movement.

  3. Do something creative.

  4. Make sure you are eating enough** and balanced during the day.

**Many people are locked into a cycle of restriction. There seems to be a consensus in our society that weight gain is inherently "bad." The shame around weight gain is a feeling many people have felt throughout their lifetime, probably multiple times. This general feeling within society leads to many people restricting food. Food restriction can occur due to a plethora of reasons but for many, it comes down to wanting to achieve weight loss. We go on diet after diet, in search of answers of how to achieve rigid goals we put on our bodies. We feel shame when it doesn’t work as quickly or long-term as we would like, and so the diet cycling continues.

What many people may not know is that restricting food, during times like dieting, can create the opposite effect they are looking to achieve. Food restriction can completely alter your body’s metabolic processes and cause mental anguish. This can result in the very thing most people fear: weight gain. But why?

1. Metabolism decreases to compensate. Our bodies are a lot more complex than we may think. They contain hundreds of different mechanisms that work around the clock to maintain balance. When food is being restricted, this can cause a drop in our metabolic rate because the loss of fat, without adequate muscle mass, will decrease our body temperature. When a decrease in the production of body heat occurs and thus the decrease in metabolic rate, this causes our resting energy expenditure to decrease, causing our body to hold onto more fat or energy. Eventually, this triggers the body to return to its initial weight.

2. Leptin decreases, making it harder to feel fullness. Various hormones become altered in a state of restriction. These include leptin, peptideYY, cholecystokinin, insulin, ghrelin and others. These hormones are directly involved in regulating appetite to maintain homeostasis in our bodies. Leptin is a hormone that controls how full you feel and when it drops during restriction, it makes it harder to feel full. This ultimately can cause weight gain from not feeling satiety as easily as before restriction.

3. Ghrelin increases, you are now hungrier In contrast, ghrelin is our hunger hormone, and its job is to signal to us that we are indeed hungry. During restriction, ghrelin will increase to compensate. When dieting, hormones like ghrelin have been found to be altered from their baseline values. Studies have shown that this causes an actual increase in appetite plus weight regain. In short, our body is literally telling us it needs food by stimulating our appetite.

4. Food restriction leads to hyper-fixation When we are ‘not allowed’ to have something, this will cause us to want it even more. Restriction is a double-edged sword. It causes multiple physiological effects in favor of weight gain and on the other end it causes us to obsess over food. We become hyper focused on food when we never really needed to be. This can easily lead to episodes of binging. We let it build up thinking that the restriction is beneficial. Eventually, the obsession and hyper-fixation leads to us bingeing until we feel uncomfortable. This is avoidable and one of the reasons dieting is unsustainable.

5. Genetics. Yes, they also play a role in this! Have you ever heard of set-point theory? Well, it has become less of a theory in recent years due to the substantial evidence that shows its significance. Set-point theory, in short, aims to explain how we all have a set genetic blueprint for our body weight and shape. This is significant when thinking about dieting and restriction because this means that no matter how hard we try, our bodies will ultimately fight to maintain that homeostatic set-point. This is what researchers say is why those hunger/fullness hormones become distorted and metabolism decreases. Those mechanisms essentially occur to push us back to our set-point.

In short, there are many factors at play when it comes to a wellness goal as specific as weight loss.

When we address our daily habits and make small changes over the long-term, weight loss is often the pleasant side effect accompanying a host of other improved aspects of our lives: energy, fitness, meal preparation, confidence, body composition, strength, sleep, etc.

Be willing to to action steps and give yourself grace along the way.


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