Updated: Sep 12, 2021
Our bodies are amazing! The systems in our body work together to protect us and ultimately keep us alive. There are many protective measures it takes to achieve this. Weight gain is one of them. By design, excess adipose tissue (body fat) is protection from starvation and toxicity. Our nervous system drives this process by way of the Parasympathetic and Sympathetic system.
Our default setting is to be in the Parasympathetic nervous system mode, which is designed for rest, digest, and heal. The Sympathetic nervous system is designed to protect us, it is responsible for fight, fight and hide.
The Parasympathetic system will prioritize hormone balance, digestion, neurotransmitter and glandular secretions that keep our body in a beautiful balance of health. If our body senses a threat it will kick in to fight or flight mode and will not prioritize weight loss, digestion, reproduction or healing.
What causes our body not to trust us and stay in Sympathetic mode? Here are a few things you can check in on:
1. Nutrition deficiency- Food companies design food with chemically enhanced sweeteners, flavors and preservatives. They engineer food to affect our dopamine balance so we can’t just eat one and become addicted. Their goal is not to provide the nutrients we need to support the essential functions of our body, but to make money. Our body takes cues according to our intake of nutrients. What we don’t bring in causes us to be deficient and biochemical processes become impaired. For example, cellular thyroid function depends on the proper nutrients. You can’t convert thyroid hormones to their usable form if you’re deficient in iron, zinc, B6 and selenium.
2. Toxins- What we put on our skin matters- Our skin absorbs everything we slather on it within seconds. Please refer to my blog post about chemicals and how they wreak havoc on our hormones which directly causes weight gain. If our body can’t detox the constant intake of toxins, they get stored as fat. This fat is incredibly hard to get to if you keep adding toxins back in.
3. Stress- Our stress management has just as much effect on our metabolism as food does, if not more! Stress is a bigger mediator of blood sugar than what we eat. Sympathetic dominance keeps is from sleeping and raises our Cortisol levels and keeps them up. Cortisol and Insulin compete with one another. When one goes up, so does the other. It‘s like the annoying “look what I can do” kid. High levels of Insulin will lead to Insulin Resistance and directly causes weight gain. This article shows that high levels of cortisol are associated with belly fat.
4. Inflammation- Inflammation impairs metabolism. The bacteria in your GI tract secrete hormones and neurotransmitters. Microbes are in charge! If your gut is out of balance, your immune system will have a strong inflammatory reaction. This inflammation pushes you into sympathetic dominance, which causes systemic weight gain, weight plateaus and the beginning of dis-ease in the body. Many illnesses have a root in chronic inflammation. Healing your gut is vital to many biochemical processes in your body.
5. Food sensitivities- If you are allergic or sensitive to foods, your immune system will react with inflammation. Advanced intestinal permeability (leaky gut) is often responsible for food sensitivities. Sustained inflammation happens when you keep eating foods you are sensitive to. Adipose tissue increases as it acts as a storage for what our body views as a toxin. It is a good idea to test for sensitivities or do an elimination diet.
Crap food, Toxins and Stress are the main culprits for weight gain and weight plateaus. If our body feels the need to bring on adipose tissue for protection, it will fight hard to do that. Which effects our metabolic rate and keeps us at a weight set point that isn’t ideal. Our body will allow a 10% weight loss before it starts to fight back. Losing weight slowly is one key to resetting your weight set point. Also, addressing why the body is inflamed, will naturally cause a lower level of hypervigilance from your nervous system, balance your hormones, and lower your basal metabolic rate because your body feels less of a need to protect you from the environment you are asking it to live in.
Sustained weight loss is the last benefit to come when root cause is fixed. The body will keep less of a metabolic reserve when it trusts you to take care of it.
To start addressing the root causes of weight gain you will want to use this model:
•Maximize- Maximize nutrients. Eat whole nutrient dense foods, (organic whenever possible) to give the body the building blocks it needs to function and heal. Supplement if needed.
•Minimize- Minimize toxins, allergens, refined carbs, flours, sweeteners, fruit juice. Also, stress, trauma and limiting beliefs. I love the Self ReClaimed program to help let go of limiting beliefs. Ask me how you can purchase this.
•Prioritize – Prioritize sleep, rest, laughter, breathing, and an environment for healing. Box breathing brings you into Parasympathetic mode. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 6, breathe out for 8, repeat for one minute. Gratitude journaling and meditation every morning is a very helpful practice. Exercise! Building muscle is going to help your burn fat and bust through weight plateaus. You can hire a trainer (I have some resources for virtual or in person), or buy some bands to use at home and watch some great YouTube videos to help accomplish this goal.
Park a bit further from the office or the store to get some extra steps in each day. You will be amazed at how this all adds up.
I would love to help you in a weight loss program or help you find the root cause to weight gain or plateaus.