by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath
Last week, a so-called comedian and YouTube personality posted what most consider a mean spirited attack on overweight people. Nicole Arbour claimed it was meant to inspire people to lose weight, but really it is fat shaming. If you’re a reader of my blogs, you know that uncontrollable weight gain is indicative of many serious health issues from adrenal burnout to hypothyroidism. So, stop fat shaming!
I hear it all the time. I am eating well, exercising and truly focusing on my health, yet I am still overweight. On top of this, your doctor may be telling you that you simply have to do better with your diet and exercise while actually blaming and shaming you for your continued weight issue.
So frustrating, right?!
While I am all about taking responsibility for your health, you truly cannot take responsibility for something that is unknown to you, and that I was I say it may be likely that it is NOT your fault if you are dealing with a weight and fat issue.
Before we get into some of the unknown issues with weight gain and an increase in fat production, let’s look at the most common process most people go through to lose weight.
Usually the first attempt for weight loss is tied into nutritional choices. Perhaps you have already cut back on your sugar consumption, cut back on flour products and other processed carbs, eating organic, juicing and more, yet your weight is not budging. At this point, you may add some form of exercise such as walking, biking, weight training, yoga, etc., yet still no weight loss. Maybe you then talked to a personal trainer that told you it will be essential for you to kick up your cardiovascular workout to lose weight, but still to no avail. The weight still does not budge.
Then perhaps you visit your doctor and all your blood work shows up in normal ranges and the doctor tells you that you are not doing enough to lose weight, basically telling you that you are doing it wrong. That often hurts because you have already put such a focus on weight loss and you feel that you have already done so much. Perhaps you take your doctors words to heart and simply try harder with what isn’t working in the first place, understanding that more of what does not work still does not work. Perhaps you make further dietary changes, adding juicing, fasting and maybe some supplements. Maybe you kick up your exercise routines even further, more cardio, more weight training, more yoga and more, almost to the point of exhaustion.
I have seen this for decades in the gym or work out facilities. People working their butts off, sweating like you would not believe, huffing and puffing to get more “work” in, yet still no significant change in weight or fat. If this is you, this sucks, right?!
Well let’s get to the bottom of this today, so you can empower yourself to make new choices and once and for all, make the dent in weight and fat that you have been chasing for years.
If you have already addressed your nutrition and exercise, this is a great first step, but as you may have already noticed, there are deeper areas that are leaving you will less than optimal results.
The first area to consider are hormones, and with this I am specifically talking about adrenal hormones, thyroid hormones and pancreatic hormones. Your adrenal glands, thyroid and pancreas feed off each other and any one of these areas can halt your weight and fat loss but together, this can be a major issue for you.
Let’s first look at your adrenal function. Your adrenal glands are responsible for so many holistic functions in your body but let’s look specifically at how your adrenals tie into weight and fat. The areas below are directly related to your adrenal function
- Thyroid function (needed for energy and metabolism)
- Pancreas function (needed to regulate blood sugar and digest your food)
- Metabolism of fat and protein (needed to provide energy and the building blocks of life)
- Musousal tissue integrity (needed for proper absorption and assimilation)
- Pro and anti-inflammatory states (inflammation is often a major impact in weight gain and fat cell production)
- Cellular energy (needed for energy production at the most basic level)
- Blood sugar stability (needed for proper metabolism and use of glucose)
- Quality of sleep (most that have sleep issues also have weight and fat issues)
Understand your potential adrenal dysfunction with this FREE online assessment.
So please understand that if you adrenal function is off, all these areas are potentially challenged and they all tie into weight gain and an increase in fat. Before we get into the essentials of adrenal function for weight and fat loss, we’ll take a look at something you may be doing right now that this actually making your adrenal function worse. That something is the cardiovascular activity. If you have a moderate to late stage adrenal insufficiency issue, aerobic activity will likely worsen your adrenal function, thus making it much more difficult to lose weight or fat. To define the aerobic or cardiovascular activity, this is when you elevate your heart rate and maintain an elevated heart rate. Your personal trainer might not like me for sharing this with you but I would definitely stop this activity and switch to anaerobic activity such as weight training with rest between sets, gentle flow yoga, a casual walk or bike ride, stretching or if you like to get the body moving faster, perhaps some burst training. The problem I see so often with people that do not have success with weight and fat loss due to adrenal issues, is that your personal trainer likely request that you actually kick up your aerobic activity without understanding that this can actually worsen your challenges with weight and fat due to the adrenal response. Let’s also recognize that when your adrenal function is an issue, this will typically lead to weight gain in your midsection that is seemingly impossible to lose.
For women in perimenopause or post menopause, there is most often another weight issue tied into adrenal function. Once a women enters this transition of life, the ovaries shift most of the production of female hormones to your adrenal glands. Unfortunately due to the fact that most women enter menopause in a state of adrenal exhaustion, the adrenals to not have the capacity to create the needed post menopause levels of progesterone and also estrogen type hormones. So do you know the next place the body will look to to produce the needed estrogen hormones? If you guessed fat cells, you are correct.
So for those women that gain 15 to 20 pounds during menopause, recognize that this is most likely due to the fact that your adrenal function is exhausted. So your body will do everything possible to hold onto that extra weight in the grand plan of maintaining any level of hormonal balance possible. Balance the adrenals and m0st often the weight falls off. I see this all the time in my practice.
Again, be sure to check your potential adrenal dysfunction with this FREE online assessment.
The next area to address is your thyroid function. If you thyroid is not functioning properly, this hinders weight loss due to the negative impact on your body’s metabolism and energy. One challenge I see all the time with conventional thyroid testing is that you either do not test all the variables necessary to make an proper thyroid function assessment, or you are in the references ranges on your test results, yet still not in what we would refer to as function ranges. So in essence, your doctor can tell you that your thyroid numbers are fine, yet you can still be suffering with dysfunction in thyroid hormone production and conversion, thus leading to this “unexplained” weight gain.
This is what Depke Wellness would recommend in regard to proper thyroid testing and please be sure to have this reviewed by a quality natural health practitioner or conventional medical doctor that understands the difference between reference ranges and functional ranges as well as all the areas tested. We are always here for you if needed.
This is another potential tricky area though because when someone is hypothyroid and suffering with weight gain due to this hormone deficiency, the thyroid itself may not be the issue. Most thyroid challenges are actually tied into underlying issues with your adrenal function, liver function, gastrointestinal tract and/or autoimmune disorders. So most often even when you uncover the thyroid dysfunction it is essential to address the underlying components. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen new clients come into Depke Wellness on thyroid medications due to recognized hypothyroid conditions, yet they have no changes in symptoms of weight and fat loss. I see the frustration for these clients on a regular basis, but thankfully there are answers for you.
If you are wondering if you have a thyroid issue, feel free to take this COMPLIMENTARY online assessment.
The other challenge tied into weight loss that is often ignored is tied in the pancreas. Two of the main functions of your pancreas are to regulate blood sugar via hormones and to manufacture enzymes to assist you in digesting your food properly. If you do not regulate blood sugar properly you will end up with elevated glucose and insulin. What most to not know is that one of the primary factors in weight and fat gain is elevated insulin. Understand that your pancreas produces insulin to pull sugar out of your blood to store in the cells for future use. If glucose is consistently high, this may lead to insulin resistance and a chronic high insulin response. When insulin is elevated, you will store any unused dietary fats in your body, so in essence high insulin equals body fat and elevated blood fats also know as triglycerides.
The other challenge is if your pancreas is not functioning optimally, thus affecting enzyme production. If you do not produce the needed enzymes to assist in digesting your food properly, this will leave your malnourished and hungry, even if you are eating well. In turn, this will lead to further intake of food and/or cravings for sweets or poorly processed carbohydrates. In the end, this will lead to weight and fat gain.
Who would have guessed that this could all occur due to poor pancreas function?
We cannot finish this pancreas story without acknowledging two of the biggest functional companions with your pancreas, which would be the adrenal and thyroid glands.
When you have elevated blood sugar due to stress or poor food choices the pancreas will often begin to overcompensate by shooting too much insulin into the body. When this drops your blood sugar too low, this then leads to an adrenal response know as the “fight or flight” response, which recognizes the low blood sugar as a threat to your survival. In the end your adrenal glands will then release your primary stress response hormone, cortisol, which in turn will interact with insulin and glucagon, which are both pancreatic hormones. And round and round we go with the end result most often showing as weight and fat gain. This is a scary cycle that I see so many engage on a regular basis.
Now let’s throw the thyroid into this. When someone is living with a hypothyroid condition some of the basics of blood sugar regulation become skewed. If there is low thyroid function this slows the response of insulin to elevated blood sugar, so the sugar is slow getting into your cells to create energy. This will often lead to a hypoglycemic response, which your brain will interpret as a threat and call on your adrenal glands to respond to try to raise blood sugar, but often without optimal results. Eventually this patterns wears out the communication in your endocrine system, leaving you with weight and fat gain that simply does not seem to budge.
So the next time somebody tries to make you feel guilty or shamed about your weight and fat (I’m looking at you, Nicole Arbour!), let them know that this is simply due to some functional aspects of your body that you are now going to move forward in correcting. Take a look at your adrenal function, thyroid function as well as glucose and insulin levels to truly understand where you are most likely challenged. Even if you have had weight and fat issues most of your life, you can find the underlying causes of this and find the slimmer, leaner you that is just salivating to get out.
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