Most young women begin struggling with weight gain during adolescence when the body starts preparing for the fertile years. Fat helps to produce and maintain hormones and promotes healthy development of the fetus, as well as the mother’s milk production. Women who have less than 8% body fat are at risk of becoming infertile. Having too much body fat can predispose a developing fetus to obesity later in life and leads to a plethora of health complications for both mother and child.
I’ve helped many women learn how to feel good in their skin by educating them on the importance of attaining health and wellbeing, rather than focus on being skinny. After all, moderate body fat provides softness and curves to a woman’s body. We’re not meant to have a six-pack! Here are some tips for having a healthier approach to weight.
Forget about weighing yourself. Who really cares what you weigh? It’s just a number! The composition of your body is what matters. Focus on maintaining or building lean body mass that burns more calories and provides abundant energy and strength. Weight bearing exercise is key here.
Lose the guilt about not having enough willpower and ignore cultural messages suggesting you might be lazy. Excess body fat is a symptom of imbalance, not failure on your part. Genetic factors, hormone and neurotransmitter imbalances, inflammation, toxicity, gut microbiome imbalances and the mental/emotional aspects of eating all contribute to disparities that inhibit fat loss. Eliminating or reducing these obstacles makes fat loss easier and more sustainable because a body in balance naturally starts to adjust fat mass to healthier levels.
Focus on what you eat rather than how much. Insulin is a hormone released when we consume foods that raise blood glucose. Insulin, known as the “fat storage hormone”, is also responsible for the production of chemicals that promote inflammation, a known cause of fat storage. Minimize insulin by eating less fruit, foods with added sugar, and grains.
Fiber-rich vegetables make the stomach feel full much quicker than bread or chips. Have you ever noticed you can only eat so much salad whereas a basket of bread or corn chips can be followed with a full meal?
There are appetite regulators we can control with certain types of food and timing.
Ghrelin (think gremlin) is a hunger generator. When you haven’t eaten, your stomach makes ghrelin to signal your brain that it’s time to eat. Taming hunger means suppressing ghrelin by eating three meals a day.
You can feel full longer by eating healthy fats that make the contents of the stomach empty slower. A teaspoon of coconut oil or a small pat of grass-fed butter about 20 to 30 minutes before you eat your meal is all you need. When this fat enters your small intestine, it signals the production of another appetite regulating chemical called cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK signals the brain that your hunger is satisfied so you eat less.
Thirty or so minutes after you begin eating your fat cells make a chemical called leptin. Like CCK, leptin also informs the brain that you’re had enough to eat. Eating slowly allows enough time for leptin to do its job. An important caveat – adequate SLEEP is imperative for leptin to work, so, get your ZZZZs!
Finally, keep it foremost in your mind that women are supposed to have curves! Body size does NOT determine your value as a human being or your ability to be beautiful and confident! Instead of weight loss, focus on attaining health, wellbeing, and the things you want to be able to do.
These and other tips are the focus of the A Way Of Life (AWOL) Weight Management Program that Dr. Cheryl Hamilton teaches at the Women’s Health and Healing Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Dr. Hamilton, began her career in healthcare 35 years ago. She earned a B.S. degree in nutrition, worked in the health and fitness industry, and raised four children before attending the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine to become a naturopathic medical doctor. If you are interested in obtaining more information about Dr. Hamilton or the Women’s Health and Healing Center please call 928-515-2363, or go to www.womenshealthandhealingcenter.com. Dr. Hamilton is passionate about assisting women and their loved ones to improve their health and wellbeing.