Why We Hold On To Unwanted Weight
While I’d be the first to agree that as Americans, we all live in a toxic food environment, I’m not convinced that its the only reason we hold onto unwanted weight. There are other reasons, and not all of them are caloric! Let’s take a peek at a few.
Poor sleep hygiene- research shows that lack of sleep and/or inconsistent sleep can put on the pounds. When we are up at all hours, our bodies become programmed to think its summer, which is the time that bodies store weight for the winter. For a more detailed explanation, check out one of my favorite books, Lights Out! Sleep, Sugar and Survival by T.S. Wiley
Speaking of light and dark, there is a new movie out about our lack of darkness in our lives. It’s called City Dark: a search for night on a planet that never sleeps. Watching City Dark, you might be surprised to learn about the connection to lack of darkness and cancer, the film will be on PBS this summer, check your local listings.
Mindless eating is something Americans do all to well. Most often we do it with processed packaged food, not with the good stuff. Make a point to eat real food and make a commitment to eat at a table. Not on a couch, not in a car, and not while walking or working. Be with your food! Being present means looking at your food, tasting it, chewing slowly and mindfully. Click here for an article that will dig deeper into mindfulness and health. Also check out Brian Wansink’s clever website on Mindless Eating, www.mindlesseating.org
Mindfulness around eating and all aspects of life is one strategy for stress reduction. I’m convinced that chronic low level stress is the biggest factor in why we hold onto unwanted weight. Stress results in biochemical changes in our blood: increased adrenaline which kicks in cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol directly impacts fat storage and weight gain. Chronic stress can lead to insulin resistance, a pre-diabetic condition that includes abdominal weight gain.
Stress in our lives will not go away, one way or another stressful situations will always be part of the deal. Our response to stress is what we need to focus on. Taking significant time each day to cultivate strategies to be in a low stress/ no stress state. That can take on many forms. Meditation is a proven way to reduce stress, Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction has a long track record of success.
Meditation can take many forms. I spent a month at the Osho Meditation Center in Pune, India back in 2001. Osho has many many many varieties of meditation. His active meditations are specifically designed for busy people.
There are also other ways to reduce stress that are not meditation per se. Taking a walk outside, soaking in a tub with warm water and low lights, putting your legs up the wall in a yoga pose can all be effective in lowering our stressful states of being.
Letting go of weight includes focusing on eating real food, which I hope you’ll find some inspiration here. Feel free to enjoy some of the 60+ recipes on this blog to help you find your way on the food journey. But remember the other pieces to good health that matter just as much as food include addressing stress and getting good sleep!