By Erin Griffin, DO
Do you find yourself agonizing over every calorie eaten, every calorie burned, and thus every calorie remaining just to find yourself stagnant toward your weight loss goal? If the answer is yes… this one’s for you ☺.
Why is it then that we are doing EVERYTHING we know to do, and we do not lose weight? I tend to take a different approach when tackling stubborn weight loss. As a physician who practices Integrative Medicine and Family Medicine, I see patients daily who rigorously hit the gym, obsess over their food intake, AND do NOT lose a pound or inch from their waste line. There are several different reasons why this occurs some of which I will discuss with you now.
Who has time to exercise? I mean really…. There is barely time in the day to get everything accomplished at work and home. How do you find time to exercise? I battle this frequently. Gym memberships are expensive, time is limited, and energy scarce. The trick is to find what works best for you, personally. This sounds super easy. IT IS NOT !! For example, I hate getting up early, yet I know I will never venture out to the gym or even work out at home once I get off work and crash on my comfy couch with my three pups. So for me I have had to learn to be an early riser. This is one of many examples of how to compromise for time at the gym. I have a lot of friends who prefer to work out after work; this works better for their schedule. I have many patients and a husband who prefer to work out at home and detest the gym. When I see a patient for the first visit, I initially get a good history. I want to know about your daily agenda and what works best for you. By planning your workouts around your personal schedule, you will be less likely to “cop out” of exercise. And let’s be honest… EXERCISE is a must. I wish I could replace this with a magic pill, but trust me it does not exist.
Who FEELS like exercising? Maybe you sleep eight hours every night but never feel rested; or, cannot stay a sleep to save your life. Chronic fatigue is a real issue. Acute fatigue is a real issue. I help patients every day feel less fatigued. There is not a cookie cutter approach. Everyone is unique. There are several things I can do to assess the root cause of your fatigue. How is your cortisol? Wait… what is cortisol? This is your stress hormone. Even worse, the only hormone that increases with age. I utilize testing that can tell me what your stress hormone is doing throughout a 24-hour period. Is it low when it should be? Is it high when it should be? I then treat accordingly to help balance this hormone; which yes, we do need some of it. It is a balancing game. Do you take a multivitamin? Which one? Is it right for your age, sex, and goals? These are all questions I ask my patients on a daily basis. We have to make sure the body has the nutrients it needs to succeed. I also make sure you have the ability to utilize these vitamins. This gets into some tricky genetic testing which I will not bore you with but trust me it is vital to how we make and use energy. Oh and don’t forget do you need a sleep study? Think narcolepsy, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome. These will all cause your energy to plummet.
WATER… you need it. Enough said. No, seriously dehydration can lead to slower metabolism and lower your bodies’ efficacy. I usually recommend at least a half-gallon of water on routine days and a gallon of water on work out days. This is for a standard individual and I tailor the exact amount to an individual’s personal needs, lab results, etc.
Yes, sometimes it REALLY is your thyroid. Low thyroid hormone decreases metabolism which decreases calorie burn and contributes to fat gain. It is a lot more complex than this, but you get the gist. However, did you know if your thyroid is overactive you can still feel very bad. Most people ask, “ If my thyroid is overactive wouldn’t I have all of this energy and be able to work out, clean the house, and walk the dogs all before 7am?” Short answer. No. Quite the opposite. Your body is trying to keep up with the high demand that hyperthyroid or “over active thyroid” brings with it. This also causes …. you guessed it. Decreased metabolism efficiency and even fatigue. A patient may also observe hair loss and hot flashes, but there are many other things that can cause hair loss and hot flashes. Take hormone imbalance such as too much or too little estrogen, too little progesterone, and testosterone abnormalities just to name a few scenarios. This is also another huge contributor to resistant weight loss.
I could list several other reasons for resistant weight loss. As you can see it is not a “one size fits all”. Resistant weight loss is, in my opinion, multifactorial most of the time. I am one piece in the wellness team I build around my patients. This usually involves a combination of health coaching, personal training, life coaching, treating hormone imbalances, treating the thyroid, and more. Oh! WAIT! Does the “microbiome”, that continues to grow in popularity, factor into weight loss? To be continued…