A Weighty Topic
Weight is the most visual and measurable variable in our health so it is always the first thing we notice. For many of us, though, it has become something we place our identity in. We see our beauty measured by the way we look. In attempt to distract us from numbers on the scale and size on our tags, the world says love the skin you're in and honor your body. Then that message is twisted with Instagram Models and now its all about looks. Being small, but also lean, also have a big butt with long legs, skinny ankles, defined collar bones, the expectations are endless.
Naturally, this is where everything started for me. Weight was the first thing I noticed about my health. In college, it was how I knew I needed to diet again. When a cheer skirt was a little tighter, it was time to not eat and run for a few days. It's how I could tell when I wasn't taking care of my body. In a strange way now, I see changes in weight as a blessing! Shorts not fitting the same way this week as they were before? well.. probably didn't balance my blood sugar so I can work on that more this week!
Just to give you an example :
Here is a visual difference during my senior year cheering. I was so obsessive and restrictive at the beginning of the year then as the year progressed, my body could not take it anymore and after cycling between starving and bingeing, this is what happened. At the end of the year, I was swollen and heavier. I tried to break this cycle, but I struggled with our wedding then after the wedding then events to come. My weight in the past few years has been incredibly inconsistent and each shift took huge tolls on my hormones and health.
But that wasn't something I had a clue about at the time! I was on birth control so it would take care of it all?!
No. no no no no no.
So, here is my advice on what NOT to do :
Let's just clarify one thing about calories. Calories in and calories out is an idea that needs to be thrown out. It is worthless and therefore makes us feel worthless. By counting calories you consume vs. the calories you expend, you can narrow your worth down to a number and feel guilt when that number is not exactly what it "should" be. I don't find it necessary to talk about the exact numbers I used to follow, but I do think it is important to know that counting calories never works. It is not something you can stick to long term and is not healthy for your mental stability. Just do yourself a favor and don't look at calorie count! From now on, focus on nourishing your body and feeling content with the food the Lord has given you and move on!
The first step in losing weight is having the right mindset.
What is your reason to lose that weight? Is it to look a certain way and please the eye? Is it to make heads turn when you walk in the room? Or is it to feel better about your health? Will you be able to love others more fully if you lose weight? Are you concerned for your health because of weight? Are you unable to live out your God given talents and gifts due to being overweight? It is obvious what questions we should be asking ourselves. I used to want to lose weight to look good in the uniform and please the world. Then I wanted to keep that up and have a cheerleader body for my husband. It all leads to self destruction.
You will not be able to care for your body or make lasting changes if your mind is set on the temporary ways of this world.
Biblical proof : Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Also : 1 Peter 3:3-4 | 1st Samuel 16:7 | Ezekiel 28:17 | Ephesians 2:10
My proof : My unhealthy relationship with food was not healed until I gave it to my Father in heaven. Even becoming certified as a Holistic Health Coach and having access to all the newest discoveries about optimal wellness did not get me there. Set your eyes on the Lord and His promise of eternity. Give Him the glory and love the temple He built for you. You will be shocked at how much change comes just by seeing it all differently.
Once you have a healthy mindset, finding a healthy weight for you is going to look different than everyone else so really tune into your own body.
So, as far as weight goes, there are many hormones that play a role.
Just to keep it simple, we will start by talking about insulin!
Just for reference :
Blood sugar – Glucose is the form of sugar that is in our bloodstream. Glucose is the body’s preferred source of fuel.
Insulin – the pancreas secretes insulin, a hormone that shuttles glucose from the blood into body cells. It knocks on the cell and says, “Hey - let me in! I have some glucose and fatty acids that you need to store for energy!”
Glycogen – Glucose that doesn’t enter body cells is taken to the liver where it is converted to glycogen. This is a form of stored sugar that is broken down to stabilize low blood sugar levels between meals and during the night. It is healthful for the body store of glycogen, but stress and hormone dysfunction deplete our ability to store glycogen and this can contribute to blood sugar imbalance.
I am a visual learner so this is what helped me - excuse the 7th grade science lesson. Pictured is an unrealistic drawing of a fat cell. Inside this cell are many things (of which are not all pictured right now).. but just focus on insulin and triglycerides to begin. Insulin is the hormone that regulates glucose (sugar) in your blood - hence, blood sugar! Triglycerides are triangle shaped structures formed together by insulin, fatty acids, and glycerol. Triglycerides are not able to exit the fat cell. They are too large. In order for a fat cell to shrink, triglycerides have to be broken down in order to release fatty acids. How does this happen?? One VERY important way is by regulating insulin levels!! Whooo! Simple, right?
Insulin encourages fatty acids to enter into the fat cell. Insulin encourages the fatty acids to mingle with glycerol to form triglycerides. Insulin works to keep these triglycerides together. So, an excess amount or spike in insulin levels leads to fat cell growth. Weight gain. Hence, why in college if I ever gained weight (like after a post football game binge) I would claim I could feel packs on the backside of my legs! I wasn't crazy and I wasn't making this up... It was my insulin spiking from all the fatty acids I consumed and turning it all into triglycerides in my fat cells for storage. Now, because of this lovely cycle I created, I have insulin resistance! Meaning, my blood sugar can spike very easily and I have to be careful with how much sugary foods I consume. By balancing my blood sugar and regulating insulin, my hormones have been able to regulate, break down triglycerides, and l can lose weight. It just takes time and a whole lot of balance.
I kid you not, I have had the best time losing weight by balancing my blood sugar than any other "plan" before. This one is completely based off my body and how much I can handle. I encourage you to do the same! It takes time and patience and a whole lot of body loving :)
By eating a balanced diet that works for my body, my hormones and body can regulate properly! Crazy how actually doing what your body needs can help. I have learned that PCOS is not something I have to suffer from. It is something that is also worsened by my insulin resistance. It all connects together and by not getting so zoned in on one thing, I am able to heal all aspects of my health a little at a time.
Over time, I have been able to lose weight at a healthy rate and in a healthy manner. I have not starved or binged and there was no quick fix, but I know it will last a lifetime and my mental health has been cared for in the process!
Here are thing that have worked for ME and my blood sugar!
For starters, I walk after dinner most nights and when I can! This has helped immensely - especially if you eat a heavier meal for dinner. Ensuring your blood sugar is regulated before bed is great for stabilizing your weight. Not that dessert is bad, but taking these walking has been wonderful for my cravings and level of satisfaction after dinner.
Eat plenty of healthy fats! This slows your digestion of carbs - therefore helping with the prevention of blood sugar spikes.
Eat good balanced meals and try not to snack. This is just what has worked for me and my blood sugar. I give my stomach a good 3-4 hours between meals to fully digest my food to sustain me. By adding in more healthy fats, digestion is slower and will sustain you longer.
Use real sources of carbs. I eat grains, sprouted grain bread, sweet potatoes, and fruit for carbs. I like to eat them in the middle of the day for energy!
Quality sleep and enough of it. Blood sugar works hand in hand with your sleep so try to clean up your routine! You want to try to go to bed at the same time each night, getting enough for your body and age.
Learn to listen to your body! If your blood sugar is too high, increase the healthy fat at your meals and decrease the carbs. If your blood sugar is too low between meals, consider increasing the carbs at your meals!
I like to eat my fruit sugars in the morning! Personally, certain fruits make me feel jittery and hot. If you feel great after eating a banana - eat the banana! Bananas, pineapple, mango, and green grapes make my blood sugar spike! I try to stick to eating lots of berries, pears, apples, cherries, etc.! Find what works for you! Your needs will change over time too! So, for me, I know bananas aren't the best for me right now, but my needs will change in the future and I might be able to enjoy them!
If you take anything from this, just know that what works for me will not always work for you. Set your eyes on the Lord and learn to take care of your own body!
Stay tuned for the next post on weight in relation to hormones!!