When we talk about finding your Natural Weight it is useful to know that our Natural Weight is related to the ‘Set Point Theory’, which is a hypothesis that our bodies have a biologically pre-determined set-point weight range, that they are always working to maintain.
Below I have included 7 mistakes that you might be making, that are moving you further away from finding your Natural Weight.
1) Trying the next new low calorie diet
The reason why trying the next new low calorie diet won’t help you reach your Natural Weight, is because our bodies don’t understand dieting.
As Sarah (founder of Gut Reaction and Nutritional Therapist at Sana Vita Health) explains, “If you go on a calorie restricted diet and the body perceives your weight going down too rapidly, or even the threat of weight going down, it tends to respond in some interesting ways, all with the aim of keeping you safe, in balance and as close to set point as possible. This is all because our bodies don’t know that there is food all around us, so it thinks it’s helping us survive a severe famine and using powerful mechanisms to protect us”.
These mechanisms include slowing down the rate of metabolism, which can in turn encourage fat storage and weight gain after dieting. They can shut down non – essential bodily functions such as the menstrual cycle for women. Other results and symptoms of low calorie dieting can include low energy, brain fog and lack of motivation.
A balanced approach to finding your Natural Weight, without restriction, is key here to ensure your body doesn’t feel threatened and can therefore function optimally.
2) Cutting out major food groups
I’m sure you have heard of various diets claiming they will help you lose weight including low carb, dairy free, gluten free, wheat free and high fat, you name it. Of course there is a place for these kind of diets for people with medical reasons such as coeliac disease or diabetes.
However, if you don’t have a medical reason then you could be moving towards faddy eating. All of the major food groups including Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats contain macro and micro nutrients essential to health and functioning optimally. So similar to trying the next new diet, if your body experiences a severe reduction in one, or more, of the major food groups it once again will adapt to this in ways that will not support you in finding your Natural Weight (as explained above).
3) Exercising too little (or too much!)
Whether your Natural Weight requires you to lose weight or not, exercise is an essential part of the process. At Sana Vita Health, we suggest aiming to exercise, 3 to 4x per week, for 20 – 60mins.
This can include a combination of long duration, steady exercise (30+ minutes) such as walking, running and swimming. Higher intensity exercise (20 – 40 minutes) such as circuit training or spinning and finally, more relaxing and restorative exercise such as Yoga, Pilates and stretching sessions.
We put Yoga and stretching high on the priority list when it comes to exercise and finding your Natural Weight, as they help create balance in the body by reducing stress levels in particular. High stress levels in the body can lead to fat storage, hormonal imbalances, low energy and high blood pressure to name a few, once more leading you further away from finding your Natural Weight.
4) Ignoring your hunger and fullness ques
Restrictive diets often encourage us to ignore our natural hunger and fullness ques as a bid to reduce calorie intake. When we do this and our weight does drop, our hunger increases.
Sarah explains the reason for this is “We begin to produce more ghrelin, the ‘hunger’ hormone and less leptin, the ‘fullness’ hormone.
In very restrictive, long-term yoyo dieters, leptin levels can become virtually untraceable. This means the drive to eat is high, and the body may not produce ‘fullness’ signals until long after weight has returned to the set-point range”.
This reinforces why restrictive dieting goes against our bodies’ natural processes and results in a weight that isn’t where our bodies are striving to be.
5) Using food to deal with negative emotions
We all experience negative emotions in the body and
sometimes it can be tempting to numb these feelings with things such as eating, social media, alcohol and Netflix. Although we can make space for all of these things, we can begin to experience some adverse side effects when they start to creep in frequently, as a way to escape negative emotions.
I have shared below a great illustration (by @heyamberrae)
which shows us how we sit with uncomfortable feelings without taking action. It assures us that the feeling will indeed pass without reaching for something on the outside to escape the feeling. If we continue to move down the white spiral each time we experience a negative emotion, the cycle will continue.
So by not reaching for food when your experiencing a negative emotion (and making your way up the black spiral instead) you are reducing extra calorie intake, tuning into what your body really needs and giving yourself the best chance to find your Natural Healthy Weight.
6) Adopting a lifestyle that is not in line with your Genetic make up
Have you ever wondered why one diet or eating plan works
really well for someone else and not for you?
Well the reason for this comes down to our DNA, our genetic
makeup. For example, certain genes and how they are expressed in response to our environment can predispose us to having a higher metabolic response to saturated fats. Other examples include being more sensitive to caffeine or having a tendency towards inflammation.
Understanding our DNA can help us create a lifestyle that works with our body on a genetic level including our approach to our nutrition, preferred exercise styles and sleeping habits.
At Sana Vita Health, we work closely with ‘My DNA Health’ to help our clients design the right lifestyle, actions and habits to support their bodies and help them find their Natural Weight.
7) Negative self-talk towards your body
Have you ever paused for a few moments to notice the thoughts and mental chatter in your mind? If you haven’t I’d encourage you try it now, take a moment to observe what your mind is saying. If you notice the thoughts in your mind are negative, instead of motivating and uplifting, understand that these thoughts, lead to how you feel and create the actions you take every day.
So how do we change our thoughts? The first step is to begin to observe your thoughts. You can then invite them in and let go of any attachments you might have to them. Letting go of attachments to your thoughts will allow you to let them pass.
Once you can practice this with ease you can then start to
introduce more supportive thoughts, it might help to right these thoughts down, for example ‘I believe in myself and my abilities’ or ‘I have everything I need inside me to allow my body to be at its Natural Weight’. Notice how these thoughts make you feel. By adopting thoughts like these you are much more likely to feel more positive emotions in relation to your body and take actions that will help you reach your Natural Weight.
I hope you have found this helpful. If you have any
particular questions on how you can find your Natural Weight or would like more information about how Sarah and I help our clients reach and maintain their Natural Weight then please do get in touch.
To your health and happiness,
Áine & Sarah