As the fitness industry is slowly merging with the health/medical profession, trainers are being referred to as the ‘doctors of the future’… I wouldn’t go that far (can you imagine handing Matt a stool sample?) The industry is now launching courses on stress, adrenal health, digestion and what really fascinates me; a course entitled “Women’s Issues.” So what are these women’s issues?
Seriously I reckon I could run this course. Item 1 on the agenda would be:
“We think we’re fat and we don’t know why!”
……and actually that would be the agenda!
If I could have a penny for every time I hear “I have no idea why I can’t lose weight” I’d be writing this blog on my yacht in the south of France. I hear women utter this all day long, in coffee shops whilst ordering a skinny cappuccino, queuing at checkouts with their couscous salad, telling a friend over a bag of snackajacks, in the gym changing rooms whilst emptying half a can of hair spray over their hair!
And here’s the answer, us women go to great lengths to screw up our metabolism (there were a few clues in the examples above). And let me set one thing straight, your metabolism isn’t this unique entity that exists in isolation in the body. We’re not blessed with a good or bad metabolism. Your metabolism is based on a number of bodily functions, in particular digestion, nutrient status and detoxification. So it’s true you could have a sluggish metabolism but most likely because you have irritable bowel syndrome or you’re lacking vital vitamins, minerals or macronutrients or your liver is so overloaded with toxins (hairspray!) it can’t fulfill its metabolic functions. This is why the girl that sits next to you at work can munch away on an entire packet of chocolate biscuits in her size eight jeans yet you only have to smell a biscuit and your muffin top grows an inch.
Here are just a few ways women often unknowingly compromise their metabolism….
The Contraceptive Pill
Most women at some point have been on the pill. Lots of women notice weight gain and an appetite increase when they take the pill as it alters our natural hormone profile. The pill does a number of things to trick our bodies (and brain) into not ovulating by suppressing the release of certain hormones. What many women do not realise is the pill also destroys beneficial gut bacteria (which plays a vital role in metabolism) and depletes many essential nutrients especially B vitamins, an essential part of our metabolic energy cycle.
What can you do?
Supporting digestion is so imperative if you are taking the contraceptive pill or any medication. Check out our Good Gut Guide. Also taking a good B complex with extra zinc and magnesium can help alongside eating as many nutrient rich foods as you can, check out How to Get Your Daily Dose. If you are taking the pill for menstrual issues, skin health or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome I strongly urge you to find a good nutritionist or naturopath who can offer lots of advise on nutrition and lifestyle approaches to these conditions, proven to be highly effective and metabolism supporting (rather than destroying).
Bad Genes = Big Jeans
The health of your parents (grandparents, great grandparents…) hugely impacts upon your own genetic make up.
Scientific studies are now emphasising the impact mother’s have on their child’s health, particularly during pregnancy. The “Barker Hypothesis” states that conditions during pregnancy will have long term effects on adult health including cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, obesity and hypertension. Babies born lighter in weight appear to have an increased rate of mortality than babies born at a heavier weigh.
What can you do?
So there is a chance that your start in life wasn’t the best if the generations before you were overweight. But that doesn’t mean it’s a foregone conclusion that you will be overweight. You can change yourself and the generations that follow you. The single best thing you can do is EDUCATE yourself about nutrition, exercise and healthy lifestyle choices. Following Fitter London and Fitter Food is a great start (of course) and these guys are top health experts :
Basically learn how to live healthily.
Victims of The Diet Industry
When I worked in an office I was known as the healthy one with my soy cappuccino, gluten free crackers and fat free yoghurt topped with canderel. Little did I know I was doing my waistline more harm than good! This is a great take on the situation:
Women use a lot of diet products to lower their calorie intake. As I mentioned earlier digestion and detoxification are key to metabolism so if you want to screw yours up add in some indigestible, gut aggravating, carcinogenic diet foods. I’d rather you had sugar (and that’s the first thing I remove from any clients diet so that’s saying something!)
What can you do?
Eat real food! The less packaging the better. Predominantly meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Our metabolisms love these and have been burning this stuff off for years.
Stop clogging up your digestion and liver with processed foods and chemicals, especially diet drinks, chewing gum, diet cereal bars or biscuits. Artificial sweeteners literally bloat the gut and there isn’t a woman I know who doesn’t long for a flatter stomach so get rid of them instantly. Instead of chewing gum to freshen breathe use peppermint and herbal teas and natural mouthwash (keep in your handbag or on your desk). Instead of low sugar fruit juice put slices of either fresh lemon, lime or orange in a jug of water with fresh mint leaves, leave for a few hours and they infuse the water. Swap diet coke for sparkling water and fresh lime juice.
If you are using sweeteners in tea or coffee swap to a dash of honey or maple syrup but to be honest dropping it out completely can really get rid of sugar cravings. In the interim adding some organic double cream or coconut milk/oil to your hot drink can help. The fat satiates you and stops the cravings sensation. Eventually you can drop this out and really appreciate a well brewed black coffee or tea as nature intended (well mother nature did put barista’s on this earth for a reason!)
In case you are interested this is my coffee evolution and how I worked my way to a healthier cuppa:
- Medium soya cappuccino + sweetener
- Small soya cappuccino
- Medium black coffee
- Small, freshly brewed artisan coffee (Usually Monmouth or Redbrick)
- …maybe one day none at all (working on it!)
Metabolism Wrecking Media
So you think you’re fat but what exactly counts as being is fat? Thanks to the media persistently reinforcing a notion of the perfect body, we actually have no idea whether we are fat or not but what we do know is despite best efforts we don’t look like this:
….and if I did I’d never get dressed! I’d like to point out in all the years working as a trainer I’ve never really seen this (I reassure myself she doesn’t really exist). What I do come across daily are beautiful, intelligent, inspirational women with a healthy weight who still seem to waste hours worrying about their figure. Thanks to airbrushing and women’s magazines constantly reinforcing a washboard stomach and super slim legs that only ever squat to sit on the loo, women everywhere suffer from huge insecurities about not even coming close this perfect body.
Recently some unflattering stage shots of Lady Gaga hit the press announcing her expanding waistline. This is a woman who possess unbelievable talents as an artist and performer yet society focuses in on her bottom, how ridiculous! She responded by tweeting this comment and photo below, a good response:
“To all the girls that think you’re ugly because you’re not a size 0, you’re the beautiful one. It’s society who’s ugly.”
The reason I’m highlighting this is women experience a huge amount of stress and anxiety about their bodies and this can have a really detrimental effect on our metabolism by increasing levels of cortisol (the bodies stress hormone). Chronically elevated cortisol has been shown to increase fat storage around the stomach so managing emotions about your body is really important. Basically stressing about fat can make you fat!
What can you do
Accept that we come in all shapes and sizes.
Focus your energy on making your stamp in life. Achieve things…. your passions, your dreams. The more you spend time doing the things you love the happier you are and the more you forget about the size of your jeans.
Always look after yourself and aim to be a healthy weight through healthy means but if you find this becoming obsessive or destructive ask yourself this…..why are you doing this? What will change if you lose those two pounds? Will your partner love you more (no they just wish you would stop banging on about being fat!) Will friends enjoy hanging out with you more (no they don’t care!) will your career be more successful (maybe if you’re aiming to be a magazine cover model, but probably not!) Yet one thing I can guarantee is you would enjoy life a whole lot more if you stopped wasting time wishing you looked like ‘her’……. and your body will definitely thank you for it.