The 5 weight loss myths most of us believe to be true & how to avoid them
Have you ever gazed at a child with admiration while they run around completely comfortable in their own skin? They never stop to question if they should hold their tummy in, or hide their body, they simply feel free with how and who they are. Oh the innocence of prepubescent youth!
As girls begin to develop, we begin the life long struggle of self-image and body-image. While we are all born loving our body unconditionally, as time goes on we begin to develop our human ego and with it arises the perils of ‘the body beautiful’.
According to Erik Erikson, our ‘ego identity is developed by human interaction and how an individual becomes more conscious of themselves and their surroundings.’ It is at this stage we begin to compare ourselves to others.
By the time we reach our teens our body is no longer something we love unconditionally, is can become the subject of harsh criticism and an object we judge rather than love.
Have you ever looked back at an old photo of yourself from 10, 20, 30 or more years ago to find the younger you looking healthy, youthful and slim yet at the time you felt overweight, fat or even ugly? Basking in the wisdom of later years you can think to yourself ‘I looked great what WAS I thinking?’
What would you tell your younger self now? As an experienced weight loss coach I know we would all love to tell ourselves to stop worrying about what we look like and to love our body with far more compassion, and we’d tell our younger selves to take bloody great care of our body, she needs to stay healthy so we look good now – so stop putting that rubbish into her!
So what happens to our body and our self-image as we age?
Our teens and 20’s tend to be years where we are more self-conscious of our body than any other time in life. As we develop sexually and begin seeking a partner, we tend to take conscious care of ourselves. 70% of gym goers fall into the age group of 18-34 years, it is at the age we are mindful of our weight and figure.
During our 20’s we tend to compare ourselves to others and care more about fashion trends and what other people think of us.
However, for most women, our 30’s are spent running around after children. These are the years we have the least time for ourselves, have the least sex, experience the most stress and our weight battle truly begins!
No longer do we have the time to attend to the gym, we are tired and worn out from running after our precious little people, and we simply fall to the bottom of the list. Our pre baby body that responded so well to weight loss efforts, begins to slow down, and the energy we used to have fades. During these years a number of hormonal shifts occur and our body composition (fat/muscle ratio) begins to snowball into oblivion so that as we reach our 40’s, our life and lifestyle catches up on us.
Our 40’s are the years we seek to reclaim our body! It’s at this time health becomes a major motivator, and we become less concerned about being seen naked when we change into our bathing costume. We begin to reflect on the kind of relationship we’ve had with our body, and begin reframing our self-image and body-image. But for most women it’s a struggle.
Reclaiming our body requires more than a simple diet or balancing of hormones; it requires a shift back toward self-love. Not to throw words around lightly, this is a challenging feat, and it begins with our reflection.
As age hits us and our beauty begins to fade we begin a life review, and this forces us to reassess both what we think and feel when we look into the eyes of the person we see in the mirror – we now know it’s time to heal and make peace with ourselves so we begin to rebuild our relationship with our body.
I believe that when we truly love ourselves and want to live our best life possible, we will take great care of the skin we are in. We will want to be the healthiest version of ourselves and to do this we must approach weight loss holistically. We cannot separate the physical body from our mental, emotional or spiritual selves. While we may seek answers in the physical world, it is our emotional and spiritual world that will determine the long term outcome of any diet.
So let’s unlock the mythical weight loss maze and uncover the truth behind ageing, weight battles and what we need to do to never have to worry about dieting or negative body-image again now that we have 40 plus years of wisdom to guide us.
As a weight loss coach of over two decades there is nothing I haven’t heard. Most of my clients are in their 40’s and 50’s and I know exactly what the motivating reasons for losing weight are, and what beliefs people have as to why they can’t lose weight and keep it off.
Myth #1: I’ve got a thyroid problem
According to researchers, 15% of Americans – that’s 42 million people – have mild symptoms of a thyroid disorder, and as we associate thyroid with weight, you might be right in thinking your thyroid could mean you have an inability to lose or keep weight off.
As a rule of thumb, an underactive thyroid may result in a sluggish metabolism and lead to weight gain and or an inability to lose weight, while an overactive thyroid can result in sudden weight loss and an inability to gain weight.
But is it that cut and dry? Does an underactive thyroid truly result in an inability to lose weight? Over the years I have had hundreds of women claim that no diet works for them and it’s because their thyroid is underactive, and my reply is always the same: I have never come across a woman who can’t lose weight on my program. The way it works seems to ‘reset’ the thyroid and I’ve seen weight loss with clients who have a clinically diagnosed underactive thyroid, match that of those who don’t.
In case you didn’t know, the thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in the neck that controls our growth and development via our metabolism. Around 80% of our overall weight management is controlled by your metabolism so that’s why if your thyroid plays up, you can end up with a weight problem.
An underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism is one of the most common thyroid disorders and the risks increase with age, especially in women over 40. According to Dr. Datis Kharrazian, the most common cause of the disorder is when our immune system attacks the thyroid, also known as Hashimoto’s disease.
In her book; ‘Why do I still have thyroid symptoms; when my lab tests are normal’, Dr Kharrazian states that up to 90% of hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s.
Symptoms of an underactive thyroid are not pleasant: weight gain, tiredness, sensitivity to cold, constipation, depression, slow movements and thoughts, muscle aches and weakness, muscle cramps, dry and scaly skin, brittle hair and nails, loss of sex drive, pain, numbness and a tingling sensation in the hand and fingers (carpal tunnel syndrome) and irregular or heavy periods.
Most, if not all of these symptoms could easily be written off to being really stressed at work, a lack of sleep or exercise, or because you generally haven’t been taking care of yourself.
Mild hypothyroidism can be really hard to clinically diagnose because hormone levels fluctuate throughout the day. While testing bloods is still the preferred method of many GPs, it has been proven to be an inaccurate test for this condition.
That means if your weight gain is down to mild hypothyroidism, you’re in a sub-clinical grey area where you might live with these symptoms for years and blame middle age spread, aging, or life in general because your blood tests were clear.
The good news is there is a home based method of testing that is far more accurate than bloods and I’ve included this test for you in my free download the Quick Start Guide to Managing Weight Over 40.
If Dr Kharrazian is right, then most thyroid issues are actually caused by our immune system, so to minimise the risk we must look first at our diet, because 80% of our immune system is controlled via the gut.
As we age, our gut health declines and this creates inflammation which leads to myriad of medical problems. The gut truly is the foundation of health and where the fountain of youth resides! And the great news is, it’s easy to fix!