It may seem unfair, but there are a lot of reasons that it can be difficult for people with a weight problem to get that weight off again. While blaming biological factors won’t help shedding those pounds, it can be helpful to know that there are real factors slowing one down. Furthermore, with some diet and life-style changes, what may seem like a deck stacked against you can be reshuffled into a winning hand.
Body Composition and Metabolism – Playing the System
Fat cells are largely biologically inactive, while highly vascularized muscles cells require energy even when they aren’t doing anything. This means that people with high muscle content burn calories faster than people with higher fat content.
While this may seem unfair, the good news is that it can be used to one’s advantage while trying to lose weight. Most people who are trying to lose weight rely heavily on aerobic exercises like jogging. Aerobic exercises are the best for burning calories, but they don’t do very much to build muscle. Throwing in some anaerobic exercises, like lifting weights, can be a great investment by building muscle that will help burn calories for you.
This fact has drawn fire lately, as a single pound of muscle may burn only ten calories during a non-workout day (that’s opposed to fat’s three or so calories per day). While this may not seem like much, it’s the kind of thing that adds up quickly.
Unfortunately, people with too much extra adipose can find it difficult to move around and stay active, which naturally makes it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight. In severe cases a doctor may recommend bariatric surgery to encourage weight loss to the point that an exercise regimen can be started. Before it gets that far, however, most people, regardless of size, can ease their way into exercise with activities that burn calories without being too ambitious, like walking instead of jogging.
Some people enjoy taking walks through the woods, by the water, or just around their neighborhood, while others may take up a hobby that requires them to move around, like gardening, bird watching, or collecting objects found in nature like flowers, leaves, stones, or sea shells. It can also help to walk to nearby stores, to park further from the entrance, or to park in a lot and walk from store to store instead of driving.
Eating Patterns Affect Eating Patterns – Make Yours Work for You
Our intestines play host to a normally wide array of helpful bacteria. Scientists have known for a long time that this bacteria helps us digest our food, and may help stave off illness, but are now finding out that it may also help play a part in determining such things as how we feel and what we crave. Eating too much heavily processed foods can lead to a reduction in the diversity of this “gut flora,” which may impact the kinds of foods that we want, and the kinds of foods that our bodies can easily handle.
This trend can be turned around, however, by eating more pre-biotics and pro-biotics. Pre-biotics are chemicals that can make our internal environments more hospitable to a wider array of helpful gut flora. Most foods that are naturally preserved, like sour croute, pickles, and even beer. Pro-biotics are helpful bacteria in some aged foods that are ready to be taken into our systems, provided our systems will allow them to thrive. Foods known for being high in probiotics include yogurt and some cheeses. Once a healthy variety of gut flora has been restored it can be maintained by eating a wide variety of minimally processed foods, which can help lead to healthier cravings and better digestive health.
Large Portions Leave Us Hungrier
Regularly over-eating can stretch the stomach and increase its capacity. Because stretch receptors in the stomach help to alert the brain when we are full, a stomach with an increased capacity can trick the mind into letting us eat more than we need, which leads to consuming excess calories, which can contribute to weight gain.
The goal of many bariatric surgeries is to reduce the size of the stomach to reduce the volume of food that it takes to feel full, but just as the stomach can stretch, it can also return to a healthy size after a period of eating smaller portions. This can take some pretty intense will-power, but is an important part of developing healthier eating patterns that will lead to long-term progress.
It is also important to note that it takes time for the signals from the stomach to reach the brain, so eating slowly, or stopping before one feels completely full can both help to prevent over-eating. That full feeling will just catch up later.
Many diets recommend drinking water before a meal to prevent over-eating, and while this can help one to feel more full before beginning a meal, it still does this by filling the stomach, so it won’t address the over-all problem of stretched-out stomach walls.
A Social Catch-22
Another common problem is not so much a medical problem as a societal problem: people who are in shape and seen jogging or at the gym are often admired, while people out and about trying to get in shape are more likely to be made fun of or put down by others.
While many of the issues listed above can be turned around by the individual, it can be hard to reverse this one, although changes in the culture, especially on social media, are addressing this particular problem by encouraging people to better themselves.
Sharing one’s weight loss accomplishments and struggles with others can be a good way of building one another’s confidence, and many people trying to lose weight find emotional support in small groups, or even a single partner, to help them on their paths to better health.
It can be easy to look at all of the obstacles in one’s way when it comes to achieving meaningful weight loss, but it can be far more constructive to turn these obstacles into the advantages that most people take for granted.