You decided it’s time to get serious about losing weight. So you started eating healthy, maybe went on a diet, began exercising, etc. But you still can’t seem to drop those extra pounds.
It’s frustrating when you’re doing everything right; sacrificing your time, energy and taste buds, but still not getting results. If this is the case, there could be something blocking you from being your healthiest self.
I’ve seen plenty of this in my practice; undiagnosed hypothyroidism, high cortisol levels, poor digestion, or just feeling like you have no willpower. And the good news is that I have found some simple, enjoyable, and sometimes unconventional, things to get you over the hump so that all your weight loss efforts will pay off.
Unfortunately, many cases of hypothyroidism go undiagnosed. The biggest reason is that the “gold standard” test that most docs use to test thyroid function (TSH test) isn’t always accurate. Before the 70’s, when this test came into popular use, doctors would diagnose hypothyroidism by symptoms alone. These included inability to lose weight, hair loss, constipation, fatigue, depression, and cold intolerance. If you’ve got a few of these symptoms, you should consider supplementing with desiccated thyroid.
Cortisol is the hormone that your adrenal glands (which sit atop your kidneys) secrete to keep you awake and alert. Ideally, your highest levels are in the morning as you’re waking up from sleep. Then they slowly decline throughout the day so you’re able to fall into a deep sleep at night. But excess stress, and just plain old working too hard, raise your cortisol levels throughout the day, keeping your nervous system in the “fight or flight” state. This state sends blood to your heart and limbs (so you can run away from danger) and away from your digestive and reproductive organs (because who cares about digesting lunch when there’s a sabre-tooth tiger chasing you).
There are many ways to lower cortisol throughout your day, like mindfulness and deep breathing, but my favorite is human touch. Doctors in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) know that babies that get kangaroo care go home sooner. Kangaroo care consists of skin on skin contact with baby and (preferably) parent. You can bring this in to your life by giving more hugs, snuggling with your honey, or whatever ways you prefer to be touched.
It may seem impossible that this could really help you lose weight, but when my honey and I finally were able to see (and hug) each other every day, we both dropped a few pounds.
3. Compromised Digestion
In an ideal world your digestive system runs smoothly, taking your healthy food, breaking it down, sending nutrients to the rest of your body, and then getting rid of what it doesn’t need. It should do this effortlessly, without gas, bloating, heartburn, indigestion, cramping, constipation or diarrhea. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s a sign that you’re not getting what you need from you food. When this happens, your body sends cravings for things it’s not getting, and asks you to eat more to get them.
Optimizing your digestion is a huge topic, but there’s one tip I give everyone that’s easy, free, and makes a big difference. That tip is to eat mindfully. Pay attention when you eat, really taste your food, chew it well, and enjoy just eating without being distracted. It sounds easy, but just watch how easily you get distracted, and how quickly you grab for your phone, a book, or for conversation with your eating companions.
4. Willpower and Motivation
Some patients come to me with concerns that they can’t stop themselves from eating sugar, drinking alcohol, or sitting on the couch instead of taking a walk. They start out great for a few weeks, with a new diet and exercise routine. Then all of a sudden they crash. They complain of having no willpower, and beat themselves up for it.
Please don’t feel bad for having a piece of cake and a glass of wine at a birthday party, or going to bed early when you couldn’t sleep last night. It’s important that you enjoy life, and celebrate a balanced lifestyle. However, if this becomes habit, it could sabotage all your efforts.
The number one best way I’ve found to improve your mental and emotional states is flower elixirs. Flower elixirs (or essences) are vibrational remedies made from flowers. They can be used for anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress, addictions, and yes, willpower and motivation. Here are a few that I really like specifically for cravings and weight loss. You can choose one or several, and take a few drops 3-4 times a day.
1. Crab Apple – Cleanses your body and mind of the idea that everything must be pure and perfect.
2. Cayenne Flower – Burns through that sluggishness that keeps you stuck in old habits.
3. Chestnut Bud – Breaking repetitive habits.
4. Sunflower – Develops self-esteem and a healthy self image.
5. Impatiens – Moderates impulsive actions
6. Star of Bethlehem – Heals trauma that may be at the root of cravings or addictions.
Bonus - Rescue Remedy – Take this in the moment if stress/anxiety fuels your cravings. You can take it as often as every 5 minutes if you need to.
It seems impossible that tiny little needles set just under your skin could promote relaxation, enhance metabolism, balance hormones and detoxify your body, but it’s true! And as a bonus, many acupuncturists are trained in herbs, supplements, and nutrition, so can also serve as a personalized health coach. East Asian medicine sees each person as being unique, so treats the whole person. In addition to losing weight, most patients notice other positive results from acupuncture, usually better sleep, more energy and resilience to stress.
If you’ve tried all the other tips on this list, are eating healthy and exercising regularly, and still aren’t seeing results, consult with an expert, like an acupuncturist. And be persistent. It took time for the weight to go on, it will also take some time to drop it.
Elizabeth Allen is an acupuncturist in Greenville, South Carolina, specializing in pain management, women’s health, and psycho-emotional issues. She’s passionate about helping people feel their best and sharing her wealth of knowledge with the community. Elizabeth is the owner of AcuMed Spa, on Wade Hampton Boulevard. Appointments can be made by calling 864-451-4313, or scheduled online here.