A couple of years ago, I was 60 pounds overweight and honestly I hated myself for it. I found myself avoiding all mirrors and pictures. At a higher level, I felt numb walking through life as I avoided the reality that I didn’t love my personal image. I convinced myself that I wasn’t that big even though I had to buy all new clothes and had stretch marks. Then, I got a shot of reality when I got my graduation picture back. Things sure can change fast when you see the same fat picture of yourself everywhere you go.
Since 1999, I’ve been obsessively reading about sports performance, bodybuilding and supplements, so I had a vast knowledge base to draw on when I started my weight loss journey. I still tried things that failed, wasted money on supplements and did workout programs that didn’t help, but eventually I figured it out and I’ve kept it off.
And now I’d like to give back, because from what I’ve seen in the last year in helping people with functional medicine is that I lucked out. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have certain risk factors that would keep me fat, but I did have others that kept the last 20 pounds stuck on me. So that’s why, after helping people of all body types, men and women alike, I’d like to help you figure out why you’re not as skinny as you’d like to be.
Why Your Fat Won’t Leave
The first thing I’ve noticed is that there are two general categories for everyone needing to lose some fat. The first group is the mild cases. Let me explain. Most people know a person like Jenny. She’s that new mom that everyone hates, because all she did was start working out and eat a clean diet. Now, 8 weeks later she’s back to wearing skinny jeans with a tight stomach.
The other group is the tough cases, which was the group I was part of. I tried diet after diet, poured money into supplements and exercise and barely saw any fat loss. Many people in this group initially strip off inches and pounds, but they get stuck many pounds away from their goals.
Are you curious why your fat won’t leave? If so, this quiz can offer you clues as to which category you fall into. The benefits of this simple quiz are that you’ll quickly learn about six risk factors for losing weight, as well as where to look to actually achieve the body you want.
Note: Following this quiz, I’ll give you some general ideas to help both camps so don’t stop reading after you figure out the results.
Question 1: Have you switched to a grain-free diet and make 80% of your meals at home, but are still looking to lose 20 pounds or more?
Question 2: Do you need to lose more than 60 pounds?
Question 3: Do you have an autoimmune disease or other complex diagnosis (such as Type 2 diabetes, Celiac Disease , Inflammatory Bowel Disease, PCOS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, or Neurodegenerative Disease)?
Question 4: If you do a moderately intense workout today, are you exhausted the rest of the day or tomorrow?
Question 5: Have you done other “diets” in the past only to gain the weight back or never lose it in the first place?
Question 6: On average, do you eat less than 1,500 calories a day?
If you answered yes to any one of these questions that means you fall into the tough case category, but don’t panic. You’re not alone, because there are lots of people right there with you.
What to do if You’re a Tough Case Weight Loss Person
The first step towards weight loss is to think about it holistically. The dogma of eat less and workout more hasn’t been working for over 15 years, so wash that nonsense from your head. If it was working, then America wouldn’t be so fat. We have more gyms and weight loss programs and books than any other nation, yet we keep getting fatter.
Part of the reason for this is the idea that we can all follow the same guidelines and the weight will magically fall off. As a tough case you have different genetics, life history and current health that makes general plans worthless. And don’t think the mild cases get off the hook here, they suffer from the very same problems. It’s all a part of the beautiful human condition. We’re all unique individuals.
So, the first big step for the tough cases is to understand why you are a tough case.
You’re Eating Low Carb and/or Grain-Free and You’re Still Fat
If you answered yes to question #1 and made the switch to eating real foods I need to congratulate you, because it’s a huge first step towards the body and health you want. The Paleo Diet, Primal Diet and Specific Carbohydrate Diet can cause dramatic fat loss. However, there is a sub-group of people who switch and just don’t see the dramatic changes that many report.
I understand this, because I was part of this group. The nutrients in the food we eat play a big role in helping us get skinny and stay there. Switching to a lower carbohydrate diet filled with lots of nutrients can cause amazing weight loss for many, but then there are people like me who only saw a small effect.
If you fall into this group, then it’s a huge clue that there are underlying health issues that must be dealt with before you’ll get the fat loss results you want.
If You’re 60 Pounds Overweight
If you have this much weight or more to lose, it puts you at an elevated risk of many serious diseases, blood sugar issues and metabolic slowdown. These can be overcome, but definitely need to be taken into consideration as you begin your weight loss journey.
Lots of people I meet, who are this overweight, have nagging health complaints like:
- Getting very sleepy after eating or in the afternoon
- Craving sugar on a daily basis
- Get light headed or dizzy between meals
- Never feel rested when they sleep even though they try hard to get good sleep
- Having sexual organ dysfunction and/or diseases
All of the above symptoms suggest a couple of interrelated problems that make you a tough case for weight loss. They could suggest you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic, that you might have sleep apnea or other weight induced sleep disturbances, or that you have adrenal, thyroid and/or sex hormone dysregulation. All of these are important factors, because weight loss isn’t just an issue of having too much fat. It’s a much larger issue of being sick and having dysfunction on the inside of the body.
Some of the best new theories on weight gain and diabetes suggest the body is actually doing it’s best to save your life despite current eating, lifestyle and exercise choices. Resist the urge to curse, hate and become a victim to your fat and weight, because your body really has your best interest in mind. Instead, shift towards digging deeper and getting further help with your health.
Autoimmune and Complex Diagnoses Create Complications
Those with a known autoimmune disease, diagnosis by syndrome, or complex symptoms are in the tough case category. Reason being is that your health has progressed to a point in which inflammation and major body systems are known to be dysfunctional.
Without addressing the root causes of these problems it’s highly unlikely you will lose the fat you want to. Conversely, you will notice many people with these problems can be very slender or almost too skinny; they have root issues like you. They desperately want to gain weight and you want to lose it, but both of you need to work on your hormones, detoxification systems and digestive tracts to make it happen.
If you steady your focus on removing the root of these problems, the weight will begin to come off.
Feeling Like Crap After a Workout Means…
If you answered yes to question #4, it means you have hormone dysfunction. Call it being overtrained, adrenal fatigue or having no energy. If you’re not recovering from a moderately stressful workout, such as a 45-minute brisk walk, 30-minute bike ride, or weight lifting session, it means your body cannot muster the nutrients or hormones needed to fix itself.
What does this all mean you ask? It means your body is screaming for some sort of support. It means targeted supplements, a different diet or less stress. Either way, you need to shift your focus from weight loss or fitness towards feeling great on a daily basis. As you make this change, the weight will begin to change, too.
The Yo-Yo Dieter Needs Help, Not a Different Diet
I’ve done just about every diet on the planet, so for those of you who answered yes to this question I understand your pain. I like to think of it like being a drug addict. Drug addicts don’t need jail time they need help. I’m talking about things like emotional support, physical help and life tools.
All of the diets that should have worked didn’t, and it’s not because you didn’t try. I don’t think you’re lazy, incompetent or dumb. Actually, I think you’re motivated, courageous and brave for taking action, and I think you just need a little more help. There is something you’re missing, like maybe a hormone problem, a lifestyle issue or lingering emotional wound(s).
Either way, it’s hard to fix something when you don’t have the entire picture in front of you. Despite your best efforts, you’ll probably keep shooting yourself in the foot. If you fall into this group, begin with the ideas below and keep diving deeper for more answers.
Calories Matter for Everyone!
If you answered yes to question #6, then we need to talk calories. You’re undereating and downregulating your metabolism.
When it comes to calories there are two groups of experts. One group has been saying for 15-plus years that calories are the only thing that matters. A new group has emerged and says they don’t matter at all if you’re eating high quality foods. So how should we make sense of this?
I say it’s quite simple really. Neither group has it right! Calories are contextual just like every other thing in life. For the person who is eating less than 1,500 calories a day or eating upwards of 5,000 calories a day, they matter. Eating the wrong amount of calories will derail your fat loss attempts.
There is no universal weight loss plan. Instead, there are many roads that can work but likely only one that works for you. So as you’re searching for that road to lasting fat loss, keep your daily calorie intake above 1,500 and below 3,000. The key is that they must come from real foods. Eating real food in this calorie window will guard against undermining and downregulating health as well as overeating and slowly packing on 5 to 10 pounds a year.
5 Simple Steps for the Mild Cases (tough cases start here too)
Thank you, mild cases, for hanging with me as I helped explain what separates you from a tough case. If you begin trying the ideas below and you don’t see significant weight loss… well, that’s actually a sign that you are part of the tough case group.
The great thing about weight loss is that it’s actually all about getting healthy. A healthy body is one that is able to regulate weight properly. There are some general things everyone needs to do to get healthier at a high level:
- Sleep at least 7-10 hours in bed every night
- Walk at least 7,000 to 10,000 steps per day
- Eat a real food, low toxin, high nutrient diet (SCD, Paleo, Primal, WAPF, JERF)
- Handle your stress on a daily basis
- Smile, play and have more fun
These are five deceptively simple steps. Many will read and ignore these tips, but keep in mind that simple is not easy. This is a very common and logical mistake to make. You may be tempted to dismiss them, and it’s likely you’ll remain overweight as a result. So, remember this article when you become frustrated enough to tackle the simple and meaningful changes that produce easy weight loss.
These simple changes can result in lots of fat loss and health improvements. However, there are a few other steps you can take to amplify your efforts.
New Live Presentation: 3 Ways Your Gut Stops Fat Loss Even if You Have Perfect Poops
I’ve been fat and confused and searching for answers, and now that I’m on the other side I want to give back. Next Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 8:00 PM EDT, I’m going to be giving a live presentation on how to lose fat and get the body you want. I’ll be covering:
- 3 ways your digestion is stopping the fat from coming off your body
- Exercise programs that work based on your current health
- Supplements for fat loss (so you don’t waste money)
- Live Q & A to help your specific situation
What you can expect is about an hour of me presenting the ideas above in interview format. I’ll share tons of simple, actionable steps to take to help you lose fat in the short-term and keep it off forever. I’ll dive into the workout programs, supplement protocols and diet changes I not only used myself but also use with our clients to get the fat loss results they are looking for.
Come join me tough and mild cases, if you’re ready to finally get this fat issue handled.