Are you struggling with weight loss? It might be time for a focus shift.
Earlier this week, I was asked about "my thoughts" on / advice for Perimenopausal weight, in a post about why focusing on weight loss doesn't work for women (check it out here) and wanted to share my response in case you're in a similar boat - frustrated with sudden weight changes that feel out of your control, and seeking solutions that would actually work for your female body.
There's two key components I want to share:
The weight gain itself is a symptom, not a root cause.
Focusing on losing weight and any strategies you might implement to make that happen, likely won't work as a woman (because they were rooted in tactics that were studied to work for men).
Let's look at number one first.
Most women make the mistake of focusing on how to lose weight instead of looking at the root cause of why they could be gaining weight.
For your female body, common root causes of weight gain include:
Blood sugar dysregulation: (PS: 9/10 Americans fall into this category, so the chance that you're one of them is high - and not your fault. While this should be common knowledge, instead you can add it to the things we should've learned in middle school.
Over- or under-exercising and/or mismatching the type of workouts you're doing to where you're at in your menstrual cycle or what macro hormones season you're in (including Peri- and Postmenopause): moving your body is so important, but how and when you move your body is important to understand for your unique female physiology. A lack of awareness or attention to what your hormones are doing often causes the opposite impact of what we're going for - like weight gain + muscle loss.
Stress: cortisol, your primary stress hormone is one of your queen hormones (insulin being the other). If stress is high, this signals lack of safety to your female body; and in this state, she's naturally designed to hold onto weight + eat away at lean muscle in order to preserve her fertility (PS: even though fertility is no longer the goal in Perimenopause + Postmenopause, decreasing stress in this seasons becomes even more crucial).
Skimping on sleep: you need 7-9 hours, consistently, ideally with the same wake up time each day.
Not getting enough protein: throughout the day, and especially at breakfast. You might not think it, but this is seriously one of the most overlooked causes.
Neglecting to focus on micronutrients: it's all the rage to count macros + go Keto / Paleo to lose weight, all of which focus on your consumption of macronutrients - protein, fat and carbs; but to thrive, your female body needs a steady intake of certain micronutrients (some examples: sodium+ potassium)
Unknown hormone imbalances: getting your hormones tested is crucial to understand what your current state of health + balance is, and accordingly the most impactful places to focus your energy.
Fasting and/or being in a low energy availability state: popular opinion says to lose weight we have to master the calories in versus calories out equation - aka calories out > calories in. But turns out, your female body has her own requirements that usurp this equation: safety > survival. Safety is signaled by a consistent delivery of nourishment, including eating breakfast within an hour of waking and fueling for what you're doing (life + exercise).
The second component - tactics you're likely implementing when trying to lose weight, likely include:
Skipping breakfast +/or your pre- and post-workout refueling
Over-exercising or pushing yourself harder in your workouts
Drinking your meals - coffee or smoothies
Relying on salads
Getting up early to exercise after less than 7 hours of sleep).
You may be surprised by some of the things on this list - even told that they're healthy and good weight loss tools. Heck, you might be doing some of these right now (don't worry, you're not alone in this).
The reality: none of these are based in the science of female physiology - aka how your body works + the specific exercise, nutrition + lifestyle support she needs to thrive.
So what's a lady who desires physical shifts to do?
Try this: Avoid the common "weight loss tactics" named above and instead look at the root causes I mentioned and shift your focus to tackling these versus focusing on weight loss.
If this feels overwhelming to you, and you'd like support not only tackling the root causes of your weight gain (or even the reason you're not feeling vibrant + energized in your body), but also implementing strategies that do work for your female body (in all hormone + life seasons), then I'd love to have you in Workout Like A Woman - my online fitness platform that perhaps surprisingly, addresses all of these!
Because, contrary to what you've been told, you can't tackle just your physical health when desiring to lose weight or feel great.
You need a whole-being approach to your health.
That's why Workout Like A Woman contains resources + education on up-leveling yes, your physical health, but also your mental, spiritual (your soul), emotional + relational on top of the monthly done-for-you workout programming.
If you'd like to learn more or begin utilizing a new approach, designed for your female body, I'd love to support you. Check it out here.