Understanding the body’s response to weight loss
It helps to think about overweight and obesity the same way you would other physical imbalances. For example, if you had edema (swelling in your skin that comes from fluid retention), you wouldn’t just dehydrate yourself to remove the fluid and expect to solve the problem. You’d need to identify and address the reason for the fluid retention in the first place. The issue is similar when the body is storing too much fat. Trying to override your body’s hunger signals and simply eating less is not going to give you an effective long-term solution. It’s better to determine why your body wants to store too much and make changes that reverse that biological process.
Getting to the root of the problem
First, it’s helpful to understand some of the common reasons why your body might be holding on to fat in the first place. These include:
- Inadequate sleep
- Chronic stress
- Disrupted daily biorhythm
- Mediation that causes weight gain
- Muscle atrophy from a complete lack of exercise
Do something detective work
When did you gain the most weight? Was there a trigger? For example, did you put on weight when you stopped working out regularly, when you experienced a lot of stress, or when you started working a night shift? Did your weight problem begin after childbirth, at menopause, after a death in the family, or when you started a new medication? Analyzing when the problem began and when your weight increased the most can help you determine the underlying factor or factors you need to address.
Once you determine the underlying cause or causes of your weight gain, work to adjust it. If it’s inadequate sleep, are there things you can do to get more sleep?a If it’s stress, are there changes you can make to decrease the chronic stressors in your life? If you think a medication triggered your weight gain, talk to your doctor about a potential alternative. Drugs that can cause weight gain include some types of antidepressants and mood stabilizers, anti-convulsants, beta blockers, steroid, histamine blockers, and pain medications.
Seek help if you need it
Someone who needs to lose five to 15 pounds might not need outside help, but for others, sustained loss requires professional intervention. It’s vital to recognize that you didn’t get there because of something you did. You got there because your body has disease. Fixing the problem with lifestyle changes alone might not be feasible. In those cases, you may need more directed medical intervention.