I see, hear, feel and totally get the frustration and challenges that go along with trying to arrive at your ideal weight. On the surface, eating a balanced diet and exercising sounds so simple, yet it’s not always that easy to arrive at your destination.
This is because being overweight is not about gluttony or laziness, but rather a complex interplay between your biology, environment and behavioural patterns.
Lisa was one of those stories.
She’d struggled for over 15 years to shift the extra kilos that kept stacking on around her waist, hips, arms and bum.
Lisa had starved herself until she couldn’t do it anymore then flipped to bingeing. She’s tried turning up the exercise dial but it was hard to budge and get momentum.
Dejected she spiraled into the I give up and who cares until she was now a borderline diabetic with close to 25kg to lose.
That’s when she saw me.
We negotiated a plan that suited Lisa, found what was sabotaging her success, then worked consistently testing, measuring and refining until we found what really worked for Lisa.
Four months later and Lisa’s a different person, both in body and mind.
She is now 70kg, exercises daily and loves it. Has 100% more self-confidence, is more active, feels freer and more engaged with her family and life. It has been 7 years now and still maintaining her 70kg target weight.
Do you want to find your path to weight loss success, just like Lisa?
Let’s explore 4 factors that can prevent you from making your weight loss goals real.
#1 Your metabolic set-point
Unknown to many, is your weight is under unconscious control; just like blood pressure, blood sugar regulation, pH and body temperature. Your body weight remains quite stable (unhealthy weight or a healthy weight) due to your metabolic ‘set-point’.
That is, your body will adjust your energy expenditure and appetite to restore fat mass back to its set-point;[2,3] despite your best efforts.
But don’t lose hope there’s ways to reset this set point so you can lose and maintain your weight long term. Pivotal to this are small changes done consistently but it’s slightly different for everyone. Hence no one size fits all generalised how to. Click here to book in to create a plan to change your metabolic set point.
Stress is a big barrier to weight loss, especially chronic stress. Under stress, your body releases cortisol that redirects glucose to your muscles, but causes your blood glucose levels to fall. This can trigger cravings for calorie rich foods that lead to weight gain and hinder weight loss. Emotional eating is also closely associated with stress. During periods of stress and emotional turmoil, you’ll tend to feel hungrier, with a preference for ‘hyper-palatable’ foods (high in fat, sugar, flavours and food additives), and you guessed it, weight gain. This is where help and guidance from a naturopath can help you build mental and emotional resilience, which may just one of your answers to losing those extra kilos.
Poor sleep quality and/or quantity can stifle your weight loss by reducing your metabolic rate, increasing cravings and turn down appetite regulation. Research has found poor sleep to be associated with an increase in weight, waist and waist-to-hip ratio; and can also drive up your metabolic set-point.  Poor sleep also affects your energy balance, affecting what you eat, how much you eat, as well as your willpower and motivation to exercise. If a good night’s sleep is something you dream of, talk to me and I’ll help you restore healthy sleep patterns.
Often missed, inflammation can be a silent barrier to weight loss. Inflammation can increase blood glucose levels that triggers weight gain, whilst excess stored fat produces inflammation in your body. Reducing your body fat can lower levels of inflammation significantly. However, the toxins stored in your fat cells are liberated during weight loss and dial up inflammation, once again impeding your weight loss. That’s where as a naturopath I can help you dial down your inflammation through clearing these excess toxins with a tailored clinical detoxification program to get you back on track again. Click here to book in for your tailored Detox program.
Don’t do it alone
Losing weight is not always easy and everyone will face their own challenges at some point. Seeking the help of a naturopath who specialises in weight loss can make sure you’re channeling your energy in the right direction and provides solutions when you hit a plateau or fall off the wagon. Click here to book in to get a helping hand on your weight loss journey today.
Big hugs Julie X
Adapted with permission from Metagenics Australia
 Bray GA, Heisel WE, Afshin A, Jensen MD, Dietz WH, Long M, et al. The science of obesity management: an Endocrine Society Scientific Statement. Endocr Rev. 2018 Apr 1;39(2):79-132. doi: 10.1210/er.2017-00253.
 Schwartz MW, Seeley RJ, Zeltser LM, Drewnowski A, Ravussin E, Redman LM, et al. Obesity pathogenesis: an endocrine society scientific statement. Endocr Rev. 2017 Aug 1;38(4):267-296. doi: 10.1210/er.2017-00111.
 Speakman JR, Levitsky DA, Allison DB, Bray MS, de Castro JM, Clegg DJ, et al. Set-points, settling points and some alternative models: theoretical options to understand how genes and environments combine to regulate body adiposity. Dis Model Mech. 2011 Nov;4(6):733-45. doi: 10.1242/dmm.008698.
 Raman J, Smith E, Hay P. The clinical obesity maintenance model: an integration of psychological constructs including mood, emotional regulation, disordered overeating, habitual cluster behaviours, health literacy and cognitive function. J Obes. 2013;2013:240128. doi:10.1155/2013/240128.
 Taheri S, Lin L, Austin D, Young T, Mignot E. Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index. PLoS Med. 2004 Dec;1(3):e62. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0010062.
Lining up habits and motivation to maintain your fitness can be hard enough at times but trying to return to exercise after an injury or sickness can be a big struggle!
Janette was in struggle zone, wrestling with plantar fasciitis since the start of the year, 8 months now. Hobbling out of bed each day, it didn’t seem like it would ever go away.
She was going to get back into exercise when it got better, but that day never seemed to get any closer and her foot pain was getting worse and her weight was going up.
That’s when Jeanette saw me. We worked on MODIFYING. That meant starting somewhere and improving over time.
After Jeanette got started exercising in a modified way, her foot pain halved in six weeks and four months later she was pain free and 10 kilos lighter.
Yay Jeanette was unstuck.
Here’s what she had to say, “I can’t believe how much better I feel. I look back now and realise I could have been stuck there forever. Thank you so much for your help.”
Here are 5 ways to MODIFY to get back to exercise after an injury or sickness.
1. Get outside and take it slow
Fresh air, nature, sunshine and moving is a great start and ALWAYS good.
Let yourself slowly ease back into a routine that you are going to love.
It may be bike riding, swimming, stretching, walk or group training.
If you wake up feeling good and go for an intense workout or run – you risk hurting yourself all over again or making it worse and that’s the last thing you would want.
2. Pain IS your friend
Huh? That’s the thing that stopped me exercising in the first place, you say!
Just listen to your body and know your limits. Pain is your bodies signal that something is going on and that you’ve pushed too hard. It’s very important to pay attention.
Also remember to stretch, rest and recover, they are foundational to easing fitness back into your life.
3. Nutrition and hydration are recovery essentials
Your body needs essential building blocks to heal so the foundations are solid, preventing relapses and flare ups.
Click here for your guide to reducing inflammation and aiding healing.
Need extra help with your diet, essential nutrient or creating a wellness plan book here to see me or a local naturopath.
Your body is your temple and it needs to last you a lifetime.
4. Work on your balance
Usually, when it comes to balance, it’s assumed to come naturally to most. It’s actually a skill that you need to master and after an injury need to work on from scratch.
Balance in fitness rehabilitation can be easily overlooked and can be the main reason an injury keeps occurring.
When a soft tissue injury occurs, there is always a certain amount of damage to the nerves around the injured area.
This, of course, leads to a lack of control of the muscles and tendons, and can also affect the stability of joint structures.
Working on building strength around the area before diving head first into the deep end of a grueling fitness routine is going to allow you for better results and less chance of getting yourself hurt again.
5. Get a plan
Best outcomes occur when you have a supportive team around you. Ideally a resourceful and caring qualified trainer who works in with your osteopath, chiropractor, podiatrist or other health professionals.
Jeanette made huge improvements with her plantar fasciitis once she purchased better shoes and added orthotics. To maintain the improvement Jeanette saw an osteopath once a month to keep her moving well and had an occasional massage.
Her trainer, Emma, at Step Into Life, Mornington, was the lynch pin that kept Jeanette on track to recovering from her injury. Emma designed a program that included stretching, movement and strength. She modified classes and stepped Jeanette along to being pain free and part of a group while getting fit and healthy. She cared and kept Janette on track with support and guidance.
Working with someone who can assess your unique situation and know what your new routine should incorporate and when it’s time to progress to the next level is essential.
So, if you’d like help with an injury recovery plan from Emma, at Step Into Life Mornington click here to find out more (3 free classes to trial).
Hoping this was helpful and can help you get unstuck after an injury.
Finding your way out of hormonal chaos is achievable but not always easy. Did you know 75% of women have mild to severe symptoms as they move into menopause and 50-80% of women experience PMS? Meaning that statistically, hormonal based symptoms will affect most women during their lifetime.
Hormones typically act in one part per trillion and can be embedded in a complex cyclical and bio-feedback system that make resolving hormone based conditions and finding underlying causes very challenging.
What Symptoms and Conditions Are We Talking About Here?
Most women may experience the odd irregular cycle, slightly more ‘crampy’ than normal period, or a minor mood fluctuation in the latter couple of weeks of her cycle – however, experiencing a regular problem and/or discomfort, though common, is most definitely not normal and therefore should be assessed by a health professional so it can be resolved. Though female reproductive cycle issues can come in a range of shapes and sizes, some of the most common seen clinically are listed below:
- PMS:symptoms of fluid retention, breast tenderness, anxiety, depression and food cravings occurring in the two weeks before menstruation.
- Dysmenorrhoea:painful menstruation.
- Menorrhagia:heavy menstruation.
- Oligo-/Amenorrhoea:irregular or absent menstruation.
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS):classified by the presence of cysts on the ovaries, elevated androgens and/or absence of ovulation.
- Fibroids:benign growths within the uterine wall, commonly resulting in dysmenorrhoea and menorrhagia.
- Endometriosis:tissue that normally lines the uterus grows elsewhere (outside the uterus), resulting in dysmenorrhoea, pain during other times in the month and potentially infertility.
- Adenomyosis:tissue that normally lines the uterus grows into the inner layers of the uterus, resulting in dysmenorrhoea, menorrhagia, and infertility.
Whether the picture is mild or severe, the appearance of any of the above leads to the next logical question – what is it that causes these conditions to arise?
The Chorus, Not the Co-Stars
The simplest way to understand pretty much all female reproductive conditions is to begin with acknowledging that something has become unbalanced – but what does that actually mean, and should we be looking to the hormones themselves or not?
Let’s start with the two hormonal ‘leading ladies’ you are most likely to be familiar with: oestrogen and progesterone. These are two of the key players (along with follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone [LH]) in the cyclical, reproductive activities of the female body – rising and falling during the cycle and contributing to the maturation and release of an egg (ovulation), and the growth and development of the endometrium (uterine lining) to prepare for potential pregnancy. Typically, if fertilisation does not occur following ovulation, production of these hormones drop away, triggering the onset of monthly menstruation, beginning the cycle all over again (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: The Hormones of the Female Reproductive Cycle Rise and Fall Throughout the Month.
Female hormonal health was traditionally viewed in a simplistic way where the two main hormones, progesterone and oestrogen were either too high or too low, so raising or lowering the levels was all that was needed. For instance fibroids, endometriosis or dysmenorrhoea were purely caused by excess oestrogen and PMS, amenorrhoea were due to low progesterone.
Nowadays we understand it’s better to gauge hormonal status by assessing a hormones activity rather than just testing to see what the levels are – especially as testing hormones, in many instances, doesn’t reflect what’s actually going on inside the body.
That’s because there’s more to this hormonal tale than oestrogen and progesterone. You see, female hormonal health is also impacted by a whole troupe of other hormones and compounds. For example, thyroid hormone, insulin, androgens (e.g. testosterone) and cortisol all have the capacity to positively or negatively influence female reproductive health.
It’s a Growing Cast
Furthermore, the latest science now reveals female hormone activity is impacted by a number of additional processes, molecules and systems. For example:
- Inflammation:causes an increase in local tissue oestrogen production2(meaning oestrogen produced in places other than in the ovaries), elevates androgens,3 increases insulin levels4 and causes decreased progesterone levels.5
- Toxins, e.g. endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs): increase the oestrogenic load on the body, and are linked to abnormal puberty, irregular cycles, reduced fertility, PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids and early menopause.6
- Mast cells: part of the immune system, these cells can be triggered by EDCs 7and oestrogen,8 releasing a flood of inflammatory cells and histamine in the pelvic cavity. Whilst traditionally associated with allergies, mast cells are a primary contributor to the marked inflammation and pain seen with endometriosis and adenomyosis.
- Gut dysbiosis:an imbalance of the normal, healthy microbial life residing within the gastrointestinal tract can reduce the efficiency of oestrogen detoxification and elimination, increasing the overall oestrogenic load. Dysbiosis has been linked with PCOS, endometriosis and fibroids.9 We now know that a healthy microbiome is also required to detoxify EDCs from the body.10
- Brain changes:an increase in inflammation within the brain11 (caused by ongoing stress for example) alongside a reduction in neuroplasticity12 (the ability of brain structures to adapt well) is now known to play a role in PMS mood-based symptoms such as anxiety, irritability and depression.
Hormones: The Tip of the Iceberg
So as you can see, optimal female hormonal health, and conditions such as PMS, PCOS or endometriosis are not merely the result of hormonal levels. Instead, it is dysfunction across the nervous, digestive, immune, and entire hormonal system that can cause the clinical presentations listed above. As such, the way to successfully treat these conditions is to identify the upstream triggers in order to resolve the downstream hormonal symptom manifestations.
What Are Your Triggers?
The web that creates hormonal imbalance is multi-layered, complex and highly individualised to each women. Rather than trying to self-diagnose, enlist the help of a Natural Healthcare Practitioner. This can be invaluable, as we have the capacity to adeptly assess what contributing factors are at play in your unique situation based upon thorough case-taking and, in some cases, functional testing options. Our specialised knowledge allows us to craft a personalised treatment plan that will address not only your symptoms, but begin to tackle the underlying causes of them. Investing in this approach to your care is a potent way to decrease the frustration of having to figure out your own hormonal puzzle, one of the most difficult in your body!
While your hormones play a key role in your current health, they aren’t the only contributor to your overall wellbeing. If it’s time to finally understand (and then resolve) the symptoms that have you feeling trapped, exasperated, and/or in pain each month, click here to book online and begin your journey towards a more balanced and vital body today.
*Article above was compiled by Metagenics and permission was granted to be used.
- Bertone-Johnson ER. Chronic inflammation and premenstrual syndrome: a missing link found? J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2016 Sep;25(9):857-8. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2016.5937.
- Ezaki K, Motoyama H, Sasaki H. Immunohistologic localization of estrone sulfatase in uterine endometrium and adenomyosis. Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Nov;98(5 Pt 1):815-9.
- Gao L, Gu Y, Yin X. High serum tumor necrosis factor-alpha levels in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2016 Oct 20;11(10):e0164021. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0164021.
- Alpañés M, Fernández-Durán E, Escobar-Morreale HF. Androgens and polycystic ovary syndrome. Expert Rev Endocrinol Metab. 2012;7(1):91–102.
- Niswender GD, Juengel JL, Silva PJ, Rollyson MK, McIntush EW. Mechanisms controlling the function and life span of the corpus luteum. Physiol Rev. 2000 Jan;80(1):1-29.
- Gore AC, Chappell VA, Fenton SE, Flaws JA, Nadal A, Prins GS, et al. Executive Summary to EDC-2: The Endocrine Society’s Second Scientific Statement on Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals. Endocr Rev. 2015 Dec;36(6):593-602. doi: 10.1210/er.2015-1093.
- Kirchhoff D, Kaulfuss S, Fuhrmann U, Maurer M, Zollner TM. Mast cells in endometriosis: guilty or innocent bystanders? Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2012 Mar;16(3):237-41. doi: 10.1517/14728222.2012.661415.
- Loewendorf AI, Matynia A, Saribekyan H, Gross N, Csete M, Harrington M. Roads less traveled: sexual dimorphism and mast cell contributions to migraine pathology. Front Immunol. 2016;7:140. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2016.00140.
- Baker JM, Al-Nakkash L, Herbst-Kralovetz MM. Oestrogen-gut microbiome axis: physiological and clinical implications. Maturitas. 2017 Sep;103:45-53. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2017.06.025.
- Claus SP, Guillou H, Ellero-Simatos S. The gut microbiota: a major player in the toxicity of environmental pollutants. NPJ Biofilms Microbiomes. 2016 May 4;2:16003. doi: 10.1038/npjbiofilms.2016.3.
- Gold EB, Wells C, Rasor MO. The association of inflammation with premenstrual symptoms. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2016 Sep;25(9):865-74. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2015.5529.
- Cubeddu A, Bucci F, Giannini A, Russo M, Daino D, Russo N, et al. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor plasma variation during the different phases of the menstrual cycle in women with premenstrual syndrome. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2011 May;36(4):523-30. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.08.006.
Dysbiosis, Endometriosis, Female Hormones, Hormones, Inflammation, Natural Health, Natural Medicine, PCOS, PMS
Intermittent fasting is the latest buzz word in the health and wellness industry….which can immediately make you roll your eyes and dismiss it as just a craze. But, before you do, I’ve seen fantabulous results from intermittent fasting, particularly in clients that have been doing all the right things but still can’t shift the weight or were inflamed, had high blood sugars or poor liver function test results.
Fasting has been practiced by many cultures for thousands of years, whether as part of a religious practice, to conserve food supplies or as part of a healing treatment.
In today’s world, we’re literally eating ourselves to death. Food is a comfort tool, social connector, reward, celebratory tool and much more.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting means eating in a compressed feeding window, so your digestive system gets a rest for a specific period of time. During the fasting phase you can drink water or clear non-caffeine herbal teas with no sweeteners, such as lemongrass and ginger, chamomile, or peppermint tea, if desired.
Why intermittent fasting works
Intermittent fasting gives your digestive system a break and uses that excess energy to clean, repair and rebuild your body. Digesting and absorbing your food can take up to 5 hours after eating and during that time your insulin levels are high, so your body can’t easily burn fat for energy.
When you’re in the post digestive phase, that takes place 8-12 hours after your last meal and your insulin levels are lower, you can easily burn fat.
When in the fasting state, your body naturally finds ways to extend your life. It’s kind of like a survival mechanism, where when faced with the possibility of starvation, your body will do everything in its power to heal and keep you alive.
Health benefits of intermittent fasting
In my clinic I’ve seen huge success with 16:8 intermittent fasting for losing weight, especially if clients are already eating well but were lacking the results. For instance, they were eating cleanly, hydrating, de-stressing, doing a mix of strength and cardio exercise, sleeping well – yet their body still holds onto those extra kilos. It’s very frustrating for those people, but also comforting to know they’d do well if starving in the desert!
16:8 intermittent fasting practised daily dropped off the weight consistently and quite quickly.
Initially there will be hunger pangs but if you use herbal teas and lemon water in this period and ride them out, they will reduce over the days to follow.
For best results exercise at the end of a fast then eat. If you’re a morning exerciser, that means eat after training. Eg, Exercise 6am, feeding window 7am to 3pm, fasting 3pm to 7am.
You’ll get results with intermittent fasting even if you can’t manage the exercise at the end of a fast because you’re an evening exerciser.
Giving your gut a break frees up energy for detoxifying, cleaning, repair and building, and also resets and lowers your appetite.
Intermittent fasting also improves gut microbiota, increasing the ratio of beneficial gut flora. This is a by-product from the positive changes of reducing inflammation, losing weight and normalising blood sugar levels.
Blood Sugar Levels
Intermittent fasting keeps blood sugar levels more stable and prevents the constant spiking and crashing of insulin levels that can have you craving sugars and chasing caffeine fixes all day long. It’s very helpful for those with diabetes or those struggling with fatty liver.
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury, toxicity and disease. Chronic inflammation is at the heart of many chronic degenerative diseases and ageing, as well as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular problems and much more.
Intermittent fasting also enhances your body’s natural resistance to oxidative stress which reduce inflammation throughout your body.
If you’ve ever seen an interview with a centurion, most talk of eating less, often one meal a day, and having gone through extended periods of fasting, whether their choice or not, in their life.
There’s an old saying “The less you eat, the longer you’ll live” and I’d have to agree with it.
Intermittent fasting prevents cognitive function decline and decreasing memory and learning as we age. And the anti-inflammatory effect can slow the progression of neuro-degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Intermittent fasting can improve your heart health by helping to lower the following common risk factors that contribute to heart dis-ease:
- Blood sugar levels
- High blood pressure
Perfect for those with a looming family history of by-passes, stents, strokes, heart-attacks and more.
Ways to intermittent fast
There are three ways:
Most popular and easiest method, involves you eating in an 8 hour window and fasting for 16 hours. This can look like first meal of day at 11am and last meal of the day at 7pm or 7am to 3pm. Set your own window to suit your life.
You can do this every day, only weekdays or a few times a week depending on the results you want and what works into your schedule.
Remember you can start anywhere and improve over time. It’s better than not starting at all. You learn by doing.
This involves eating a maximum of 600 calories two days a week. I liken it to whole food fasting. Make sure your diet on those days is of quality wholefoods like vegetables, fruit, nuts, etc.
This method requires you to fast for 24 hours, ideally from dinner one day to the following day, once to twice a week.
Intermittent fasting is definitely worth trialling to set yourself up to remain healthy, energetic and disease-free.
Love to hear if you’ve tried it and what results you’ve gotten? Or if you need help to get started?
Julie XX (Feeling Great Naturopath, Mount Martha)
Natural Remedies for Insulin Resistance – Tired, Hungry, Gaining Weight? Want To Learn How To Make It All Stop?
Natural Remedies for Insulin Resistance – Have you been feeling tired, hungry and gaining weight? Hitting a wall in the afternoons and feeling “blahhh” more often than not? Maybe waking at night to go to toilet or feeling thirstier than normal?
These can be common signs of insulin resistance.
Did you know it is estimated 500,000 people in Australia suffer from undiagnosed insulin resistance? Most of them are unaware they have it and it just creeps up on them. I over hear them saying things like, “I think I’m just getting old” and leave it at that, like there is nothing you can do about it.
Well, that’s so not true! And it makes me even more determined to teach you otherwise. In truth, it’s a sign, your blood sugar levels are not as good as they should be. You don’t necessarily have diabetes, but you’re well on the way towards it.
Getting your blood sugar sorted, will mean you have less chance of getting diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gaining weight or not being able to lose it, polycystic ovarian syndrome, breast cancer, and much more.
Eating in a way that balances your blood sugar, reduces inflammation and oxidative stress, and improves your liver detoxification is the key to preventing and reversing insulin resistance and diabetes. – Huffpost
Good news is, it’s not that hard to manage and heal. Let’s take a look at insulin resistance more closely and some Natural Remedies for Insulin Resistance.