Your why, insulin and telling people to bugger-off for weight loss

Losing weight takes a certain attitude

knowing your why, the insulin hormone and having the gusto to tell people to bugger-off when their words or even very presence don’t support your current goals are some of the most important factors to consider for weight loss. I guarantee you that ignoring these 3 things will inevitably lead to failure.

What Is Your Why

Starting off on the right foot when embarking on a new journey is always a good plan. The journey to long lasting weight loss is no different, but in this case “your why” is your starting point. 

Your why is either your winning or your losing starting point and you have to be clear and deeply honest with yourself about it.

Your why will fail you if it’s what anyone apart from yourself wants for you. It has to be about what you want and need for yourself.

It has to be more than “what other people think of me”. 

It has to be about how you truly feel about yourself and what you truly want to be able to do now and in the future.

What other people think of you plays a role….

I am in no way discounting the pressure we feel from social media and just people in general to look a certain way. It’s real, annoying, often unfair, it can influence how we feel about ourselves and it’s not going anywhere. So yes, acknowledge that, because social acceptance is part of the human psyche.

Overcoming this pressure from other people lies in being consciously aware of it. 

Being aware helps us decide how much importance we will place on the opinions of others and therefore how much we are willing to allow these opinions to influence us. This isn’t easy, especially when we’re accustomed to allowing our thoughts to run rampant. We have a choice though, through conscious awareness.  

My #1 recommendation on developing awareness is to practice meditation. 

It’s commonly thought that meditating is about not thinking and it is to a certain extent, but it is more about teaching your mind to be aware of your thoughts. Quieting your mind so you are not consumed by, lost in, and so controlled by, your thoughts. 

Admittedly meditating feels odd when you’re not accustomed to doing it. I meditate almost everyday but when I started, and there were many attempts to start, it felt awkward…I felt silly. However being in the field of lifestyle wellness it is impossible to ignore the proven benefits of meditation and so I tried….and tried…and tried, until the awkward feeling I had when I started trying to meditate was replaced by feeling awkward if I didn’t try to meditate. 

Meditation is now a natural and welcome part of my life. I meditate most mornings and can honestly say it is one of my favourite times of the day. Meditation made me aware of how unaware I was of my thoughts and how much I was allowing my millions of, and often negative thoughts to control me. 

Event + Reaction = Outcome

I am no master meditator, still very amateur but through mediation I learned that being aware gives me much greater control over my reactions to just about everything. Our reaction is really the only thing we have control of. It’s the outcome influence factor and we don’t want to leave that to uncontrolled thoughts. 

There are many meditation apps to choose from. A lot of them have free versions. I use Insight Timer meditation app.

There are various types of meditation too. Try a few to find the ones that resonate with you. 

Good Why, Bad Why?

There isn’t really a good or bad why, there is just our own personal why and the less superficial it is, the more meaningful it is to us and the more long-term life value it can provide, the more success it will bring. 

Superficial benefits tend to wear off, but when the why is more meaningful (to you) and of the long-term life value type, it will have a much greater influence on keeping you on track and successful. 

Let’s consider these examples…

I want to lose weight because I want to fit in skinny jeans.

I want to lose weight because I want to feel good about my body when I look in the mirror.

I want to lose weight because I want to have more energy.

I want to lose weight because my body needs to be healthy so I can be active and play with my kids. Bonus if I fit in those skinny jeans.

Which of those examples have long-term value? Which of those provides motivation when you reach the point of wanting to quit, and you will reach that point. 

When I decided I wanted to lose weight it wasn’t just a “thing” I wanted like a new pair of jeans. It wasn’t a superficial want. I decided that I NEEDED to lose weight to feel better about myself. I wanted to feel healthy and a big part of me felt uncomfortable in my own skin because when I looked in the mirror I knew the reflection was not as healthy as it could have been.

I knew I was carrying too much unhealthy weight for my small frame and was uncomfortable with how my body felt whenever I moved. It was like I could feel the fat. My why was that I felt sad and did not want to feel sad anymore.

Whatever your why is that will motivate you to keep going and provide long-term value is your right why. Then “your why” will lay the foundation for your behaviour to either fail or succeed.

Insulin Is A Big Deal

Hormones influence weight in different ways, some that exert the most influence are:

  • Insulin
  • Glucagon
  • Leptin
  • Ghrelin
  • Cortisol
  • Estrogen
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Peptide YY
  • Cholecystokinin

I’m focusing here on the hormone insulin because of its significant impact on weight gain and many other conditions of ill health. It is undeniably the most important component of metabolic syndrome and is indifferent to gender and age.

Insulin is the hormone our cells need to accept glucose for energy. Glucose is the first source of energy the body seeks. However when there is too much glucose there is also too much insulin. This excessiveness in both glucose and insulin eventually leads to insulin resistance inside the cell and weight gain. 

This happens because our cells have limited capacity, meaning they can handle so much glucose and no more. 

When we eat, our pancreas produces insulin to signal our cells that there are energy molecules floating around in the bloodstream ready for use. 

The level of insulin we produce is dependent on what we eat. The highest levels of insulin is produced when we eat carbohydrates, lesser amounts when we eat proteins and little insulin when we eat fats. 

The type of carbohydrate also makes a difference  Refined carbohydrates snd ultraprocessed carbs like white flour and also very starchy carbs and those  with little fiber will bring about the highest levels of insulin. 

Think of cells like rooms in a storage facility. Each room is a fixed size. The rooms exist to be filled with items (glucose) and we hire people (insulin) to put items in the storage rooms.

Whenever we have new items we hire people to go to the rooms again and add the new items. The rooms eventually become filled to capacity and cannot hold more items. All the new people we hired simply can’t add more items because the storage rooms are already filled to capacity. They’re already overstuffed with items.

So what do all these people we keep hiring do with all our additional items? Since they were hired to do a job and they don’t want to be fired they try to find other storage facilities (other areas in your body).

Too much glucose causes an excess rise in insulin and we gain weight….

Our cells have limited capacity for glucose and when we have too much carbohydrates (glucose) we’ll just keep producing more insulin to try to push the excess glucose into our cells to be used for energy. But when the cells are already overstuffed with glucose they resist the insulin and will not accept more glucose. 

Unfortunately we still has to do something with the excess glucose and so it seeks out other storage. It makes new fat from glucose to be used for energy later. 

The process is called de-novo lipogenesis which is the making of new fat.

The new fat storage is deposited as either subcutaneous fat (fat underneath our skin) or visceral fat (fat attached to our organs). Both result in weight gain, but one is far more dangerous than the other.

Visceral fat has far greater negative effects on health. Ultrasounds can show the level of visceral fat someone has but taking a look at waist to height ratio is a pretty good determinant too because visceral fat usually accumulates in the abdominal region.

It’s simple, the more carbs we eat the more insulin we produce. Excess carb intake causes excess insulin production leading to insulin resistance and fat storage.

Therefore one of the critical components of any weight loss plan that produces lasting results and additional health benefits is to reduce carbohydrate load significantly to reduce insulin load. 

 

So what are the options?

  1. Significantly restrict the amount of calories consumed to reduce insulin load. This results in weight loss but also brings the dreaded plateau since the body will naturally adjust to its new BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). It’s also not much fun either since you’ll likely feel hungry pretty much all the time.
  2. Swap out carbs for macronutrients with less potential of raising insulin. The least impact would happen from fat. The more fat option is much more satiating.
  3. Practice Time Restricted Eating which gives the body a chance to use glucose already in cells and in the blood stream, and then move on to using energy from fat cells.

In a nutshell, # 1 will only work for a little while because the body will adjust every time it sets a new calorie baseline….and it’s no fun at all. 2 or 3 are good options because you still eat tasty delicious satisfying foods and there’s no resetting of calorie baselines. Doing 2 and 3 together, well now that’s like winning the weight loss jackpot plus bonuses.  

 

Give your body a chance to access your fat

If a calorie is essentially a unit of energy and unused energy is stored as fat, then logic dictates that we need to expend more energy than the amount we’ve consumed. If energy intake is greater than energy expenditure the net energy will turn into more stored energy, a.k.a fat.

Energy Intake > Energy Expenditure = Stored Energy (fat)

This follows the basic calories in calories out theory for weight loss which does not take into account the nutrient profile of foods and how your body reacts to different macronutrients but it still holds true.

A calorie is a unit of energy and macronutrients have different calorie profiles. Carbs provide 4 calories/g, proteins also provide 4 calories/g and fats provide 9 calories/g.

We need energy 24/7. Food is energy. We’ll use the first and easiest source of energy available. Glucose from carbohydrates is the easiest molecule we can break down and process as energy. 

First we’ll burn the energy from food just eaten. After depleting this source of energy we move on to seeking energy from elsewhere. Simple, right?

If you’re supplying your body with a never ending stream of glucose, that’s the ONLY energy it will want to use and with the streams of glucose comes streams of insulin. In the meantime fat cells are just hanging around under your skin and quite possibly in your organs clogging them up! 

Stop the stream of glucose to give your body a chance to access its fat stores for energy. To lose excess weight it’s the energy from fat stores that you really want to be expending.

Fat cells are stores of energy ready and waiting to be used up. You won’t die because your body has fat to provide energy to keep you alive. You just need to give your body a chance to access the fat.

 

The fortitude to tell your friends to bugger-off when they try to sabotage your respect for your own health is critical

It’s a fact, there are times for the sake of your health, you have to muster up some sass to tell some people to bugger-off…in a nice way.

You have friends and then you have “friends”. Friends who truly want the best for you, and friends who love being around you because of how you make them feel. It’s the latter type that you should be wary of because they don’t always “truly” want the best for you and are more concerned with themselves.

They’re the ones who know you’re trying to improve your health, yet you often hear them saying things like….

“oh common, one won’t hurt” or,

“stop being a bummer and join in the fun”, or even

“wow, you used to be so much fun, I don’t know you anymore”. 

Ya, tell them to bugger off if they can’t respect that you’re trying to improve your health. If they truly are your friends they’ll learn to respect your decisions and if they don’t, keep them at arms length to lesson the frustration.

There’s also nothing wrong with finding new friends who align with your new healthy way of life. You may end up finding yourself in much more supportive environments.

There will be other scenarios where you will encounter the usual fanfare to drink, eat and be merry and somehow being merry seems not doable without drinking and eating. You’re the odd one out if you don’t partake. You may feel you’re being rude if you don’t have a slice of your friends birthday cake. Or you’ll offend your coworker if you decline some sweet treat that his/her dear great-grandmother baked. In scenarios like these it’s yourself that you’ll need to tell to bugger-off.

Go ahead, go to the party and be the odd ball. Politely decline the birthday cake and sweet treats baked by sweet grandmas. Because at the end of the day it’s your health, your progress, your goals, that’s going to pay. You have to muster up the sass inside you and tell yourself to bugger-off. 

It’s called self-respect.

In fact, the entire thing…knowing your why, doing the things to reduce your insulin and having the courage to say no to your friends and sometimes yourself are all forms of self-respect. 

 

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DISCLAIMER: The content on this website is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you may have read on this website.

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