It’s the primitive part of our brain responsible for emotion, addiction, mood etc.You start living a healthier lifestyle. You are motivated, you feel more energetic and you tell everyone about this amazing way of eating and living.
Time goes and the weight you thought you’d lose won’t budge. You keep having a frequently upset tummy and your energy levels aren’t optimal. A lot of people you know who have started this healthier lifestyle keep losing weight and look amazing.
So why aren’t you?
You feel like it doesn’t matter what you do and start to introduce less than ideal products to your diet again, which is disrupting your sleep and energy levels and you visit the gym less frequently, perhaps you stop going altogheter
How do you get back on track?
I’ve been in this situation longer than I ever thought possible.
I “discovered” paleo in 2012 and slowly but surely I started to get better. However, the weight stayed at an all-time high and even though I lost 1-3 kgs I gained it back in a day or two. And that’s how it kept going for years. Motivation failed every so often and I fell back in to the sugar pit and “drowned my sorrows”. Then I climbed back up and stayed on track for quite some time, didn’t see any results, fell back in to the sugar pit.
Last year, I started to eat healthy after a long period of eating less than ideal. I decided that even though I have the knowledge myself about a paleo lifestyle, I needed professional help to figure out my hormone, vitamin and mineral levels and to find balance in my life.
6 months later, I’ve lost 4 kgs which are staying off, I can handle my sugar cravings better (although not yet completely) and my tummy is also getting better and better (with periods in between where my tummy is not good at all unfortunately).
The tests I took showed elevated glucose levels, that I could have hypothyroidism and that I have leaky gut. I got help to figure out a meal plan, which has been modified once as I did not feel very well on the first meal plan. Turns out my stomach cannot handle that much fat in the morning. I have to have more protein and fiber.
After I found out my hormone, vitamin and mineral levels, I started to take supplements to correct my deficiencies. Most important for me was to get my Omega 3 levels up as they were very low. I decided to stay on track with my nutrition, but allow myself “treats” sometimes in the form of dairy and rarely some grain. I’ve also done some periods of real strict paleo which has been good for me.
How do I keep motivated?
Since my motivation to doing this is to heal my gut and then lose weight, I am making sure to taking my supplements everyday, no matter what.
I also started to weigh myself daily.
It’s my morning routine. My partner made a spreadsheet for both him and me where we track if we eat well, what toilet routines I have, if I have my period or am ovulating (this affects my weight a lot that’s why I document this as well in the spreadsheet), if we are exercising, daily weight, and weekly waist measurements.
What I can see from weighing myself daily is that even if I gain a kilo one day, I’ve lost weight that week. And I can see that if I have more dairy one day, my tummy acts differently and I might gain weight.
This is not something for everyone! Some people get very stressed from documenting everything all the time. I am like that when it comes to documenting exactly what I eat. So I don’t. I put a red dot when I haven’t been eating well and green dot when I have been eating well (”eating well” means different things for everyone, so make your own guidelines). Same for the toilet visits where I have green, yellow and red dots. When exercising I put a green dot, and no dot when I don’t exercise. This is very visual for me. I can just glance at the spreadsheet and know if I’ve had a good or bad week. It’s super helpful! It has also helped me to chart what I can eat without getting an upset tummy, and things I can eat now and then without getting ill.
This helps me stay motivated. It’s a great visual.
What are some reasons your weight aren’t budging?
- You might not be eating enough. Yep, that’s right. A lot of people don’t eat enough. Perhaps you have a history of dieting by restricting your caloric intake and you do that on paleo as well. This sends the wrong message to your brain. If you don’t eat enough, your brain thinks that there aren’t enough food and starts to save the energy in form of fat, especially around the organs for easy access.
Make sure to eat enough to send the right signals to your brain. 3 meals a day, getting sufficiently full is a great way to start. Some people fast and eat more food in fewer hours during the day. More about fasting some other time.
- You might be eating too much. Even though you don’t count calories on paleo, energy in-energy out still applies. But perhaps in a less strict way than you previously thought. Thing is, if you consume too much energy but you don’t get rid of it, it will transform in to fat. We all have a basal metabolic rate (BMR) and you might be able to eat around 2000 kcals a day without any issues. But if you start to eat 2500 kcals a day you slowly put on weight unless you’re also using up that energy. Take a look at your daily intake. Are you snacking a lot? Eating very large portions? Adding too much fat to the plate? It all adds up. You might even have to track your food intake for a week or two to see how much you actually eat.
- You don’t have a healthy gut. Could be that you feel great, but your gut isn’t completely healed yet. It doesn’t have enough healthy bacteria to help you process food or get enough nutrients from the food you eat. It takes time to heal the gut. You might have to eat right and not see result on the scale for a year or more. But at the end it will budge. Just hang in there. Read more here.
- You’re not getting enough sleep. Sleep is absolutely crucial. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body isn’t getting enough time to recuperate. The hormones ghrelin and leptin work closely together. When you haven’t slept enough your ghrelin levels increase. Ghrelin tells you when to eat. More ghrelin means you want to eat more often. Leptin tells your brain when you’re full, it’s the satiating hormone. When you haven’t slept enough, you have less leptin, hence you get more hungry and you want to eat more often. Your metabolism won’t function properly. So get more sleep if you aren’t already.
- You’re stressing too much. Some people don’t even realize they have a lot of stress in their life. Thing is that social media is a stress factor for a lot of people without them even knowing it. Try to be without your phone from you get home from work until the morning after and see if you can handle it, or perhaps you might have to have certain hours during the day where you check social media. You can also start off with 30 min phone and computer free time a day and then slowly increase this time. Our body is built to handle stress, but not chronic stress, where the stress hormone cortisol is elevated pretty much all the time. Cortisol is released to help you in a stressful situation and it signals your body to releases glucose to supply your larger muscles with energy. Imagine what a constantly elevated cortisol level does to your body… It effects your insulin, and then your leptin and before you know it you’re both insulin and leptin resistent. When cortisol is elevated, your body knows to prioritize functions like your heart beating and your lungs. It doesn’t prioritize your digestive system for example. Even too much exercise can put your body in stress mode. So make sure you get sufficent rest between your workout sessions.
- Your ideal body weight. You might actually be at your ideal body weight already. Not if you know you have 50 kgs to loose, but if you think you have 5-10 kgs to loose, your body might be stopping you as it ”knows” that you’re already at your ideal body weight. Focus instead on feeling good. On being in great physical shape and enjoy life.
So the best tip I can give you, is to find what motivates you. Is it to see results on the scale? A pair of jeans you used to be able to wear? An upcoming wedding? Seeing the muscles on your arms when you flex or when you don’t flex?
Another tip is to tell yourself that today you choose to eat well but you can stuff your face tomorrow! When tomorrow comes, you tell yourself the same thing once again. And on and on and on….You’re fooling the limbic system of your brain, or ”the lizard brain” or ”the reptilian brain” as some people call it. It’s the primitive part of our brain responsible for emotion, addiction, mood etc.
Also, you’re making choices, you’re not being deprived of anything. You choose to eat grassfed beef with a nice basil mayonnaise and some salad, or you choose to eat that chocolate bar and some chips. It’s Always about choices, not bans. Remember that.
For more great tip on how to stay motivated, check out Diane Sanfilippo’s blog post about it here.
Wishing you another great day and a wonderful summer!