FAQ: I Can’t Seem To Lose The Last Ten Pounds

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I can’t seem to lose those “last 10 pounds,” and I don’t feel as though I can exercise any more or eat any less. I am very frustrated. I want to fit into my clothes and feel good again!

First of all, I want to say that everyone deserves to feel good and confident physically, mentally, and emotionally. I believe that is our right as a human being. It is why I am a health coach, encouraging others to believe this as well.

This question is another prime example of an archaic way of thinking that still persists: calories in, calories out; move more, eat less. I am hear to tell you that is not how your body works. Instead of a calculator, think of your body as more of a chemistry lab. I will sum this up with my favorite Mark Sisson quote: Every bite of food is a hormonal experience.

Literally, whenever you eat, the food travels through your digestive system, and when it gets to your small intestine, there are these little finger-like villi lining your small intestine (so think about the fringe on the edge of a rug), which are responsible for extracting the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from the food you eat. This “information” is then sent to your cells for energy, after which all of these chemical (i.e. hormonal) reactions take place to try to decipher what is getting metabolized, and how your body can use it. The rest of what doesn’t get used by your body gets discarded as waste.

While restricting caloric intake and increasing exercise may work for a short time, it is not a sustainable approach to weight loss. This is due to a couple of different reasons. Either you get so hungry and have experiences of over-eating, engaging in cyclical behavior that sends your body into hormonal shock, or the approach puts extra strain and stress on your body, sending cortisol levels through the roof, after which hormonal imbalance ensues. Your body will then do what it can to hold on to fat in order to survive. Survival mechanisms are very strong!

My response to this question would probably be counterintuitive to what most people would think. I would actually advise you to eat more, and exercise less. This doesn’t mean you can throw nutritional values out of the window. Blood sugar management becomes very important. You would want to stabilize hormones, and the two main chemical messengers to keep in mind are insulin and cortisol. By keeping insulin levels steady, and reducing stress (both physically and mentally), you can achieve more hormonal balance. Then, opt for more gentle forms of movement: walking, yoga, strength training (which helps to support metabolism, build muscle, and burn fat). Let the hardcore cardio go for the time being, until your body can balance out.