When we think about weight loss, we’ve all been told it’s about calories in, calories out. Eat less, exercise more and you’ll lose weight. But what if that’s not the whole picture? Science is telling us more and more that other things can affect how the body holds on to weight.
This is the first in a 3- part series about other issues that can prevent weight loss.
The first thing we’re going to talk about is toxins. Most people don’t know that toxic chemicals are underneath so many of our health struggles, including weight loss resistance.
When I talk about toxins, I’m referring to manmade chemicals. The kinds that are, unfortunately, found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the foods we eat and the products we use in our homes and put on our bodies. They’re everywhere – but that doesn’t mean you can’t reduce the number you take in and the effects they have on you!
A 2015 study by the Environmental Working Group about personal care products (1) found that women put an average of 168 chemicals on their bodies each day. Men put on about ½ that, at 85 per day. The study only looked at chemicals found in personal care products. It didn’t consider all of the other chemicals from all of the other sources we’re exposed to. That’s a LOT of chemicals.
And not all of them have been evaluated for safety. Those that have, have been looked at in isolation, not in combination with other chemicals (the way it actually happens in real life).
So here’s what’s happening in the body. When we ingest these chemicals, whether we eat them, drink them, breathe them or put them on our skin, the liver is in charge of processing them and getting them into the internal trash system to be eliminated. Bile and fiber bind to these toxins and carry them either into the intestines or kidneys, and to a lesser extent, the skin and breath, to be removed. And it works really well when it’s dealing with the kinds of things it was built to deal with. But the human body wasn’t designed to be processing the kinds of substances it’s subjected to, and certainly not in the amounts it gets. So sometimes the toxic load gets backed up. If something can’t be eliminated, because it doesn’t have the nutrients it needs, or because the organs involved in processing and elimination aren’t functioning properly, the body is like “hey, we can’t let this stuff get near the organs or into the bloodstream, where’s a safe storage place?”
And that safe storage place is in fat cells. FAT CELLS. And it’s not going to let those substances out until it feels really sure that they can be safely eliminated. So we reduce calorie intake and exercise feverishly and nothing happens. That’s because those fat cells are like hazardous waste storage and they’re not going anywhere.
My own story: Some years ago, I really struggled with weight loss resistance. I ate super clean, not a lot, but the weight wouldn’t budge. I even did Whole 30 twice, and each time, didn’t lose an ounce. When I finally reduced my toxic load and gave my body the support it needed to safely get rid of that hazardous waste, I finally lost the weight.
What to do?
- Reduce the number of toxins that are getting into your body.
- Eat organic produce whenever possible. Animal products should be organic and grass-fed (4 legs) or pasture raised (2 legs). Read labels! If you can’t say it, don’t eat it. Look at the Environmental Working Group’s website for more information about how to choose the cleanest foods.
- Drink filtered water – that’s better than even bottled because the bottled water is in plastic bottles. I use a Berkey filter for my drinking and cooking water, even to make coffee. Here’s the one I use.
- Reduce the number of personal care products that you use, and switch out heavily chemical products for cleaner versions. Look at the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep database for information.
- PLEASE stop using glyphosate based chemicals for lawn care! I will do a separate video and post about that, but know this: it kills bacteria in the soil and in your body, which, for lots of reasons, is a really bad thing. And it’s a toxin that blocks the detoxification pathways. In other words, it’s a toxin that ensures that it will stay in your body, and it does a TON of damage. And it’s doing that to the kids who play in parks that have been sprayed with it and to anyone who eats food that’s been sprayed with it and to pets who are walking in yards that have been sprayed with it. <Steps off of soapbox>
- Make sure your elimination pathways are working well. You should be having at least one bowel movement every day, more is better. Check out the Bristol Stool Chart to see what that should look like. Yes, there’s a poop chart, with pictures. Support both kidneys and intestines by drinking about ½ your body weight in ounces of filtered water each day. Eat at least 25 grams of fiber per day, by eating lots of vegetables and moderate amounts of fruits and whole grains. This will give your body the nutrients it needs to process the toxins, as well as the fiber it needs to bind to the toxins and carry them out.
Making these changes will reduce the toxic burden on your body. It will take time and may or may not be the only thing causing your weight loss resistance, but I guarantee, it WILL make you healthier, which will set the stage for anything else you do to be more successful.
Keep an eye out for part 2 of this series for other issues that could be keeping you from losing weight.
What are your thoughts about toxins and excess weight? Let me know in the comments below!