Weight loss is one of the most common health goals that women seek. The desire to change the body stems from cultural ideals about women’s beauty, but often is rooted in wanting to feel better and optimize health as we get older. Excess weight affects hormone balance, disease risk, mobility and quality of life.
If you want to lose weight, you are not alone. And it isn’t as straight forward as we’ve been led to believe. The messages of eating less and exercising more, largely don’t work for women, especially as we get into our 40s, 50s and beyond. We need to take a deeper look at how to support the root causes of the lifestyle and hormonal pieces that are signaling the body to hold on to weight.
Keep reading to learn more about:
Then, stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series where I will discuss the functional medicine approach to weight loss.
Let’s jump in!
What is obesity? Current definitions are based on the body mass index or BMI, which is an index of height to weight. A normal BMI is defined as between 18.5 and 24.9. A BMI between 25 and 30 is considered overweight and above 30 is considered obese. Morbid obesity, or severe obesity, is considered a BMI of 40 or higher.
You can calculate your BMI here.
We know that BMI isn’t the whole story and doesn’t tell us about a person’s frame size or muscle mass, and it certainly doesn’t convey a persons whole health story, but it’s a starting place for assessment. Your functional medicine doctor or nurse practitioner will help you put this number into context for you and look at the whole picture.
The obesity rate in America is on the rise. In 2017-2018, the obesity rate in the U.S. was over 42 percent of adults, which was an increase of about 12 percent since the year 2000. If we consider adults who are overweight and obese, it is over 70 percent. Rates are rising in children as well.
The cost of this obesity epidemic costs the health care over $147 billion per year as obesity raises risks for diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Increasing obesity rates are largely due to lifestyle factors including:
All these lifestyle factors change hormone levels, that send important messages in the body about metabolism. When the hormones become imbalance, it drives weight gain and may inhibit weight loss. In some cases, it is hard to know what came first, the hormone imbalance or the weight gain. If you feel frustrated by this chicken or egg scenario let me please assure you, you’re alone nor is this necessarily your “fault.”
Here are some examples:
As you can see, hormones are running the show when it comes to weight and metabolism. A healthy lifestyle helps to create and maintain hormonal balance, but we may need additional hormone support to begin to lose weight. I’ll dive into this more in Part 2 of this article series.
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