Apart from instances of some debilitating diseases or injury which prevents you training and feeding yourself properly, most excuses for being overweight are invalid! Even disability is often not an excuse as there are some exceptional stories of such individuals who have achieved far more than I ever have or ever will do despite being physically disadvantaged.
This may be a harsh truth but far too many people are unwilling to accept the fact that 99% of people who think they have an excuse are simply doing all they can to convince themselves that there is no solution because it's an easy option.
So what's really happening?
1) Your subconscious brain, which controls all the behaviors which make you cave in and dive for the chocolates because you are hungry cannot look in the mirror. In other words, it relies solely on the messages you program into it and the hormones which get sent to it as messengers from other parts of your body.
They aren't easy solutions but they are simple. The hard bit is applying the necessary focus!
2) If your hormones are permanently out of line you are unlikely to ever see the results you want. If you aren't prepared to take the steps required to rebalance your inner systems then you may as well not waste your efforts.
3) Healthy people do not carry excess fat. Build your health and the rest will fall into place.
So what's the deal with hormones?
This is a massive subject which cannot truly be given the attention it deserves here so the focus here is on one called leptin which many believe to be the 'fat controller' of …. fat! In a nutshell, leptin tells your brain when there is enough fuel in your body. In other words it send signals saying "Don't eat any more because we have enough body fat to fuel any physical requirements." In other words' I'm no longer hungry ".
The result is that you no longer feel hungry and avoid overeating. So surely, the larger ones amongst us who are fed up of flabby hips and jelly bellies must be doing something wrong as they should have the strongest leptin signals of all given the excess body fat they carry.
Well yes, they are doing or more likely have been doing something wrong. Unfortunately, if you could just instantly get leptin (and the whole hormone matrix) working properly again, then no one would have this stubborn body fat which doesn't go away even having been on the perfect nutrition plan for a week or two!
In these cases, the body is not perceiving enough leptin and so does two highly unproductive things:
1) The brain slows your metabolism down so that the body fat you have is protected. As mentioned earlier, it cannot see what you see when you check yourself out each morning. It simply goes on the basis that leptin is not arriving so there can't be sufficient fuel or body fat.
2) It encourages you to eat more to replenish what it perceives as low fuel stocks! You know there's loads of fat there but your subconscious brain doesn't!
The problem is exacerbated in those who have followed lots of different diets in the past. The body is likely to have installed a permanently low metabolic rate so that you avoid the starvation mode you put it in with diet after diet based on low calories.
This is done by increasing what is known as reverse T3 hormones. T3 hormones are the ones that increase metabolic rate through efficient function of the thyroid. Reverse T3 hormones do the opposite – they slam the hand brake on and slow your calorie-burning potential right down!
This is where it gets interesting … If this was all down to just lack of quality exercise and nutrition, the problem would be much easier to sort out.
However, increases in reverse T3 can also occur due to major stresses in life from physical injury such as a car crash / temporary paralysis etc to emotional stress which lingers from divorce to redundancy or a death in the family which hits hard.
Crash dieting is also a major source of stress as is poor nutritional status in those who over-eat which causes a very inflammatory state in the body.
(As a side note, this is one of the reasons why sorting your diet out to one which promotes an alkaline state rather than an acidic one can lead to significant improvements in inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, gall stones and nagging injuries or back pain to name a very small few)
Add to this the fact that if your problem is long-term overeating, your brain will have been bombarded with so much leptin that it becomes 'leptin resistant' – it starts ignoring the signals as happens in insulin-resistance (Type 2 diabetes).
So what are the solutions?
The first step in solving stubborn fat is to accept that you and only you are responsible for creating these hormonal imbalances. Except maybe in childhood, no one ever forces you to eat or drink anything you don't want to. Having a family to take care of is a common excuse.
In my opinion as a young male who is yet to have kids, it is your duty to bring your children up as healthily as possible in which case you should be instilling the values of clean, natural food from a young age. Those who do this are almost guaranteed to see happy, well-behaved and successful children grow over the years.
They, like many adults, will resist at first but once the toxins of burgers, soda's and 'treats' which are more like internal punishment on the body have been cleared, you will all experience much more joy and taste from natural food. Next, accept that the longer you have abused your body, the longer it will take to get back in balance. Another crash diet will compound the problem further so you must take long-term action implemented immediately. These actions should include …
1) Following a diet based largely on raw, plant-based food (vegetables, grasses (easily taken in 'Greens' drinks), fruits, nuts and seeds). Lower your animal protein consumption and eat more fish
2) Increase your intake of EPA and DHA to reduce inflammation and boost your fat burning potential. 6g per day should do the trick. These can be obtained from fish oils or other vegetarian sources.
3) Stop stressing your thyroid and help kick start it by increasing your intake of iodine and selenium. Iodine can be easily added to your greens drink in the form of droplets such as Lugol's Iodine. Calcium is also very useful – this can be obtained from leafy greens but may be best supplemented as first for a kick-start.
Do not increase your dairy intake to get more calcium. This can increase the acidity in your body which needs to be neutralized. The body often draws calcium out of bones to help neutralize the acidic state thus doing more harm than good!
4) Look carefully at sources of emotional and physical stress in your life. The best nutrition and training plan in the universe will do little if you are still wired up and unable to balance your life due to stress.
Sometimes intense exercise is the worst thing you can do as it compounds the total stress put on your body. Try a yoga class and reduce the amount of hard exercise you are doing for a few weeks.
5) Last but definitely not least, drink at least 2-3 liters of bottled water per day. The more fat cells you have, the more sites there are for toxins to be stored. Your body will not release body fat if it has no outlet for these toxins.
A state of adequate hydration will enable these to be flushed out thus coaxing the body into releasing the fats and with them, the toxins! At first this may results in headaches, dark circles under your eyes, sore muscles and spots as the body starts having a clear out.
Push on as this feeling of having a 'health crisis' will pass and you'll come out the other end feeling a million dollars! Adequate hydration also greatly reduces inflammation in the body so you are likely to see some aches and pains ease off.
If you implements the steps above you will see progress. Combined with an appropriate exercise program you will see results accelerate faster than you might think it possible! Forget phasing these in if you want quick and lasting results. If you have stubborn body fat it is because your internal machinery and hormones are in a mess.
Commit to rectifying this completely for weeks on end. A few days with a weekend binge will probably make the situation worse and lead to further problems with leptin and a knock-on effect on all the other hormones in your body. You and only you can take responsibility for this.