How one small, seemingly insignificant factor can impair fat loss & 6 things you can do about it.

If there is one thing, I wish I knew of sooner, it would be the importance of stress and its management and how much it affects our entire body.

I was the kind of person to think of each part of our body as a separate entity rather than a wholistic unity of never-ending processes. Once one aspect of our body goes out of balance or is overpopulated with something foreign, our body as a whole starts experiencing negative consequences. It can come in the form of an ache, maybe some tendon or muscular abnormality. The list could go on and on.

Usually, when something goes wrong, we pinpoint that one part of our body. Little do we understand that that shoulder or rotator cuff problem stems from our back. It had travelled upwards towards the shoulder. These things can help us develop a deeper understanding of what’s happening in our bodies.

I don’t know about you, but most of the time (Especially when I was a lot younger), I never really paid much attention to what my body was telling me. Now in my early 40’s I find that little voice inside of me is raging with anger and distaste at ignoring its apparent signs. They have now become full-on sirens that never seem to stop! We don’t have a choice at this stage – sort this out, or it sorts you out big time!

During my years of training, I had many issues stopping me, mainly my food allergies and intolerances. My immune system would overreact to many things, and it was pretty frustrating for me. As I was preparing for bodybuilding competitions, I would experience great success with my program and eating plan; then, something would throw out all my efforts. It could be an awful gut experience, allergies or perhaps lethargy and just regular monthly hormonal occurrences (hello periods – you still suck even at my age!). I would sometimes wonder why I was experiencing this, despite my impeccable diet?

Well, there is one thing – STRESS! Yes, the stress of our expectations on ourselves, the anxiety from our inability to speak out for what we want, and the stress we allow others to bring into our own lives. Sometimes we become the clean place that people wipe their dirty feet onto. We can most definitely enable ourselves to take on other peoples stress as well as our own.

If I look back now, the past seven or so years have been very hard for me. Perhaps you can pinpoint some part of your life that triggered vast stress levels due to an event. I know this is the case for me. Sometimes trauma doesn’t ever leave our soul, especially if we’ve not come to grips with it and tried to heal. I know I’ve yet to recover from this particular event, and it’s played a massive part in my ever-growing development of digestive and gut issues that have seemed to plague my life for the last two years.

I’ve decided to embark on a journey of healing my gut & soul pain once and for all.

I know this will become a task within itself, but I could not think of anything more rewarding than excellent health and the ability for my body actually to work to the best of its ability. It almost doesn’t make sense to me that you water the garden but never get to the root cause of what’s going on inside. Most of us feed ourselves the proper food but never going into the depths of our soul to see what’s going on.

If you are anything like me, you have also tried to do all of this and make weight loss your highest priority. How hard has it been for you? I bet it’s been almost impossible for you – and you’re not alone. Think of it this way – your body is on edge all the time, and its primary function is to be on red alert and protect you. It really can’t do much else but shut off the functioning of everything else. The main task is to keep you alive at the expense of everything else. You most definitely don’t need to be kept alive and having cortisol on such a high level – but that’s how you have unconditionally triggered your body to react. All those emotions, feelings and situations you’ve not dealt with and healed from have an accumulating effect – until one day, the body can’t take it anymore and reacts in specific ways.

The gut communicates with your brain, which then impacts every single psychological action in your body. This ranges from your immune system and also fat loss. If you are constantly in a stressed-out mode, your body will be impacted by becoming a lot more susceptible to infections, colds and flu.

Once this starts to happen regularly (or your stress levels stay at a heightened level), you may notice that you seem to have contracted another and yet another after one bout of infection or flu. Perhaps the initial one you had doesn’t seem ever to end. Months go by and you still feel it lingering. This is the intestinal nervous system talking back at you. It connects with the vagus nerve, directly connecting the gut with the brain and regulating your ability to rest and recover from both physical and mental stress. The vagus nerve governs the parasympathetic nervous system & studies show that stimulating it can lead to lower levels of inflammatory markers that can mess with your body’s ability to fight off an illness.

Our body’s immune cells regulate responses to illness and injury. Our gut is the site of much of our lymphatic system, which plays a central role in defending our body against viruses, bacteria and pathogens. When the lymphatic system is compromised, we are more likely to get illnesses and have a more challenging time recovering from them. This feels like a vicious cycle, which we may have mistakenly believe is part of one system. It’s our gut that has its ability to impact functions we usually attribute to the brain. Our gut works independently from the rational brain, regulating immunity, coordinating our stress response, influencing our emotions and dictating our decisions. Perhaps you have some idea of how important our “gut feeling is” when making some crucial decisions.

It’s so easy to get caught in the head to heart web – when it’s our gut instinct that plays the central role of our inner happiness. (I’ll try not to go all woo on you!)

Now comes the critical question – how do we improve our gut health’s functioning to increase its efficiency for quality of life and help us along the weight loss and maintenance journey?

Well, the main thing we need to do (and have a huge amount of patience in doing so – as it can take a long time) is to improve our gut bacteria’s composition. Whilst this is not the only thing you can do right now, it’s a HUGE start. Diet should always be the first conquerer; then, we move onto a lot more practical and helpful solutions to our gut health toolbox.

Here are six easy ways to improve our gut health and increase our bodies fat burning efficiency

  1. Fasting regularly. This one is number one as it’s my favourite and my saviour amongst the pain and discomfort. You don’t have to excessively fast, but doing so will help your digestion. Eliminating snacking and overeating will give your gut a chance to recover, rest and rejuvenate. Can you imagine just how hard our gut works to digest all this food? I believe we overindulge in good and bad food – that a lot of the time, we don’t need. Being hungry every so often isn’t going to harm us. It’s the constant consumption of foods, which will increase our inflammation, make us more susceptible to obesity & decrease our bodies natural defence mechanism against disease. I think fasting every day is a small price to pay for better health and longevity.
  2. Increase your probiotic foods with every meal. This fibre feeds the healthy bacteria in the GI tract, and we should be eating them in abundance. Things such as green bananas, onions, garlic, apple skins, oats, beans and other different plant-based foods. I recommend that beans (if you are sensitive) pressure cook them, perhaps blend to digest them effectively and allow the gut to assimilate all the nutrient value from the source. When it comes to onions and garlic if you find them hard to handle raw, bake, fry or boil them enough to disarm any of the wind causing nasties that may result.
  3. Plant-based foods is high on your list. You don’t need to be a vegan at all but allow your plate to fill with lots of vegetables, nuts and seeds. Phytonutrients help conquers inflammation and fights off disease. I would choose fruit that doesn’t cause any adverse reactions, like gas & bloating.
  4. Probiotic foods are essential. For this one, fermented foods are key. Including sauerkraut and kombucha are great. You may think of using a supplement to increase healthy bacteria and improve your immune system.
  5. Avoiding toxins when possible. Pesticides, metabolic waste, pharmaceuticals and excess hormones play a part in negatively impacting our immunity. You can do small things, such as buy organic produce, stabiles your hormone levels, eliminate the need for using plastics, etc. These have a huge impact long term on your health and the state of the environment.
  6. Limit your caffeine intake. You may find that a cup or two of coffee or your other favourite caffeine drink is fine, but you may hit a bit of a gut reaction after the 4-5th cup. I would warn you on overstimulating yourself with coffee because it does raise cortisol. The root cause of your lethargy or lack of concentration stems from your sleep patterns and perhaps inflammation. It’s imperative to take note of these, so you can develop a plan to conquer them.

I could discuss many other things, which are all relevant to gut health, leanness, and quality of life. But I do believe from experience that it’s the small things we should aim to conquer before heading to the more significant, more challenging parts. I can’t stress enough how important it is to start a plan of action and stick with it to start bringing our gut health back to life. You will experience days in which things are not perfect; you may feel awful again and think it’s not working. I know this all too well, as it’s my own story. But hang in there; let’s do this together and see how far we can go. I’ll be there throughout the whole process with you. Please feel free to come along with me on the never-ending journey towards better health and wonderful lif

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