A few years ago I had to perform this 20 minute long dance in nothing but nude trunks and a bra top. Yeah, I know…cruel.
Struggling with depression as well as my weight, I had to get used to the fact that I’d be dancing in basically a bikini in six weeks. Needless to say, I was less than thrilled.
So I took on the roll of the “Crazy Lady.” In addition to several hours of daily rehearsal, I worked out like a fiend at the gym, often doing cardio for two hours on the elliptical . And if I wasn’t lightheaded afterward, I felt as though I didn’t push myself hard enough.
Of course I put myself on a nice restrictive diet, and some days, I would nail it, eating no more than 1,200 calories. But the other half of the time, my hunger pangs literally drove me insane, and I would end the evening in a food coma.
Waking up extra early in order to burn the calories I stuffed myself with the night before, many times I’d be running on five hours of sleep. Exhausted, depressed, stressed and frickin’ starving, (oh, and whacked out on diet pills that didn’t work), one can only imagine how charming I had become.
I endured my self-inflicted torture for a month and a half and do you know what the real pisser is? I lost one measly pound. ONE.
People are constantly trying to lose weight. They’re exercising and on low-calorie diets, but for some reason, the scale is barely moving or not even budging at all. What in the sam hell is going on?
Losing weight is not always easy, but if you’re guilty of one or more of these mistakes, you could be making it that much harder for yourself!
1) Me So Sleepy
We know that sleep is important, but did you know that sleep deprivation can actually keep you from losing weight?
Being zonkered, my body was looking for any quick source of energy, so what did I go for? That’s right, the calorie-packed, sugary deliciousness of a donut, a large mocha frappuccino with extra whipped cream, the blueberry muffin the size of my face!
When you chow down on these goodies, you’ll get a quick pick me up, but then a short time passes and you crash just as fast as the sugar high came on. What’s worse is now you’re left feeling even more wiped than you were pre-treat.
Oh but wait, there’s more.
When you are uber tired, your metabolism slows down! Yup, studies show that even after one night of skimping on shut eye, your body can burn up to 20% less while at rest. And if that weren’t enough, meet our hormone friends ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin clues you in on when it’s time to eat and leptin lets you know when you’ve had enough. The part that stinks to high heaven is when you’re lacking sleep, you produce more ghrelin and less of the leptin. And that my dears, can cause the scale to go up.
2) “Let’s Talk About STRESS, Baby”
When stress gets the best of you, the hormones adrenalin, corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) and cortisol are released. These give you the “oompfh” you need for the “fight or flight” response. Now cortisol, the hormone that is secreted to “help replenish our bodies” after the stress has gone bye-bye, also unfortunately boosts the appetite.
“The problem lies in our neuroendocrine system, a brain-t0-body connection that harkens back to evolutionary times and which helped our distant ancestors to survive,” says Elissa Epel, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco.
Even though our stress is more likely to come from a project deadline rather than getting chased down by a wild beast, it still sets off the same hormones when the pressure is on.
On top of making you hungry, if you tend to be an emotional eater (like I was at the time of the story above), comfort food is something you’ll probably reach for during times of stress. And as far as I know, comfort food does not consist of celery sticks and low-fat dressing.
3) “Lay Off Me, I’m Starving!” -Chris Farley
As we all know by now, crash diets don’t work. By placing yourself on a highly restrictive eating plan, you may not be eating enough calories. And if you’re not feeding your body adequately, it will go into “survival mode,” meaning you’re metabolism slows down to conserve energy and THAT means you’ll be burning less calories.
You can also just get wildly hungry, ESPECIALLY as the day comes to a close and you’ve consumed all the calories you are allowed. It seems your hunger pangs grow louder with each passing minute and before you know what happens, your butt is in the kitchen ransacking the refrigerator.
Either that, or you make it through a few days (like I used to do). But come Friday, you just can’t take it anymore and you end up downing a meat lovers pizza.
And you know what? Every Monday, I’d start back up on my diet thinking, “This time will be different.” Somehow I felt I’d miraculously gain the willpower to succeed this time around.
Ugh. You know what they say, “the definition of insanity…”
Bouchez, C. (2015). Can Stress Cause Weight Gain. [online] Webmd.com. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/can-stress-cause-weight-gain? [Accessed 29 Jan. 2015].
Mann, D. (2013). Sleep and Weight Gain. [online] Webmd. Available at: http://webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/lack-of-sleep-weight-gain [Accessed 28 Jan. 2015].
Walton, A. (2011). More Reasons to Get Your Zzzzs. [online] The Doctor Will See You Now. Available at: http://thedoctorwillseeyounow.com/sleep/art3342.html [Accessed 28 Jan. 2015].