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A Trend We See Within Stubborn Weight Loss

Stubborn weight loss, functional medicine, nutritionist

A Trend We See Within Stubborn Weight Loss

In our clinic, most people absolutely start losing weight within their healing journey. Now don’t get me wrong, it can take a couple weeks to months before seeing the needle move, but we have had a handful of patients who are truly stuck. The needle never moved. I’ll always be open and transparent about this. Because it’s the reality and not everything is as smooth as we want it to be.

So, I was thinking – what are some of the patterns that we see within this small subset of people? There HAS to be something that is being missed. As humans, our bodies just don’t lose weight for no reason. It doesn’t have an agenda to make you angry and upset, but it is signaling something to you.

And to give more context, we are able to see WHY people can’t lose weight even in this more stubborn subset of people – ex: insulin resistance/blood sugar dysregulation. Labs DO show us what’s going on, but even when people take all the right supplements, eat real food, try to reduce stress, get movement, etc. the needle isn’t moving in those underlying imbalances either.

So, what the heck is going on? If some of those root causes (movement, diet, etc) are being addressed, why can’t someone see success?

The Biggest Pattern I See In Very Stubborn Weight Loss: Mental + Emotional Stress

This doesn’t even mean current mental and emotional stress. This could mean having a past trauma that you never truly worked through, even if you may feel that you have. Maybe there is another layer that you haven’t explored. Having past trauma, even in childhood, is associated heavily with weight issues. Childhood traumas raise your risk of having cardiovascular disease. Just because you’ve grown up and it’s in the past doesn’t mean it’s not affecting you today.

I’m not an expert at this matter. I actually refer out and highly recommend patients work with a therapist hand in hand with us because these blockers ARE real. Even though it feels like, “how could my past trauma affect my weight today?” JUST KNOW IT DOES.

I’m a girl that thrives on understanding the physiological aspect of everything in our body, but even this one has me stumped sometimes. Trauma is “stored” in the body and can alter the way our brains work. I am wanting to learn more about this, so I’ll report back as I learn. But, truly every patient we’ve seen that has the most stubborn weight loss has some intense mental/emotional stress in their past – so just keep that on the forefront of your mind.

**The word *intense* can mean different things to different people. Being sexually abused is intense. Being through a parent divorce as a young child is intense. Being bullied in school is intense. Your “intense” can be different from someone else’s “intense”, don’t ever downplay your traumas that affected you. Big hugs.

Stress In General Is An Issue Too

Outside of past trauma, current daily stressors are absolutely a common theme we see too. I see it in Type A personalities (don’t worry, I feel ya personally) and people are unhappy with jobs, in a bad relationship (family, friend, partner, etc), not living out your purpose, etc. The list is long, but it’s something we often accept as is “well, this is how it is. This is my job. This is my family.” But, I want to encourage you that you are no victim – you can absolutely do anything you want/need to do. And it’s never too late.

  • You can change careers if you aren’t happy. It may not be overnight, but you can take the steps in moving toward your passion.
  • You can love a family member from afar and create boundaries and stick to them.
  • You can get out of a problematic relationship, even if it’s hard AF.

People make hard decisions every single day. You are no different – I’m not saying the journey is easy. But in the long term, I’m telling you it matters. We’ve seen patients who don’t feel like they have a purpose in life and the moment they find it, work towards it, their health dramatically changes (even weight loss!). I honestly can’t wrap my head around it sometimes. Like, how can working through past traumas or living out your purpose help you move the needle in weight loss?!

My friend and collegue, Nicole, shared this pyramid from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and it gives a great bird eye view of what health is. We are obviously helping you build the very foundation of your needs. Hellooooo food, water, sleep, environment, movement, etc. But, ya’ll – it doesn’t stop there. I love how this visually shows you that internal health goes much deeper than surface level things. (Don’t get me wrong, surface level things like what you put in your mouth matters, but there is MORE to the picture).

And if you have a lot on your plate and that is your stress, don’t forget that sometimes we need to slow down to speed up. We can’t expect to keep living a busy AF life, but expect different results.

Stubborn weight loss, functional medicine, root cause medicine

Movement Is Structured, But Not A Lifestyle

What I mean by movement being structured, but not a lifestyle is that people are great at doing workouts. We SHOULD be doing structured heavy lifting. But are you working out 45 minutes in the day, but sedentary the rest of the day? We hear all the time “I go to X 3x per week.” “I heavy lift 5x per week”. But then majority of the day is still pretty lax. The small movements, like steps, are one of the most underrated movements that we can do towards weight loss. Our bodies aren’t meant to be sedentary.

We are supposed to be on our feet moving throughout the day. If you have a desk job, think about investing in a standing desk (or a standing desk converted like me!) with a treadmill under the desk. It has been a saving grace for me and getting movement with being at a computer pretty often.

If you can’t do that, be diligent with getting a solid walk in the morning or evening. Aim 8-10k steps daily. Pop a podcast or some music and work on your mental health in addition to physical!

Nutrition Not Dialed In

I swear people want me to stop repeating myself, but I can’t help it. With our history of past dieting and the saying “eat less, exercise more” is SO engrained in us that people are VERY resistant to the idea that you have to actually fuel your body and metabolism to lose weight. And throughout the process of eating more when you’ve under-ate for so long, sometimes you gain a little bit of weight before you lose it. Then, naturally ya want to question the whole process. No matter how much we remind them this is the process – it’s tough to get “buy-in” to continue.

So, I find stubborn weight patients tend to either:

1) Not want to track, so we’re not able to dial in exactly where you need improve in your diet. Even if they are eating real wholesome foods, they could absolutely be under-eating still. I don’t think counting calories is a long-term strategy, but it’s data that can tell you where are you starting and where do you need to improve. Seeing it on paper just hits different.

2) Really really really really struggle with eating enough. It’s not so much a physical block, but a mental block because it’s opposite what they learned for years. I like to remind people that – yes, that diet that was taught decades ago, but now look at the population’s health. It’s a reason we’re in our 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and struggling to lose weight. We never truly properly learned how to support our metabolism.

Toxin Load + Chronic Exposure

If a practitioner doesn’t bring up toxins in your conversations about weight loss, then to me it’s a red flag. Our team always has this on top of mind because weight loss is actually a very toxic process. Did you know that? Don’t worry, most people don’t because we truly just focus on the caloric side of weight loss in conventional medicine. But toxins are lipophilic (aka fat loving), they are stored there. It helps reduce the amount that circulates the body.

So, could your body be holding on it because your detoxification processes aren’t supported? Methylation is poor? Phase 1 detox in your liver doesn’t have the nutrients it needs? You aren’t pooping daily to get it out? If it stays backed up, it stays in the body wrecking havoc. Understanding your toxin burden in the body with both environmental toxins and potentially mold can be a big piece of the puzzle.

For mold, if you are continually exposed to it (ex: living in a house with mold), you can take all the supplements you want, but ultimately still getting exposed all the time.

Whew, That’s Alot Right?!

One other thing I wanted to mention that I won’t write a huge section for is lingering autoimmune inflammation being sorta a trend we see. I say “sorta” because it’s not everyone. But, high levels of antibodies (usually we see within thyroid, celiac, rheumatoid) are another set of labs we see out of range in stubborn weight loss patients.

All of these reasons will keep stress hormones altered, insulin resistance to continue, thyroid hormone impacted, and weight loss on. This journey isn’t easy for some people, but I want to encourage you NOT to give up. Sometimes letting go of the desire to lose weight (but maintaining a healthy lifestyle) is what is needed. We can get so obsessed with being a certain number on a scale or how our clothes fit, but sometimes we have to let go to make progress. That doesn’t mean go back to unhealthy habits, but moreso letting go mentally of losing weight. No more asking yourself: “is this good for weight loss?” “Am I doing enough for weight loss?” Looking in the mirror and thinking negative thoughts “I’m so heavy. I’m ugly.”

No girl, you are BEAUTIFUL and are on a healing journey. Time to embrace your humanness, let go of a timeline, and allow your body to heal mentally, emotionally, and physically. Your body will heal and lose weight when it feels safe, nourished, and secure. If you need us, don’t hesitate to reach out.

XO, we’re cheering you on.

Lahana Vigliano

Avatar for Lahana Vigliano
Lahana Vigliano

Lahana Vigliano is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and CEO of Nuvitru Wellness. She has her Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition Science and Masters Degree in Nutrition Science and Functional Medicine. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in Clinical Nutrition. Lahana and her team help support women who struggle with weight loss, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, and many other lingering issues that leaves women not feeling their best. She uses food as medicine, as well as herbs and supplements when needed, to support her clients. She looks at the whole body holistically making sure women are understanding how nutrition, sleep, stress, and their environment impact their health. Connect with her on Facebook + Instagram (@nuvitruwellness).