“My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” Psalm 62:5
There are major physiological obstacles to weight loss that no one ever wants to talk about. Why? Because it’s uncomfortable. Ladies, can we get real about our bodies for a moment?
I love watching The Biggest Loser. It’s extreme weight loss, to be sure. But it underscores the principal that diet, exercise, and concerted effort are all you need to lose weight. The show features both men and women, and without fail, the men always lose more weight more quickly than do the women. No biggie. Men’s bodies are just different than women’s. However, every woman, every season, has a week or two along the way where they just don’t lose weight. The scale pops up a low weight loss number–or a weight gain–and Jillian throws up her arms in disbelief at that particular week’s weight-loss stalemate. Bob clasps his head with his hands, dumbfounded at the lack of loss. A-hem. We’re all thinking it. Can we just say it? Our periods wreak havoc on our bodies.
For starters, when we’re premenstrual, we produce less serotonin. Low serotonin levels can cause depression, but this is also the hormone that regulates our intestines. We’re not digesting food as efficiently, we’re not having regular bowel movements–up until RIGHT before our cycle begins. Then we get a good dose of prostaglandin, which gets things moving. But during the days before the arrival of that blessed monthly event, we get a good hit of progesterone, which slows down the digestive system, increases our appetite, induces constipation, and causes us to retain water. Who could possibly lose weight with those obstacles stacked against them? Jillian–I hope you’re getting this.
Last week was my final divorce hearing. While I was not looking forward to having my heart jerked out of my chest in front of a judge, I did want to look good. I’ve been praying that my husband might stop the divorce proceedings. He has always had a problem with the fact that I did not have a “rock hard body,” and I really, really would like to look good for him. The two weeks before the hearing, I started getting uber serious. I was working out, and I was only eating fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats. No Red Vines, no Chik-fil-A. It was diet perfection! So proud of myself! And I lost exactly zero pounds. NOTHING! And no, my clothes did not feel looser. I felt frustrated and defeated. I KNEW that I hadn’t cheated, not even a little bit. But I also knew that I was on the verge of a visit from Aunt Flo. Could the two be related? Um, yeah. Yeah, they are.
Why can’t we just talk about this? It’s not just about water retention, ladies. It’s about hormones fighting to preserve our bodies to make them conducive to carrying babies. Weight loss is not conducive to growing babies; therefore our bodies fight our efforts to lose weight. There’s nothing we can do to stop it, but we need to lay it out there so we don’t feel so defeated when our bodies are secretly fighting our efforts, and then contribute to the sabotage with ample portions of ice cream bars and waffle fries in order to salve our disappointment. I would love for Jillian to just be forthright and ask a contestant who has a week of little to no weight loss, “Could this be because of your cycle?” Men and women equally face weight loss hurdles such as busy schedules, food temptations, physical illness, aches and pains, and just plain laziness and lack of motivation. But women have the additional adversary of hormones and menstrual cycles.
That doesn’t mean that we wave the white flag and give up. We’ll likely receive our reward for sticking it out once the hormone roller coaster parks to let the eggs off at the station. But that week or so of zero results can make a girl want to ditch the homemade, fresh fruit smoothie for a Chik-fil-A milkshake, which just compounds the issue. If we can just acknowledge that the scale is not going to reflect our efforts one week a month, then we can adjust our expectations and mentally prepare for the stalemate in that week’s battle to lose weight.
Cheering for you!