In this article I will look at 3 elements to losing weight that may help you answer the above question: 1. Metabolism; 2. Genetics; and 3. Caloric balance.
1. Metabolism: There are many factors that regulate your metabolism but let me focus on just 3 of these: Base Metabolic Rate (BMR), Thermic Effect of Exercise (TEE) and Thermic Effect of Food (TEF). Your BMR is determined by your current weight and body composition. Generally speaking: a heavier person has a faster BMR than a lighter person and; a person with a higher muscle mass has a faster BMR than a person with a lower muscle mass. So, if you are not losing weight your metabolism is burning up just as many calories as you put in daily, weekly, annually. You can assist yourself in increasing your BMR by putting on a little more muscle mass relative to your weight (Note: we don’t want you to put on total weight as this defeats the purpose, of course). TEE has a notable effect on your metabolism but this is short-lived compared to your BMR.TEE is significant and it is certainly a factor to look into to improve your overall caloric burn but check in with a professional to find out if you are exercising enough or if you can maximise your workouts to burn more calories. TEF has a relatively limited effect on your metabolism. It is a contributor, but it is often over-rated, particularly if you are still consuming more calories than your body needs. It is the 3rd and least likely factor that might be effecting your metabolism and therefore, your weight.
For too long it has been too easy to blame poor genetics for a heavier weight. Despite the fact that genetics place a (small) part in your body weight it is my belief that there are far too many environmental factors (controllables and uncontrollables) that contribute to your weight that blaming genetics simply becomes a ‘cop-out’. Right from the time you are conceived decisions your Mother makes regarding her exercise and eating habits are affecting your environment and your pre-birth weight. Once born, your mother and father again dicate much of your early life and predisposition to weight gain. They can choose to breastfeed, play with you regularly and help develop your cognitive and motor skills. As an adult, the choices are all yours. If you are aware that you have a predisposition to weight gain then I would treat it no differently than you would for a predisposition to any disease. You need to focus on it a little more than some other people might have to. Believe me when I say that you are a far bigger product of your decisions and actions than you are of your genetics. One of the great examples of this is in recent studies involving gene expression and sitting/standing. You can actually change your gene expression by standing more and sitting less! How is that for empowering?!?! My prediction is that future studies will show even more evidence for how we can use our environment and habits to manipulate our genes. Watch this space.
3. Caloric Balance:
The first step to assesing your weight loss/gain is to remove emotion from the equation. If you have gained weight the simple answer is that you have consumed more calories than you have burned up. That’s it! So with that knowledge there are only 2 questions left:
1. How can I increase my metabolism to burn more calories?
2. How can I decrease my caloric intake to consume less calories?
If you don’t know the answer to these 2 questions it’s time to go to a professional to get the right advice. I promise you that it is that SIMPLE but it isn’t that EASY!
Let me conclude by saying that the most successful weight loss clients I have worked with are great MANAGERS. They are Weight Managers and take charge of their decisions to ensure success. They track their lifestyle so well that they can virtually predict the numbers on the scales every time. That should be the goal for us all – conscious health management.