We can all use a little help for weight loss.Do you remember the last time you heard someone say, “I love my body; my hips and thighs are perfect. My weight and body fat are exactly as I want them.”

Or, “I do not need to tone or lose inches on any part of my physique. Thank you, Mom, for blessing me with your flawless genetics.”

My guess is the last time was “never” or “seldom”, because the truth is most people are unhappy with their bodies. Many of us struggle with excess weight, lack of energy, sluggish metabolisms, health issues and mental anguish over our physical appearances.

We waste years – even, a great deal of our adult lives – dieting and purchasing “promises of the miracle cure”. Think of the hours spent discussing those 5 – 30 unwanted pounds, or how much we despise our thighs and large hips. There is something obviously wrong with this picture.

Can we possibly find a permanent solution to lose weight, reduce body fat, and most importantly, love our bodies?

The answer to this perplexing question is “yes, we can”.

First, and foremost, we need to take a deep breath and realize this solution entails a lifestyle change. It does not happen overnight. However, the results will last a lifetime, if done properly.

WHAT influences weight:

Surprisingly, excessive weight is not only about the number of calories we eat, but also is influenced by:

  1. the types of food consumed – processed, fried, chemical and sugar (or sugar-substitute) filled foods.
  2. an inability to digest and assimilate the nutrients in food
  3. hormonal, vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  4. thermogenics – the ability to burn calories
  5. toxicity of the liver and colon
  6. inactive, stressful lifestyles
  7. negative body image

The mind is an integral part of this process, as well. Why people over-eat and gain weight is often linked to much more than being hungry. Emotions, anxiety, frustrations, boredom, illness, low self-esteem, insecurities, and even self-punishment affect eating habits.

WHY extreme low-calorie diets lack lasting results:

The set-point is first regulated by the foods we eat; large caloric intakes increase the rate at which we burn calories, while severely restricted caloric consumption decreases this rate.

Let us begin with Nutrition 101. Caloric-deficient diets do not produce life-lasting changes!  Proper foods and lifestyle habits can make permanent differences, both physically and emotionally.

Let’s begin by focusing inside-out on the chemistry of the body. By concentrating on balance, proper nutrition, and metabolism, the body can naturally find its correct weight.

The truth is that excess body fat is controlled by the weight-regulating mechanism in the brain. This mechanism actually “chooses” the amount of body fat, which it considers ideal for its needs, and then works tirelessly to defend that level.

The book “How To Lower Your Fat Thermostat” states:

“This fat level that the weight-regulating mechanism chooses is called the ‘set-point‘ and can be compared to the thermostat in a home. If the thermostat is set at 70 degrees (set-point), the furnace will be activated when the temperature falls below the set-point temperature, to maintain the desired heat level.

“This weight-regulating mechanism controls body weight in two critically important ways. First, it has a profound influence on the amount of food that you eat, dramatically increasing or decreasing your appetite as needed to maintain the set-point weight.

“Second, it can actually trigger systems in the body to “waste” excess energy, if you over-eat, or to “conserve” energy, if you eat too little. While you have absolutely no control over the eating drive, you do have control over how you handle the drive. You decide when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat. The weight-regulating mechanism can also direct systems in your body to conserve or waste energy.”

The set-point is first regulated by the foods we eat; large caloric intakes increase the rate at which we burn calories, while severely restricted caloric consumption decreases this rate.

The second system involves “brown fat”, a different kind of fat. Brown fat differs from “storage” fat, because it has the ability to burn part of the food we eat and “waste” the excess energy as heat, so it does not have to be stored as fat.

People who have weight problems have very little brown fat activity, while conversely, people who eat large quantities of food without gaining weight use brown fat activity to “waste” extra energy.

When we recognize the important role of these energy-conserving, energy-wasting systems in weight control; it is easier to understand why restricted diets do not work.

When the amount of food eaten is decreased in an effort to lose weight, the body slows the metabolism to protect fat storage. The less food consumed, the less fat burned for energy, leaving us tired and unable to maintain normal activity.

People who have weight problems have very little brown fat activity, while conversely, people who eat large quantities of food without gaining weight use brown fat activity to “waste” extra energy.

Decreased activity raises the set-point, which further stimulates a vicious cycle of increased hunger and energy conservation. It also causes a loss of muscle tissue, so that less fat can be burned.

In addition, it even affects the response to insulin (a hormone that is essential for getting sugar into the cells, so it can be burned for energy), which causes increased fat storage.

Having either too high or too low a set-point may have some genetic basis. However, we are not permanently “stuck” with an undesirable set-point level. We can change or reprogram our set-points by the lifestyle choices we make each day.

The next article in this series about Weight Loss Solutions That Last, we will discuss how important it is to “Eat in Harmony for Permanent Weight Loss“, as you make the effort to reset your set-point.