I’ve always prided myself on being a healthy eater, but what I realize now is that how good you eat doesn’t matter as much as you think. There’s a lot of diet confusion out there.
As a kid I grew up with great homecooking and dinner that was always balanced with a lean protein, vegetable and starch. That said, I had to pretty much clear my plate before I could have dessert-making sure I ate all the “good stuff” first. It worked great for me, as I was very active until as a teenager, I had a couple of knee surgeries, and then all the pounds came on.
In college I did tried to lose the weight with some extreme dieting and running and experiences the yo-yo dieting and weight gain. As I entered my mid-twenties I was determined to get my weight under control to be ready to have children, and committed to a more consistently healthy diet and regular exercise. As a nurse, working full-time, I felt that it was important to set an example to those I served.
Four kids later after gaining and losing less than ideal “baby weight”, I was able to be more consistent in my weight until Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis happened in my late 30’s. It took some time to get that under control and figure out the right balance of exercise and nutrition…but I still didn’t feel right. I was wired but tired. I only slept 5-6 hours per night and often woke up in the middle of the night. Plus, I was juggling a family and a full-time job. This continued for many years.
Then, I was fed up with not being able to figure out what was behind some of my symptoms from my traditional medical doctors. As a nurse, I knew that there needed to be some reason for my low blood sugar, my throat discomfort, constipation, and other symptoms, so I started to study functional medicine. I actually self-tested myself for gluten sensitivity and then went gluten-free. Despite feeling a lot better, no longer having hypoglycemic episodes, I still had some symptoms and wasn’t sleeping well.
Here’s what I’ve learned after struggling for a number of years and studying functional medicine.
I studied Nursing in college but not a single class addressed the actual functional components or importance of diet, rest, exercise, stress reduction and supplementation and how all of these pieces worked together like my functional medicine training did. No one addressed that food sensitivity or that the actual medicine I took for my thyroid contains additives I was sensitive to.
What I came to find is that…
Your diet is only as effective as the rest of your lifestyle.
You could be the healthiest eater in the world but if you’re burning the midnight oil, over or under-exercising, and dealing with a ton of physical and emotional stress, or by not addressing food sensitivities, your healthy eating efforts fall to the wayside.
The body is a complex network of systems that all work together. If you want your healthy eating habits to be effective for weight loss, increasing your energy or resolving other health issues, then you need all systems online and working right.
You have to learn to value sleep and stress reduction as much, if not more than, diet and exercise. Focusing on diet alone may get you some results; maybe you’ll lose a few pounds, notice a small increase in your energy or some symptom relief but eventually, progress comes to a halt unless your lifestyle also supports your healthy eating habits.
For example, one night of poor sleep or going to bed late can have significant impacts on your body’s ability to balance blood sugar and your hormones, both of which directly correlate with weight gain or weight loss resistance.
Over exercising or exercising too intensely when you’re body is already depleted and tired also directly impact hormone balance, which will dictate your weight.
And then there’s emotional stress. When you’re stressed, your stress hormone cortisol goes up and surges in cortisol have been linked to weight gain right around your midsection (the “spare tire” effect).
I was guilty of all of these things. I stayed up late, worked long days at a stressful job and constantly pushed my body beyond its limits when it came to exercise, and my functional lab tests showed it!
My cortisol was out of control, my hormones were out of balance, and through my training and self-testing, found out that I had some pretty nasty bacteria growing in my gut.
It was no wonder why I still felt tired and had other weird symptoms! So here’s how I finally got my symptoms under control, and my energy back once and for all…
I shifted my focus to be equal parts diet, rest, exercise and stress reduction by:
- Paying more attention to what foods made my body feel good
- Setting a goal to be asleep by 10pm at least 5 nights per week
- Incorporating 1-2 days of restorative exercise such as walking, QiGong, yoga
- Creating a daily mindfulness practice using a variety of meditation and breath-work tools
And I also worked on restoring function to the different systems of my body using functional lab testing as my guide. Now my healthy eating habits are much improved and one or a few days off my normal eating routine doesn’t throw me completely off course.
This happens with so many people. They’ve tried various diets such as Paleo, Whole30 and Keto but get little to no results because it’s the only thing they’ve been focusing on, and their lifestyle wasn’t supporting the expected results of their eating habits.
Here’s the thing. We are all individuals. Once we run some functional lab tests to identify a person’s healing opportunities and get them on a more personalized plan with a balanced focus, the body heals and body weight and hormones rebalance. Any guess what? Energy instantly goes up and other health issues start to diminish or go away completely.
If you’re frustrated with the lack of results you’ve been seeing from your healthy eating habits, then let’s explore what’s holding you back.
Schedule your free discovery session.
I am a Master’s prepared RN, National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Board-Certified Functional Wellness Coach, and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner. I help people fix their chronic inflammation & pain with in-home lab testing, client assessments, personalized natural healing protocols, and online coaching to help them move from pain to peace so that they feel better, move better, and live better.