As a health coach I’m actually quite nervous about admitting that I have learnt the information I am sharing with you in this blog post due to research into my own situation right now with unexplained weight gain.
Don’t get me wrong, I love and respect my body, and I’m always in favour of being strong over being slim, and fit over being thin. But I also want to feel comfortable and to be able to move with ease and to not experience back pain and other problems that come with carrying more weight than my body is used to.
I could have avoided sharing about this topic, yet I’m compelled to share this with you because I want you to know that you’re not alone. I want to be real and honest and transparent about what’s going on with me because it will hopefully also resonate with you.
I also believe that the reasons for gaining weight despite eating well and exercising are ones that many women entrepreneurs are afflicted with due to the nature of our lifestyle being so focused on our businesses (and not enough on ourselves- health coaches included!). So, let’s dive in!
This blog post is for you, if you feel like you are doing everything “right” but your body seems to be functioning “all wrong”.
This information is for you if you’re positive that you're not eating more food or “junkier” food but you're still gaining weight.
This is for you if you feel bigger than ever, even though you are eating intuitively, only eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full and really listening to what your body needs (and definitely not bingeing), but your clothes no longer fit you and you’ve gone up one or two dress sizes in a matter of months.
You might be asking yourself, how is this possible? Am I totally crazy?
Darling, you definitely are NOT crazy!
And here's why.
Whilst in theory the whole “calories in, calories out” argument makes sense, it’s an overly simplistic view of weight.
There's definitely more to the story than just what you're eating. For sure you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, but even following a healthy diet can still mean you have difficulty in losing weight and you can even gain weight despite being “good”.
A lot of this comes right down to your metabolic rate which is affected by things like your activity level, history of dieting, body composition, and even what you eat. Unexplained weight gain is usually a message from our body- which means we need to stop and listen to what it’s telling us so we can rectify things.
So let's go beyond the “eat less and exercise more” advice and dive into some of the less obvious underlying reasons why you may be gaining weight even though you're eating the same.
We are going to look at things like:
Reason #1 for Unexplained Weight Gain: Ageing
Funny things happen the older we get. People commonly experience lower energy levels, more digestive discomfort, weight gain, as well as aches and pains.
Ageing can result in hormonal changes for both men and women. And these can contribute to loss of some lean muscle mass, as well as increases and changes in fat storage on our bodies.
The good thing is that this is very common and not your fault one bit. The frustrating thing is that we can’t stop ourselves from getting older or these effects from happening, especially if it’s part of our genetic makeup.
I turned 40 in January, and even though the only thing that changed for me was the number of years living on Earth, it seems my body has decided to behave totally different now I’m a new decade older! But don’t despair just yet…
Reason #2 for Unexplained Weight Gain: Hormones
Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism and can be a massive contributor to your weight gain. There are several things that can affect it and throw it off course.
When your thyroid gets off course and produces fewer hormones, then your metabolism slows down. And when your metabolism slows down you can gain weight- even though you're eating the same way you always have.
There are many symptoms that come with an under-active thyroid which can include: being sensitive to cold, depression, having slow movements and thoughts, muscle aches and weakness and muscle cramps, dry and scaly skin, and brittle hair and nails.
If you suspect that your thyroid could be the culprit, it is highly recommended to talk with your doctor about having your hormones tested. This is a simple test and might reveal a lot of useful information about your health. Thyroid conditions are treatable and manageable and well worth looking into.
Pro Tip: Be sure to try the thyroid-friendly recipe that I created for you at the end of this post.
You might also like to try using an essential oil protocol that could help the thyroid to function more efficiently. Make a blend of lemongrass and peppermint with a carrier oil and rub this on the base of your neck (the thyroid area) and on your big toe three times a day. Layer with a drop of Frankinsence if you have it on hand as it is very healing and can help reduce inflammation. Use this for a few weeks and see if it makes any difference to how you're feeling.
Reason # 3 for Unexplained Weight Gain: Sleep
There’s plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.
And as we age it can become harder and harder to get a good night's sleep.
The general consensus is that we need to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night to help avoid weight gain. If you are getting less than this because you have problems sleeping, or you find you are too busy to get to sleep on-time, or you have kids who constantly wake you up- I hear you!
Just know that improving your sleep patterns and quality need to become a priority, because the lack of sleep could be over-riding your good diet and exercise efforts and might just be the missing link to your weight gain.
Who ever thought you can sleep off your weight?
Pro Tip: Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. The first place to start is by implementing a calming before bedtime routine (I talk about establishing healthy routines this in this IGTV video)
Reason #4 for Unexplained Weight Gain: Stress
I know that stress might seem to get blamed for everything and that everyone is always going on about minimising stress- but that’s for a reason. Stress is not a good thing for our body’s healthy function in the long-term.
The problem is that there are so many things that can cause stress responses in your body. When you’re launching a new program, have a writing deadline, have a big podcast interview to prepare for, or you’re worried about earning enough money and all of this is making you anxious- it will cause your cortisol levels to rise.
When our stress hormones are constantly coursing through us, it’s not going to help us to sustain healthy habits or maintain a healthy weight.
While you can't necessarily change your stressors, you can try to adjust your stress response to them.
Pro Tip: Try meditation or yoga, or even daily mindfulness. I’m also a huge fan of doing relaxing things like adult colouring books and making sure I practice self-care every single day no matter what.
There are lots of factors that can affect your weight, even if you're eating the same way you always have. Ageing, hormones, stress, and sleep are all interconnected to each other and can all contribute to weight gain, even if you're eating the same way you always have. These 4 surprising reasons for gaining weight are definitely worth exploring!
Also add this recipe to your repertoire- it supports your thyroid due to be rich in thyroid-friendly iodine and is a quick and easy lunch to throw together (no excuses for skipping lunch, ok?!).
Recipe: Seaweed Sushi Bowl
1 cup cooked rice
1 avocado (thinly sliced)
½ cucumber (diced)
½ red pepper (thinly sliced)
1 green onion (chopped)
2 tablespoons dried seaweed (arame, wakame, or crumbled nori sheets)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons gluten-free tamari sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ garlic clove
dash salt and pepper
Split the first seven ingredients into two bowls.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together to make the dressing.
Pour the dressing over the sushi bowls.
Serve & Enjoy!
Pro Tip: This is a great lunch to take on the go. Keep the dressing in a separate container so you can give it a shake before adding it onto the sushi bowl.