Why do women have a harder time losing weight than men? Hormones!
Yep, I said it! When a woman says that dirty word it leaves a man dreading walking down an aisle filled with feminine products only to return home and be told by a highly emotional human that they’re the wrong kind.
It’s the same word that causes women to quiver with visions of a visit from Aunty Flow or worse – Mother Menopause.
Really though? Hormones make the world go round. They affect our ability to sleep and our drive to have sex, and, you guessed it, our weight loss.
And the biggest struggle I find myself helping female clients with?
Detaching their emotions from the natural and perfectly normal fluctuations in their weight due to their beautiful, divine, God-given hormonal cycle.
Sometimes it sucks to be a girl; having two X chromosomes ain’t easy.
We have to style our hair – and when it’s long – that shit takes time.
Make-up is a thing we have to do.
Shaving or Nairing or waxing our entire bodies before a first date (this isn’t just me, right?). That’s hard.
But hormones and emotions and dating men – this is where the struggle gets really serious (I’m going to leave the dating part until we meet another day, with a bottle of wine in my hand.)
What The Super Common Hormonal Weight Loss Struggle Looks Like:
A woman starts on a weight loss journey and sees solid results for about two weeks – maybe losing 5 lbs even! Then, one cold, bitter morning (usually after she’s worked super hard in a workout and eaten perfectly the day before), she steps on that evil mechanism, and it’s jumped up two lbs. And her stomach sinks into her feet and her brains explode out from the top of her head because she’s been doing everything right. How could this possibly happen? Her day is ruined.
And what if it goes up a few days in a row? Well then, when she sees that baking tray Diane brought to work she figures what she’s doing isn’t working anyway and she must not be able to lose weight and so she might as well have one, two…seven cookies.
And sadly, she returns to her old habits the next day, giving up on her diet and returning to her start weight with a belief that she cannot lose weight.
It’s effing hard to lose weight as a woman, but I’m here to tell you that you can! And there’s only one thing you need to do to get extended weight loss:
As hard as it is, detach yourself from those crazy emotions of yours and learn to see your body as a science experiment (and if you hated science in school that’s okay. You can do this. I believe in you).
In a science experiment we have a hypothesis. In this case it might be: “If I weigh, measure, and track my food hitting my goals using My Fitness Pal I will lose 12-20 lbs in 12 weeks.”
In a science experiment we control as many things as possible. In this case, you weigh and measure your food, and control the amount of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and calories you eat.
Throughout the experiment we also gather data to determine how well we’re making progress towards our goal. For weight loss, we can use pictures, measurements, and the weight on the scale.
The more data you can gather, the better job you can do determining if what you’re doing is working, but you can’t make daily changes. You have to keep your food intake the same for weeks (especially throughout your hormonal cycle) in order to observe the trends and reap the rewards.
That’s it. That’s the secret: the weight the scale reads is just a data point, and we’re looking for week-to-week trends, and not day-to-day fluctuations.
Record your weight and note how it correlates with your hormonal cycle (men don’t have to deal with this – they have high testosterone all the time which makes burning fat and staying lean much more simple), and soon enough you’ll be able to detach your emotions from your weight loss, and you won’t give up.
Here’s the trend you can expect of how your 28-ish day cycle will affect your weight loss journey as a woman (as long as you’re controlling what you eat and doing everything your nutrition coach tells you to do):
- Up to 5 days before your period begins, your weight will likely jump 2-5 lbs depending on your body weight (more for a heavier woman).
- The extra weight will stay until about 2 days after your period, when your weight will likely drop up to 2 lbs below what it was before your period started.
- Your weight will continue to decline at it’s most rapid rate for about 7 days.
- Your weight may get stuck, or slowly decline until 5 days prior to your next cycle beginning.
Let’s use Leona as an example.
- If Leona weighs 155 lbs 5 days out from her period, it will probably jump to about 158 and stay there for what seems like an unbearable amount of time (7-12 days, 14 if you’re really unlucky).
- About two days after her period her weight will probably drop to about 153.5 overnight. Leona rejoices.
- The scale will be Leona’s best friend for about 7 days and it might even get as low as 151.
- It will get stuck there or even start creeping up before it jumps up 2ish lbs and Leona will question the Universe and wonder what she’s doing wrong and why life is so hard.
But guess what, my friend? You don’t need to be like Leona, because now you know what to expect. You can detach those damn emotions from the number declared by that digital beast, record the data, and know that if you can avoid Diane’s office baking (or make it fit your macros) through all of the PMS cravings (even the day your weight jumps up 2 lbs) and wait until that glorious day about 2 days after your period when your weight drops like a perfectly frozen puck before Team Canada scores the gold-medal goal in the Olympics, and if you can do that again and again, you’ll rejoice as if you sniped a date with Sidney Crosby himself.
So, sisters, I’m here to tell you that your hormonal cycle doesn’t have to derail your progress and make you throw your hands up in the air, and wave ’em around like you just don’t care (because we all know, you do). You’re stronger than that. Guys don’t have to deal with hormones like we do, but in the wise words of someone I know, “You aren’t given anything more than you can handle.”
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