Are you one of those people that no matter what you do you cannot shift the weight around your middle? This was me for many years. I did everything right! I had a personal trainer. I trained hard every day – running, weights, circuit, boot-camp. I used the iPhone App MyFitnessPal and tracked all the food and calories I ate – trying out whatever was the latest fad diet. High and low fat diets, high protein diets, low carbohydrate diets. But nothing would shift my tummy roll and give me the toned look I was after. I was told I was not training hard enough, eating the wrong foods, drinking too much alcohol etc etc. I felt frustrated because I knew I was doing everything right, but anyway I trained harder. I went the doctor. ‘Please check my hormones and thyroid function’ I asked. ‘I can’t shift this weight’. Again I got the same story ‘you must be eating the wrong foods, it’s not your hormones/thyroid’ (and it wasn’t). I tried the naturopath. ‘Cut your calories back to under 1000 per day’ I was told. OMG!! That is starvation isn’t it? I felt so discouraged and depressed. What was wrong with me? Was it that I just did not train as hard as everyone else?
I decided to look into personal genomics, and get my DNA profiled for gene polymorphisms associated with health and wellness. DNA profiling can identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in genes. Small changes in the coding of genes can affect the overall function of the protein or enzyme it codes for and thus metabolism. For example SNPs can affect the expression of some enzymes and proteins causing more of them to be produced and therefore increasing their overall function or alternatively expression is decreased and the enzyme activity is downregulated or underactive. Individual genetic differences can also affect the way we respond to different nutrients. When I got my results back suddenly all the lights came on. Finally I could see why my body was not responding the way I thought it should. It seemed I actually needed to slow my training down, not keep doing more!
Yes it seems my body is highly inflammatory and the more I trained the more stress and damage I was doing to my muscles, and hence inability to increase my muscle mass. I started researching the effect of not only physical stress but mental stress on the body, its role in inflammation, and how both mental and physical stress contribute to the overall stress load and inflammation our body experiences. I then delved into functional nutrition and how eating the right foods for our body types can provide many supportive immune and anti-inflammatory bioactive agents. I started an elimination diet to identify any food intolerances and then moved to a paleo/Mediterranean diet. These latter food plans emphasise whole unprocessed foods containing many anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant components. Foods such as cold water fish, olive and coconut oils, grapeseed, garlic, ginger and turmeric. I cut back my exercise plan to low heart rate activities such as light resistance work, yoga, and long walks. I started thinking about my lifestyle stress levels and decreased my interaction with highly stressful situations as much as possible. Slowly but surely I finally started seeing the body changes I had been craving. My total body fat started decreasing without any loss of lean body mass and my tummy role is almost gone for the first time in what seems like 30 years!!
So yes stress was the number one sabotage. Physical stress through over exercising and mental stress through not managing those things in my life I needed to change. It is difficult for hard drivers, Type A personalities to back off and let go. We are pre-programmed to go hard, work hard, train hard. But it is just that ‘programing’. By making small incremental changes in our life. By letting go of some of the stress, we can actually make real changes in our life.
Dr shelley Cavezza
DNA Profiling & Functional Nutrition Health Coach