You've cut back or dropped out completely the carbs, sworn off junk food and pop, and despite those efforts and a ramped up exercise schedule, you've hit a wall. So you cut back even deeper and pump up even harder and you're still stuck.
I have been in practice for over 30 years and very early on in my career I began to see the connection between many of the health problems my patients were experiencing and their being overweight. I distinctly remember one patient who was suffering from chronic severe lower back pain, hip and knee pain. She was very overweight and on her very first visit she looked me in the eye and confessed, "Dr. Girgenti, you'd be surprised how little I eat. Why can't I lose weight?" I'll never forget the look in her eyes. It was a combination of pain, embarrassment and frustration. I remember not knowing what to say.....But I never forgot that look, and I never forgot that question. The question haunted me and I began to search for a way to help my patients be really successful at losing their weight and keeping it off for good.
As part of my training I had extensive exposure to human nutritional biochemistry and digestion, but it wasn't until later in my clinical practice that I began to recognize the significant connection between what is known as the P.T.A. axis (Pituitary-Thyroid-Adrenal) and healthy weight loss. These glands are part of our endocrine system and secrete chemical messengers which control a host of body functions particularly related to weight loss or gain.
With each decade of life and with the compounding effects of stress (i.e. physical pain, financial worries, work, relational stress, etc.) our PTA axis is prone to challenges and imbalances. The pituitary, a pea size gland at the base of the brain is responsible for stimulating our thyroid.The pituitary also helps regulate our stress hormones, particularly cortisol. Protracted release of cortisol from chronic stress, overworking, or insufficient sleep, affects our weight by suppressing the thyroid, increasing our blood sugar, which increases our appetite and increases our sweet cravings. High cholesterol causes us to deposit weight more around the mid-section due to higher insulin levels in response to the increased blood sugar. So maybe your love handles are "stress handles."
Fortunately, there are a good number of natural management strategies which help to rebalance the PTA axis and any approach to successful long-term healthy weight loss must address the functional levels of the hormones critical to losing weight.
Many patients I see have been told "your thyroid level is normal" when in fact they may have very low cellular hormone response to their thyroid. Like checking the gas tank and there's plenty of gas but the carburetor is junked up and not burning the fuel.