Avoiding the Freshman 15

Subject: Avoiding the Freshman 15
From: Nolan
Date: 22 Apr 2019

Do you ever feel like achieving weight loss is getting harder and harder as time goes on? Have you tried diets and weight loss supplements, only to find yourself disappointed in another failure? It turns out there may be reasons beyond diet, exercise, and supplementation that are influencing your weight. I found this out firsthand last summer, and finally began achieving weight loss after 2 years of failed attempts. My changes were simple, yet (for me) lifechanging! I genuinely hope for the same changes to improve your life as well.
I entered into summer of 2018 weighing 198 pounds. I was not considered obese by many people’s standards, but I was heavier than I was comfortable with. With years of consistent exercise and trying every new fat burner on the market I was beginning to lose hope on achieving my ideal physique. The tipping point for me was when I stopped by a local nutrition shop that had a machine which ran a free analysis on your body. I had convinced myself that over the years most of my weight gain was solid muscle mass, even if my appearance was a little less “ripped” than in the past. The machine’s results informed me that I had gained over 6% body fat since I had taken a similar test a few years back. I decided that something needed to be done. I could no longer lie to myself and say that everything was going according to plan.
In the following 2 months I lost 32 pounds. The first profound change was that I was completely determined to lose the weight, with zero hesitation about achieving said goals. I also changed my eating habits to avoid overeating, and it turns out that alone can play a large role in fat loss. There is a study from the University of Illinois that showed when you overeat there is a new molecule made in your body that stops your body from being able to break down and burn fat. Simply put, avoiding overeating can help your body burn fat much more effectively than eating with no regard to portion sizes.
I’d like to briefly bring to light that there are multiple types of fat found in the body. The first type, which is subsequently what causes belly fat, is visceral fat. Visceral fat is a type of fat that surrounds your organs and is the most effected by your hormones. The other two types of fat in the body are subcutaneous fat, which is fat which lies just underneath your skin, and triglycerides, which constantly circulate in your bloodstream. The difference of fat types within the body is an important distinction to make when discussing fat accumulation within the body; and, this visceral fat is often affected by spikes of a stress hormone within the body known as cortisol. Cortisol is commonly known as “the stress hormone”.
Stress can affect your weight in a much more profound way than most people realize. Not only can stress and skepticism ruin your chances of sticking with a new diet and exercise program, it can also change how your body stores fat. Stress increases a hormone in the body known as cortisol. Cortisol for prolonged periods, also known as chronic stress, can lead to a spike in your body’s insulin levels. What this does is lower your blood sugar levels, which in turn leads many to opt for unhealthy food choices (usually carbohydrates). The insulin spike caused by cortisol leads your newly consumed carbs to be stored much more easily in the body as fat, which leads to even more cortisol in the body. It eventually becomes a never-ending cycle of stress and fat storage unless you’re able to understand how to break the pattern.
What I didn’t realize at the time of my weight loss was that my newfound motivation to diet and exercise attacked my problem head-on from two fronts: My new diet lowered my carbohydrate intake (from whatever I wanted to 130g carbs per day max) which helped change my body fat storage. My new determination to, and, belief that I would succeed also lowered my stress dramatically, and therefore highly limited my cortisol levels. Where feeling stress led me down a rabbit-hole of weight gain, motivation set my body on a path of incredible success! I am happy to say that I am almost one year into my new mindset of proper dieting and mental health and have maintained a physique I am actually happy with!

My advice is simple, and hopefully meaningful: Manage your stress, limit your carbs, and avoid overeating. These changes may seem minor, but I can attest to the results they can bring. There are also a large number of studies and articles to back each of them up. Give them an honest try and see what they can do for you. I genuinely hope anyone reading this has a profound transformation in their health results like I did. I believe if you gain an unshakable motivation that there is very little that can stop you from achieving your goals!