Meet Your Two Weight-Loss Frenemies


Image by Psycholabs via Flickr

Trying to lose weight can be a really frustrating endeavor. Especially when you look over at your friend who doesn’t seem to have the same struggle. You eat a sliver of pie and have to go up a pant size; she, on the other hand, happily waltzes into Baskin-Robbins and gets the mega cone.

Over the years I’ve seen so many people, but women especially, begin to believe that they are somehow defective and eventually give up. They feel like they tried so hard and the results didn’t match the amount of effort.

Say hello to Leptin and Ghrelin.

These two hormones are players in appetite control.

The quick and simple definitions of each of these are as follows:

Leptin: A hormone that lets your brain know when your stomach is full. The bummer is that weight gain can cause leptin resistance. Crap-tastic.

Ghrelin: A hormone that increases appetite. It decreases after you eat. Oh, and the fun part is if you don’t get enough good sleep you produce more of the hormone. Oh wait, then a lack of sleep kicks up your cortisol levels so you gain weight around your stomach. And then there’s insulin resistance. It’s a soup mix of chemicals all at work in your body around the clock.

The Take-Away

This is the part where you now can stop beating yourself up for being a failure.

So with all this scientific gobbledygook I’ve been reading, I took away from this that losing weight is not a pre-packaged success formula for everyone. Sure, there are your basic “calorie in, calorie out” rules, but because we are dealing with a crap-load of chemical processes that are sensitive to all kinds of variables and able to get out of whack, it’s not as simple as it sounds.

What You Can Do

Avoid yo-yo dieting: Talk about confusing your body! There’s the no-carbs diet, high-fat diet, all-meat diet, grapefruit diet, cookie diet, and the list goes on the on. Stick with high quality lean protein, loads of veggies, fruits, healthy fats, and complex carbs. There is no magic diet, and even if you drop a few pounds in a short time you have a 80% chance of gaining it back according to some studies. Why? Because you go back to your old habits after the loss and your metabolism is now a slug. Don’t diet, live it!

Don’t starve yourself: One meal a day doesn’t work. There is no way to get all the nutrients you need in one huge meal. You have to consistently fuel your body with unprocessed, real food. This way you’ll avoid insulin spikes and keep your metabolism running like a well-oiled machine.

Make sleep one of your priorities: When you don’t get enough sleep your ghrelin levels rise, your leptin levels fall, and your cortisol increases. One of the healthiest things you can work on, starting today, is focusing on getting enough good sleep. The magic number seems to be about 7 hours, although I find that when I’ve been particularly active or stressed I need 8.

Do resistance training: Important for bone and joint health and adding and maintaining muscle tissue, resistance training is also the key to burning more calories even at rest. It gives our body shape and curves. It’s an all-around winning combo. Don’t know where to start? All the workouts you need along with videos to show you how to perform the exercises are right here at Fitstudio.

Don’t be the lone ranger: Being part of the Sears @fitstudio team, I’ve seen a great number of people make new friends, find accountability partners, and participate in workouts they’ve had success with. Being part of a positive community gives you not only the tools needed to reach your goal, but more importantly the support you need during the ups and downs. Everyone has them, even the fittest of the fit.


What do you think? Has there been something that’s worked for someone else but didn’t for you?


Here’s more about leptin and ghrelin, if you desire to engage your brain cells further.




  1. I agree, there’s so much more to it that “calories in, calories out.”  I know folks who can gain weight walking past a doughnut shop without even going through the door! It’s hard enough for those of us with “normal” metabolisms.  I think keeping the focus on healthy eating and exercise is a better way to go than obesessing about an unfriendly scale number.  But culturally, women get so many destructive messages about body image, that’s sometimes hard to do .

    Damn, wish I hadn’t said doughnut…

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey Crabby~ you’re so right about the destructive messages women get. Weight (looks) starts to equal worth. Thanks for commenting and I really wish you hadn’t said doughnut either….. 😉

  2. Katdoesdiets says:

    It’s all about finding what works for the individual. I really believe that to be true. Once I embraced that I’ve seen serious changes begin.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yep…. insulin, cortisol, and STARVING – geesh – the only way I can start is with a good, protein based breakfast. That is TOTALLY my gateway to a healthy fueling day. You know, I always under ate – not in a clinical way – but in a imtoobusy way and my hunger signals were WHACKED! It’s nice to see them get back to normal now – sort of. LOL

    • Anonymous says:

      Kris, I’m so with you on the protein based breakfast, and you are so right about it being the gateway. It really sets the nutritional tone for the day.

  4. Wow! This one’s a really interesting post! I didn’t know of that leptin and ghrelin thing till I came across this post. I’ve been trying to lose weight and thinking of going to Honolulu Med Spa for a cool sculpting treatment so I could shed off some fats. I think this one will work for now. Thanks!


  1. […] by your travel schedule. This means you”ll likely sleep less. Studies have shown that this increases cortisol and upsets leptin and ghelin levels. It’s a vicious […]

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