What is your body trying to tell you?
Author: Dan Foley
What is your body trying to tell you? Often times your body will give you clues as to what is going on inside and if you learn what those clues mean you can have a better understanding of what you need to do to improve your body and health. In this article, we are going to look at what you can learn from your body fat storage pattern, your sleep, and how your body moves.
The first area you can easily learn from is how your body prefers to store fat.
Belly fat – Belly fat is one of the most common fat storage patterns today, and it relates to the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is meant to be high in the morning and low in the evening. This allows you to wake up easily in the morning and fall asleep easily at night. If you have more belly fat than you would like, then you should look to improve your sleep, avoid sugar, limit the amount of caffeine you consume, avoid all known food intolerances, and try to limit the amount of stress in your life.
Love handles – If you are storing more fat on your love handles than you would like, then you are probably eating more carbs and sugar than your body can handle given your genetics and current activity level. Love handles are a sign that you are producing too much insulin. This is best resolved through proper nutrition.
Back of the arms – If you are storing fat on the back of your arms, then you are probably having issues with low testosterone. The best way to combat this is to get into the gym and lift some heavy weights. Excessive cardio and low calorie diets can often lead to fat triceps.
Quads - If you are storing most of your fat in your quads this is a sign of estrogen dominance. If this is the case then make sure to avoid sugar because sugar converts testosterone into estrogen. Also lifting weights and staying away from long, slow cardio is important. Most females with estrogen profiles typically have trouble with slow bowel movements so that should also be addressed. If you are a male and you have fat quads then you probably need to limit your intake of sugar because high insulin levels make males more feminine.
Hamstrings - If your glutes and hamstrings are storing fat then you are probably being exposed to environmental toxins especially estrogens. In order to help with this, make sure that you are avoiding soy, limiting your exposure to plastics, and avoiding commercially raised meats that contain growth hormones and anti-biotics. The other thing to be aware of is cosmetics as they often contain estrogenic compounds.
Knees and calves – If you are storing fat on your knees or calves then this is a sign that you have low levels of growth hormone. Your biggest surge of growth hormone happens when you are in deep sleep, so it is important that you sleep well. Typically, if someone has a bad night of sleep, their knee and calf measurements can increase by as much as 50% the next day. One of the best ways to increase the amount of growth hormone you produce is to do weight lifting with short rest intervals.
Next we will take a look at your sleep.
Trouble falling asleep – If you have trouble falling asleep at night then you probably have elevated levels of cortisol at night. To remedy this make sure that you get into the habit of relaxing when you get home at night and that your nutrition is not stressful on your body. Writing in a journal is also another great way to lower your stress at night.
Trouble getting up in the morning – Do you have to hit the snooze button 10 times before you can get out of bed in the morning? If so, then your cortisol levels are probably low in the morning. Remember that cortisol levels are supposed to be elevated in the morning to give you the energy to pop out of bed easily. If you are having trouble getting up, then consider upping the protein in your breakfast. Protein will increase dopamine and acetylcholine levels in your brain which will help give you the motivation to get going.
How Does Your Body Move?
The other thing that I have found is that the way your body moves can also give us clues as to what is happening inside. For example, we often see clients who have very tight hips and upper traps. These muscles are linked to your cortisol levels. Clients who are tight in the right hip flexor often have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, and clients who are tight in the left hip flexor often have a hard time getting to sleep at night. There are many other examples of your movement patterns being linked to body fat storage patterns and hormones, but this will give you the idea.
Putting it all together
If you have extra belly fat, have trouble falling asleep at night, and have a hard time getting into a deep squat or lunge then the odds are that cortisol is an issue for you. The interesting thing I have found is that all of these factors are linked, and if you improve one area, then the other problems also get better. For example, if you get your hips to move better, then you will sleep better and your belly fat will drop. If you sleep better, then your hips will move better and your belly fat will drop, if your belly fat drops then you will typically sleep better and your hips will move better.
By paying attention to your body fat, sleep, and movement patterns, you can learn a lot about what is happening on the inside, and you can use these clues to improve the way your body looks and feels.