High school biology taught us that fat was just a type of tissue in our body, dead weight we have to carry along for the ride. Some of us have more, some less. But recent discoveries show that fat cells are more than that, actually communicating with our body’s network of hormones to tell us when we are hungry and what foods we are craving.

This communication system is in fact so effective that no amount of “will power” can override the urgings these little guys create. You might say, “I knew something was sabotaging my diet!” And that may be true. However, keep in mind your dieting attempts may even be making the problem worse.

The way it works is this: The body is run by the neuro-endocrine system, a network of hormones that allow your brain, glands and organs to communicate with each other. When you diet, it works for awhile because–let’s face it–anybody can lose weight when they cut back on total consumption of calories. But this “starve to lose” strategy only stimulates a “warning signal” to your body, saying, “Wait a minute, we aren’t getting enough calories to maintain the weight we’ve grown accustomed to. We need to start storing up nutrition (in the form of fat) because it looks like a drought is coming!”

So what happens is that you have unintentionally triggered a type of metabolic efficiency that actually causes you to gain fat more efficiently. Whatever you lost in the first few days comes back with a vengeance! This process accelerates as we age. Our body’s hormone system begins to deplete and the imbalance triggers some of the same reactions.

The real key is “adjust your thermostat”–that is, we need to help our body find a new “comfortable weight” so that we can adjust our eating plan and still satisfy our body. The most effective way to adjust that thermostat is to balance the hormones which “tune up” the neuro-endocrine system. In my 20 years experience in hormone balancing, I have never seen a weight loss regimen succeed over time, unless this system is in tune.

When patients come to see me at The Renewal Point, we evaluate the following:

  • Insulin–called the “fat hormone” can fluctuate and cause uncontrollable carb and sugar cravings.
  • Thyroid gland–controls our metabolism. When thyroid output diminishes, we feel run down, depressed and gain weight. 
  • The adrenal glands–in charge of cortisol and adrenalin production. Imbalances also cause sugar and carb cravings as well as fatigue, anxiety, stress and weight gain.
  • Leptin–the main hormone that controls our appetite, responsible for setting our body’s “weight thermostat”.
  • Neurotransmitters of the brain–principally dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine control appetite. When out of balance they cause addictions to sugar and carbs as well as other addictive substances such as alcohol, tobacco, etc.
  • Estrogen–too high or too low can cause weight gain.
  • Inflammatory hormones (like cytokines)– cause weight gain and other problematic symptoms such as fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disturbances, headaches, joint aches and muscle aches.

At The Renewal Point, we adjust these hormones as needed, to restore the body’s natural balance and to reset the weight thermostat. Although some conditions require prescription medication for a brief time, we prefer bio-identical hormones, which are exactly like the ones your body makes naturally. With the neuro-endocrine system back in harmony, patients achieve remarkable results in a relatively short time.

One patient, Cathy, went on the program because she was overweight, felt low on energy, and suffered from joint pain in her knees. “I completely changed my outlook,” she says. “I eat six meals a day–protein for breakfast, nuts and apple snacks, and good whole organic food.” She now exercises regularly, has dropped to her optimal weight (two dress sizes smaller), and her knees don’t bother her anymore. She feels great, both physically and mentally.

The women and men who graduate from our weight loss program feel healthier, more vibrant, more alive, and –by the way–yes, thinner. It’s a long-term transformational approach, rather than a quick fix, yo-yo diet. As Cathy says, “This is something I can do for the rest of my life.” 

Our high school biology class had some of it right: some of us have more fat than others. At The Renewal Point we believe you have control over just how much fat you have to live with.

You Say “Diet!”– Your Body Says “Eat!”

By Dr. Dan Watts
– article as printed in October 2006 issue of West Coast Woman –