My patients are well aware they should eat well, but many of them have one concern looming large: their weight. Whatever their age and station, most women care deeply about what they look like. As a consequence, they battle with their weight, adopting any number of extreme unhealthy patterns over the course of their lifetimes to keep things “in check.”

The truth is that when your weight changes dramatically from your own normal, or when it’s continually fluctuating up and down no matter what you do to try to change it, that’s often a signal that something isn’t working right. It can be a red flag telling you you’re under physical or emotional stress of some kind — stress you might not even recognize! It could be something as simple as having too little time to eat regular meals, or it could be years of small imbalances piling up in your body until some added stress puts you over the top — it’s different for everyone.

From my point of view, whether a woman is overweight or underweight, the first thing she can do for herself is befriend her body. Women are often too critical of the weight level that their bodies find most comfortable. Whether you look in the mirror and see yourself as “too much” or “too little,” obsessing about the extra curves (or the lack of them) is a major obstacle to finding your healthy weight.

Busting the myth

The next hurdle to overcome is the long held myth that “calories-in, calories-out” is the only recipe for success. Women who struggle with issues of unexpected weight change (whether it’s gain or loss) may intuitively know that something is out of balance in their bodies, but may not “hear” what her body is telling her over the social messages we get all the time. These messages tell us that if we are gaining weight, it’s because we’re not trying hard enough to control ourselves;  or if we’re thin, we must have some kind of eating disorder (even as women who are every bit as thin are celebrated for their beauty on magazine covers).

The impact of stress

For some women, stress and imbalance mean weight gain. Our bodies often hold extra weight when something is wrong — it’s a built-in protection that we evolved to ensure survival. Among our ancient ancestors, long-term stress was often related to scarcity of good food, so the body’s response of storing energy as fat could be life-saving. In the modern world, survival isn’t usually an issue, but our bodies still react as if it is. Ironically, this “life preserver” can, over the long run, threaten our health — we’ve all heard the long litany of diseases related to excess weight.

On the other end of the spectrum are the women whose core imbalance doesn’t show up in excess weight but in an unhealthy level of thinness. The body does whatever it needs to in order to maintain homeostasis, and these women are often carrying such high levels of stress, worry, and adrenal overload that they burn up everything they take in. Overly thin women struggle to provide their bodies enough nutritional support to build muscle, keep their bones strong and healthy, and fight off infections. It’s sad, but true, that these women are just as unhealthy – maybe even more so – than women carrying too much weight.

Finding balance

We can hold extra weight — or be unable to gain weight — during periods of hormonal imbalance, adrenal fatigue, digestive disorders, neurotransmitter imbalances, toxicity, and inflammation, just to name a few. Weight gain or loss can also be related to imbalance in our life choices. Exercising too much or too little, over — or under — emphasizing specific food groups so that we don’t have a balanced diet — even imbalances in our relationships or emotional lives can affect our weight!

Whether your goal is to lose weight or gain it, a key starting point is to recognize where your life and health are out of balance. Once you find and heal your core imbalance, your body weight will stabilize at the level that is comfortable for your body.

One tip for personal success: clean your colon

One of the best things you can do is to support your colon by using an occasional colon cleanse. Or add a fiber supplement, such as psyllium husks, to 8 oz. of apple juice in the morning and evening.

You can achieve your healthy weight

The happy news for many women is that achieving a natural and healthy weight is not about restricting yourself or testing your willpower. It’s about addressing any imbalances and giving your body what it needs: fresh, whole foods, plenty of restorative exercise and rest, and the foundational support of quality vitamins and minerals. Our patients and members tell us this approach beats any weight loss program or weight loss plan they’ve tried in the past.

Take a look at the information and articles we have on achieving your healthy weight, naturally. We hope your perspective on “dieting” — and eating in general — changes for the better.