About 10 years ago, when I became a Fitness Instructor, I hoped that learning everything I could about exercise and nutrition would help me lose weight and keep it off. Instead, I became more obsessed and stressed about body image and diet. Even though I had a "healthy lifestyle" I struggled with belly fat and cravings.
There was a lot of stress that I was not aware of. The physical stress I had from over exercising and not having enough time for recovery. The mental stress of trying to fit in all my workouts, meal prep, and manage my business. Then there was the emotional stress of boredom because after awhile I got tired of fish and veggies! Plus, forget dating or having a social life.
What I didn't know back then was that stress was impairing my Endocannabinoid System making it difficult to lose weight no matter how healthy I was.
What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?
The ECS is a complex cell-signaling system identified in the early 1990s by researchers exploring Cannabis. The UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative is a good resource for learning more about the latest developments.
The ECS exists and is active in the body even without cannabis use. The body naturally produces Endocannabinoids like Anandamide (known as the Bliss Molecule) and 2AG. Cannabiniods like THC and CBD are found in Cannabis and mimic Endocannabinoids by binding to receptors CB1 & CB2.
CB1 receptors, which are mostly found in the central nervous system
CB2 receptors, which are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells
When Endocannabinoids and Cannabinoids bind to these receptors it signals the ECS to maintain bodily homeostasis—biological harmony in response to changes in the environment. Similar to the nervous system, these signals impact a variety of biological systems including digestion, metabolism, cardiovascular, muscular, and immunity.
The ECS plays a role in regulating a range of functions and processes, including:
reproduction and fertility
Stress, poor diet, and disease can impair the ECS and this can lead to long term chronic health problems.
I really like this analogy that I read on the Foria website:
"Consider this example, you walk miles to work every day, until you hurt your left ankle. Whereas normally your weight was balanced evenly on your right and left legs, now you limp & your right leg takes almost all the weight. Now even though your weight is imbalanced, you are able to walk because your body has found a new, temporary adaptation. However, if you don’t heal the injured ankle and continue limping, the strain could irritate & damage your muscles & joints over time… Similarly, your body’s neurotransmitters — substances like serotonin, dopamine and endocannabinoids — can sometimes be thrown out of balance. Your body’s well-intentioned attempt to compensate, like limping, can be detrimental to your long-term health."
Stubborn fat was my body's way of adapting to stress by going into survival mode. My body thought it was helping me by storing fat. The body is highly intelligent and intuitive. Pregnancy alone amazing me!
Weight gain, insomnia, pain, digestive problems, and anxiety could possibly be symptoms of an imbalanced ECS.
Here are a 6 ways to restore balance:
Self-Care Discipline (aka Stress Management) - Taking care of our well-being is vital if we want to thrive. To fully utilize the innate intelligence of our body, we need to prioritize caring for all aspects of our health. This is far from following a perfect program, but more like a journey of personal evolution. A game changer for me was including a mindfulness practice that teaches Buddhist Psychology & Yoga.
High Vibe Dining - Keep it simple. One of my favorite quotes is from Michael Pollan author of The Omnivore's Dilemma & How to Change Your Mind, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." He writes about food, psychedelics, and human consciousness. When he says food, he's referring to wholesome food not processed/manufactured food. Too much processed food can eventually cause stress on the digestive tract thus impairing the ECS. Fill up on more wholesome foods and savor each bite.
Cannabinoids - Chemical compounds like THC (psychoactive) & CBD (non-psychoactive) effect the ECS when binding to CB1 & CB2 receptors. They act as neuromodulators to restore homeostasis in the body. This may be consumed in edibles, tinctures, vapes, flower, concentrates, capsules, and topicals.
Endocannabinoids - Anandamide is also known as the Bliss Molecule because like Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Dopamine.....it helps us feel good. This is naturally produced in the body and we can increase Anandamide by singing and dancing. We'll also get a natural boost of those other chemical compounds as well!
Adaptogens - According to Wikipedia, an adaptogen is a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes. Ashwagandha, Ginseng, and CBD are adaptogens.
Get a Coach - Work with a coach who specializes in optimizing the mind body connection and supports holistic healing. One of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein is "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." Coaching can open up new perspectives, provide new tools, and provide ongoing support for transformation.
Ready to uncover the hidden blocks that are impairing your fitness results so that you can transform your health?! Want to learn more about Cannabis? Click HERE to schedule a free discovery session.
*Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.