Laura Moore is the motivated Founder and CEO of Uppy, a performance and health coaching program that helps driven women to make changes in their life to achieve what they really want in all aspects of their lives.
We got some insightful information from Laura in this interview about ways to combat weight loss plateaus, and what could really be causing them. It’s a slightly longer read than usual but it is definitely worth it.
Can you tell us a little more about your background and what inspired you to found Uppy?
I’ve always had a tricky relationship with food and my body. Growing up I was the chubby one in the group and I remember that my parents were always on diets and trying to lose weight. Over the years I became very much an all or nothing eater and would either be ‘good’ (which usually consisted of cutting something out or restricting entire food groups) or bad (where I would eat everything I could lay my hands on). Needless to say I didn’t achieve any lasting results but I continued on in this cycle regardless.
I’d started to develop a bit of a love affair, or perhaps obsession, with health and fitness but it wasn’t until I moved across the other side of the world that this love affair became my career (previously I had been in the corporate world in Customer Service and Marketing). Within 3 years I had risen through the ranks of the health and fitness industry from Personal Trainer to Studio Manager and then to Studio Owner. Eight months after fully fitting out and establishing my own personal training studio however I watched it burn to the ground, as a result of a wok fire in the neighbouring Chinese restaurant. While I did relocate the business and keep it running for a further 9 months I came to the realisation that it no longer made financial or emotional sense, so I shut it down.
Throughout my experiences as a woman struggling with weight, working in the corporate world, moving to a new country, establishing myself in a new industry and progressing up the ladder, and starting a business and dealing with the aftermath of that business burning down, I have faced many different pressures and used many different behaviours to try to overcome them (such as binge eating, binge drinking, over exercising, over working and procrastination…to name a few). As a result my body started to respond by putting on weight (even though my eating and exercise hadn’t changed), I had periods of extreme fatigue, anxiety, bad digestion with constant bloating and no period for 2 years. I applied everything I knew and had learned as a personal trainer but still my body continued to deteriorate.
I embarked on a journey of discovery to try and figure out what the hell was going on, trying all the different therapies and supplements you can think of, which naturally cost me a lot of money and time. Eventually however I realised that all of my issues were stemming from one thing…my mind. I’ve always had a very driven personality and put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best and finally it caught up with me, as it caused me to work ridiculous hours, have very little sleep, push my body physically on a daily basis and never be able to switch my brain off. It wasn’t until I addressed this that my body started to restore itself.
I then began to notice how so many people around me were also facing these same challenges to some degree. I realised that as a personal trainer I had often simply been helping people put a band aid over their real issues and although I was always trying to help them at a deeper level by understanding their behaviours, I hadn’t appreciated just how integral this was in order to create real change and optimum health and performance until I experienced it first-hand.
What is Uppy and who is it for?
I have now combined my personal journey with my professional experiences and qualifications as a Personal Trainer and NLP Practitioner to create Uppy as a way of truly helping people get what they want out of their lives and live more. Uppy is a performance and health coaching program, but it is also a philosophy. I want to help people understand the power of their beliefs, habits and behaviours on their health and subsequently their performance in all areas of their lives. I want them to know that true health and wellness is more than simply eating better and moving more, and that if they just focus their efforts in the right place, maintaining it for the long term is actually quite easy.
We offer one on one coaching programs that are tailored towards driven corporate and business women aged 35-50, designed to give them more time, energy and freedom to achieve what they really want in all areas of their lives. The Uppy program includes personalised plans with clearly defined outcomes, two 90 minute sit downs per month, unlimited access to me via email, phone or Skype and quarterly strategy sessions.
Each Uppy program provides:
• Awareness and Understanding – of what the client wants and how to get it
• Practical strategies – that can be employed immediately and maintained
• Support and Accountability – to help the client through the uncertainty of change
Can you tell us a little about the effect stress has on weight loss?
When we’re stressed our body thinks we’re in danger so it sets off a series of biochemical events in an attempt to keep us safe. However, since many of the ‘dangers’ nowadays are simply perceived these survival processes are actually unnecessary so we are left with excess hormones floating around in our bodies which then presents further complications, one of which is weight gain. The main culprits for this extra fat are the hormones adrenaline and cortisol – their purpose is to produce and convert fuel for the muscles to enable you to react with speed and strength (to fight or flight), and also to store energy to ensure you will be sustained throughout the danger period. Of course if all we’re doing is sitting at our desk and thinking over and over, extra fuel is the last thing we need so as a result it accumulates, particularly around the mid-section. With the constant thinking and ‘stressing’ that we currently do this is a continual process so the body is always in this state of readiness, even though it doesn’t actually have anything to be ready for, and consequently always storing up more fat. Unfortunately, the type of fat that builds up in this instance actually attracts more fat, further adding to the vicious cycle.
Other effects of such a stress response also include low or inconsistent energy, digestive problems, menstrual cycle irregularities, PMS, erratic moods, anxiety, and increased injuries and common illnesses. Consequently this can make losing that belly fat even more difficult as these issues can make following a healthy lifestyle extremely challenging.
Adequate sleep is required for weight loss, why is that?
When you don’t get a good night’s sleep it disrupts the hormones ghrelin and leptin in your body. These hormones turn your appetite on and off and tell the brain what to do with the fat (use for energy or store it). Lack of sleep will confuse the process and you will experience unnecessary hunger, not know when you are full, and store fat when it should be burned. Furthermore your ability to perform at your best and make good decisions depends on the amount of sleep you have had, so on a day after little sleep you may choose to forgo exercise and choose poor meal options.
Of course getting a good night’s sleep when stressed can be challenging – if the body thinks you are indeed in danger it wants to make sure you’re on your guard so you can protect yourself, so naturally it will make it difficult for you to ‘drop off’ and keep waking you up throughout the night to ensure you’re at the ready.
How can we fix it?
Become aware. Notice how you and your body respond to different situations; notice what causes you stress, notice what makes you happy, notice who brings something positive to your life and who does not, notice how you feel when you eat, notice how your energy changes throughout the day, notice how you feel and perform in relation to the amount of sleep you’ve had – just notice, and document, as much as you can. Next identify patterns and then start to understand what is affecting you both in a positive and negative way. If you feel bloated and over tired after a session at the gym, maybe that’s too hard for you right now. If you feel wide-awake in the night-time, perhaps your adrenal glands are over worked (a common sign of consistent high stress levels). If you feel excessively bloated after you eat maybe your body needs something different at this time, or maybe you need to eat in a different environment. Our bodies are extremely intelligent, they have ways of communicating to us what’s really going on, and so by tuning in and listening you will be able to guide yourself towards the optimum health (and waistline) you’re striving for.
My No. 1 piece of advice for someone struggling with a weight loss plateau
Firstly remember that a plateau is perfectly normal as your body becomes accustomed to a new regime, so rather than beating yourself up celebrate your achievements thus far. Next, put your problem solving hat on and get curious – ask yourself, “What are some reasons I could be plateauing right now?” Documenting your efforts from the start is ideal as it allows you to track what you’ve done and how you’ve responded along the way – remember to note down how you feel (in terms of energy, mood, bloating, clarity, sleep etc) and what’s going on in your life also, as this will have a direct impact on your results. Often we can be very reactive when we hit a plateau and blame that one square of chocolate we ate or the workout we cut short by 5 minutes, so we respond by eating less and exercising more or throwing in the towel completely. Usually however the root of the cause will be linked to our beliefs and behaviours, so by becoming aware of those you will not only jump start yourself back on track towards your results, you’re more likely to maintain them too.
Thanks for some fantastic tips Laura