• Jan Baker

Can having an aromatherapy massage help me lose weight?

I was asked this last week; it's a great question. The answer, is of course, yes. But it's certainly not the first thing people think of doing when they're looking to lose weight, and, as with everything, should be very much part of your general weight loss strategy; you should never see any therapy as an easy cure in its own right!

Not all weight gain can be explained away by a lack of willpower. Although weight gain is largely a result of eating behaviour and lifestyle, some people are at a disadvantage when it comes to controlling their eating habits. Genetics, addiction, engineered junk food, aggressive marketing, problems with insulin production, certain medications, Leptin resistance (a hormone that plays an important role in weight gain), food choice availability, added dietary sugar, and misinformation about health & nutrition can all have a substantial impact on how much weight you gain.

Lack of sleep and menopause are other reasons for weight gain. Your body shape can also affect it, as can having depression. Being stressed is another trigger, as is having a thyroid imbalance. Eating larger portion sizes coupled with an inactive lifestyle, however, is probably the most well-known reason for weight gain. Digestive issues can exacerbate it, and how many females put on weight during and after childbirth?

Age is another common factor. And consuming excessive alcohol, well.... who hasn't heard of a beer belly? Crash dieting can put you right back to where you started or worse. Ignoring healthy fats, eating too much salt, and late night snacking are also culprits. And finally, we come to willpower itself, and the commitment needed to combat any gained weight.

So in amongst all this, how on earth is massage (and essential oils) going to help me lose weight?

Well, did you know, for example, that the stress hormone, Cortisol, is largely responsible for keeping the weight on your stomach area? A study of 59 women found an association between elevated cortisol levels and an increase in appetite. As hormone regulation is quite important in maintaining a healthy weight, when you're producting elevated cortisol levels, it can therefore be difficult to maintain healthy eating habits.

When you understand this, reducing stress when you want to lose weight now seems like an obvious thing to do, doesn't it? Booking regular massages is one way to do this effectively, as massage has been shown to reduce the overall effects of stress on the body, and bring about a feeling of emotional well-being. This is important for balancing out our hormones, an important step for maintaining healthy weight levels as we've seen. Studies also show that massage therapy can be shown to reduce cortisol levels by an average of 31%. Less stress helps you sleep better, and is generally good for your health. Those who read my posts and blogs regularly will know by now that the body is not meant to be in a permanent "fight or flight" state. Replacing cortisol with"positive" hormones, such as endorphins, seratonin and dopamine can therefore increase relaxation, improve your mood, improve your sleep quality, increase your overall energy levels, and boost your immune system. All of which, will make you feel better, and put you in a much better place in terms of managing your weight.

And when coupled with essential oils, did you know that this support can be boosted to be even more effective? Did you know, for example, that peppermint oil can help reduce food cravings? So too, ginger and sage*. Even better, an aromatherapy massage with citrus oils** (lemon particularly), lavender & geranium are all useful for helping to shift that fat! Sniffing fennel oil will also help you keep the weight off by reducing cravings. (There's a definite science behind it all I promise you, but that's also for another blog post).

It's also useful to remember that even if you don't have an aromatherapist close by or massage really isn't your thing, you can still get the benefits of the oils by ordering a specially blended lotion. As I said at the beginning of the blog, massage and essential oils by themselves won't shift the weight but used in conjunction with a healthy, calorie-controlled diet coupled with getting enough physical activity each day, they can help make it easier to stick to a diet through stress reduction, can support weight loss (by using fat-loving essential oils) & by reducing the amount of cortisol in your system, and ultimately therefore help you shift that weight!

So why not see, this weekend, if drinking peppermint tea really does help reduce those snacks cravings or, even better, book in for a massage and see how much it helps your stress levels? After all, why shouldn't you also reward yourself for all the hard work you're doing at the same time?

As always, stay safe

Jan x

*It's always important to consult with a qualified aromatherapist before using any essential oils. **Citrus oils are registered allergens.

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