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Weight Loss Habits

Updated: Jul 13, 2020

One of the more passionate areas of #wellness I find my self drawn with this new practice, Eden, is the desire to help people reach their optimal weight. I never struggled with my weight, in spite of birthing six children, until my stress escalated beyond my coping skills. For a functional medicine practitioner, it took me way longer to recognize my own health issues than quite frankly it should have but that's part of not prioritizing yourself. That's part of #stress. That's part of having a history of #trauma. My weight was less about my food choices and far more about my life-style choices.

Many articles and programs are devoted to the basic truth that being overweight and even obese are the consequences of an energy intake that is larger than the energy expenditure, but many overweight and obese people would argue very differently. In fact, several years ago I hired a nutritionist, a functional medicine nutritionist, whose plan I followed exactly for months and I hired a personal trainer with whom I worked out twice each week for 45-minutes. I gained. I backed off my training and began to dig in a bit more. I realized after tracking my sleep for a few weeks that I was averaging three hours each night and after testing my adrenals demonstrated not just fatigue, but almost no register of cortisol at all - day or night. All my weight was #visceral. In fact, today, even after losing a significant amount of weight, my abdomen and visceral fat remain far greater than appropriate, yet my total body fat is within normal (not optimal) limits. My muscle mass is high, as is my bone mass.

Weight Loss is a Bit More Complex than Counting Calories

What type of changes are necessary for long-term weight loss? A rather large systematic review summarized that reduction in energy and fat intake together with increased physical activity and self-monitoring are the key factors contributing to healthy long-term weight loss (Ramage, Farmer, Eccles & McCargar, 2014). The Plate Model was launched as nutritional recommendations with half the plate covered with vegetables, a quarter with protein, and another quarter with carbohydrates. Weight Watches has long been a successful resource for weight loss although experts argue this is far from an optimal long-term plan as it isn't teaching how to achieve true vitality, but rather quickly drop the numbers on their scale. Its program's strength is in its weekly support groups. Community is paramount.

Self-weighing has also been supported in the literature. Most program will recommend weekly weights, and most argue daily weights sets some up for more unhealthy habits but personally, my weight can fluctuate so greatly, a daily weight first thing in the morning works best for me. I track this in an app on my phone and can make corrections quickly by upping my steps. I can also better associate any weight gain or loss with my lifestyle activity, food choices, and monthly cycle.

Sugary foods, fast-food, soft drinks, and alcohol are all commonly known to be empty calories that contribute in an unhealthy way to one's weight. However, each of these are rather addicting as well. My vice is Pepsi. It use to be Diet Coke, but somehow I convinced myself the sugar in Pepsi was better for me than the toxic alternative in Diet Coke. I can go years without one, but one sneaks into my diet, it is beyond comprehension how hard it is to eliminate once again. Without question if I am stressed or overwhelmed, it is a Pepsi I crave. My challenge to you is if you aren't quite ready to give any of these habits up, commit to eating or drinking them in a quiet, peaceful place without any other distractions or tasks at hand. If you like to eat fast food for lunch, choose to pull to the side of the road and slowly eat your food with mindfulness. Don't chug it down while driving. If you enjoy a Pepsi each evening, sit quietly with it and be aware of your sips. See how this changes your habits.

Eating breakfast daily seems to benefit most wanting to lose weight, as well as having snacks through the day. In fact, Many who are a bit disembodied, stressed, overwhelmed can go most of the day with little to eat or drink and then once home, eat until they sleep. Being mindful about eating can greatly change habits, including minimizing the need for a second helping. Cravings reduce and portion size becomes more appropriate.

It is hard to really improve one's health in anyway, if you aren't obtaining sufficient sleep. This is generally where I start with clients. Our bodies depend on rest and restoration. We can't detox the junk released from our fat stores if we aren't giving our body sufficient processing time. We can't move into a parasympathetic dominate state, when our bodies repair themselves, if we aren't sleeping. Sometimes even with proper rest, our bodies require additional time for detox. I find this to be true especially after significant weight loss when someone finds themself stuck in a plateau. Detox and see if you can move through once again.

Weight Loss Methods are Best Individualized

There really isn't a quick-fix or a single program or supplement that will work for everyone. We face our own battles. The reality for many is that they fail to see their own worth and therefore, don't think twice about making choices that they know harm themselves. No diet will overcome this until the root issue is addressed. For others, it is chronic stress, toxic relationships, unmanaged pain, out-of-balance hormones, or trauma. Again, this needs addressed or calorie deprivation may only further compromise health. For others, #pharmaceutical support for weight loss initially offers the best approach not only for achieving significant weight loss posing risk for diabetes and heart disease, even preventing them from optimal movement, but can offer the motivation necessary to make the long-term lifestyle changes. While slow weight loss seems to offer greater long-term outcomes, other studies have demonstrated going too slow when the client seeks quick weight loss causes them to lose motivation and ultimately gain in frustration (Casazza, Frontaine, Astrup, Birch, Brown, Brown et al, 2013).

No matter the method though, educating clients in understanding how this particular approach benefits their body is of great advantage. Teaching clients about energy content has significant impact, as most report not having knowledge in this area. This is where I find some of the greatest joy in being a practitioner, the educational aspect. Working one-on-one and with groups teaching and encouraging is profoundly rewarding. Currently I am offering a facebook group for active members of Eden, which will expand to the forum here on my website, so we can hold each other accountable. Optimal health isn't complex in itself, but the application of it can be. Even the most disciplined hit hard times and need renewed inspiration. Wherever you are on your journey, I'd like to meet you there and assist you in reaching your most optimal state.

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