By: Dr. Kirsten Singler NMD
Every New Year thousands of people renew their commitment to fitness, health, and wellness. For most, however, this commitment is short lasting with little results. If you are someone who makes an annual pledge to lose weight and get healthy but the weight always seems to sneak back on, this article is for you. In the years I have spent doing nutrition coaching and diet consultation, there are some common pitfalls that I encourage patients to avoid. These pitfalls sabotage your success and always cause cravings and rebound weight gain. Unfortunately, many people focus on restricted calories and gimmicks, and succumb to marketing pressures for short term weight loss. The problem is that they always gain the weight back and the cycle starts all over again. In truth, there are some fundamental guidelines for losing weight, feeling your best, and keeping your ideal weight without cravings or crash dieting. Below you will find the list of diet techniques that you want to avoid and the top 10 best steps you can take to actually achieve your ideal weight and health.
What doesn’t work:
Any program that focuses on calorie restriction. Calorie restriction doesn’t work in the long run because the emphasis is on the wrong thing. True health and fitness comes from actually getting good nutrition and food into your body. When you eat a diet that satisfies your body's needs, you feel energetic, you are able to work out to your max, and you don’t have cravings. Folks, the key to weight loss is getting the right food into your body. What’s more, is that this strategy is philosophically based in self nourishment and self love rather than self denial and self hatred. Imagine what you would feel like if every time you eat you are acting out of self love and appreciation. Taking action to eat food that nourishes your body with the intention of giving yourself what you need to thrive is the special formula that makes you glow inside and out.
Please avoid the following health sabotaging gimmicks: Diet Coke, Master Cleanse, amphetamines, boxed food programs. Diet Coke is problematic because studies show that aspartame actually causes weight gain, rather than weight loss. Additionally, there are multiple studies showing that aspartame may have carcinogenic effects. If you desire something low calorie and effervescent, I recommend sparkling mineral water with berries or fun garnish like mint leaves.
The Master Cleanse should be avoided because it throws your blood sugar out of balance. The MC is basically drinking sugar water all day, so your body ping-pongs through stages of low blood sugar then high blood sugar with no fiber to slow the sugar absorption. These sugar spikes and drops can affect your insulin sensitivity, pancreas function, adrenal function and overall state of well being. It can be quiet dangerous if you have issues with blood sugar, or cardiovascular or kidney problems. Also, it would never be recommended if you are a parent or someone who has responsibilities and need to make clear-minded decisions. A real cleanse, on the other hand, has agents that move the liver, aid kidney function, and aid in toxin elimination via the bowels. The MC does not do any of this. A true detox or cleanse should always be medically supervised to ensure safety and efficacy. Please avoid the MC fad diet.
Similarly, I encourage my patients to avoid amphetamines. Amphetamines can damage your heart and adrenals. They are usually used as a quick-fix weight loss strategy, but once the person discontinues the drug, the weight returns. Amphetamines never work for long-term weight loss because they disturb your natural metabolism, adrenal function, and cortisol production. They disturb sleep and recovery. Most importantly, a person who takes amphetamines never learn why they gained the weight in the first place and will go back to their old pattern of eating. The key to long term weight loss is to learn how to eat the right foods that make you feel satisfied, happy, and energetic.
This is the same reason that boxed food plans don’t work. As soon as the person stops eating the pre-made boxed meals, the weight returns. Again, the key is to learn how to consume a nutrient-dense diet that works for you.
As we discussed above, the number one, most important thing you can do is to begin to act from a state of self love and gratitude. Practice feeling gratitude and love for your life every morning before you get out of bed and every night when your head hits the pillow. Just commit to feeling 100 % gratitude while taking 10 breaths to bookmark your day. Image that you are breathing in this feeling of love and appreciation. Take deep, abdomenal breaths for the count of ten. The more you practice this, the easier it will be for your mind to maintain a constant state of self love. Also, the more you practice this, the more your body will reduce cortisol production which is tied to abdominal obesity. Furthermore, the more your practice breathing in gratitude and appreciation, the fewer food cravings you will have.
Next, you want to begin consuming nutrient-dense food, probiotics, and vitamins that will give you energy and prevent cravings. Supplements, such as probiotics, are very important because the microbes that live in your GI tact influence your food cravings. To keep it simple, if you have a lot of “bad” bacteria you will crave refined foods and junk food and have a lot of brain fog and fatigue. If you take a high quality probiotic and replenish the “good” bacteria, then you will crave more vegetables and beans. You will have increased serotonin production which cause you to feel happy and be more clear minded. My favorite probiotics are made by the following companies: Orthomolecular, Klaire, VSL, HMF. These are pharmaceutical grade, high quality, and are not available at big box stores like Cosco. You can usually find these at a medicinary that stocks pharmaceutical grade supplements. You may have to do some research to find a medicinary in your town, but it is worth the effort. And no, I don’t get any kick backs from these companies.
In addition to probiotics, you need a high quality multivitamin and fish oil. I recommend Pure Encapsulations or Integrative Therapeutics. Again, these are companies that attend to details that your average multi probably neglects. The fish oil must be hexane-free, BPA- free, mercury-free, third party certified, and from anchovies, sardines, cod and from Nordic waters. The multi must be methylated without colors and additives. Most of the high quality multivitamins are pricey, so I generally recommend Pure T/D because it has the best price point for great quality.
Finally, let's discuss the key guidelines for food. In general, to maintain health you need to consume 6 cups of vegetables daily. If you currently don’t consume vegetables at all, then I recommend that you build up slowly. Set the goal to increase veggies for 1 meal each week for 3 weeks so that week one you set the goal to have 2 cups of veggies every night at dinner, then week two you set the goal to have 2 cups for lunch, then week three you have 2 cups for breakfast. Ultimately, vegetable consumption is the best way to lose weight and keep it off. Vegetables are loaded in nutrition that give your cells then energy they need. Vegetables are also loaded in fiber, which causes you to feel satisfied. Most Americans are not eating enough fiber, so even after having a high fat, high calorie meal they are still having food cravings. The best way to kill a craving is to eat lots of veggies. By veggies, I mean broccoli, chard, cabbage, cauliflower, green beans, brussel sprouts, peas, radishes, mushrooms, kale, spinach, zucchini, and butternut squash. Salad is okay, but do not count the lettuce as a veggie as it is mostly water. If you love salads, make sure to add 2 cups of vegetables to top the salad. It may take time to build up a meal plan that includes 6 cups of veggies daily. If you consume less than 6 cups, then you will need to add a fiber supplement. I recommend Organic India psyllium husk, 2 tablespoons mixed in 20 oz. of water nightly.
Also, you want to avoid all refined carbohydrates. This includes bagels, breads, crackers, biscuits, pancakes, waffles, cereal, pizza, chips, doughnuts, cookies, French fries, noodles, pasta. Basically, these foods are nutrient deficient. They do not give your cells the energy you need for fitness. Also, they contribute to “bad” bacterial growth in the gut which causes increased food cravings, brain fog, fatigue, and inflammation.
As for hydration, I recommend drinking ½ you body weight in ounces of clean water daily. Ideally you want to drink purified water such as reverse osmosis with added trace minerals. Definitely avoid drinking water from plastic containers and regular tap water as these have contaminants that disrupt your endocrine system.
Lastly, exercise every day. Even if this means that you only do 10 sit ups before going to bed, you will seee results if you do it daily. Create an exercise schedule so you have a means to hold yourself accountable. Ideally, plan to get cardiovascular exercise 3 times a week for 45 minutes and have a daily activity that is realistic for you to maintain.
Now you know the basics of how you can achieve your health goals. Begin to make a mental map of how you can start to implement this plan. Schedule 3 hours every week that is dedicated to meal planning and grocery shopping. Schedule 45 minutes of exercise three days each week. Get a water filter for your house and work. Take a nice, deep breath of gratitude and love for life. And go get your goals for 2017!!
This article is not intended to diagnose or treat your condition. For personalized naturopathic care, please call our clinic to schedule your appointment.