Weight loss is and will always be immensely complicated, full of chutes and ladders of self esteem, deprival mentality binging, and whirlpools of addiction. Still, there is a forest beyond the trees. Or, a Candyland amidst the candy as the case may be.
Successful weight loss has 4 steps: detoxification, cortisol balancing, optimizing diet and exercise. Detoxification is the new key step to integrate – at the beginning of the weight loss process. Evidence is mounting that our body uses our fat cells and between-cell fluids to store toxins that it is not able to metabolize effectively. Some Persistent Organic Pollutants (environmental toxins) have even been suggested to be “obesogens” contributing to further weight gain. 1 . When we exercise or reduce caloric intake to facilitate fat burning, the matrix between our fat cells can be so thick with unprocessed environmental and metabolic toxins that the body preferentially burns muscle to get the fuel it needs! Therefore, Step 1 must be to detoxify. Our body has 3 primary routes of detoxification: bowels, kidney and liver. All three will eventually need some fine tuning, and the order of tonification depends on your signs and symptoms, as well as your medications and general vitality.
Step 2: Optimizing Diet. Its so hard to eat well consistently. It is even harder if food is one of your chosen drugs, and you are addicted. Weight loss would be so easy if everyone was willing to go gluten and dairy free! In my experience if you have a 65% whole foods diet, then the remaining 35% can be whatever you want. To figure out how to shift your eating with an approach that will work for you in the long term there are many resources – The Glycemic Diet and Eating Right for Your Blood Type both explain more about the underlying principals of nutrition. Weight Watchers also works for a reason – being accountable for what you are eating and restricting some foods to moderate amounts *will* help you lose weight. What does “whole food” mean to me? 65% of your diet will be cooked grains, steamed or sauteed vegetables, organic fruits and juices, tofu, beans, eggs, wild fish, coconut milk, olive oil, butter, nuts and seeds. The remaining 35% can then be everything else – beef, bread, cheese, bacon, alcohol, etc. What does 35% mean for real? 2.45 days a week you can eat whatever you want, the remaining days are pretty basic, healthy, and “granola” food choices IF you actually want to lose weight.
Stress Management aka Cortisol Regulation is the golden child of any weight loss program. Several books have been written in the past 10 years outlining the connections between stress, hormones and weight gain. I like cracking The Metabolic Code by James LaValle R.Ph, C.C.N., ND. The bottom line is this – when you are stressed out, your blood cortisol levels increase. Just in case you are running from a rabid dog and need to climb a tree your body makes sure (via increased cortisol) you have lots of sugar available in your blood for extra energy. However, if you aren’t in fact running, and don’t need to extra sugar, your body turns that blood sugar into belly fat. Therefore, its important with all weight loss programs to address stress at some point to treat the biochemical imbalances leading to increased weight. There are a few herbs and vitamins that specifically rebalance cortisol levels, and reteach the body how to respond appropriately to the every days stress of life.
Finally, exercise and an active lifestyle. Getting the blood pumping and muscles moving mobilizes fat toxins into the bloodstream, and serves as an excellent antidote to daily stress. Check! I also find that getting ones body moving in whatever form works for you is invaluable to setting the positive cycle of weight loss in motion. The positive cycle is this: eat a good meal –> feel good about yourself –> go for a walk/to the gym/to yoga –> feel sexier–> feel motivated and excited about life –> make a good food choice. The cycle keeps going so that sooner than you expect it, you start to feel the benefits in the way your clothes fit which makes the supplements and brown rice and kale suddenly get much more appealing!
There is no one quick fix, no one diet or pill or product or form of exercise that will resonate for everyone. The structure is fluid and fundamental – the individual components are designed to be strategically tailored to fit your life and style. I also think its worth asking yourself – do you Really want to lose weight for You? Or, are you holding your Self up against an ideal that you actually don’t want to attain? Personal honesty will take you further than anything else. Allow yourself the option of total success if you truly want to revolutionize your self image. And, weight loss takes time. It is only reasonable to lose 10% of your total weight in any given period of weight loss. So, if you are 160lbs, losing more than 16 pounds is more than your psyche will be able to maintain. Therefore, when you reach your new goal weight (144) you will need to start over and reassess where you are, and where you want to be before another 14 pounds is sustainably lost.
Every Body is Beautiful.
1. Lim, JS, et al. Inverse association between long term weight change and serum concentrations of persistent organic pollutants. Int J Obes (Lond) 2010 Sept 7 [EPub head of print.]