I once went to my doctor (who is no longer my doctor) frustrated with my inability to lose weight. “Amanda, its as simple as calories in versus calories out.”, she said. I was floored. Sustainable weight loss requires a much more thoughtful approach. During my cancer treatments I gained 30 pounds…but my metabolic issues started before my diagnosis.
Metabolic health is best supported by a comprehensive lifestyle approach. This involves movement, sleep, stress management and even tackling complex issues like healing your relationship with food. The right approach for weight loss is as individual as you are.
However, there are some common factors that are important for everyone. This is what I call A Framework for Sustainable Weight Loss. Your individual approach should target your unique needs in each of the following areas.
- Recognize hormonal influences – Factors such as insulin resistance, appetite / craving control, elevated cortisol levels, and changes to the male and female sex hormones as we age.
- Tune your metabolism – supporting digestion, the liver (our main fat burning organ), and the microbiome is paramount to make the metabolic shift that will help you lose weight and keep it off. The gut plays an especially important role that is often overlooked.
- Eat the right foods in the right amounts. This involves determining YOUR optimal caloric intake and balance of the macronutrients fat, protein and carbohydrates. While ketogenic diets and intermittent fasting have become wildly popular, they are not a panacea. The best bang for your nutritional buck is to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet style high in nutrient dense whole foods.
- Stress management & proper sleep – Busy, stressful, modern lifestyles have caused the pounds to creep up. With chronic stress comes higher than ideal levels of cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone. Stress affects fat storage, insulin response and eating habits. Controlling, or perhaps even more importantly, recognizing stress and effectively dealing with it is essential to weight loss.
Exercise just doesn’t matter…
In the way that you think, anyway… Exercise is a vital part of being healthy. But as for its direct effect on weight loss, those who hit the gym to shed weight may be SORE-ly disappointed. The benefit of exercise goes beyond maintaining muscle mass, bone density and burning extra calories. The true impact of exercise on weight loss lies with how it helps you mentally and emotionally. By finding activities that you look forward to, you are able to manage stress and positively affect cortisol levels. Don’t exercise to burn calories, be active to burn stress. Gardening, a stroll in the park, yoga, tai chi, archery, sailing are all great physical activities. So, choose an activity that moves you.
Frustrated with lack of results?
Restoring hormonal balance requires time, consistency, and a holistic approach. Here are some signs that your body is out of balance and that you might require a metabolic tune up!
- You’ve tried multiple diets and nothing seems to work
- You have lost weight in the past but since regained it
- You have gained weight and body fat around your mid-section
- You are going through significant hormonal changes such as menopause or post-partum
- You are under stress, recently endured trauma or have other ongoing mental health pressures
- You suffer with digestive troubles like constipation, heartburn, or bloating
- You have gained more than 10 pounds in a 12-month period
If these statements resonate with you, it might be time to seek professional help. Working with a nutritionist can help tease out the individual nuances that will make a difference for you. An individual approach that works all areas of the Framework is the best way to achieve sustainable results.
Turn up the metabolic heat. Work smarter, not harder.
Finally, I offer these TIPS to shift your metabolic environment.
- Avoid snacking. Eat three times a day with 5 hours in between meals.
- Include protein, healthy fat and fibre with each meal.
- Eat mindfully. Slow down and chew food thoroughly. This has a profound impact on digestion, satiety and appetite control.
- Take a digestive supplement or digestive enzymes. Consult a health care practitioner for the supplement that is right for you.
- Eat an anti-inflammatory plant based diet which includes adequate healthy fat. Weight loss is difficult with on-going inflammation.
- Eat 30+ grams of fibre daily. Those who eat more fibre have better appetite regulation and tend to consume fewer calories overall. By increasing fibre, you also absorb fewer calories from the food you eat and have a healthier microbiome. If this is difficult because of digestive symptoms, you will need to tackle that first. Reach out, I can help.
An effective weight loss strategy is about more than diet and exercise. There are hormonal, psychological and lifestyle factors to consider. Successful weight loss involves creating the correct metabolic environment, making appropriate food choices and including the necessary lifestyle modifications to support and sustain weight loss.