10 tips for holistic weight loss. Weight loss is a big topic. Every week we are told about the latest and greatest weight loss plan or product. But how do you cut through all that information and find out what really works?
What? How do you lose weight without dieting? Dieting leads to a sense of failure and a lack of self-control. The problem with dieting is not you, it is the diet mentality. Following a diet is doomed for failure as it a short-term, restrictive plan. Generally, what happens when we restrict calories and ramp up our exercise, is the body will burn off some fat (and muscle) to start with, giving you a sense of success. However, our wise bodies will start to compensate for this fat loss by slowing down the metabolism. Our bodies do not want to give up the weight so suddenly as it sees it as a threat to survival. Usually what happens now is your weight loss stalls, so you cut the calories further and increase the exercise even more. Reality hits and you can’t sustain this restrictive plan, especially when you are not getting results, so you quit. You return to eating how you used to, the only problem now is that your metabolism is slower than when you started, causing you to gain back the weight that you lost, plus more. I know you have heard it before, but the only way to achieve sustainable weight loss is to make a long-term lifestyle change.
Being mindful is the most important influence on successful weight loss. When we stop and pay attention to not only the moment but to what our body is telling us, it is only then that we can make the most beneficial choice for our bodies.
Cravings come from the head, whilst true hunger comes from the stomach.
When you stop and feel what your body is actually asking for, it is then that we can give our body what it needs.
Focus on one day at a time, one meal at a time. One of the most common and most destructive behaviours that I see with my weight loss clients is the mentality of all or nothing. If they slightly stray from healthy eating then they allow themselves to binge and ‘start again on Monday’. It is this repetitive behaviour of mindless eating is not only destructive to your weight loss plan, but it is also destructive to your feelings of self-worth. Break your food choices down to the meal by meal. Smaller goals are obtainable. When having a meal or a snack just think how can I make this the most nourishing meal in the circumstance that I am in at this moment.
Eat Real Food
Simple. When you fuel your body with carbohydrates, protein and fats that are found in real food that is free from processing, then your body will get all the nutrients that it needs.
When the body is nourished, then cravings go away and hunger and your weight will stabilise.
If it grew from the earth or walked/swam on the earth, then enjoy. If it was made in a factory, then toss it.
Support your Liver
A healthy is liver is essential for weight loss. Equally important is reducing our toxic load. When our body is overburdened with toxins our liver gets overworked. Our clever bodies recognise the danger of too many toxins floating around, so the quickest way to deal with these toxins is to bundle them up into fat cells so that the toxins are locked away and won’t harm the body. Because of this, the body will create extra fat cells to compensate for the extra toxins. We need to both reduce our toxic load and support our liver so that it can process these toxins and remove them from the body, rather than storing them in fats cells.
Reduce your toxic load by avoiding plastic products, excess pollution, household chemicals, processed foods, correct hormone imbalances and use natural skin care products. Support your liver with cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, onion, garlic, Brussel sprouts and leafy greens. St Mary’s Thistle, globe artichoke, turmeric, rosemary and dandelion root are great herbs to support the liver.
When we feel good about ourselves we are more likely to treat our body with the respect, nutrition and nurturing that it needs. When we feel crappy about ourselves we are more likely not to listen to our inner wisdom and try to numb our negativity with poor food choices. The problem with this is that it doesn’t numb the negativity, it feeds to negativity. Whilst it is a massive mindset change to start to accept and love yourself the way you are today, we can start with small steps by treating yourself the way you deserve. Do small things that nurture your mind, body and soul each day. For example take a walk in nature and appreciate your surroundings, have a massage, have gratitude for what you do have.
Stop Weighing Yourself
Are you are one of those people who jump on the scales every morning to check what your weight is? You are most probably one of those people who let the number on the scale determine your mood and energy for the day.
Frequent weigh-ins are self-defeating, as our weight will naturally fluctuate from day to day.
This is more so true for women than men as the natural fluctuation of hormones throughout the month will affect the number on the scale. During your weight loss journey, you should also be gaining muscle mass (if doing resistance training), which can make the scales appear to stall.
You are better off to take body measurements or photographs to measure your weight loss progress. When taking body measurements the only thing you need to focus on is measuring the same body points each time. Use a landmark such as your belly button or a freckle so that you take the measurement from the exact same spot.
There are many reasons why a lack of good quality sleep will result in weight gain. Sleep is essential for the regeneration of the body. When we are feeling tired we are more likely to skip our exercise session and are more likely to make poor food choices. Studies have also shown that sleep deprivation affects the appetite-regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin. Don’t underestimate the influence that a lack of sleep has on weight gain. Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep
We underestimate the effect that chronic stress has on our bodies. Stress is the new smoking. So many of us are dealing with constant low-grade stress 24/7 and the cellular and hormonal damage that is occurring from this is not only derailing our weight loss efforts but is having a damaging effect throughout the whole body. When we are exposed to this chronic stress we end up with elevated cortisol levels. High cortisol levels will encourage the body to store fat and to burn muscle. It will also slow down our digestive system so we will not absorb the nutrients that we eat as well, and it will reduce our ability to eliminate toxins via the bowel.
Get Off The Treadmill
Steady state cardio workouts do tap into your stored body fat and it will burn a small amount for energy. However, these long cardio sessions are also a type of stress on the body and can raise cortisol levels. As we mentioned before, this raised cortisol can cause fat storage and muscle break down. When we switch to shorter, more intense training methods such as HIIT (high-intensity interval training), we deplete our energy stores during the session, which then forces your body to use its stored body fat to repair and replenish after the training session. This is referred to as the ‘afterburn’. Add resistance training to your HIIT sessions are you will lose body fat and gain muscle. One key to this theory is not to overindulge at your post-workout meal. If you eat too much after training, then your body is more likely to use this food to repair the body rather than tapping into your fat stores. Another benefit of HIIT training is that you can achieve great results in just 20-minute sessions, these shorter sessions are easier to schedule into your day, making you more likely to stick to your training plan.
Ditch the Supplements
Simply put, save your money. Whilst some supplements such as green tea extract do show promising signs in encouraging weight loss. Most of the products out there have no clinical evidence of their efficacy. Usually, the ones that do so some benefit, the benefit is so minimal that you are better spending your money on better quality food choices or yoga classes. There is no magic pill for weight loss.
Still not losing weight?
I hope that these points resonate with you and will give a starting point for achieving successful and long-lasting weight loss. Unfortunately, sometimes it is not as simple as following the above steps as there are other factors that are sabotaging your weight loss efforts. This may include hormone imbalances, toxic load, thyroid issues and adrenal imbalances. As a naturopath, I can help you to sort through these issues to get to where you want to be. Feel free to send me an email if you would like to discuss these issues further.