Weight loss should be easy, right? We are told that if we burn more calories than we take in, exercise several times per week and eliminate junk food and sugar that the pounds should just melt away. So why is it never that easy? It is because making change takes so much more than just gathering information. This is why working with your ND is the best way to lose weight- because we take the time to get to know you and to understand what makes you tick so that we can support you from every angle IN ADDITION to giving all the information that you need for a successful weight loss program.
Here are 7 simple steps (in order of importance!) to get you started on your weight loss journey:
1) Identify and Address Physical Barriers to Weight Loss
Have basic lab work run to determine if there are any barriers like poor thyroid function, hormonal imbalances, poor blood sugar control or food sensitivities. These barriers can contribute to slow metabolism, inflammation, water retention, increased cravings and poor detoxification.
2) Identify and Address Emotional Barriers to Weight Loss
Ask yourself, how did you get to where you are now? What isn’t working for you in your life? How are you not fulfilled in your life? Do you have effective stress management skills? Do you have a creative outlet? Who is your support system? What is your motivation for change? True change can only come when you know that you MUST change, not that you SHOULD change (check out Anthony Robbins’ work for more information about making lasting change).
3) Re-define Markers of Success
Weight loss is a welcomed side effect to achieving better health. Tracking changes on the scale can be motivational for some, but is not a mandatory marker of success. Here are some other markers to consider:
- Waist: Hip ratio
- Cholesterol levels
- Blood sugar levels
- Hormone levels
- How your clothes are fitting
4) Establish Healthy Sleep Patterns
Sleep is where the body regenerates itself. It is also when many hormones are produced and regulated. A lack of sleep is correlated with a decrease in leptin levels which reduces your feelings of satiety after eating (meaning you’ll eat more!) and an increase in ghrelin which stimulates your appetite. Also, have you ever noticed that after a bad sleep you need more coffee (and the cream a sugar that usually goes into it!) and have more cravings for sugar and carbohydrates?
Good hydration ensures the proper functioning of your cells and removal of waste from your body. It increases energy and can help maintain a healthy weight as thirst signals from the brain are often confused with hunger signals. I generally recommend that adult women drink approximately 2L/day and that men drink closer to 3L/day.
There is endless research about the benefits of exercise, including its effects on mood, stress, weight management and disease prevention including cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Finding the right exercise plan for you depends on your current level of physical activity and fitness. Walking is a great way to start and hiring a personal trainer, joining a gym and practicing yoga are great options to explore.
Wait a minute, aren’t nutrition and exercise usually at the top of the list for weight loss plans? One of the primary mandates of Naturopathic Medicine is to treat the root cause. Poor nutrition and lifestyle choices are rarely the root cause of weight management problems. They are often the symptoms of deeper emotional issues like not seeing your true value and worth, not feeling good enough, having unhealthy relationships, or not living an authentic life. Weight management problems can also be the result of an underlying physical condition. Therefore having the tools to make healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices are vital, but we cannot progress without also addressing the underlying cause.
With these tips in mind anyone can lose weight and achieve better health. Having a strong support system, the proper medical guidance when necessary, and the ability to be introspective gives you the recipe for a successful weight loss plan.