Let’s talk about weight loss. This is a really tough topic for so many reasons. It comes with a whole bunch of emotion, a lot of misinformation, and even a healthy dose of desperation.
A great deal of us in the USA are overweight and obese- EVEN HERE IN THE VAIL VALLEY. I know you don’t believe me and think we are so active and healthy, but the reality is not all of us are.
And if you are overweight or obese, and/or if your waist is larger than your hips, you are at a significantly higher risk for developing all sorts of health problems including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
Our societal beliefs and social norms regarding body image are physically, emotionally, and mentally damaging. Being overweight and obese is neither shameful nor a matter of poor self-control. It is not some inherent weakness or defect.
So please remember that we are all, regardless of our weight or how we look, pure love. Remember this with every word you think and speak to yourself and with every word you think and speak to others.
Being of a certain weight is actually irrelevant to your health. Weight is merely a number on the scale and does not take into consideration anything other than your mass and gravity. You can weigh a lot on the scale and be super muscular and fit. You can also not weigh much on the scale and be full of fat, leaving you at the same health risks as someone with obesity- this is WAY more common than you would think.
Weight is a terrible measurement of your actual health. The real health dangers are associated with having excessive body fat, not weighing too much on the scale. I firmly dislike the concept of weight loss. Instead, we need to talk about optimizing body composition.
Achieving and maintaining a healthy body composition is extremely important to both prevent disease and to reverse certain diseases as well. Changing the composition of your body is optimizing the percentages of body fat, lean muscle, bone, and water in the body. This strategy alone is one the most significant changes you can make to affect your immediate and long-term health. And is so much more effective than ANY drug or supplement on the market.
How do you actually measure your body composition? Great question. Using calipers and bioelectrical impedance testing can both be used at home but have greater margins of error. You can find the BodPod, underwater weighing, and DEXA scans that are available in certain clinics which will provide much greater accuracy. In the absence of these, a tape measure used around the waist and hips can help to measure fat loss.
Part of the psychology of making changes is being able to track your progress with data, but I feel it is important to say that because this is about your life-long health and wellness, not just a short term goal, don’t get caught up in the data. Do what you know you need to do and stay focused on the act of being healthier rather than a certain number you “need” to reach.
Making changes to your body composition and staying focused on that goal is HARD work!
Not only is it hard, but it is unending. Meaning that once you reach your desired body composition, it still takes work to maintain it. This is exactly why a healthy, nutrient rich, whole foods diet has to become a lifestyle. It is not a temporary thing you do only when you need to lower the number on the scale for a surgery, a doctor’s recommendation, a wedding, reunion or vacation. It is a lifetime of being aware, making the right decisions about your food choices, and doing the actual work!
That said, will-power is a limited resource. So I want to teach you a couple of things that will help you to make fewer in-the-moment-of-temptation decisions, and prevent you from overeating and sabotaging your body composition goals.
Planning out your meals and snacks is SO important. Make the decisions about what you are going to eat before you eat it. This is so helpful because if you are deciding ahead of time, you are more likely to make rational, healthy choices for yourself. If you are walking into the cafe knowing you are going to eat the salad, you are less likely to be tempted by the french fries and cookie. We make so many decisions each day, so when we are able to not make on-the-fly food decisions, we are less likely to stray from our healthy eating plan.
I recommend planning your next day of food at least the night before, you can do a week at a time when you get really good at it! Not only is this great at helping you eat healthier, it also saves money and time. If you plan your meals before you go to the
grocery store, you are going to buy only what you need, not what looks good at the moment (another on-the-fly decision you don’t have to make). Meal planning saves time because, after a long day of work or play, you don’t have to come up with a meal to cook or even a place you want to eat or order in from. You know exactly what is for dinner and already have your ingredients on hand.
Keep it simple! We are programmed to eat foods that are highly flavorful. Most foods served at a restaurant and all the foods that are processed that we buy at the store are FORMULATED for us to want to eat more! We forget that fresh herbs and spices, raw and cooked veggies, and meats are yummy without all the complexity. You don’t need to be a gourmet chef to enjoy food and actually, the simple meals are less work and less likely to make you overeat.
Avoid the activities that tempt you into eating more than you actually need. For me, personally, I have learned that I cannot watch tv by myself. If I do, I will eat and eat and eat, mindlessly, until I am stuffed and uncomfortable and angry with myself. I have a rule now that I try really hard not to break- I do not watch tv when I am alone. What prompts you to mindlessly eat? Become aware and try to distract yourself from doing that activity.
My last recommendation is so vitally important: lift heavy weights. If you want to lose fat and gain lean muscle, you have to work on building muscle. While walking, running, biking, skiing, and yoga are all awesome, they will not give you the muscle gain that you get by lifting heavy weights.
Interestingly, research has proven that there is no slowing of the metabolism AT ALL at mid-life (metabolism does, however, decline in the 70s and beyond). What happens as we age is that we lose muscle. And muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in the body. People stop moving the way they did when they were younger- to equate to an average of losing about 1% of their muscle mass each year. This muscle loss changes our metabolic functioning, predisposing us to an unhealthy body composition.
Lifting heavy weights is the only activity that provides enough stress on the muscles to allow them to grow. You have to build muscle to burn body fat, and it has the added necessary benefits of increasing bone density, testosterone (even women need testosterone!), and preventing muscle wasting that contributes to metabolic dysfunction and aging.
While I do not have a miracle supplement for you to take that will melt fat off your body, I do consider a lifelong pursuit of a healthy body composition a miracle. Not because it takes a miracle to get you to do it, but because once again, good old fashioned healthy lifestyle choices are the answer- again! And to me, there really is no health problem that it cannot fix (or at least make a lot better). And to me, THAT is a miracle!
Call me today to schedule your appointment and learn how I can help with your weight loss and healthy body composition goals!
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