How To Fight The Battle of the Bulge – And Win

printed in The Times Herald Record October 7. 2009

Why do so many women struggle with weight loss?  Our crazy culture puts so much value on being thin, and yet we keep getting fatter, with almost two thirds of women now overweight.  As obesity increases, so do a multitude of other health problems, from sleep and digestive issues to heart disease and cancer.

Too often women set a short term goal of losing weight, rather than a long term goal of improving health.  Yet losing weight is an inevitable result of getting healthy.  You will lose weight by getting healthy. You won’t get healthy by losing weight.

If you are tired of dieting, tired of feeling sick and tired, and on the verge of despair, take hope.  It is not your fault, and it is not a “normal part of aging” either.  It is possible to heal your metabolism, lose body fat, eliminate food cravings completely, and even reverse many chronic symptoms.

  • Forget the old calories-in calories out model.  It doesn’t work, as experience has probably already shown you.  It may seem effective initially, but as our metabolism adapts to less food, we have to cut more calories and work out longer even to maintain our weight, while at the same time we feel increasingly stressed, irritable and deprived.  Metabolism is complex: it’s more like a chemistry lab than a bank ledger!
  • Identify and eliminate hidden food sensitivities. This is essential!  Eating foods your body can’t tolerate causes systemic inflammation and excess cortisol, which tells your body to store fat, particularly around the belly.
  • Lose your fear of fats. Studies show people lose weight by incorporating healthy fat into their diets.  Small amounts are essential to every process in your body.  Fat also helps you feel full longer.  Healthy sources include raw nuts and seeds (not peanuts), avocados, olive oil, chia, plus small amounts of butter from grass fed cows, and coconut milk or oil.
  • Choose carbs wisely.  How you choose your carbs is key to getting healthy and losing weight. First, try to get most of your carbs from “real foods” rather than processed foods.  Then look at carbs as either starchy or non-starchy.  A little bit of starchy carbs every time you eat will help heal your metabolism, and provide needed fiber and nutrients. Examples are sweet potatoes, squash, cooked carrots, beets, peas, beans and most fruits.  Then load your plate with non-starchy carbs like greens, cukes, zukes, broccoli, etc.  They are alkalinizing, high in fiber, nutrient-dense, and slow stomach emptying time so you feel full longer.
  • Get 8 hours of sleep. This may not seem like a weight loss strategy, but it’s an essential one.  Adequate, good quality sleep lowers stress hormones like cortisol, improves insulin sensitivity, and hormonally decreases your appetite.  When we are tired, we make poor decisions and fuel ourselves with caffeine and junk food.  I have seen many women break a weight plateau simply by increasing the number of hours they sleep.
  • Don’t graze! If you eat every 2-3 hours, you’ll never have to burn fat!  Work towards balancing your meals so that you are eating every 4-6 hours. This raises your basal metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn at rest in 24 hours) and helps heal your metabolism.
  • Try high intensity interval training (HIIT). Research proves short bursts of high intensity exercise are more effective than longer bouts of steady state exercise.  HIIT boosts human growth hormone, revs up your metabolism, and aids muscle mass. It also helps stabilize the hormone leptin, which controls appetite.  Go all out for 30-60 seconds and then rest for twice as long as your burst.  Do this 3-6 times a day, 3 times a week and you will be amazed at the results.  You can do HIIT without any special equipment by jumping rope, doing jumping jacks or sprinting.

Imagine waking each day feeling healthy, energized and confident.  Unflagging energy, sharpened mental focus and freedom from many of the symptoms of aging are possible, in fact quite natural, when you commit to getting healthy.  And it just happens to be the most effective way to lose weight!

© Fran Sussman 2009

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