By Getting Healthy, You’ll Lose Weight

Originally Published in The Times Herald Record 08/04/10

There are so many misconceptions about weight loss! Whether you’re trying to peel off a stubborn 5 or 10 pounds, or have 100 or more to lose, the principles are the same, and they might surprise you. I have compiled a list of frequent mistakes I see in my practice, and I want to share not only what doesn’t work, but also what does.

From my holistic perspective, losing weight is just another “side effect” of getting healthy, along with more energy, better digestion, sounder sleep, fewer aches and pains, a clearer mind and much more. And don’t let anyone tell you that any of these aren’t possible “at your age” (whatever that is). You can get healthy and lose weight at any age, and it’s never too late to start.

Over the next few columns, I will share some common misconceptions and mistakes regarding weight loss and show you how to lose weight by getting healthy — the holistic way.

— Part 1

1. Follow the fads
Weight loss has fads, just like anything else. Whether it’s eating a single food, eliminating entire food groups (Low-carb, anyone?) or depending on a product, trust me, it won’t work in the long run. It’s so alluring, but over time, it’s neither healthy nor sustainable.

2. Theoretically healthy vs. individually healthy
Many people do their best, eating what they believe is healthy, but it’s often those very foods that keep them from losing weight and feeling well.

For instance, not everyone does well with whole grains, soy or dairy, and if you’re one of those, it could be your body’s reactions against those foods that keep you overweight and under-well, causing stress reactions that increase inflammation and tell your system to store fat.

3. Weigh yourself every day
One number can’t tell the whole story. Every week I see clients whose weight hasn’t budged, but who are dropping clothing sizes: They are losing fat and gaining muscle. When you diet, you want to lose only fat. Otherwise you’re compromising your health and heading for “yo-yo syndrome”: losing and gaining back again.

Tip #1: Getting healthy means getting back to basics with ‘real’ food
No pill, no formula, no product is going to do it for you. The foundation of a healthy, lean body is a healthy, lean diet composed primarily of real foods like protein, vegetables and fruits.

If you have to read the ingredients, it’s processed, not “real” food. You don’t have to be a fanatic: Evaluate where you can improve, and make a few changes each week. For instance, now is the perfect time to explore our wonderful farm markets. Eventually, aim to make real foods 85 percent of what you eat.

Tip #2: Got food sensitivities?
About a third of the population is sensitive to gluten, the protein in wheat, rye, oats, barley and spelt. Casein, a protein in cow’s milk, is another common culprit.

To test yourself, do your own scientific experiment. Eliminate the food 100 percent for at least two weeks. Check for changes in digestion, headaches, joint pain, energy level or mood.

If it’s not apparent after two weeks of complete avoidance, go back to eating the food, and check again. If you’re sensitive, the connection should be clear.

Tip #3: Size Not Weight is the Measure of Success

Don’t obsess about the number on the scale, and don’t weigh yourself every day. It’s normal to have some daily variability.

Furthermore, it’s stressful, and stress slows your metabolism and makes it harder to lose weight.  It is more important to do the right thing nutritionally, consistently, and to go by how your clothes fit, especially around the waist.  In my practice, we use a medical grade body composition analyzer. Home versions are available for under $200.

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