It’s such a bummer when you go to zip up a sexy outfit, and you are now a size bigger than when you bought it. Ugh. The bigger your belly, not only do you feel less attractive, your brain doesn’t work as well. And potentially dangerous inflammatory and painful molecules are more apt to lurk in cellular hide outs.
January is a great time to make New Year’s Resolutions, which often revolve around determination to lose weight. But only 1/5th (20%) of dieters keep their weight off successfully after a diet, according to Jessica Bartfield, MD, internal medicine specialist in nutrition and weight management at the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care. Most dieters fail.
Why? (With hints to help you succeed this year, that I have put together just for you as my Happy New Year gift, along with this personal short video).
1. Glucose/insulin spiking vs. fat cell control: Eating too much and too often, throughout the day, makes our levels of blood sugar and insulin spike. This makes it harder to control our appetite as well as lose weight.
Snacking is not the healthy alternative for chubbies, we used to think it was. Instead, not eating anything between meals allows blood sugar and insulin levels to stay more level and healthy, keeping fat cell production down to a minimum. Eating three times a day appears to be much more helpful than the smaller meals with more snacks, for many folks who have a history of failing at diets.
Intermittent fasting (antidote to snacking, for some). Some of my patients drop pounds pretty well within months by eating from 12 PM to 6 PM and then not eating again till the next noonday. This is intermittent fasting. You can do it once a week, several times a week, or daily. One of my patients, a PhD who worked hard and long hours and had a hard time not snack at night, did great once he committed to doing this daily. Within 3 months he has lost 25 lbs. and his blood sugar normalized.
2. Great Label Reading tip: Many people consume more calories than they realize. Read labels. Try to avoid most foods that have fat as half or more of the total calories. For example, if you eat crackers, avoid ones that say that a serving is 100 calories of which 70 are fat, rather look for ones with the fat level under 50. This does not apply, of course, to fat-rich foods like nuts or healthy oils like organic cold pressed virgin olive oil, which are high in fat, but healthy, and actually help us lose weight. But they must be eaten in moderation. Two Tablespoons of olive oil is a totally different and healthy amount of olive oil versus pouring it all over your salad or pasta with no consideration of amount. Nuts are excellent, but in a thoughtful amount such as half the size of your palm, not a trough load that you unconsciously keeping refilling in your mouth while mindlessly watching TV.
3. Not enough motion: To lose one pound a week, you have to cut out 500 calories a day. This is not easy to achieve. And the more you move does not give you reason to eat more. So exercise is not an easy way to lose weight unless you exercise daily without fail. Losing weight is rather a combination of more exercise (cardio, huff and puff stuff, along with weights to get a higher metabolism from more muscle mass) along with less food and more conscious eating. I had been consulting for a few years for the entrance and exit visits for the HCG program at the Wiseman Family Practice, and I saw that folks that keep weight off successfully, exercise regularly, plus make systematic under eating (leaving the table 80% full but not stuffed), a ‘way of life’. Try to more throughout the day, and do some kind of exercise daily whether it is 30 or 60 minutes. Exercising 3 times a week just maintains the body you already have, and twice a week you are in a losing battle. Seven days a week you are keeping you metabolic rate more you friend to help you stay leaner.
4. Undiagnosed food sensitivities: Food reactivity’s are kryptonite to your waistline. Consuming foods that make us retain water and fat without knowing it, is a huge, hidden reason why we lose the battle of the bulge. Part of a successful way to keep weight off, is learning, with professional guidance, which are your ‘unfriendly’, versus ‘friendly’ foods. It is amazing to learn that foods you never would have considered, like chicken or eggs or garlic might be making you fail. It varies between people, as each of us is different, and some of us will be ‘sensitive’ or ‘reactive’ to one food, that is completely different from someone else. But I have learned that to successfully, and more easily keep weight off, is to figure out how to identify your ‘unfriendly’ foods, and avoid them.
5. Over consuming too much fruit. Many people, in trying to eat more healthfully, begin to consume large amounts of fruit. Too much fruit sugar, fructose, even in healthy fruit, dys-regulates appetite. New research shows that fructose acts on the brain to keep us hungry, whereas as glucose that comes in from other types of foods, acts on the brain to make us feel satisfied. (Journal of the American Medical Association 2013) Make sure your attempt to eat more healthfully does not find you actually consuming too much fruit, especially the sweeter fruits which are the highest in fructose. But especially avoid high fructose corn syrup and it is shocking to see how many labels, of even ‘health’ foods at regular super markets, not only contain that, but have it listed early on the label, signifying it is a major constituent.
6. Wired/tired: If we are too stressed, and we don’t get enough sleep, our stress hormone levels (cortisol) work against our dieting efforts. Dys-regulated cortisol cements weight on to our waist, stomach and backside. We stand in front of the mirror grabbing this stuff in frustration, wondering how did this happen? Identify stressors and get them out of your life, develop better stress coping skills, and try to go to bed earlier and sleep 6 to 8 hours a night. Walking outside under natural sunlight, even on gray days, helps rebalance a stressed system. As we walk under the sky, nature soothes our nervous system. This is a gift of being a human—the planet helps heal us. Sunlight puts us in sync with light and dark and our adrenals and cortisol are kinder on our waistline and energy. Don’t let one day after another find you hibernating inside buildings and cars, not getting this natural benefit that’s right outside your door. Take walks. Breathe deep. Be part of the outside world.
And avoid excess alcoholic beverages which put and keep weight on, and aggravate your adrenals, more than I know you want to hear. Just cutting out alcohol for the month of January often can get quite a number of people to drop 5 pounds without a lot more effort, if they were drinking a glass of wine every night.