Monthly Archives: January 2015
I’m always hesitant to write about weight loss, as it’s a topic that has been overdone and which seems to attract many wacky, over-the-edge perceptions that have no foundation in science. It is also a topic I receive many questions about. My goal in this article is to share facts that will surprise anyone who believes calories are the only factor to consider when trying to lose weight.
Let me state very clearly that weight loss is not a healthy goal. I recommend setting goals that focus on improving your health and feeling better. Steps taken to achieve those goals typically lead to the desired loss of inches. Weight is a very finicky goal, so I also encourage my clients to take measurements before making changes to their lifestyle and eating habits. That way they have more than one metric to use to gauge how their body is responding to the changes they make. Aim for health and forget about weight. Improving lifestyle and eating habits will have the result you want.
I’ve shared a few surprising facts about metabolism and weight loss in the paragraphs that follow:
- If you are eating healthy foods, eating less and moving more, but still can’t lose weight, chances are you have a metabolic imbalance. Metabolic imbalances may be caused by one or more of the following: excess toxicity, insulin resistance, leptin resistance, insomnia, a thyroid imbalance, adrenal fatigue (often caused by excess stress), one or more prescription medications, malabsorption and nutritional deficiencies, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a reproductive hormonal imbalance, etc. It is imperative to find a practitioner who will take steps and use assessments to identify the true cause of weight gain and who will then work with you to address that cause. For more information on this topic, please read: The Top 7 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight.
- Your body does not metabolize all calories the same. It is a myth that weight loss is a simple equation involving calories consumed vs. calories burned. That myth ignores scientific facts about metabolism and digestion. Our body reacts to different types of foods in different ways. Foods with different chemical structures, pesticide residues, etc. will affect our hormones and metabolism differently.
- Short term diets can cause harm. Healthy, long-term weight loss requires a lifestyle change and may require emotional work related to how we view food. Fad diets may cause a temporary loss of weight, but the long-term consequences of an extreme eating style involving a lack of nutrition and calories can negatively affect metabolism and may cause long-term health problems. The long-term effects are not worth anything perceived as a short-term benefit.
- Eating too few calories causes our metabolism to slow down. Subsisting on 500-1,000 daily calories will literally cause your body to go into a status where it slows metabolism to a halt and refuses to burn fat. Some would call this “starvation mode.” Fasting for a few days or doing a crazy fad diet may cause rapid weight loss for a few days, but extending it beyond a few days is dangerous. The prolonged lack of nutrition and calories will negatively affect every body system and will cause your metabolism to dramatically slow down. The end result is that extremely rapid weight gain will occur once a normal eating style is resumed.
- It is impossible to achieve a weight loss goal using only eating changes (diet) or only exercise. Weight loss requires a change in eating habits and an increase in movement. It is a simple fact that long-term weight loss and improvements in health require long-term lifestyle changes. Programs designed to sell supplements may promise fast results, but those results will not last very long. Exercise is essential, as it encourages the body to burn fat, improves insulin and leptin sensitivity, assists with toxin elimination, improves cellular oxygenation and builds muscle. Exercise requires “fuel” in the form of healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates, so it is essential to combine a healthy eating style with gradual increases in exercise and muscle-building activities to lose weight and maintain the loss. Building muscle is important because muscle mass is a determining factor in metabolic rate. The more muscle we create through exercise, the faster our metabolic rate will become. Good nutrition is essential to maintaining the metabolic boost, so increasing movement and adopting a healthy eating style are both essential to weight loss. Please note that some eating styles designed to eliminate a medical problem may result in temporary weight loss, but that exercise is still necessary to continue improving health.
- There are no “quick fix” options for healthy weight loss and health improvement. There are a few supplements that may assist the body with balancing metabolic imbalances, but the supplements cannot be used by themselves. They only work when combined with better eating habits, exercise, and an increase in healthy lifestyle habits. For more information on two popular supplements, please read: Green Coffee Bean Extract and Raspberry Ketones: Truth or Hype?
- You are not a cookie, so please don’t rely on cookie-cutter diets. We are each wonderfully unique with very unique personal needs related to nutrition, lifestyle and exercise. There is no such thing as a single style of eating or exercising that is perfect for everyone. What worked for one person may not work for us. That’s ok. It is unrealistic to expect changes someone else made to affect us exactly the same way. Our metabolic and nutritional needs are unique and should be celebrated.
If you are ready to move forward and receive coaching to achieve your health goals, please join me for the E.N.E.R.G.Y. Life Revitalization Program! Click the link to learn more about this innovative 12-week program and receive a special discount.
If you need to lose weight and want to improve your health without joining a program, please find a practitioner who will work with you and who will help you identify and address potential metabolic imbalances. One of the best approaches to losing weight and improving health is to reduce consumption of high-glycemic carbohydrates and to engage in a combination of aerobic and muscle-building exercise each week. Set small goals and celebrate every milestone you reach. You deserve it!
Some of the most common questions I receive focus on what a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) is and what we do. I am also frequently asked what Naturopathy is. Those questions can be somewhat difficult to answer, as every ND uses a wide variety of different approaches, each of which is well within the legal parameters and each of which has a solid scientific foundation. Following is a general overview of how most Naturopathic Doctors view their practice. Please note this post refers to Naturopathic Doctors, not Naturopathic Medical Doctors. For more information on my personal philosophies, please read A Unique Approach to Wellness and Meet Dr. Pamela.
Naturopathic Doctors Focus on Finding the Root Cause of Physical Challenges
Most NDs have a primary goal of identifying the true root cause of physical challenges. In the midst of finding the cause they will also make recommendations to alleviate symptoms, but NDs firmly believe in addressing the cause of an issue instead of alleviating symptoms without finding what’s causing them. Root causes may include nutritional deficiencies, systemic weaknesses, emotional blockages, physiological or chemical imbalances, excess toxicity, or other basic imbalances that can cause the body to perform poorly. The assessment techniques used to identify needs can vary widely, but may include laboratory testing of saliva or urine; a review of current eating habits; Biologic Ionization testing; energetic assessments; Iridology readings; muscle response testing; tongue and fingernail analysis; pulse analysis; measurement of metabolic factors; and others.
Naturopathic Doctors Address the Whole Person, Not Just a Symptom
Naturopathic Doctors recognize that the body requires balance in body, mind and spirit in order to restore balance and reverse challenges. Our emotional and spiritual health directly impacts our physical health. It is therefore imperative to ensure steps are being taken to achieve the maximum level of balance and health in all three areas. Naturopathic Doctors may address emotional stressors by measuring physiological factors such as neurotransmitter levels to ensure ho physiological imbalances are causing the stress. They may also refer their clients to a counselor or psychiatrist depending on the severity of the challenge. In my practice, I often quickly recognize that a client is consumed with bitterness, anger, fear or other negative emotion. For that reason, every care plan I create includes specific steps the client should take to help improve emotional and spiritual balance. I often refer clients to other professionals. I am also trained in several simple techniques used to clear emotional blockages and often train my clients how to use them at home. My primary focus is on restoring physical health, but I know from personal experience that emotions can prevent health improvements.
Naturopathic Doctors Believe the Body was Created to Heal Itself
Our bodies were designed to reverse minor health challenges on their own. Few of us rush to the emergency room when we get a paper cut because we know our bodies will heal the cut as long as we take necessary steps to assist the body’s own healing abilities. Naturopathic Doctors believe the body is capable of reversing many health challenges, but that simple factors often prevent the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Those factors may include physiological deficiencies or excesses; structural abnormalities; nutritional imbalances; excess toxicity; overactive autoimmune systems; a lack of belief wellness is possible or an excess of negativity; etc. Let me also say that I am a Naturopathic Doctor who is not opposed to mainstream medical intervention when needed. We are blessed to have an amazing wealth of knowledge and resources at our disposal. Naturopathy is very effective for many conditions, but should not be used as a substitute for medical intervention when it is needed. I am blessed to work very closely with many of my clients’ physicians. The blend of natural and conventional approaches often helps achieve wellness very quickly.
Naturopathic Doctors are Firmly Committed to Doing No Harm
An ND’s goal is to improve your health in every way possible and to never cause more harm. I am very careful about what I recommend, and am very thorough in explaining why the recommendations will benefit your health. My goal is to educate and empower my clients to improve their health. The client calls the shots, not me. I operate in a team environment where every decision is discussed with the client in detail. Natural recommendations made by NDs may include dietary changes, lifestyle changes, supplements (herbs, homeopathy, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, etc.), Bach Flower Remedies, essential oils, acupuncture or acupressure, massage, detoxification assistance, weight loss counseling, programs to improve digestive health, programs designed to balance hormones and/or neurotransmitters, etc.
Naturopathic Doctors Can Assist with Chronic and Acute Challenges
Many people assume NDs can only assist with chronic health issues, but that is simply not true. One of the most frequent calls I receive is from people who have a cold or the flu and need advice about how to alleviate their suffering and boost their immunity. I’ve also consulted with more than one ER physician about what would best benefit one of my clients who had an acute need. Although Naturopathy can definitely help find ways to assist with controlling chronic conditions using natural methods, it can also be used to assist with short-term challenges. I have worked with and assisted people who had a wide variety of physical ailments including broken bones, pleurisy, bursitis, obesity, infertility and more. In each case, I worked with their physicians and made recommendations that nicely complemented the mainstream treatments they were receiving. I also have a wide variety of clients who are in good health and simply wish to remain so. I work with them to help establish better lifestyle habits and to quickly spot and reverse any signs of impending struggles.
There you have it. Did any of this surprise you? What questions do you have?