Every year, Americans spend billions of dollars on weight loss programs. For some, it is in the interest of looking better and for others it is focused on health benefits. Regardless, most people struggle with weight loss and typically either fail, or lose weight only to gain it back again. Weight often comes off for people who can follow a diet but that weight loss is not sustained because most people don’t like the diets they use to lose weight. Eventually, old eating habits and food cravings work their way back into our lives, with the result being a return to our old weight and previous body weight. Recent research shows that yo-yo dieting and frequent fluctuations up and down in weight are more damaging to health and metabolism than just being overweight. At Green Healing Wellness we have developed a very successful approach to helping people lose weight and keep it off. The 3 principles outlined below form the cornerstone of our program and embody concepts related to weight loss that are commonly overlooked.
Customized Nutrition– While it may sound obvious and unexciting, customization is key to long term success, and the lack of customization is the primary reason most weight loss plans fall short. Anyone can come up with an eating program that facilitates weight loss, but if that program ultimately does not fit the person’s lifestyle, preferences or unique body type it will ultimately fail. A successful plan must incorporate all the unique aspects of a person’s lifestyle and body. Here are some examples of things to consider when formulating a successful weight loss lifestyle program.
- Do you like to cook or do you eat out all the time? Do you travel for work frequently?
- Do you prep meals for an entire family? Does someone else prep/cook most meals for you?
- Do you have a sweet tooth or do you prefer crunchy salty snacks?
- Are you a vegetarian or vegan?
- How much time do you have to grocery shop, prep and cook food?
- Do you hate seafood or do you love seafood?
- Do you have pre-existing health conditions like diabetes, or a thyroid disorder?
There are other very important questions that need to be asked to properly customize a program. Research has shown that genetics plan an important role in how our body responds to the food we eat in regards to weight loss, which means that certain people will be very successful on a certain eating plan while others will not. Another very important factor to consider when designing a lifestyle plan designed to support optimal weight is age and gender. As we will discuss later, hormones including testosterone, thyroid, progesterone and estrogen play a critical role in regulating metabolism. These hormone levels change considerably with age and vary with gender. It is important to take these factors into consideration when designing a nutrition plan, particularly in regards to balancing fat, carb and protein ratios in addition to calorie balance.
These are some of the most important issues around customization, but the list goes on. In fact, there is no set list of factors because each person and their unique body, circumstances and goals will create its own set of variables that require different levels of modification and customization. So why don’t more programs use a customized approach to weight loss? The answer is simple; money! It would be impossible to expand a program to a large scale utilizing this degree of customization. At Green Healing Wellness, we are not interested in taking our programs to a large scale. Our focus is to work one on one with every person to create the degree of customization necessary to get results and maintain results. The goal is to create a program that completely transforms a person’s body and overall health and wellness which can only be achieved with a great deal of customization and support.
2) Chronic Inflammation– Inflammation has become a bad word in the health arena. It is linked with all major diseases including heart disease, cancer and diabetes. It is important to understand that inflammation in the body is not always a bad thing. It is designed as an immune response to facilitate healing during an injury or infection. Only when it becomes chronic does it present a problem. Chronic inflammation inhibits the body from being able to release weight. In fact, many people are carrying extra pounds solely as what I like to call “inflammatory fat”. The mechanisms that link inflammation to fat are quite well established. Inflammation is associated with insulin resistance and leptin resistance, both are situations associated with weight gain and diabetes. It becomes a vicious cycle because the more fat tissue you have, the more inflammation you have! Adipose cells release inflammatory chemicals in the body which only promotes the production of more fat cells. Inflammation can also cause the body to retain fluid which adds weight and contributes to physical discomfort. For these reasons, it is critical to reduce inflammation as part of any weight loss lifestyle program.
To reduce inflammation, we must first get an idea of what is causing it. For different people, the answer can vary. However, there are few key inflammatory triggers that must be considered, and when properly addressed almost always result in weight loss. Immune reactions to foods represent the most common and easily modifiable factor to reduce chronic inflammation and facilitate weight loss. About 70% of your immune system is in your intestines, and as a result there is a high probability that your immune system may react to certain foods. This is evident when we observe the skyrocketing rates of immune/food reactions such as nut allergies and celiac disease. These conditions are very serious and don’t necessarily apply to weight loss/gain but prove an important trend in immune/food reactions. When it comes to weight loss, we are more focused on food sensitivities which are often referred to as an IgG mediated delayed sensitivity reaction. This type of immune reaction does not cause hives, facial swelling or throat closing. In fact, it may be hard to determine if it causes any obvious symptoms at all. What they do cause is chronic inflammation in the digestive system. This chronic inflammatory response usually spills out to other areas of the body and can result in leptin resistance, weight gain and other symptoms ranging from skin rashes, joint pain, depression, anxiety, brain fog and migraine headaches. Identifying and removing food triggers from the diet is one of the most effective tools at helping people to release weight and be healthier. Remember that chronic inflammation is linked to cancer, heart disease and diabetes! Most common foods that trigger sensitives include eggs, dairy products, gluten containing foods, soy, corn and nuts. While few people have reactions to all of these items, many people have significant reactions to at least one. Proper identification and avoidance of these items not only supports weight loss but most people experience significant improvements in how they feel including better energy, reduced pain, sharper mental focus and improved digestion.
3) Hormonal Balance- Hormones are key chemicals in our body that regulate all aspects of physiology, including metabolism. Without a proper balance, weight loss is nearly impossible. In addition, hormone imbalances lead to other symptoms that can include: fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, depression, insomnia, anxiety and weight gain to name a few. When it comes to weight loss, the most important hormones are thyroid hormone, insulin and sex hormones including testosterone, estrogen, DHEA and progesterone. The adrenal hormone cortisol can also play an important role in regulating metabolism.
The thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) serve as the primary regulators of metabolism in the body. Giving thyroid hormones to people who do not need them in an effort to stimulate weight loss is dangerous and often unsuccessful. However, thyroid disorders are very common and thyroid hormone typically ranks as one of the top most prescribed drugs in the United States due to this prevalence of thyroid disease. Many people are not adequately assessed or tested for thyroid disorders so it common for people to go undiagnosed. Even more problematic, is the fact that many individuals with a diagnosed thyroid disorder do not respond well to the traditional synthetic thyroid hormone replacement therapies. While their lab numbers often normalize, the persistent symptoms of hypothyroidism including; weight gain, fatigue, brain fog, low body temperature, hair loss, brittle nails, constipation and dry skin, persist. These individuals need a more customized approach to thyroid hormone replacement and support often utilizing naturally derived thyroid hormones combined with the proper nutrients and vitamins.
Our sex hormone levels decline as we age which often leads to changes in metabolism. Menopause is what occurs in women as the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone. This hormonal swing can dramatically shift metabolism and many women find that their body’s no longer respond to the weight loss tools they used in the past. This does not mean that their body is broken or that they are doomed to never feel good in their body again. It simply means that different nutritional and lifestyle tools must be implemented to work with the new physiological of their body. These changes are not difficult, include amazing tasting-easy to prepare food, and lead to major transformations in body mass.
The predominant sex hormone in men is testosterone and declines related to aging can also impact metabolism and body mass index. Cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone, also plays a critical role in metabolism and weight loss/weight gain. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar, and insulin resistance is a hallmark sign of being overweight and promotes more weight gain! Simple, insurance covered blood tests can assess for insulin resistance, and specific nutritional protocols, like intermittent fasting, can effectively start to reverse it. All of these hormonal factors must be properly assessed, considered and treated in order for people to be successful with any weight loss plan.
While many factors are necessary to support weight loss and improve metabolism, the ones outlined above are the most critical to creating a lifestyle program that produces significant results over the long term. Very few of the most popular approaches to weight loss take into consideration these factors due to the desire to appeal to the largest possible market and inability to create the degree of customization necessary to set people up for long term success.