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"Discover the 6 Essential Steps for a Healthier Weight and Metabolism"



Overweight and obesity are so common today that two-thirds of adults and one-third of children experience these in the United States right now. That’s hundreds of millions of people, so please don’t feel alone. Social media content of fit people constantly plaguing timelines doesn't help either. There's a reason why so many of us have become addicted to social media (comparison kills and doom scrolling isn't helping anyone!). Don’t let social media fool you. It’s challenging out here! Overweight and obesity can increase the risk of many health problems like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Achieving a healthy weight, eating nutritious foods, and being physically active can help improve your health and reduce your risks. But a lot of us know this already, so let's get to the good part. 🙂


First, you know, there is so much more to the old adage: eat less, move more, right?


Even if the above statement is true, weight loss and building healthier eating habits are extra challenging for a number of reasons. Let me tell you why:


  • First! Oftentimes many of us overcompensate and eat too little calories or not enough of the recommended macros (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) this often leads to stalls or plateaus in weight loss.

  • There is an abundance of food available around most of us 24/7 (Uber Eats, DoorDash, fast food at every corner, food commercials on TV, Social media, etc..)

  • Eating isn’t just something we do for sustenance; it’s gratification, a social activity, and sometimes even a reward.

  • Computers and cars, etc., have contributed to a much more sedentary lifestyle—we don’t all need to be physically active farmers or walk a mile to the store to survive anymore.

  • Reducing calories voluntarily is difficult; And an even bigger challenge to change habits.

  • Many diets work in the short term but fail later on because they’re simply unsustainable, and we gain the weight back.

  • After losing weight, maintaining weight loss is extremely difficult [(and this is particularly true for women after menopause or women who struggle with hormonal imbalances)]


That's overwhelming enough!! So what are you to do? Let's break it down: First, it's important to learn "how" the body uses energy. Knowledge is Power, after all. Let’s go over what metabolism is and some strategies to overcome the challenges of weight loss.


What is metabolism, and how can I lose weight?


Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function,” according to the Mayo Clinic.



metabolism spelled out with scrabble letters


The amount of energy (calories) your body uses to perform these essential functions is called your “basal metabolic rate.” Overall, your basal metabolic rate (BMR), or metabolism, accounts for about two-thirds of the calories your body burns each and every day. An analogy I like to use to simplify what BMR is: Think of it as a car running while still in park. You know you're not moving at all, but you’re still burning fuel (burning calories).


Your weight is based on several factors; some are controllable, and others are not.  Your genetics, certain hormonal conditions, such as Cushing's syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), and family history can impact your weight and can potentially cause slow metabolism. These conditions often come with a range of other symptoms beyond just weight gain.


Now, there’s not too much you can do to significantly change those. While that may be a hard pill to swallow, that doesn't mean weight loss is impossible (remove those negative thoughts. Changing your mindset and finding proper support to guide you through this journey is half the battle.


On the other hand, how much and what you eat, the medications you’re taking, the amount of stress you’re under (think cortisol belly), and how much sleep and physical activity you get also contribute to weight and are a bit more controllable (albeit not completely controllable; as much as we like to). Something to point out: Listen, if you're a control freak (like I'm guilty of from time to time), you may need to consider that you're seeking perfection from yourself or others. (Again, change in mindset) (Disclaimer: I do not expect perfection from clients! I'm no way near perfect❤️❤️)


 


Lastly, your metabolism is primarily influenced by your body size and composition. This means that people who are bigger and/or have heavier bones and more muscle mass burn more calories at rest. Because men tend to be bigger and have more muscle, they naturally tend to have a higher metabolism than women. This also goes for younger people. Because bone and muscle mass naturally tend to decrease (and fat mass naturally tends to increase) with age, if you don’t take steps to maintain bone and muscle mass, your metabolism likely will decrease which results in increased weight. 


Weight Loss/Maintenance Strategies


Before you start a weight-loss program, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider. Many weight-loss products or programs can be harmful depending on your current state of health and goals. Be particularly wary of products or programs that promise quick, long-lasting, or effortless weight loss. One of the reasons why I recommend the Craving Change Program or sample its strategies to my clients is to ensure they have a healthy relationship with food BEFORE starting any weight loss program to help recognize those red flags and to work with a licensed dietitian! ;-).

Please note: If you suspect that you may have an eating disorder, reach out to your Professional Care Provider or PCP to obtain a referral to see a therapist or an Eating Disorder Dietitian or CEDRD.

Your behaviors and habits have a huge influence on your weight, and you are empowered to adjust them as you see fit. Keywords: HAVE FLEXIBILITY. It’s often recommended that if you experience overweight or obesity and want to lose weight, try cutting 500 calories per day from what you eat. And, if you can add in some of these other strategies (including adding physical activity), you may be able to reach your weight-loss goals even faster. This is the common formula. But it can go deeper than that. Let's get into it!


Here are my top six strategies for weight loss/maintenance:


1 - Set specific, realistic, forgiving goals



writing goals


  • Instead of a goal to “lose weight,” try smaller and more specific goals that you can attain. We all know that losing weight is the ultimate goal, but how are you going to get there? How are you measuring your progress? One example can be to lose ½ lb to 1 lb a week. 

  • Daily or weekly goals can be, for example, to cook a vegetable-rich meal on the weekend, decrease food cues (hiding cookies out of sight or disregarding food ads), or walk at least 30 minutes a day for at least five days a week.

  • Try to stick with a new habit for at least three weeks to start making it routine. Then, when one habit becomes consistent, add another one. For some, it may take longer than that to build the habit, and THAT’S OKAY! You're making moves. Don't discredit yourself.

  • Also, STAY FOCUSED-Don’t get caught up on the next shiny thing that you see on social media or on TV that you can try. Often times I’ve noticed we often fail at goals because we haven’t given ourselves enough time to build that habit. High expectations can be a motivation killer. 

  • Remember, it’s not uncommon to take six months to lose 5% of your body weight, so that may be a more realistic goal to aim for.


2 - Ditch the “diet” mentality and focus on making lasting improvements for sustainable health


  • Focus on improving your food choices for overall health rather than “dieting” for weight loss. I guarantee you won’t make it far with dieting. 

  • Enjoy lots of a variety of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins~don’t let it get stale.

  • Replace saturated and trans fats with healthier choices such as olive oil, nut butters, and avocadoes.



3 - Try eating a different way and see what works for you


Food quote


  • Ideally, each meal should take at least 20 minutes to eat, so eat slower. Enjoy your food more and listen for fullness cues that subtly signal when you’re getting satisfied, and it’s time to stop eating. This can also be helpful when cravings are involved. Eating it slowly helps signal the brain that it’s “satisfied” that the craving has been honored, but it a healthier way. 

  • Eat more mindfully by focusing on and enjoying what you’re eating while you’re eating it. Pay attention to your food’s smell, taste, and texture as you’re eating it.

  • Try putting your fork down or sipping water between bites and thoroughly chewing before swallowing.

  • If you have a habit of snacking in front of the TV or computer screen, try getting used to replacing that with a glass of water or an unsweetened beverage instead or eating at the kitchen table where there’s little distraction. 



4 - You don’t have to do exercise to be more physically active (but you can)



woman exercising






  • Boost your activity; move for at least 30 minutes per day (even three 10-minute sessions work); more movement can bring greater benefits.

  • Aerobic activity (e.g., walking, bicycling, etc.) is the most efficient way to burn calories.

  • Weight training (e.g., using weights or pushing your body against gravity) builds your muscles (lean muscle mass), which increases your metabolic rate; ideally, you’d include at least three weight training sessions per week.

  • Don’t forget you don’t have to do “exercise” to be physically active; you can take the stairs more often, park further away, walk a bit faster, or do housework or gardening—they ALL count toward your physical activity.

  • Fidgeting counts, too. Your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), like shaking a leg, tapping a foot, or even twirling a pen, also burns some calories. (I’m not kidding.. It’s a real thing!)

  • Remember that any physical activity is better for your health (and weight loss goals) than none at all.


5 - Reward your successes-mindfully 💡💡

  • According to the National Institutes of Health, “frequent small rewards, earned for meeting smaller goals, are more effective than bigger rewards that require a long, difficult effort.”

  • Each time you reach a goal, however small, reward your success with a non-food activity or item. This helps overcome the unhealthy habit of using food as a reward for good behavior. ( I know this was something common from my childhood. What about yours?)

  • A couple non-food activity examples are, you may want to buy yourself that book, movie, music, podcast, or game that you’ve wanted for a while. Or re-read, re-watch, or re-listen to an old favorite.

  • Perhaps you can put a small amount of money away to save up for a larger reward.

  • Rewards don’t have to be monetary. You can take some time for yourself, like having a bath, doing your nails, or enjoying a craft or hobby you love (or try a new one).

  • Maybe you’d prefer some time to watch comedy skits or funny animal videos online.



6- Try Self-Talk

We are often our own worst critic. Those lingering negative thoughts don’t do us any favors. Increasing awareness of these thoughts leads to better change.


I’ve added some tips to practice self-talk on this link, as well as some of my favorite mindful eating tips to help get you started! 



encouragement self-talk


Final thoughts

While weight is but one measure of health, it is a big concern for many people. And yes, while it is the end result, there are many factors that can impede your progress toward your goal. A question you can ask yourself is, "Am I lacking in an area that I’ve dismissed or ignored? Or maybe you haven’t discovered it yet! Awareness is also important. Losing weight is not easy. Many different factors influence your metabolism—some you can’t control (e.g., your genes) and others you can (e.g., what and how you eat).


The fundamentals of weight loss include enjoying healthier, nutritious foods more often and being more physically active, but there are so many approaches that help you make this happen for you. The way you approach lifestyle and eating, the way you set your goals and reward yourself, and the way you persevere are all totally customizable, so you can try and see what works for you.


For a nutritious approach to metabolism and your weight, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist like myself, who can address your concerns and dietary restrictions. I can help. Click on the "Book Now" button below to schedule a chat about meeting your dietary needs.



If you need more guidance to learn the reasons behind your "whys" surrounding your eating and building strategies to improve your eating habits, book an appointment with me to see if my course is right for you.

Please note: If you suspect that you may have an eating disorder, reach out to your Professional Care Provider or PCP to obtain a referral to see a therapist or an Eating Disorder Dietitian or CEDRD.


Is your metabolism causing issues? Need help losing weight or maintaining weight loss? Looking for ways to lose weight beyond “eat less, move more”? Book an appointment with me to see if my program can help you.





References

Harvard Health. (2018, May). Burning calories without exercise. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/burning-calories-without-exercise


Harvard Health. (2018, July). Small tricks to help you shed pounds and keep them off. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/small-tricks-to-help-you-shed-pounds-and-keep-them-off


Harvard Health. (2019, March 19). The lowdown on thyroid slowdown. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-lowdown-on-thyroid-slowdown


Harvard Health. (2019, November 20). Building simple habits for healthy weight loss. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/building-simple-habits-for-healthy-weight-loss


Mayo Clinic Healthy Lifestyle. (2019, February 21). Is a slow metabolism the reason I'm overweight? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/slow-metabolism/faq-20058480


Mayo Clinic Healthy Lifestyle. (2019, February 21). Can I boost my metabolism to lose weight? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/metabolism/faq-20058346


Mayo Clinic Healthy Lifestyle. (2020, November 10). Metabolism and weight loss: How you burn calories. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/metabolism/art-20046508



NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Healthy. (2017, September). Weight Control. Retrieved from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/weight-control


NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (n.d.). Guide to Behavior Change. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/behavior.htm


Albers, Susan. But I Deserve This Chocolate!: The 50 most common diet derailing

excuses and how to outwit them, New Harbinger Publications, 2011. https://www.amazon.com/But-Deserve-This-Chocolate-Diet-Derailing-ebook/dp/B0058WBU8Q

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