In the new year, people usually crave returning to a healthier routine and a healthier feeling body. It’s the season of setting goals!
Looking back at the 2020 holiday season, it was very different than our usual festivities. What I was hearing from my patients was that the lack of parties did not translate to a lack of overindulging. Additionally, for many people last year, the shifts in eating and drinking seemed to start much earlier than the holiday season – maybe even in March?
It has nearly been a year where more people have been working from home, are out of their usual routine and generally coping with feelings of higher stress. Therefore, this new year has come with an even bigger craving to reset with an improved wellness routine.
It is beyond this article to address the mental/emotional impact surrounding the past year (even though this is an important factor to acknowledge). Dr. Crossman can, however, give you key pointers on how to get your weight back on track, and to hopefully jump-start a better feeling overall!
Tackling your health goals can be an overwhelming task. Whether you are starting from scratch or just looking to make small adjustments here are some key points from Dr. Erin Crossman
During the holiday season (or possibly most of last year) you may have indulged more than usual. Do not beat yourself up about it.
One of the WORST things you can do for your motivation is put yourself down. This can zap all of your productive energy. Once you’ve acknowledged you are ready for a change, that’s great! You will need that energy to continue your new, healthier routine. When you’re starting your new routine, you might not see physical changes and resort to self-deprecating thoughts. But have you noticed any other changes, such as improvements in sleep quality, mood, appetite and/or energy? Or try to think of at least two other things that you’ve recently done well, or possibly even more of a challenge, that you enjoy about yourself.
Side note: if the topic of what you enjoy about yourself makes you squirm, consider looking into Metta Meditations.
Increasing your muscle mass is a main way of increasing your resting metabolic rate. That means your body will burn more calories in general, even while resting. This is because muscle is more metabolically active than fat. So don’t skip the strength training in your exercise routine. People who just opt to do cardio are doing themselves a disservice. The cardio will help burn calories during the exercise, but strength training will have a greater impact on the calories you burn throughout the rest of your day, and the next. Do both cardio and strength training and revel in those endorphins!
Side note: if you feel too fatigued or drained after a workout, there is most likely something else going on. Talk to your naturopathic doctor as you might be over training or depleted in ways that need repleting before initiating training.
Have you ever heard the saying, “abs are made in the kitchen”? Even though your exercise routine can help you burn more calories and build muscle tone, an equally important factor is diet. Someone could have the best six-pack around, but it’s hidden under an insulating layer of abdominal fat. Consider starting with these three suggestions:
Spikes in blood sugar stimulate insulin, which signals your body to store fat. These blood sugar spikes are also met with a counter mechanism in the body to help lower blood sugar again, but this can drive blood sugar lower than before. This cycle of spikes and dips in your blood sugar will not only pack on pounds but it will wreak havoc on energy levels. Additionally, it might make you reach for more food or another sugary snack to bring your energy levels back up.
For an example, if you’re going to have a grain, make sure it’s a whole grain. The fibre will slow down the absorption of your food, allowing blood sugar not to spike. Fibre and other nutrients in whole grains will also sustain you for longer and keep energy levels more balanced.
Vegetables are another great source of fibre, along with so many other nutritious compounds. Any dietary plan should emphasize vegetables as the largest portion on your plate.
Fibre, protein, and smaller portions of healthy fats are what will satisfy your hunger for longer periods of time.
Protein at every meal is also a common recommendation within weight loss. Spreading protein throughout the day not only helps sustain you but it allows for more effective utilization of the amino acids to build muscle and boost metabolism. Don’t assume “protein” means “meat” either. A well-balanced vegetarian diet (not the carbatarians) is associated with a lower BMI and lower incidence of certain chronic diseases.
Remember guidelines are great but to make long lasting change consider employing something like an 80:20 rule where 80% of the time you’re fantastic and do all the right things, but 20% of the time you allow yourself that favourite piece of dessert or a day of pure rest and relaxation. Also, while tracking your progress, it’s important to reward yourself with non-food rewards. This will help to stop instilling the wrong message that those unhealthy foods are the “desirable” ones.
Working on these foundational aspects are so import. It’s not flashy/sexy news but hopefully this will allow you to shed the ways of life that have potentially brought you to where you are. If you would like to create change, there is no better way than becoming that change.
If you’re thinking that you already do all of the above recommendations and are still struggling with weight management, consider looking deeper into other causes such as hormonal imbalances, high stress, blood sugar dysregulation, toxic burden, and digestive issues. These are some of the areas in which naturopathic doctors can help you. For more information and treatment options, visit your naturopathic doctor.
1) Anderson, J., Smith, B., Gustafson, N. (1994) Health benefits and practical aspects of high-fiber diets.The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 59(5), 1242S-1247S. doi:10.1093/ajcn/59.51242S
2) Evans, W.; What Is Sarcopenia? (1995) The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, 50A(1), 5-8. dio:10.1093/Gerona/50A.Special_Issue.5
3) Key, T., Davey, G., & Appleby, P. (1999). Health benefits of a vegetarian diet. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 58(2), 271-275. doi:10.1017/S0029665199000373
4) McPherron, A. C., Guo, T., Bond, N. D., & Gavrilova, O. (2013). Increasing muscle mass to improve metabolism. Adipocyte, 2(2), 92-8.
5) Ryan, A., Pratley, R., Elahi, D., Goldberg, A., (1995) Resistance training increases fat-free mass and maintains RMR despite weight loss in postmenopausal women. Journal of Applied Physiology, 79(3):818-23. Doi:10.1152/jappl.1918.104.22.1688.
Dr. Erin Crossman supports all stages of health and sickness. She is drawn to helping patients who may feel lost or without options. She believes there are always ways to optimize health within each individual’s spectrum from illness to wellness. She has treated patients with a wide variety of health issues, with an interest in: environmental and food allergies and sensitivities, fatigue and low energy, digestive issues, hormone imbalance, lowered immunity, musculoskeletal issues, and stress management.
Geometry Integrated Health offers Naturopathic Medicine in Victoria BC. We are located downtown next to the YMCA and are open 7 days a week.