Take a slow, deep breath. Become aware of your thoughts and surroundings and quiet the chaos that lives in your mind and environment for the next few minutes.
I work with patients everyday who feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and overworked. The never-ending to-do list, the over-packed schedule, the newest dietary and fitness trends, the late nights; essentially, the constant pressure to work more and sleep less. All of these day-to-day stressors are grinding down our system, exceeding the normal healthy limits of function. This is what I refer to as the 21st Century Super Woman/Super Man Syndrome. This way of living is perpetuating our stress response, making us overweight, unhappy, and uncertain as to how we can fix it.
We cannot change the stressors we have, but we can change how we respond to those stressors. One of my goals is to educate my patients on the elements of life that have the greatest impact on their health, as well as helping them to establish the steps required to achieve and maintain the optimum health that they are seeking.
Diet and exercise are important, but they are not the only determinants of health. Well-tuned circadian rhythm, adequate sleep, appropriate stress management, attitudes and beliefs (your mindset), environmental exposures, what you put on your skin, time spent outdoors in nature and being part of a strong social group are also extremely important factors to consider and attend to when we are seeking vibrant health.
The underlying cause of obesity is both a hormonal AND caloric imbalance. A metabolic approach to weight management represents a paradigm shift in the traditional school of thought, which uses an overly simplistic model that states “calories in equals calories out”. The approach “eat less, exercise more” leads to burnout, extreme hunger, over training, and often, weight gain. More importantly, it damages the metabolism. Here’s how:
Rebound weight gain after “eat less, exercise more” is a consequence of the thyroid gland slowing down your metabolism. The thyroid is adapting to a stressor in your environment (dieting) by slowing the body’s metabolic processes to accommodate the reduction in calories. In this down regulated state, fat burning potential is low.
A metabolic approach focuses on you, and your unique physiology. It goes beyond weight loss, and includes: enhanced muscle mass, increased fat loss (different from weight loss), improved insulin sensitivity, balanced blood sugar, and hormone optimization.
You can’t cheat your metabolism with late night Netflix binges, fast food on the way home, early morning fasted intervals followed by 9 hours of stressful work, and expect good results. Your metabolism needs TLC! I admit that the discipline and consistency needed to stay on track can be hard in this day and age. We are overworked, stressed and we have every guilty pleasure at our fingertips when we are tired and our will power is low.
The right approach, ideally under the care of a qualified medical professional, restores and rebalances hormones, which is essential to achieving long-term body composition changes. Insulin, cortisol, thyroid and the adrenals are all important considerations when it comes to fat loss. The harmony of the whole system and all of its messengers (hormones) is the key to lasting health.
Give a little TLC to your metabolism right now:
1. Drink ample water – Not only does it help boost metabolism by up to 30% the hour after consumption, if you drink 500 ml 30 min before a meal, it also can help you eat 44% fewer calories.
2. Go to sleep earlier – Poor sleep or lack of sleep is associated with a 55% risk for obesity. Without enough sleep we wake up hungrier and craving carbohydrates.
3. Reduce your stress levels – Activate the parasympathetic nervous system through meditation and deep breathing. A calm, positive mindset is key to access more willpower and overall wellbeing.
4. Exercise appropriately – You may need a coach or trainer to help with this to prevent under or over training. Lifting weights will build or maintain muscle mass to keep metabolism higher.
5. Eat protein, fibre, vegetables and less refined carbs and sugar – Not only will this way of eating fill you up, protein also uses 30% of its calories in the digestion process.
6. Eat healthy fats – Do not eat deep fried food or highly processed, heated polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which trigger responses like insulin resistance and inflammation. Consume omega-3 fatty acids, rich in DHA, which are essential for healthy mitochondrial membranes. If your cells are not functioning properly, you are not functioning properly.
7. Get a complete hormonal assessment from a qualified Physician or Naturopath – Achieving optimal metabolic health is much easier when you have professional help and a map to know where you are starting from and where you want to go.