Cynthia’s holistic approach to weight loss attempts to assist you in achieving your optimal weight in a manner that is healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Losing weight is not just about dieting and looking good, it’s about making permanent lifestyle changes that result in healthy and long-lasting results.
Many people turn to natural health products like Hoodia for assistance in curbing their appetite, but they will only offer short-term success and may cause new problems. If the underlying issues are not addressed, then there will always be a battle to maintain results.
There are many factors that come into play in regard to weight loss which may involve emotional, nutritional, social, physiological, spiritual, and environmental. The goal of weight loss help from a holistic view is to identify the root causes of weight gain which may be different from one individual to another.
Americans are grossly overweight and it’s getting worse every day. Obesity is a growing epidemic in our society for both children and adults alike. Carrying a lot of extra weight on your body puts you at risk for a walloping number of serious health problems. Not to mention how it makes you feel physically and emotionally and the limits it may impose on your life.
There are many ways to lose weight and we are bombarded with choices every day. Most of these ways work at least to some degree, but they all take time, effort, commitment, and sacrifice. And that’s one of the main reasons being overweight has grown into such an epidemic in our society. Everybody wants the magic weight-loss bullet that provides instant gratification.
So they eat meals that can be popped in the microwave, or pick up a cheeseburger and greasy fries at a fast-food drive-thru. They gobble down packages of ready-made cupcakes and pies or they snack on candy and soda pop.
Almost everything the average person puts in their body these days is “ready-made”, or “instant”, and these time-saving comforts are putting on the weight faster than we can even count. These foods are not nutritious. They are empty calories that either pile on the fat or leave you hungry again in a very short amount of time.
Weight Loss Misinformation
Another important factor in this growing epidemic is the result of misinformation. For example, years ago our weight loss experts told us that we shouldn’t eat food that is high in fat, so people cut down. The problem with this is that people then started replacing the fatty foods in their diets with empty-calorie food instead, like fat-free candy and chips.
You can go to any store and look in the candy and snack aisle for instance, and you’ll find many snacks overloaded with sugar which advertise in big bold letters on the packaging: “No Fat!” “Fat-Free” or “Low Fat!”. As if somehow this means that junk food is healthy for you. These kinds of foods do not satiate the appetite, not only that, they are void of any nutritional value and are actually destructive to the digestive, endocrine, and immune systems.
When you drastically reduce or eliminate fat altogether from your diet, you’ll find that you’re hungrier more often. This is because fat actually helps fill us up and keeps us satisfied for longer periods of time. That doesn’t mean you should go the opposite direction and eat all high-fat foods either though, because there are both good and bad fats. The type of fat you eat is more important than how much fat you eat. You want to avoid artificial trans fat, but not saturated fat. Not only that, it is not fat that makes you fat; it is carbohydrates that make you fat. For example, eating a breakfast that is high in carbs will actually make you hungrier and more fatigued throughout the day, while a high-fat breakfast will help you burn more fat.
Another big source of misinformation is the widely accepted FDA food pyramid that many of us grew up with. Weight loss advice that is based on this model will not lead to successful results. Although this pyramid was originally designed with good intentions, it has become outdated. For example, it advises six to eleven servings of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta, which is not healthy at all. Now, back in the 1940s or 1950s and earlier, people may have gotten away with eating these types of foods because at that time people did a lot more manual labor than they do today. Manual labor equates to exercise and muscle building. And when you have a lot of physical activity in your life, you can burn off the carbohydrates.
Activity levels are quite different today than they were 50 or more years ago. Instead of working our bodies each day, we work our minds instead. There is nothing wrong with working the mind of course, but due to the lifestyle changes we now have, we need to work harder at exercising our bodies and we need to change our eating styles.
Walter Willett, a Harvard professor and top national nutrition researcher, says it’s important to keep in mind that the food pyramid was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and therefore is focused on promoting what is in their best interest, which is agriculture.
Willett further states that the U.S. Department of Agriculture pyramid is outdated and doesn’t reflect the latest food research and fails to give us enough information to help us make wise choices and contributes to being overweight, poor health, and early death.
The pyramid places too much emphasis on some things that shouldn’t be in the diet at all, like bread and pasta, and not enough on very important things like meat, nuts, and healthy oils.
It lumps all fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and dairy into one category, which is misleading. Not all are created equally. There are healthy fats and bad fats. Some proteins are healthier than others and cheese and yogurt have very different nutritional benefits.
A holistic approach to weight loss combats misinformation and is more evolved.
A lot of weight loss advice focuses on cutting calories, which is not a bad thing when done properly and with all other things taken into consideration.
Granted, eating fewer calories than you usually eat each day will help you to lose weight. However, one of the biggest problems with controlling weight through calorie counting is usually the same problems we see with low-fat diets. First, you get more hungry more often, and/or you fill up on foods that are low in calories, but also low in nutritional value such as sweets and simple carbohydrates. You end up feeling hungry all the time.
If you restrict your calorie intake too much or fill up on empty calories this only sets you up for failure, because you’ll only be able to go on like this for a limited amount of time. Eventually, you’ll be so hungry you can’t take it anymore and you’ll give in to temptation and eat everything in sight.
On the other end of the spectrum, you may be guided to cut carbohydrates. Again this is not a bad thing when done properly and can be very effective. As a matter of fact, carbohydrate consumption is the primary cause of weight gain and obesity, and reduction should be a component of all holistic weight loss plans.
The key is not to eliminate carbs completely, but to start eating better ones instead. Sugar, starches, pasta, bread, white flour, and even whole grains and potatoes should be totally removed. Many people are misinformed on what constitutes a good carb and a bad carb. Good carbs consist only of non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruit and even they should be limited.
Each person’s body is different and the number of carbohydrates they can consume may vary. Take a look at my healthy diet plan page for more details on designing the diet that is right for you.
A Holistic Approach to Weight Loss is Comprehensive
The biggest problem with weight loss fads is that they are missing several very important pieces of the puzzle. Most people know the basics of what needs to be done to lose weight — they should exercise more, eat less, and decrease sugar and artificial trans fat, but it’s much more complex than that.M
My holistic approach to weight loss will go a few steps further and help you discover the hidden issues impacting your weight that you probably have never thought about or even heard about in mainstream literature. The diet that will help you lose weight naturally is a low-carb primal diet, but there are many other factors to take into consideration.
Some of the most common hidden contributors to weight gain besides carbohydrate consumption include:
- food allergies or sensitivities
- Candida overgrowth
- nutritional deficiencies
- adrenal fatigue
- hormone imbalance
- neurotransmitter deficiencies or imbalances
- insulin resistance
- chronic stress
Unidentified food allergies or sensitivities, also known as food intolerance if often at the root of unexplained weight gain or pounds that simply won’t disappear with other means. An allergy or sensitivity to a common food like wheat, corn, soy, dairy, or any food at all can result in allergic edema, cravings, inflammation, and altered metabolism that results in weight gain. When the offending food is removed, then the weight will disappear. Sensitivities or intolerances can be identified easily with a simple test called ALCAT
Chemicals in our environment like pesticides, perfume, air fresheners, cleaning solvents, cosmetics, natural gas, etc. that we are exposed to every day are a major contributing factor to weight problems. The toxins in these products alter metabolic functions and disrupt hormones and neurotransmitters that play an important role in maintaining body weight and trigger food cravings. Chemical sensitivities can also be identified with the ALCAT test. To learn more about how these factors come into play in weight gain, you may want to take a look at It’s not Your Fault you’re Overweight.”
Cortisol, insulin, melatonin, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, leptin, DHEA, and a variety of other hormones have a very crucial role in the regulation and control of body weight. An imbalance in hormones is very common in the general population due to a diet and environment contaminated with toxins.
Another factor that we’ve just started to learn about that is now making its way into enlightened pieces of literature for holistic weight loss is getting enough sleep. It seems that sleep, or the lack of it, has a powerful effect on two important hormones related to weight control – leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is responsible for giving you that “full” feeling, while ghrelin is responsible for stimulating the appetite. When you don’t get enough sleep your leptin levels go down and your ghrelin levels rise, which means that your appetite will be stimulated and you won’t feel full.
Maintaining a healthy colon is another extremely important issue that is usually overlooked in the mainstream approach to losing weight. A lot of extra pounds can be carried around in an unhealthy colon. If you’re not having regular bowel movements every day, then your colon is not functioning optimally.
We all have emotional attachments to food to some degree or another, however, for many people it can grow into a bigger problem. Some people will eat to relieve stress, to deal with anger, sadness, or other uncomfortable feelings, or to feel comforted and nurtured. It’s important to examine eating patterns to identify any particular areas in which you may turn to food for emotional comfort.
Food is everywhere we go, it’s an integral part of holidays, events, meetings, birthdays, celebrations, and pretty much any social and family activity we participate in. There can be a great deal of pressure to eat and drink more than we should and to indulge in foods we know aren’t healthy. Coping strategies must be in place that enables you to join in without completely abandoning your weight loss plan.
Most everyone knows that regular exercise is an essential component of weight loss. It’s stressed in almost every piece of information out there and is no different from the holistic approach. However, I would add that the exercise activity you pick should nurture you not only physically and emotionally, but spiritually as well. Exercise should not feel like a burden or something you despise. It should be enjoyed. Don’t choose an exercise method or schedule that is too demanding physically because this will only cause stress and increase the chances that you won’t stick with it. Additionally, too much exercise or exercise that is too intense or extreme is actually just as unhealthy as no exercise at all and will make you pack on the pounds; it is perceived by the body as stress which will result in an insulin response and the storage of fat. In my opinion, the best well-balanced exercise option is walking.
The last and most important piece of the holistic approach to weight loss to keep in mind is that your approach is individualized to your specific body chemistry and unique life aspects. The real secret to success is to strike a balance that actually works for your body. Now the keywords here are, “your body.” What works for your body may not be the same thing that works for other people’s bodies.
One person may have a hormonal imbalance that leads to their weight problem, while another person may have food allergies, a hormonal imbalance, Candida overgrowth, and turns to food for emotional comfort. The weight loss plan that both of these people would follow might be quite a bit different from one another.
Some people may flourish on a keto diet, while other body types will flounder. One person may stick to a demanding physical workout and feel fantastic, while another person needs a kinder, gentler regimen.
My holistic approach to weight loss stresses the importance of learning how to listen to your body. Pay very close attention to how your body responds to a new food, exercise, supplement, lack of food, environment, social events or any method you attempt. Be aware of patterns and changes in your digestion, elimination, breathing, sleep, mood, and skin.
There will be a period of experimentation involved before you learn which path offers the kind of results you’re looking for, but you’ve probably already learned quite a bit about your body with various diets you’ve tried in the past. When I went through menopause I put on a lot of extra weight and I was able to lose 34 pounds with ease by following the principles I have discussed on this page and you can too.