New Year is here!
That means it’s New Year’s resolution time. For most people, it’s about losing weight.
Being overweight is a challenging issue facing a lot of Canadians. Some have been facing obesity for their entire adult life.
New Year’s resolution for weight loss – a reality check
There is a small percentage of who are people successful at losing weight for the New Year’s resolution.
For most, the weight doesn’t drop off easily. The weight would drop off a little and then climb back up again. This up-down cycle would repeat itself over and over again. So, revisiting the lose weight New Year’s resolution is no new affair for many. Most are at a loss as to why their weight won’t drop off! The only thing to do is keep trying with another diet and hope for the best.
There’s no secret formula or magic potion to trim the waistline. Fundamentally, it’s about optimizing the body’s energy balance and hormonal balance. However, the biggest challenge is overhauling eating behaviours and instituting regular exercise routine as part of a healthy lifestyle.
One question to ask: should you be focused on hitting the weight loss number on the scale or should you lose weight to feel healthier regardless of the number on the scale?
Sugar is everywhere!
In our North American grab-and-go fast-paced lifestyle, sugar is prevalent in almost every food item.
Therefore, we should pay more attention to sugar intake. It is in almost 80% of food items on the supermarket shelves. Believe it or not, there are 3 grams of sugar in one 150 ml (2/3 cup) serving of Campbell’s vegetable soup. So in a 900 ml carton, there are 18 grams of sugar in the form of dextrose in the vegetable soup.
Beverages like fruit juices, sports drinks (e.g. Gatorade) contain dangerously high amounts of sugar.
Remove as much as possible sugar from your diet especially simple sugar, refined sugar. Eat good quality complex carbs. Why? Starch of complex carbs breaks down into sugar gradually. The slow and gradual release of sugar into body system prevent blood sugar spikes. The flood of sugar in short duration causes the release to store energy from sugar.
According to Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the daily recommended intake of sugar is 12 teaspoons.
Wean off the high sugar content foods and be aware of hidden sugar in foods. Did you know, a glass orange juice has the same amount of sugar as in a can of cola soft drink (about 10 teaspoons of sugar)?
Food companies don’t always put the word “sugar” on the ingredient lists of their food products. Instead, different names for sugar are listed on the ingredient lists – 61 different names for sugar.
What are the different names of sugar used on food labels? Read more …
Refined carbs – what are they?
Refined carbs are white flour in pizza dough, muffins, bagel, cookies, bread. Any whole grain that has been refined through food processing is considered “refined”. There are different levels of grain refinery process. Fine ground grains are more refined than coarse grains. Why are refined carbs not as healthy? The body’s digestive system converts refined carbs to sugar.
How is natural food beneficial?
Natural whole grains are full of nutrients that are invaluable to the body. However, natural foods are unusable to the body. The body’s digestive system need to work hard to extract nutrients and calories and convert them to energy. Digesting food in the body takes time and therefore nutrients and calories are released slowly to the body. Naturally, the body has checks and balances to regulate energy balances.
The food industry processing has helped with partial digestion of the natural food ~ partial artificial digestion on manufacturing line. This creates a problem for energy balance in the body – a disruption in the body’s energy checks and balances. Since the partial artificial digestion breaks down food – some of the invaluable nutrients are washed away before the food enters the body. The body now absorbs the “whatever is left of the nutrients” from processed foods faster into the bloodstream and use it for energy and nourish the various parts of the body. The issue is now, the body has too much of “nutrients” and calories which it cannot use in a short time. So, the body keep them in a storable form – storing them as fat.
Eat more wholesome foods – more whole grains, in its least processed form, fresh meat from the butcherie not from freeze-dried TV dinners, fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh fish and shellfish. Drink less fruit juice, instead, eat fiber-rich fruits. Fiber slows down the sugar absorption into the bloodstream.
Choose foods with a high ratio of nutrient to calorie.
Healthy eating habits – lifestyle change
You probably have tried or heard of someone you know tried many different diet programs but none had helped with weight loss. Jumping into a diet program to lose weight is not a permanent healthy solution to weight loss. The diet program is not customized for you. That means you muster all your willpower to fight off cravings.
Willpower is not always around to help you. When you’re tired or frustrated, willpower wanes. Willpower cannot always help you fight primal instincts. Human bodies are wired for self-preservation. Restricting some nutrients can trigger cravings and eventually drives you to eat whatever foods that you are deprived of.
Coaxing your habit changes
Rather, change to healthy eating habits. It will take time and few or more than a few attempts before you become better at it. Failure to stick to healthier eating for the first few attempts is not the end of the world. Life goes on! The worst thing is to give up!
Each time you fail, you and your body learn a new way to cope with the “new” environment. You are gradually coaxing your body to follow wishes of your logical, adult mind. The key is not to overwhelm yourself.
For example: if you want to limit sugar in your nutrition routine, it may be a better idea to start off by gradually reducing sugar – instead of 3 teaspoons of sugar in your morning coffee, take it with only 2 teaspoons for first 2 months, then limit it to one teaspoon for the following 2 months. If 2 months is too short for the body to adjust, extend it to 3 months. You don’t want to wake up in the morning and the face sugar as the enemy.
Portion control is important. The key is to have fully satisfying meals. Don’t deprive yourself of foods you enjoy. Otherwise, you will have cravings and keep running back to the fridge to snack.
Instead of just simply putting food into your mouth mindlessly, here are some tips on how to add barriers to overfeeding:
- use small plates – serving size appears bigger on small plates
- don’t eat out the package – you’ll overeat when you eat out the package. If you have a big bag of chocolate cookies, you’re more likely to finish off the entire bag
- focus and savor the flavor of food
- don’t snack when you’re not hungry – if you’re bored, go rinse your mouth with mouthwash, go clean the toilet
- wait 20 minutes after eating 1st meal serving before going for 2nd serving. Allow time for the food to go into your gut then transmit the “I have food” signal to the brain
Food portions served in restaurants today are bigger than portion sizes served 20 years ago. We are conditioned to seeing larger portion sizes today. Read more …
A lifestyle of regular exercise for weight loss
The other equation to losing weight is regular exercise.
If you exercise without watching what and how much you eat, you most likely will not lose weight. If you are relying on the daily one hour of exercise to burn off the fat, you’re pretty much out of luck. In order to lose the fat, your body needs to be in caloric deficit. What this means is that your body’s caloric intake must be lower than caloric expenditure. Although you do burn the calories during exercise, you will most likely eat to replenish what you have burned during exercise because you will be more hungry. There’s not much of caloric deficit.
The silver lining in this is, exercise improves health in many ways and creates internal body environments that are conducive to weight loss and builds muscles.
Benefits of regular exercise
- increase insulin sensitivity – exercise helps to drain the energy from the cells. When the insulin biofeedback mechanism is restored, the entire body hormonal system is no longer in insulin resistant mode. This means the body is no longer in fat storage mode. Insulin resistance – read more how cells become insulin resistant …
- relieves stress – stress is related to emotional eating
- increase muscle density – muscle tissue is the most metabolically inefficient tissue. More muscles translate to higher resting metabolism i.e. your body will burn more calories while you are resting when you are awake.
- preserve muscle mass – as you age, you will lose muscle mass. Exercise will help to preserve muscle mass and help you to control weight better
- increase joint strength – allows you to enjoy moving in your body more effectively. You will be less resistant to exercising.
Walking around with the excess weight is no fun especially when your joints ache. You know it’s time to take action when you can hardly climb a flight of stairs to your own bedroom without running out of breath. Does this mean you should rule out physical activities? Of course not. The less physical training you do, the worse your body will deteriorate.
Start workout regimen with low-intensity exercise selection. Gradually as your joints become stronger and as the weight begin to drop off, your hip and knee aches will lessen. You will be able to move more freely and enjoy physical activities more.
As you become physically fitter, your self-esteem will grow. In Miranda Burrell’s case, she lost more than 40 lbs in 3 months. Her perspective in life changed drastically in a positive manner. She gained a whole lot of self-esteem and confidence and went on to obtain an honours degree in Sociology from York University. Miranda Burrell’s weight loss story – read more about her successful weight loss journey.
Take action now!