One of the most common reasons to see a naturopathic doctor is to help with losing weight. Many of us have difficulty losing fat due to a number of factors, such as low energy and motivation, inadequate weight training in addition to cardiovascular exercise, poor diet (low fat, low protein, high sugar, high carbohydrates), skipping meals, and chronic mental stress causing depression, insomnia or anxiety.
Sometimes it is not that simple as, “If I use more calories per day than I take in, I will lose weight.”
Some Reasons Why You Can’t Lose the Weight
- Our metabolism decreases via several factors such as hormonal imbalances and harmful chemicals like those from alcohol, coffee, smoking, pesticides, antibiotics and hormones in meat and dairy, processed foods, and drugs. Part of losing weight includes knowing what you are putting into your body.
- With respect to diet, help your body boost its metabolism by eating approximately every 3-4 hours in order to keep your blood sugar balanced, and do exercises that will build muscle so your body can than burn more fat. Adequate water intake is also key to keeping your body hydrated as well as aiding in weight loss. Signs that you need to drink more water include dry skin, eyes, or mouth; edema, dizziness and headaches.
- It is also important to have specific blood or saliva testing done to see if you have any nutrient deficiencies such as iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, magnesium, zinc or calcium, as well as an essential fatty acid profile, inflammatory markers, fasting blood sugar, triglycerides, and hormone levels such as cortisol and thyroid. Naturopathic doctors use these results to determine the best supplementation for each individual to help your body work optimally and feel its best.
- Sleep is also a critical factor in our health as it can determine how much energy we will have during the day. Many people have difficulty falling asleep, which is mostly due to worry. Therefore stress management is key and it is helpful to develop strategies to help you focus on being positive and what you are able to change. Coping mechanisms for stress will not only help in relaxation for a better night’s rest, but also enable you to make better and healthier food choices.
- Botanical medicine works well in increasing energy and therefore motivation to exercise. It is also beneficial in aiding digestion and improving overall liver function. Eliminating food sensitivities can also increase our metabolism by decreasing gut inflammation.
- Many of us feel we are so busy that we eat mindlessly while driving, talking on the phone, watching TV, or in front of the computer at our desk at work. Preparing and eating food should be a positive experience that we look forward to, not one that causes stress because we have delayed eating and are so hungry we end up making poor choices and binging on unhealthy food.
If you are motivated to lose weight this year, here are a few tips to help you get started and keep on track:
- Use a calendar to track your daily exercise, no matter how small to motivate you to keep active.
- Keep a diet diary and record everything you eat and drink in a day, and make a goal to drink 6-8 cups of water daily.
- Organize your day so that you make time to exercise, to prepare healthy food, and to do something that makes you happy.
- Think honestly about how much weight you would like to lose and how quickly you hope to lose it and record your weight once a month.
- If you find yourself eating when you are not hungry, record on your diet diary why you chose to eat it (bored, angry, sad, with friends, etc.) so that you can recognize these distracters and therefore change your behaviour.
- If you tend to overeat, try eating a meal on a smaller plate, or only take out the actual “serving size” of a food item, such as 1/2 cup of cereal, instead of filling the bowl.
- Ask a friend/relative to lose weight with you so that it becomes a more enjoyable process that you look forward to sharing.
For other tips on weight loss and/or other conditions treated by naturopathic medicine check out my website at www.vitalforcenaturopathic.ca