If you let Hollywood tell you, we all could stand to shed a few pounds. And while there may be some validity to that statement, it might not be for the reasons that you may think. Yes, it’s important to feel as if you look good naked and to be able to fit into that cute wedding dress that you squeezed into during the fitting; however, believe it or not, there’s something even more insidious looming about than the sight of your ghastly cellulite! The name of the beast is...obesity!
“But, wait, hold up!...”, you might be saying to yourselves..”I’m not obese!” To remain completely unbiased, we’re going to consider the technical definition of obesity. Obesity is defined by having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher while being overweight is determined by a BMI of 25 or greater. While around 43% of Americans are considered obese, 60% or more are considered overweigt by these standards. Check out this Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator to see where you stand. The obesity epidemic has been in the American public eye since 1999. Since then it’s been growing and growing, contributing to a myriad of preventable lifestyle diseases, including the number one killer of Americans, cardiovascular disease.
In a parallel timeline, the full-figured revolution is on and curvy men and women everywhere are now embracing their forms and fashion across the globe! It’s a truly empowering display of pride and ownership.
Historically speaking, certain communities have long admired, accepted, and favored the curvy body types that often lend themselves to diseases caused by excess levels of visceral fats (i.e. cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers, etc.). Studies have shown that not only that obesity impacts different communities differently (63.4% of African-Americans, 52.7% of Latinx Americans, 51.5% of White Americans, and 19.4% of Asian Americans prevalence of obesity and morbid/severe obesity). The fact that culture and heritage play a role in American cuisine and desirable body types in both men and women is dangerous for our health and means that introducing a mindset of healthful living for some, might mean undoing certain aspects of cultural belief systems from which they would not be readily willing to part (i.e. eating hamburgers, hotdogs, and apple pie on the 4th of July).
Although this article will not discuss in any deep manner the environmental importance of access to quality, affordable foods, healthcare discrimination, income and educational disparities, the imperative nature of nutritional education or the benefits of having a culture of movement (e.g. pedestrian culture in New York City), it’s important to understand that there are multiple factors which contribute to the daunting statistics on obesity reported by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
America is the fattest it’s ever been! And there are several reasons to explain why. According to the CDC, 80% of people aren’t getting enough exercise to really be living a healthy life. This is problematic, because unless you’ve been hiding under a rug, you should be familiar that fat loss basically boils down to (egregiously simplified): calories in versus calories out. This means that in order to heat up those fat molecules to the point that they break up and are exhaled out of the body or excreted as sweat or urine, you must be moving.
In order to lose weight, you must consume less calories and less sugars (both simple and complex from any source). The balance of heat energy should tip in favor of the energy used with physical movement and less to the energy accumulation (and storage) which becomes adipose--a fancy word for fat--tissue in the body.
Here are 5 Tips for How to Lose the Weight You’ve Always Wanted:
#1: Pay Attention to What You Eat and When You Eat.
In the hunter gatherer days of humankind, we ate a diet which was full of vegetables, berries, fish, and meats. We ate when we could from whichever variety of food was available for the season. In today’s marketplace, we have our choice of organic and artificial or highly processed and minimally processed foods. The healthier produce and meats are priced at costs which are unaffordable(when considering regular consumption) for the unhealthiest of Americans. To counteract food injustices in society, it’s important to garner control over what you may. One of the easiest things to do is to avoid fast food restaurants. Making the switch to cooking your own meals, focusing on whole, nutrient dense food choices, and drinking low to zero calorie beverages is a good place to start.
In terms of when you should eat, intermittent fasting (IF) 16:8 provides a disciplined “feeding schedule” that helps with weight management and fat loss. The 16:8 IF protocol allows you to eat 8 hours out of the day (i.e. 12 noon - 8 pm) while fasting for the remaining 16 hours of the day. Using a combination of these methods will help you lose the extra weight in no time.
#2: Move more AND Exercise.
When working with my clients, I always encourage them to move more. Moving doesn’t necessarily mean doing a workout, per se. It can mean, dancing, walking to the store for groceries instead of driving, doing meaningful active work, etc. It shouldn’t be an activity which requires equipment nor registering for a class. This should be something as simple as doing yard work on the weekends. What I’m talking about here is lifestyle movement. This is the type of movement that people in pedestrian cities enjoy without thinking about it. Ask yourself what movement activities can you incorporate into your daily life that can become integrated into your lifestyle, and make that change immediately.
Moving more and exercising are two hemispheres of the same disc. Just because you have incorporated daily movement into your lifestyle does not mean that you should avoid intense exercise (e.g. lifting weights, high intensity exercise). In fact, unless your profession involves literally “lifting (heavy) things up and putting them down”, as in that old Geico ad of the early 2000s, you should be aiming for at least 150 minutes per week of additional exercise. Keep in mind that intense exercise is important for ultimate physical fitness. While doing exercise in isolation will not help you lose weight, it’s an essential ingredient to the weight loss formula.
#3: Focus on Getting Quality Sleep.
Emerging sleep science studies postulate that sleep quality is incredibly important to your ability to not only rid your body of excess fat storage, but also in building muscle mass and improving cognitive function. Although it varies depending on the individual, humans generally need 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night in order to operate at optimal levels during the waking hours. For weight loss, this means that if you are not sleeping at night, it’s going to be a long journey towards seeing the results that you want to see. Having too little sleep interferes with your metabolism and throws hormone regulators out of whack. If you suffer with insomnia, taking melanin supplements, detaching from technology, and drinking chamomile tea are all methods to help you get into the relaxing state needed in order to enjoy a good night’s rest--and subsequently aiding your weight loss efforts.
#4: Test and Balance Your Hormones With Lifestyle Medicine.
If you’ve never gotten hormonal lab work done, you’re truly missing out on an opportunity for better understanding of your hormonal imbalances. In addition to the traditional diet & exercise motif, many reasons for resistance to weight loss point to hormonal imbalances. FitNu Life is now able to facilitate access to a Hormone Optimization Package through the Riobe Institute of Integrative Medicine , led by Dr. Mylaine Riobe, MD. Hormones are the key regulators for your body, and there are specific hormones that regulate the way that your body uses energy from food. Ways to keep your hormones in check include eating nutrient dense, whole foods, sleeping 7-9 hours per night, stressing less, moving more-- in other words, the key to balance is in your lifestyle choices. The hormonal usual suspects for throwing your weight loss efforts off track include: Cortisol, Insulin, Leptin, Estrogen, and Thyroid. Bay Area-based Dr. Sara Gottfried believes that cortisol is most often the culprit in inhibiting weight loss efforts. Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone, therefore strategies to regulating it involve reducing stress levels...which brings us to tip #5.
#5: Reduce Your Stress Levels.
Nothing is more important to your weight loss efforts than reducing your stress levels. Stress negatively affects your body’s hormone regulation. Specifically, your body starts producing more cortisol levels, which in turns throws other hormones out of balance. Elevated cortisol levels are associated with depression, food addiction, obesity, and sugar cravings. It’s not hard to see why it’s important to regulate this hormone as soon as possible once you suspect (or have lab test results) cortisol dysregulation.
Stress reduction techniques that you can begin to incorporate into your life include: 1) Talk about your feelings with those with whom you feel safe; 2) Practice meditation and yoga; 3) Eat a wide variety of nutrient dense foods and supplement any nutritional deficits with targeted vitamins; 4) Limit caffeine intake; 5) Get a massage once per month or do some other relaxing activity; 6) Try plant medicine like Ashwagandha or Rhodiola.
Ultimately, if you wish to lose fat, feel less stressed, incorporate a new healthy habit into your life, feel happier, be more energetic, or even simply to "look good naked", your lifestyle will hold the key to your success. If you need a coach to help you live the life that you've always wanted in the body that you've always wanted to live it in, reach out to us at FitNu Life today for a free consultation.
"Overweight and Obesity." World Health Organization, World Health Organization. 27, Dec 2018. https://www.who.int/gho/ncd/risk_factors/overweight/en/
"Overweight and Obesity." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 10 Apr. 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/index.html
“Hormonal Misfiring: Why You're Not Losing Weight.” Goop, 12 May 2020, goop.com/wellness/health/why-youre-not-losing-weight/.
About Author: Brandi Nik Kilbourne is an American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach. She is the founder of CNG Fit LLC which is the parent company of CNG Fit Lab Fitness & Nutrition and FitNu Life coaching services.