The Big Picture on Weight Loss

“Can You Help Me Lose Weight?”   

We get this question a lot. The short answer is generally ”yes”.  But there is a much longer discussion really MUST take place before any plans are made to “lose weight”.  That’s because when people talk about weight loss their primary goal is the reduction in weight as measured on a standard bathroom scale.  Unfortunately, the number on a scale says relatively little about your HEALTH.

Instead, we take a much more comprehensive approach than that because our primary goal is to create HEALTH, not lose weight. That isn’t just semantics. There is a huge practical difference between these two approaches.

When a person’s primary goal is to lose weight, they may do all sorts of crazy and dangerous things that don’t contribute to overall health.  For instance, when a person severely restricts their diet without understanding nutritional needs or engages in exessive physical exercise they might lose weight in the short term but create long-term damage to their metabolism. This will inevitably cause more weight gain in the future. Remember that whatever takes “force” to create, will take “force” to maintain.  Trying to “force” the body to lose weight isn’t sustainable.

Let’s focus on overall health, nutrient density and functional movement

Having a healthy, appropriately lean body is a powerful biomarker for health but let me be clear, THE NUMBER ON YOUR BATHROOM SCALE IS NOT AN INDICATOR OF HEALTH OR ILLNESS.  That number by itself means very little by itself.  It is completely devoid of context.  It doesn’t factor in your age, your height, or your general body type. It doesn’t measure the health of your gut, your hormones. It doesn’t measure your mood and your energy.

There are lots of “skinny” people walking around that actually have pre-diabetes and a less than ideal body composition.  Science calls those people “skinny fat” and they don’t have any health advantages over those that are overweight.  So whenever you hear a research study about the benefits of “weight loss” you need to also look to see if there were any markers of overall health.

Overall health is driven by a balanced lifestyle – including appropriate sleep, movement, recreation, nutritious diet, plentiful hydration, and a life of meaning and purpose.

12 Factors for Healthy Body Composition

There are a LOT of factors that determine our body composition. Here is just a partial list:

The first 3 are the basics that everyone has been focusing for decades; genes, calories, and exercise.

  1. Genetics. Your genetics actually play a relatively small role in body composition (5-10%).
  2. Calories Out. The “work” we demand from our body through activity requires energy to be burned from either our food intake or our body’s stores of energy (fat and glycogen). We have a baseline metabolic rate (BMR) and then we can increase our metabolic rate through exercise.
  3. Calories In. When your caloric intake exceeds our energy demand, you will always store the excess for use in the future as fat and glycogen.

For some people it is easy and this is all that is needed. But for a vast majority, there is much more going on, and this why so many people are frustrated and discouraged.  They think that those three factors are all that there is to consider. When they try to reduce calories and increase exercise and it doesn’t work for them, they think that they’ll never get the lean body they want.

In fact, the next 9 factors are the reasons that trying to fix the first three doesn’t always lead to the result you’re looking for.

  1. The Right Calories. It turns out that not all calories are the same.  100 calories of broccoli are vastly different in the body than 100 calories of chocolate chip cookies. Instead of counting calories, we should be making sure that our calories count by eating nutrient-dense, whole foods with a healthy balance of proteins, carbs, and fats.
  2. Digestive system health. Research is showing that the makeup of the intestinal microorganisms play a big role in what foods you choose to eat and how efficiently they are processed.
  3. Refined Carbohydrate intake. The quantity of refined sugar and highly processed carbohydrates you eat determines your blood sugar and insulin levels. Insulin is a “storage” hormone. When insulin is up, you are likely storing fat.
  4. Sleep cycles. The timing (circadian rhythm) and amount of quality sleep you get each night determines the function of hormones that control your hunger.
  5. Emotional health. Your physical, mental, and emotional stress levels control your adrenal hormone, cortisol. When cortisol levels increase, your body stores fat around your gut and organs as a survival mechanism.
  6. Other hormones play a role. The health of the thyroid gland determines the basal metabolic rate and to a significant level, your energy.  Testosterone levels will affect your ability to gain and retain lean muscle mass. Estrogen and progesterone affect water retention and edema.
  7. Brain Chemistry. Your brain neurotransmitter balance plays a role in cravings, emotional eating patterns, cortisol balance, and your desire to be active and engaged in healthy behavior change.
  8. Your Social Circle. The body composition of your 5 closest friends has been shown to impact how you think about food and exercise as well as how you handle stress.
  9. Your toxic burden. The level of chemical toxicity in your cells impacts the function of your energy-producing factories (mitochondria) in your cells as well, compromising many other basic functions of your body.

The Simple 7 Lifestyle Reset Program

If we really want to get to the root of our weight issues we need to focus on a comprehensive approach that addresses all of the 7 Pillars of Wellness.  We need to be routinely eating real food, drinking real water, engaging in real movement, enjoying real sleep, removing false beliefs, falling in love with real relationships, and celebrating life with real play.

Every one of these 7 simple strategies contributes to the overall health of your body and determines your body composition.

We’ve taken our 20 years of experience helping people transform their health and lose weight and created a powerful 12-week process called the Simple 7 Lifestyle Reset where we show our clients exactly how to bring these lifestyle principles into balance and how to translate what they learn into life-long habits.

Our clients routinely lose 20-30 lbs in the first 6 weeks of the program but that is generally not what they are most excited about. We usually hear things like, “my chronic headaches are gone”, or “I haven’t had heartburn for weeks”, or “my skin has completely cleared up”!

If you are ready to discuss a holistic solution to sustainable changes in your health and body composition, schedule a consultation with Dr. Duggar today.

Featured image photo credit: www.stock.adobe.com

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