Dr. Bakker’s Guide to Losing Weight and Keeping it Off
Have you struggled with your weight and found it hard not just to lose weight, but to maintain that loss? I urge you to read on, as I’ve got plenty of natural solutions and tips for you in this blog.
The Weight Gain / Insulin Connection
Your body has three main sources of energy: glucose, protein and fat burning. When we burn fat, we produce substances called ketones. Ketones can be measured in urine, and is a way to know we are burning fat efficiently.
High levels of dietary carbohydrates, also known as high glycemic load foods (e.g. sugars and starchy foods such as bread, rice, pasta and potatoes), work with the hormone insulin to ‘switch off’ fat burning and increase fat gain. Click here to see my guide to high glycemic load foods
Did you know that it becomes virtually impossible to lose fat if you have raised insulin levels? When your body’s blood sugar and insulin levels are low enough you will switch to a higher level of fat burning. This is the secret to weight-loss. To burn fat you need to restrict high glycemic load foods to a level where your body will produce less insulin, thereby increase the rate of fat burning.
Good Reasons to Lose Body Fat
Excess body fat is undoubtedly one of the biggest health threats facing both us and our children’s lives. Elevated fat mass also increases the frequency of muscular aches and pains, and reduces energy production, causing fatigue. The good news is that losing even a small amount of body fat (as little as 10%) can reduce your chances of developing numerous diseases.
Confidence: Excess body fat can also take a toll on your self-esteem. Meeting a challenge, improving your health and looking better can improve your sense of accomplishment, confidence and health in countless ways.
Improved energy levels: We have found that when you lose weight, you gain energy. More energy means more vitality, a happier life, and more juice to do what you want to do.
Reduced risk of diseases: Being overweight dramatically increases your risk of developing a number of diseases and conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and gout. Losing weight and keeping it off improves your long term health and can add years to your life!
Healthy aging: Obesity is related to premature aging and lessened quality of life. Consider fat loss a type of life insurance.
Self-empowerment: You can empower yourself by losing weight. The emotional pay-off is tremendous! By making the decision to lose weight and actually doing it, you are actualizing something that only you have the power to do and only you will truly experience the personal reward.
Tips for Staying on Track and Motivated
Think about what your personal goals are for losing weight. Do you have the same goals as this list? Do you have more, or different goals? Write down your goals and refer to them regularly to keep you motivated. Here now are some tips for staying on track, for socializing and eating out and for exercising.
- Do not reward weight loss with ‘cheat treats’ like ice cream and fast food. Rewarding yourself for losing weight by allowing yourself ‘treats’ will only slow your progress and inevitably lead to frustration.
- Remove as much food as practicable from your home that is not on the allowable food list. Remember: “If it’s in your pantry it will be eaten.” Give food to charity, friends or relatives, or pack long life foods away out of sight until you have reached your weight loss goal.
- Ensure you get a good night’s sleep. Being well rested will ensure you’re not looking for extra energy from food.
- Drinking a large glass of water before your meal will make you feel full and help to avoid overeating.
- Ensure you have a good support network. Tell your friends and family that you are on a weight loss program, your reasons and motivations for doing so and how important your goals are to you. Ask them to be supportive and not offer you ‘cheat treats,’ as it only makes it harder for you.
- Keep a chart of your progress. Measuring the pounds and inches lost helps to visualize your results, proves you’re capable and will help motivate you to continue. Remember: progress is progress. Don’t be discouraged by small changes or occasional plateaus.
- After cooking, put away all excess food immediately to avoid unnecessary snacking. If you make your meals in advance, split them into appropriate serving sizes and refrigerate or freeze immediately.
- Have a goal and stick to it. While losing weight it is easy to fall into the ‘close enough’ thought pattern and let treats and temptation slip through, never reaching your true goal. ‘Close enough’ will never leave you feeling as accomplished as reaching your goal.
- Set realistic expectations. Many fad diets and TV programs show people losing a large amount of weight each week. In reality, a weight loss of 1 to 4 pounds a week is an achievable and maintainable goal.
- Avoid emotional eating. Breaking your diet because you are emotional and need ‘comfort food’ will end up making you feel worse, and will bring on feelings of regret and remorse. Going for a quick walk, exercising, or losing yourself in a hobby will make you feel better than any comfort food.
Tips for Socializing and Eating Out
Instead of meeting friends for coffee/lunch/dinner, try meeting for a walk. You can still chat and be sociable, while also avoiding unneeded food and getting exercise.
- When at a restaurant, talk to your server about your dietary needs. Many restaurants are happy to adjust a menu item slightly to keep a customer happy.
- Order your meal without danger foods (e.g. chips, potato products, rice). It is easier to avoid it if it is not on your plate.
- Have a small protein snack, like a small handful of nuts or a piece of cheese, before you go out. It is easier to make sound choices when you are not hungry.
- Ask for all dressings and sauces to be served on the side. Substitute creamy salad dressings for a vinaigrette. Be aware of the hidden ingredients and sugars that can be included in many sauces.
- Assess serving sizes in relation to your palm size and approximate handfuls. If the servings are too large, ask for a side plate to place excess food on and have it taken away or boxed up immediately.
- Substitute more of one thing for less of another. For example, if your meal is served with salad and chips, ask to substitute chips for more salad.
- If you cannot resist ordering something for dessert, try ordering a black coffee or go for the cheese platter instead of cake/sweets.
- If the restaurant has generous servings, ask for a main dish in an appetizer size. Alternatively, order an appetizer as your main course.
- If possible, have a look at the menu online before you go out. Make note of the healthiest options or decide on what you are going to eat before you get there to avoid impulse decisions.
- Avoid buffet and ‘all you can eat’ style restaurants. These are a big trap, making it easy to overeat and offering many unhealthy foods.
- Trim fat from meat, and both skin and fat from poultry. You can leave some fat; just take most of the visible fat away.
- If the establishment is unable or unwilling to alter a menu item, choose something else that is more suitable or find another place to eat if possible.
- Avoid alcohol. If you must drink, set yourself a limit and stick to it. The tipsier you become, the more likely you are to drink and lower your resolve to stick to your weight loss plan.
- Don’t feel pressured to eat something because ‘it’s a special occasion.’ This is a slippery slope, and you’ll find yourself celebrating all sorts of special occasions. Save the celebration for when you’ve accomplished your weight loss goal.
Tips for Exercising
♦ As much as we may dread it, exercise is a key element to losing weight and keeping it off. But it doesn’t have to a dreadful experience: start low, go slow, and find something you enjoy. Before you realize it you’ll become hooked on how good you feel (and look!) afterward, and you’ll actually want to exercise.
♦ Make it Fun! Start your exercise routines by doing something you enjoy. This includes activities like dancing, gardening or walking. Although your favorite activity may not be as strenuous as an aerobic workout, it’s a place to start. And remember: sex is a form of exercise, too.
♦ Plan your exercise. Most people nowadays have a very busy lifestyle and feel they can not fit exercise into their day. Trust me when I tell you there is always time. Plan a specific time for 20-30 minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week. That’s like missing one TV show a day—big deal, right?
♦ Don’t give up because you miss one or more workouts. If you miss a workout, just start again as soon as you’re able.
♦ Exercise with friends. Having people to exercise with who share the same exercise interests and/or goals will keep you motivated. Knowing there is someone counting on you to be there to exercise will help you fight off excuses.
♦ Mix it up. If you get tired of doing the same thing every day, change your routine. You don’t have to walk the same route each day, or only ever ride a bike. Try doing different activities in different environments to keep you interested. This will also help to exercise different muscle groups.
♦ Set reasonable goals. Choose activities you know you can do well and build up to more strenuous activities as your fitness improves. If you are constantly frustrated with your workout or finding it too difficult, you are more likely to give up.
♦ Incidental exercise counts too. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park a little bit further away from the entrance at stores, take a walk during your lunch break, and when available take public transport and walk from the stops/stations to your destination.
♦ Reward yourself for your hard work and effort. Take a relaxing bubble bath, rent a movie, get a massage, or buy that item you’ve really wanted. If you like, start a tip jar where you put change or small bills after you exercise. At the end of the month, use that as your ‘treat yourself’ fund.
♦ Listen to music or audio books while exercising. If you have exercise equipment at home, you can put it in front of the TV to watch while you work out (just don’t let it distract you). You will be surprised how quickly the time passes. If you don’t have equipment at home, most gyms these days have TVs and music available near machines.
♦ If you feel you need more help to get and stay motivated while exercising, look into hiring a personal trainer to help. They can help you to get the most out of your workouts while having the knowledge to ensure you don’t injure yourself.
If you only remember one thing from this article it should be this: get out there and make it happen! It won’t happen unless you get out there and do the work! The truth is, you’re the one who must take charge of your health and make the decision to lose weight. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support, but know you must be the one to make the change. You can do it!
About the Author: Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 27 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida, psoriasis, as well as adrenal fatigue, thyroid and digestive disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. He has also written what may well be the most comprehensive Natural Psoriasis Treatment Program available. You can find more articles by Dr. Bakker on his blog at www.ericbakker.com