Moment of honesty, I wish that losing weight was as simple as calories in and calories out. I wish diet products worked and once you lost weight you could resume life as ‘normal’ and maintain weight loss. I even wish the food industry could be trusted and that we’re not living in a world designed to make us obese via addiction. I wish weight loss was easy.
Before we dig in, let’s get some clarity on the elusive food industry. Most people who work in the food industry are not monocle wearing evil doers trying to take over the world by making millions of people sick.
Unfortunately monocles aren’t worn anymore. As for the people that work within the food industry, they’re humans like you and I who are trying to make ends meet. They have the same job description as the rest of us: go to work to bring a paycheck home to provide food, clothing and shelter for you and your family. Their job is NOT your health.
Your health is your job, unless you’re a child. Then your health is your guardian’s job. Life tip: never grow up. If you’re unable to avoid adulting, then today is the day to take control of your health. Be the boss of your booty and blood pressure.
I mention this because it creates a perspective shift that prevents you from focusing on the problem and helps guide you to a solution. That’s the perspective where life gets awesome.
Now that you’ve taken the helm of your health journey, let’s get real. Let’s take a look at what really creates and sustains healthy weight loss. After years of formal nutrition education and experience working the field as a nutrition professional, I’ve come to the conclusion that these are the unavoidable, straight-up truths about weight loss.
1. First thing that has to go and never come back are toxic food chemicals.
There are A LOT of cockamamie chemical concoctions that food companies put into their products. The reason for this is because what those chemicals do to the food product, not what they do to your health.
Reread that last sentence.
For example, food dyes are put into foods and even dietary supplements to make a product a certain color that sells. The fact that artificial food dyes are made out of petroleum and/or bugs related to shellfish, one of the top 8 allergens in the U.S., doesn’t matter to the people making the product. Their job is to make screaming bright rainbow cereal or extra white marshmallows.
Yes, marshmallows. Is nothing sacred?
Rather than trying to memorize every toxic food additive, avoid these 5 to stay alive.
Dire, but it rhymes.
2. Sugar really is evil. Not cool!
Added sugar goes by over 60 names on ingredient labels. Over 74% of all food products in America have added sugar. You’ve got to check every label. Sugar is thrown into savory foods as well – think salsa, tortilla chips, seasoning blends.
Straight up because sugar is addictive. Sugar, and refined grains, light up the same parts of the brain as cocaine. Cocaine! The food industry knows this and has known this for years. In fact, they add the exact amount of sugar to food products to get their exact target demographic addicted to their product. Those individuals may secretly wear evil-doer monocles when no one is looking.
What else does sugar do to your body?
Awkward, but we’re diving into the last one there – yeast infections. Sugar feeds candida, the yeast most known for causing vaginal yeast infections. But it can also cause infections in body folds, nail beds, mouth and, well, any area of a human that is warm and moist.
Millions of Americans are walking around with gastrointestinal candida infections that cause impaired mental health, chronic abdominal distention, hormone irregularities, skin issues, sleep issues, fatigue, and the list goes on. These symptoms may worsen on days with precipitation or high humidity. If you’re experiencing these symptoms contact your health care provider.
3. You’re addicted.
You may not view yourself as an addict, but billions have been spent over the last 70 or so years to create food addicts. Perhaps this is before your parents were even a sparkle in your grandparents’ eyes. There has been A LOT of research done to figure out the exact right amount of sugar, salt and fat to add to food products to get the exact demographic the food company wants addicted to their food hooked. This is called the bliss point. The bliss point of a food is the maximum amount of highly addictive, cheap sugar, salt and/or fat a company can put in a food product to create an addiction.
Yes. They actually researched that. It’s a real term. Sad.
Breaking a salt addiction takes roughly 12 weeks. Sugar addiction is dependent on how long it’s been going on, how much sugar is consumed on average and if a candida infection is present. If you’re addicted to sugar a candida infection is highly probably. Fat addiction is a bit easier as switching to healthy fats still satiates the hankerings and then provides the nutrients needed for healing.
Highly, I mean HIGHLY, recommend listening to or reading Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss. He explains this in depth, but in a way that is like a suspense-action thriller. That would explain why he won so many awards for it.
4. You need sleep.
Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis is horrible for your health and leads to weight gain, particularly in your abdominal region. Here’s how important sleep is: if you have the choice between getting up an hour early to workout or getting another hour of sleep, you’re better off getting the sleep.
When you’re sleep deprived your hormones get all out of whack. Yes, this includes your sex hormones, but it also includes the hormones that control your weight. Grehlin, the hormone that tells you to eat, increases. Leptin, the hormone that tells you to stop eating, plummets and sometimes completely shuts off. Add to that the ring leader of all the stress hormones cortisol goes through the roof sending off a nasty cascade of hormonal reaction and causing weight gain in the abdominal region.
Additionally, when you’re tired you become a refined carb fiend. Your body is making a desperate attempt to get energy as you won’t give it sleep to get it. Next thing you know you’re straight up willing to eat the week old doughnut in the breakroom.
All this comes together on top of a slowed metabolism, increased inflammation and you’ve got a perfect storm for weight gain.
Sleep is the time when you repair from the day and prepare for tomorrow. It’s your reset. Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep a day is the best thing you can do for your health and to reach a healthy weight. This brings us to the next batch of truth sprinkles.
5. Losing weight is a healing process.
In every other circumstance when the body is repairing tissue to get back to a healthy state we call it healing. When you have a broken bone mending and no longer broken it’s healing. Well, when you have hormones returning to health levels, excess strain removed from bones and organs, increased oxygenation to tissues and improved neurotransmitter functionality, that’s healing. All of that is what happens when you lose weight.
Sleep allows your body to repair from the day, that’s healing. It also prepares you for the next day with healthy hormone, neurotransmitter and energy levels, that’s also healing. Drinking water to flush out toxins and move things to where they are supposed to be in the body, that’s healing. Giving your body the nutrients it needs to flourish, that too is called healing. Honoring your body by using it as it’s designed for by moving as much as possible, again, healing.
Do not focus on losing weight. Focus on healing and you will lose weight. True story.
6. Buzzwords don’t equal health.
Gluten free means the food doesn’t contain the protein gluten. Vegetarian means that the food doesn’t contain parts of an animal, but may contain substances the animal makes (milk, eggs, and things you don’t want to know…). Organic means grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
None of these are interchangeable, nor are they instantly healthy.
If you feed someone with a gluten allergy an organic food that has gluten in it you’ve caused harm. Organic doesn’t mean gluten free, et vice versa.
A prime, real-life example is a client I had years ago. She had recently adopted a Paleo diet and was very confused as to why she was gaining weight even though she was strictly sticking to Paleo approved foods. In a frantic, wit’s end style vent she went on to say that she had made and consumed an entire batch of Paleo brownies and was shocked it upset her stomach and that she gained weight.
I helped her through the math and it turned out that batch of brownies was over 5,000 calories and had a week’s worth of recommended fiber intake. Looking at it from that perspective helped her see the issue and have a good laugh at her human self. We’ve all made a similar mistake in our lives. Oh to be human.
Remember knives, glass, floor polish, puffer fish, rattle snakes and jerks are all gluten-free. That doesn’t mean you ought to put them in your mouth.
7. You cannot outrun a bad diet and even the best salad cannot defy gravity.
It’s not exercise or nutrition. It’s both… in addition to a healthy lifestyle. The human body was designed to move and eat foods found in nature. It’s that simple. Simple isn’t always easy.
That was a lot of truth sprinkles in a few short sentences. I’ll give you a few moments to wrap your mind around all of it.
Find a form of movement you like and keep doing it. Keep in mind that it takes trying something 8 times to see if you legit like it or not. Add more movement into your day until moving is a habit. Never sit for more than an hour at a time if you can help it.
8. You’ve got to want it.
This sounds weird, but sometimes the reason people have a hard time losing weight is because deep down they don’t want to. You learn to identify with the behaviors and persona of being overweight and change is scary. That’s understandable.
Switching it up to a healthy lifestyle is going to mean making changes to the logistics of your day. It may mean a change in friendships as well because you’ll be opting for sleep and gym time over going out to eat and/or bar time. It also means seeing if it’s true or not that you’ll be happy, richer and more loved when you lose weight. Heads up, losing weight in and of itself doesn’t cause any of those, but if you go about losing weight in a health manner, as an act of self-love, all of those things can come along with it.
One day. One step. One moment at a time. You got this.