“You don’t just need to lose weight to be healthy. You need to first be healthy to lose weight.”– Diana Schwarzbein, MD
Before you think everything you’re being told is a sham, let me just say that calorie counting ALONE doesn’t work and yes, sometimes it doesn’t work AT ALL. As a personal trainer, yoga teacher and holistic nutrition coach, I am approached by a lot of people who have struggled with losing weight on their own and keeping it off. They experiment with different diets, 5-7 days of vigorous exercise, supplementations and even those ‘corset’ waist-shrinking things. My job is to find an integrated approach that combines exercise, nutrition, supplements and lifestyle to promote safe and effective fat loss for my clients.
I recently read a book by Igor Klibanov, Speaker and Fitness Professional, called STOP EXERCISING! THE WAY YOU ARE DOING IT NOW. It’s a really simple read with only 133 pages of super valuable content. I want to share with you what I found to be the most important points. Get ready to be EDUMACATED!
1. Stress Management
You could be working out 7 days a week and eating “clean,” but when your body is constantly under stress, physically and/or emotionally, your hormones are out of balance, excess cortisol circulates the blood, increasing blood sugar levels, your thyroid needs to pump out more insulin to lower blood sugar levels, and your appetite as well as digestion is compensated. Insulin is a fat storing hormone so if you insulin is out of balance, you will store fat more easily. On the other hand, leptin is a fat BURNING hormone, and by doing some of these things below, you can boost your body’s fat burning abilities!
- consume more complex carbs to balance blood sugar levels, maintain energy levels throughout the day, and stay fuller longer.
- supplement (consult a professional) with B complex to help with energy levels and metabolism, vitamin C for stronger immune system and fight off free radicals caused by such things as stress (these are some of the main nutrients that are depleted the most when people are under stress, and magnesium to manage cravings and calm the nervous system. Adaptogens are herbs that help you adapt to stress – they can raise cortisol when it is low and decrease it when it is high. Such herbs include Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, Gingseng, Codyceps, Licorice and Rhodiola
- get enough quality sleep each night. Sleeping straight for 7-9 hours each night gives your body enough time to rest and repair your body. Sleep and stress management go hand in hand.
2. Fix your Digestion
We could write a whole other book about digestion, but simply put, just because you don’t have gas or bloating after meals doesn’t necessarily mean your digestion is top notch. Indigestion and food intolerances can manifest itself in many other ways such as acne, eczema, snoring, fatigue, just to name a few. You can visit a naturopath to test and see if you have any food intolerances. My post HERE discusses allergies and digestion
Our digestion system includes the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. If the stomach does not produce enough hydrochloric acid, nutrients such as zinc, B12, calcium, magnesium and iron can not be easily extracted from the food we eat. These nutrients are required for proper metabolism, energy production, brain and bone health, among other things. 80-90% of the body’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter which helps prevent depression is found in the small intestine. How you feel influences the way you eat and vice versa. The last step before elimination is the large intestine. Almost all my clients fall off their chairs when I tell them that a healthy digestive system involves 2-3 bowel movements a day. The appearance of the stool is also important. Transit time for food should take 12-24 hours. Any bowel movements less than once a day is considered constipation. When you are not eliminating efficiently, your can body re-absorb toxins, it stores excess waste, and can lead to a host of problems such as colon cancer, IBS, chrones, and of course, fat storage. And guess what? Stress also affects your bowel movement patterns. For me, I tend to go A LOT when I’m under stress. It was a huge inconvenience when I had IBS once upon a time due to my excessive alcohol and sugar consumption, as well as being unhappy with my corporate job. Read HERE if you want my personal story :). So dispite what some articles say, daily bowel movements is a strong indication of your health and is absolutely necessary.
- increase fibre by consuming vegetables, chia seeds, hemp, flax seeds and grains
- consume more water, ideally 2L or more a day depending on your activity level. Who cares if you have to pee every 20 minutes!?
- depending on your current state, implement the 4R program, formulated by Jeffrey Bland, PhD, Biochemist and father of Functional Medicine (consult a naturopath or nutritionist)
- Remove – toxins (eat organic when possible) and test for food sensitivities
- Replace – Hydrochloric Acid and digestive enzyme supplementation
- Reinoculate – take pre and probiotics to restore healthy gut flora
- Repair – taking glutamine and aloe vera to repair stomach lining
3. Rebalance Hormones
As mentioned above, hormone imbalance can lead to fat storage, more so than calories! The “classic calories in vs calories out” thinking is one of the biggest misconceptions, especially when hormones are involved. Scientists determine how many calories are in a food by burning it in an oven and measuring how much heat it produces. The human body however, is not an oven. Some people can consume 3,000 cal a day and not gain weight (I don’t like you :P), while others eat half and still put on fat. While those calorie counting apps and calories-burned on the treadmill is a nice gage, it is not accurate. You can try to count how many calories are going into your mouth but you can not determine how much of that is being used for fuel. The more fit you become, the less calories you burn. You become more efficient at producing energy, that’s why activities become easier and you feel stronger – which of course it not a bad thing! But it just means you can’t rely solely on counting calories.
- seek a professional to run some blood work and check your hormone levels.
- eat a variety of whole foods, namely colourful fruits and vegetables, organic meats, and whole grains. This will also support your liver, which is a major organ and hormone regulator.
- focus on being healthy and the fat loss will be an amazing side effect.
4. Improve Posture and Breathing
Stand up straight and tall! Not just for aesthetics, but for efficiency. With bones stacked upon bone, it takes little energy to hold yourself upright. Poor posture can lead to problems including migraines, digestive issues, and sexual dysfunction. When you lean forward to sway back too much, your neck and lower back muscles must contract to prevent you from tipping over, and this can cut off blood flow to other muscles and organs. When you are in proper alignment, you use minimal force to generate movement and this promotes injury prevention. You can also look like you instantly lost 10lbs because you stand taller and your stomach is pulled in compared to when you are slouching!
Breathing and posture go hand in hand. When you are slouched over, you are not breathing the way you should, which is into the belly, and not stopping at the chest. Shallow chest breathing comes with stress, and can lead to lower back pain, fat loss resistance, digestive problems, poor energy levels, tightness in the shoulders, neck, chest, and hamstrings.
- be aware of your posture and breathing. Set a reminder on your phone every hour to correct your posture and breathing
- Exercise! Stength train and do yoga. Seek a personal trainer and/or rehab professional to assist you with proper technique and movement.
- Meditate. Ensure you are breathing into the belly and not the chest by placing one hand on the chest and one onto the stomach
Find what motivates you. Health should be a priority on your list, and if it’s not, you need to figure out if you really don’t care about yourself, or if you just haven’t written out a goal that excites you. Surround yourself with positive people, find a mentor. Personal Trainer Bruce Krahn says: “You have to be heavily, emotionally invested. If you don’t have emotional investment, get mentors who’ve achieved what you’d like to achieve. Hang out with them and it rubs off on you.”
I have a business mentor who is also a good friend, successful entrepreneur and owner of Bye Bye Body Fat Bootcamps, Ray Ortiz. He’s been a very positive influence on my business and my life, especially after I quit my corporate job. Never assume you know everything. Keep learning and stay a student forever. It’s what keeps our souls alive!
- follow me on FB, IG, and sign up for my newsletter. Contact me if you’re ready to start on a program that will work for YOU!