I am often asked what “my secret is” as I am a fairly lean and fit woman who has officially entered “middle age”. So here it is, these are my big secrets. These are the rules I live by.
I really hate to use the term ‘weight loss’ because it’s not really about that. Health is about so much more. It’s about keeping inflammation low, function high, mood elevated, strength high and having endurance. It’s ALL about your hormones and eating/exercising for the overall benefit of healthy hormones.
Although I come from a family who were once all very lean, most all of them are now overweight and dealing with some degree of Metabolic Syndrome or frank Diabetes. Lots and lots of insulin resistance is in my future were I to adapt a SAD diet (Standard American Diet). With that comes accelerated aging, increased risk for dementia and Alzheimers and an increased risk for _________________ (insert your favorite degenerative disease process here as virtually all are worsened by high insulin and high blood sugars). I have hacked my metabolic genome and I will share with you below how to hack yours.
So what do I say when asked this question? It’s simple…You have to do the work. There is no magic bullet and absolutely no need to overcomplicate things. There is no exotic diet, no fad workout routine, no secret supplement or hormone replacement product. It’s daily upkeep, like tending a garden or a beauty routine. It’s a progression and all pieces need to be in place for things to work in your favor.
With that in mind, I will share my basic guidelines to Weight Optimization with 10 absolute pieces of this puzzle that I tell all of my patients. (In no specific order of importance. Remember, you have to follow ALL of them for this to work well):
1) SLEEP– there’s no getting around this folks. You must get adequate sleep. You must sleep in complete darkness and silence (eye masks and ear plugs are a plus). Your hormones won’t cycle through the night and your brain won’t do it’s detox session appropriately without complete darkness for approximately 7-9 hours on average. Tweens and teens need more hours a night. Turn your computers and electronic readers and phones off by 9 pm at the latest. I propose that a huge part of our country’s obesity epidemic comes down to the fact that everyone is hooked up to electronics all day/night. Have you watched Wall-E lately? You should, it’s frighteningly accurate to me.
2) FOLLOW AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY, HEALTHY HORMONE DIET– Just what is this secret, amazing diet? It’s nothing secret, it’s simply “Eat Real Food”. Eat only food that looks like where it came from. Only items that are fresh and are not processed. Things that grow out of the ground, on bushes, in the dirt are mostly all on the menu. Eat lots of high quality Protein from animals that are free of hormones and drugs and are not commercially raised. Include LOTS of healthy fats that don’t readily oxidize and are not crap vegetable oils. Canola is not a plant, it’s an acronym: Can(ada)+o(il)+l(ow)+a(cid), but mainly it’s gross and terrible for you.
It is that simple. The fact that I have to refer people to a book for further reference does concern me some, as eating whole, natural, real food should not be complicated enough to warrant a book. Alas, we have been so lied to and had our heads so spun out on nonsense in the past several decades that I can understand that simple resources can be helpful. Please know this, ten years ago this information was not so readily available. Today there are so many excellent blogs, books and even online, free summit webinars that there simply are no more excuses not to know this information. I point all patients to the following resources:
Patients try to tell me that it’s expensive to eat this way. I do not agree, being SICK is expensive. I believe it all comes down to where you budget your money. Many of these same patients go to Starbucks daily, have their nails done and have cable TV and fancy cell phones. Food is the bulk of my monthly spending budget in my house because I simply will not compromise my food. It truly is my medicine. I’ll tell you what IS expensive: chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and ______________ (insert your answer from above).
Refer to the above resources to answer all of your dietary questions. The information is everywhere, you just have to look and do the work.
3) Resistance Weight Training– again, there is no getting around this. Your hormones and your bones and your ability to recover from virtually everything depends very much on your level of lean muscle mass. There is one idea that you must get out of your head: “losing weight” is not just about losing fat and calling it good as you slip into your jeans from 20 yrs ago. Going on a calorically restricted diet and losing inches will result in a smaller size overall, it will also result in loss of robust thyroid function (you want that thyroid humming like a well serviced engine, revving it down slows down the metabolism), loss of lean muscle mass and resulting in a very dangerous phenomenon called “skinny-fat”. While I won’t get into how bad that actually is in this post, just know that friends don’t let friends get skinny-fat.
LIFT HEAVY STUFF, your body will thank you.
Muscle Eats Fat! Muscle Eats Excess Blood Sugars! Muscle Raises Human Growth Hormone Levels! Muscle Unloads Joints! Muscle Improves Insulin Levels! Muscle Makes You Strong and Sexy!
Besides contributing to production of healthy anti-aging hormones, good bone mass, awesome brain rejuvenation (so it doesn’t shrivel up as you age), solid anti-inflammatory benefits and cool neurotransmitter effects- it keeps that evil insulin low and balances your blood sugars. It also revs up libido! Score on many levels in just 3 hours a week! Time is money and strength training is efficient use of ones time.
“If you’re not strong, it doesn’t matter how conditioned your heart and lungs are if you can’t get up off the pot.”- Mark Rippetoe. (look him up, he puts out great info)
I suggest you hire a good trainer. Hands down the best money you can spend (aside from eating a clean diet). You should start with a trainer for a few reasons: A) Form is everything with this so as to get the most out of the lifts and to not get injured B) They will keep you on target. I don’t know about you but I can be a real lump left to my own devices.
If you can’t lift because of an injury, come see me or any skilled manual therapist and/or Regenerative Injection Therapist. Being hung up with an injury is a fast track to weight gain.
4) Keep Long Duration Cardio to a Minimum– this topic always opens a hornets nest so I’ll just give you the quick and dirty with what we do know. Long duration cardio is pro-inflammatory (Cortisol increases which contributes to muffin top, aka abdominal obesity. Cortisol is also catabolic, meaning it breaks down your tissues), it tanks out your Testosterone (Testosterone is anabolic, meaning it helps you build tissues, and ladies need some “T” too for many reasons), and it wears out your joints (the worst knee patients I see in my practice were all once long distance runners, hands down).
I encourage you to consider HIIT exercise instead. It’s fast, efficient, rocks out the hormone production we are looking for and gives you the same sweat that you desire in your cardio workouts. I like Mercola’s Peak Fitness, he makes it simple.
5) Keep Carbohydrates and Sugars to a Minimum– back to the diet, because it really does start with food. Being lean, in my opinion, is 90%+ diet. Here is the simple lesson on carbs and sugars- they raise your insulin! Elevated insulin and blood sugars are not our friends if we want to live a long, happy, lean life. Sugar flat out whacks people out if they were to really pay attention to it. The only way to know is to go sugar free for a few weeks then eat a bunch, if you don’t spin out like a toddler after a Slurpee and have a melt down, well then you are one lucky human. If it does that to our brain, imagine what it’s doing to the rest of our system!
Insulin acts like a bouncer at the Fat Cell Nightclub. It keeps the fat locked in. Your fasting serum insulin should be between 2-5 ideally, no higher than 7. You are welcome.
“But I’m a sugar/carb addict!”. Good for you. Get over it. I was as well! I was also a tobacco addict and I kicked that. There is no point in weaning back on the “crack” as I call it. One simply needs to suck it up and cut it out. It will suck for a few days as your body and brain rebel and your body detoxes some, then all will be well and you will likely feel awesome. While you are at it, do yourself a favor and cut out frank sources of fructose. Fructose throws the “Fat Switch”, seriously, there is a whole book about it called “The Fat Switch”.
Now we all need some level of carbohydrate to exist and keep our thyroid happy and our cells energized. As a guide, reduce carbohydrate intake to 0.8 to 1.2 grams per pound of body weight. For example, a 150-pound person would eat between 120 and 180 grams per day of carbohydrates (150 x 0.8 = 120 / 150 x 1.2 = 180).
The other thing to consider, since we are talking about weight loss here, are some other rather complicated hormones called leptin, ghrelin and adiponectin. Basically, you want these hormones working for you and not against you. Many people have what I refer to as “broken metabolisms” which basically means that these hormones, including their insulin, are working very much against them. To fix this problem requires a “reset”. The best way to do that is to follow any of the diets suggested by the references listed above under #2. Even then your weight may not budge, which means your metabolism is really in trouble. It is then best to work with a knowledgable Naturopath or functional medicine doctor to address your hormones, toxicity and other issues that are at the root of the problem. Trust me, fix this problem sooner than later because it gets much harder the older you get.
Food is Fuel. Don’t give it any more power than that. You are either eating to nourish your body or you are poisoning yourself. It’s really that simple. Throw your addictions out the window and stop eating the foods you are addicted to so they will stop controlling you.
Also to note: Artificial sweeteners are bad news. For a variety of reasons. They are wood alcohols and insecticides. Best advice is to just stay away from sweet things all together besides low glycemic fruits.
6) Shop the Periphery of the Grocery Store– unless it’s toilet paper, dish soap or spices, etc, you should never enter the aisles of the grocery store. There is nothing in there that is worth putting into your mouth. Just a bunch of processed stuff in packages. No need to elaborate here because if you are eating clean and per the above guidelines then you will only need to hit the produce, meat and dairy sections….all reside along the periphery of the store. Try this- don’t even go into the eisles next time you are at the store and see how you fare. I challenge you.
7) Give up the “Eat 5-6 Meals a Day” Myth– it’s nonsense and it doesn’t allow your leptin and insulin to perform optimally. Think of this way, would our Paleolithic ancestors have access to food 5-6 times a day? No way. I’m all for intermittant fasting (ie, the kitchen is CLOSED after dinner and does not reopen until your body has had roughly 12 hours to reset), eating when I’m hungry and, gasp, skipping breakfast (this goes back to the intermittant fasting piece).
Try starting your day with a Bulletproof Coffee (yay for extra places to add healthy fats!), eat a clean lunch and small dinner as per the above guidelines. Since we are talking about weight loss here, consider doing it the way bodybuilders do it, “front load”. This means that they only ingest their carbs early in the day and are virtually carb-free by dinner. This is how they cut weight before a competition.
If you tend to graze at night it’s a sure sign that your blood sugars and leptin are off. My advice here is to simply go to bed by 9 PM or before those cravings kick in. The sleep will likely help with the metabolism reset. Circadian rhythm is a real and powerful thing.
I eat once, maybe twice a day. The more I lift weights, the more insulin sensitive I am, the more I get to eat. Bonus!
8) When it comes to alcohol, drink like an elegant gentleman– I used to be a bartender and I can tell you with certainty that I’ve never had an elegant gentleman order a Cosmo, Lemon Drop, or any drink involving a blender (ie, girly drinks). Girly drinks are full of sugar and we have established that sugar is not our friend. Elegant gentlemen enjoy a single distilled spirit either “neat”, on the rocks or with a touch of water or soda water. Elegant gentlemen also tend to prefer red wine and not too often white (white is higher in sugar). Order top shelf, know that alcohol itself will derail your weight loss efforts if you imbibe too much and too often, and also know that alcohol inhibits muscle hypertropy so it is not a good thing to ingest following a weight training session. Alcohol is also inflammatory. Beer is made from hops and hops are pro-estrogenic, meaning they promote estrogen production, which is ironic. Now you know and knowing is half the battle. Drink wisely.
(From the CDC: According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans,1 moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. This definition is referring to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days. The Dietary Guidelines also state that it is not recommended that anyone begin drinking or drink more frequently on the basis of potential health benefits because moderate alcohol intake also is associated with increased risk of breast cancer, violence, drowning, and injuries from falls and motor vehicle crashes.)
9) Don’t Drink your Calories– Do NOT derail your efforts by drinking your calories. Take your Coffee black or Bulletproof and make sure it’s organic as pesticides contribute to obesity. Get over your sweetened latte obsession, your sports drink obsession, your fruit juice obsession and for God’s sake WALK AWAY FROM THE SODA, the sweetened iced teas and all the nasty energy drinks that beckon you at 3PM. Regular soda is all fructose and Diet Soda is a known Neurotoxin (aside from being highly addictive). Fructose throws the “Fat Switch” as mentioned above. Again, you are just going to have to get over it with this one as people are really hung up on their liquid calories. Water, tea, black coffee, and those discussed above…..those are choices to drink if you want to optimize your weight.
10) Be Patient and Be Kind to Yourself! This is YOUR journey, YOUR process and YOUR body. The main goals I focus on for myself and my patients do NOT revolve around getting thin quickly.
The goals are simple: improve quality of life, eat/move for the healthiest hormones, decrease pain, improve function, get strong and balanced so as to avoid injury later on (like a broken hip in later age), decrease inflammation, improve stamina, libido and overall mental clarity and happiness.
That’s what clean eating and proper exercise does for us humans! Its remarkable and it’s very simple. You are not in competition with anyone. Know that this process takes time and even if you are not visually seeing the inches shrink, you are doing something astounding and powerful for your body and brain, your family and your future self.
(Last Pearl: DO NOT LISTEN TO THE HATERS. When you better your health and change your body composition you will be amazed at the negativity that can come your way. It comes from unlikely places such as family (including spouses), friends, co-workers, etc. People will give you grief about how you eat, what you are not eating (people literally get insulted if you say no to the cake, even if they are not the host/hostess), call you selfish for spending time at the gym away from your family and so forth. Sadly, these are all truths that I’ve encountered myself and I’ve heard from patients. One patient’s wife threatened to divorce him if he kept up this “crazy diet and weight lifting”. I’ve seen spouses say that it’s too expensive, that the food is too expensive, the training is too expensive (they wouldn’t say such things if it was rehab with a PT I’ll bet), the list goes on. Bottom line, it’s their own issue and people can feel threatened when someone close to them is improving in health if they, themselves, are of poor health or don’t want to come along for the ride. Some people actually enjoy being the caretaker and don’t want the other to get well because then they won’t feel needed anymore. This is something I’ve seen over and over in my years of practice and it’s the one thing that derails patient’s best efforts the most.)
Namaste and go do it! This is your life, you get one shot, so own it. Be bold, be strong and move your buns around!
© Dr. Tyna Moore and www.corewellnesspdx.com, 2014-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Dr. Tyna Moore and www.corewellnesspdx.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.