On Weight Loss…

Hi guys, I see that you’re having a discussion about weight loss [at MelissaClouthier.com]. It’s not a burden to the website. Thought I’d share a couple thoughts and you guys can continue the discussion:

1. Often, there is an underlying issue around why a person gained weight. A physical trauma like a busted knee that forces immobility, say, or an emotional trauma that causes the cortisol-insulin feedback loop to go haywire.

2. Often, a person has to resolve the underlying issue in order to get to the desired weight.

3. Weight loss is a simple equation: burn more calories than you consume. Simple does not mean easy.

4. Nearly everyone (I see this in practice all the time) knows the answers for weight loss for himself on some level. That is, they know that ___________ thing is bad for them and that they should avoid it, but they often feel a compulsion toward the unhelpful thing. There can be a mind or body component here. For example, many people crave sugar because it is a natural serotonin booster which is the feel-good hormone. Like a nutrition expert I know says, “Diabetics are happy people. It’s the starving super models who are mean.” Sugar makes for a sunnier outlook but can reek havoc on the endocrine system. Eventually, the body gets tired of trying to adjust to the swinging. Some people avoid the very foods they need, too. For example, many vegetarians avoid meat because they feel disgusting eating it while suffering low energy. They need meat–they often also need to resolve the hidden digestion issue. Their bodies aren’t breaking food down properly to get the nutrition.

I.E. it’s not what you eat, it’s what you absorb.

5. Eating unhealthy is easier. People are busy….grabbing carbs–chips, cookies, candy bars, etc. is convenient.

6. Some people need to face the truth: They would rather eat that ding dong (they love ding dongs) than be thinner. I had a diabetic patient tell me, “I’d rather drink Coke and die, than not drink Coke.” Okay, then. I gave advice with that in mind. There were still other things he could do to help himself.

7. Metabolism is closely related to hormones. It IS hormonal. So, especially as we age, our vitality is closely related to our levels of hormones which relates to our activity levels. It’s circular. If the cycle can be broken either by exercising or by intervening with hormone therapy, often a person can get the positive reinforcement needed to press on with the efforts.

8. Weight loss is a very individual thing. What works for one will not work for another. I got into it with the leader of a dance troop who encouraged everyone to eat mostly vegetables and only chicken. Only problem was that one of the dancers was borderline anemic and thrived on red meat. She needed it in a way others didn’t. People need to do what works for them. As my mentor told me, “One person’s pleasure is another person’s poison.” When it comes to diet, it is most definitely true. Also, when and how a person eats is also individual.

Here are some principles (keep in mind, I struggle with this too. I’m healthy, but I am by no means thin.):

1. Start with protein. Start the day with protein–eggs are good. You’ll feel more “full” all day.
2. Eat regularly. That is, don’t stress your blood sugar system by waiting too long between meals and putting your body into a calorie hoarding state.
3. Eat protein with everything. It will regulate your blood sugar and fill you up.
4. Eat socially. Have company.
5. Sit when you eat.
6. Stop eating before you feel full.
7. If food is your non-stop focus, food isn’t the issue.

Anyway, my two cents. Somewhere between obsessive skinniness and obesity, there’s a healthy balance. Genetics plays a big part in longevity. Being at a healthy weight can enhance your genetic potential. These days, I see way more people obsessed rather than living joyfully. Making food a god, either by avoidance or over-indulgence is wasteful. Food is meant to not only be functional but also a sensory and sensual delight. The irony is that for all the focus and fear, people are not getting thinner or healthier, they’re just more miserable. If you’re gonna be fat, might as well be happy!

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