Tag Archives: losing weight

Breaking The Weight Barrier: Set Point

Set PointHave you lost weight in the past only to regain all of it and perhaps a bit more?  You are not alone, most dieters regain their weight.  Our body has a genetically determined set point for weight it wants to maintain.  The Set Point for weight is an internal physiological system.  It involves hormones that work on the brain to regulate hunger and satiation.

The Physiological Feedback Loop

Leptin is a protein made by fat cells that signals the brain that the body is full.  Along with insulin, another hormone released when we eat, our body has a physiological mechanism for maintaining weight homeostasis or set point.  According to ObesityAction.org, we have a body fat thermostat that influences our appetite.  When weight goes up, more insulin and leptin are released, reducing appetite.  When weight goes down, insulin and leptin levels decrease, increasing appetite.  A gradual weight gain over time can raise the set point making it difficult to lose weight, especially when one feels constantly hungry.

In a WebMD interview with Robert Lustig, MD, a member of the Endocrine Society’s Obesity Task Force, he states that “Leptin is the way your fat cells tell your brain that your energy thermostat is set right”.   He goes on to say that with obesity, despite the high levels of leptin, the brain does not get the message to slow down eating.  He talks about the brain thinking it is in a “starvation mode” because it is not getting the leptin message:

 “The leptin is being made by the fat cells, the fat cells are trying to tell the brain, ‘Hey, I don’t need to eat so much,’ but the brain can’t get the signal. You feel hungrier and the reward doesn’t get extinguished. It only gets fostered, and so you eat more and you keep going and it becomes a vicious cycle. If your brain can’t see the leptin signal, you’re going to get obese.”

Lustig calls this “leptin resistance” and believes that it is caused by insulin resistance:  impaired ability for the body to recognize insulin.  He believes the best way to address insulin resistance is to not let insulin levels get high in the first place, by reducing sugar intake.

Resetting The Set Point

Dr George Blackburn, Associate Director of the Division of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School, discusses in his book, Breaking Through The Set Point:  How To Finally Lose The Weight You Want And Keep It Off, how to lower one’s set point.  Based on Set Point theory developed by Bennett and Gurin, Blackburn recommends a combination of physical activity and dietary changes.  He believes that people should lose weight gradually and maintain it for at least six months in order to reset their set point.  He has observed that rapid weight loss results in rapid weight gain.  He also observes that after someone has lost 10% of their weight, the body starts to conserve calories.  He has found that if someone can maintain the weight loss for six months, the set point will be reset and more weight can be lost if desired.

Looking At What Works

The National Weight Control Registry, a registry that tracks individuals who have lost 30 pounds or more and have kept it off for a year, lists common behavior patterns.  94% of these individuals increased their physical activity with 90% of them exercising for an hour on average a day.  98% have changed their eating habits eating a lower calorie, lower fat diet and 78% eat breakfast daily.  You can read more individual success stories here.

Making Sustainable Lifestyle Changes

Although dieting can get someone into that bikini quickly, I believe finding a broader purpose for losing weight is going to give more lasting motivation and sustainable results.  Excess weight tends to creep on over many years, so it should come off gradually – no more than a half pound or pound a week.  I believe the focus should be on getting healthy, not losing weight which connotes something negative about the process.  Personally, I believe in finding a daily exercise plan that can work throughout the seasons whether it’s walking outside, having personal equipment or videos, or going to the gym.  I believe in eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, lean protein and no refined grains or processed food.  I believe it requires looking at habits and finding good substitutes for unhealthy habits.  I believe it’s making small permanent changes at a pace that seems natural and interesting.  I believe it starts with an attitude of curiosity and adventure, that ends with better health and satisfaction.

Barbara writes a biweekly blog to help inform and empower people to live healthy lives.  Please “share” her articles and “like” her facebook page to help spread the word

Mole Hills, Not Mountains

This is the continuation in the series looking at the emotional side of the logistics of losing weight.

For some people anticipation is worse than realization.  The anticipation of starting a diet might as well be like climbing Mt Everest.  And in here lies the problem.   First of all, don’t think of it as a diet.  The word “diet” implies a beginning and an end.  You’re not heading for a destination; you are on a lifelong journey.  Secondly, if it feels like you are climbing a mountain, then you need to start back at the mole hills.

Get The Right Focus

Any change starts with a decision.  If the change is just for a destination, like looking nice in a bathing suit or for a wedding or for a reunion, then chances are one of two things will happen.  You will either not meet your goal or you will be like the 80% who regain their weight.  But what if your decision is not to reach a definitive destination but rather to feel better in your clothing, have more energy throughout the day and to take of yourself.  Imagine that, doing it just because you are worth it.  Shifting the focus from losing weight to eating healthier changes the perspective.  Making lifestyle changes to lose weight implies giving up and taking away, while eating healthier implies adding more and taking care.

Start And Stay With The Mole Hills

mole hillsThe second mistake that people make is taking on too much at once.  In my training as a health coach the emphasis was always on making changes based on the areas where a client feels most ready and confident to begin, and to start with small, action-oriented changes.  These are the mole hills that will take you down the path to taking care of yourself, while incidentally losing weight.

Examples of Mole Hills

What are some mole hills you could easily summit along your journey of taking care of yourself?

  • Find a buddy who will support you.  Spouse, friend, daughter or son, anyone who will take the journey with you and keep you energized and focused.
  • Start grocery shopping with a list and don’t shop when you are hungry.
  • Bring color to every plate through fruits and veggies.  Try to get at least 3 different colors on your plate.
  • Use a smaller plate, even a salad plate if you are not someone who likes fruits and veggies.
  • Drink at least 2 liters of non-caloric, non-diet fluids a day.
  • Shift to whole grain crackers, pasta, brown rice, and cereals.  If that’s too much to do all at once then go half and half.
  • Cut back on eating out.  This means being aware of how many meals you purchase over the week and reducing that number.  Instead, make a date night with a fun menu at home where you can control the salt and fat.
  • Wear a pedometer.  They do make people move more.
  • Keep your treats to the end of the day.
  • Watch TV less, read more.  Choose your shows and then turn the TV off.
  • Reflect back at the end of the day and recall what went well with each day.
  • Go to bed at a set time each night and get 7-8 hours of sleep.

Any of these steps will help you to take care of yourself.  You will notice a difference in how you feel.  You will notice a difference in your energy level.  You will gain more confidence as you realize that you are worth it and that it doesn’t have to be this huge production or insurmountable mountain.  Even these changes will help boost your immune system with its daily fight against cancer cells, reduce the workload on your heart, and help your mind think more clearly, more positively.  Now that’s a mindset that will take you on lifelong journey, not just a destination.

 

 

 

Logistics Of Losing Weight

Bar Harbor Penobscot Trail

A good health coach will help you find the “cairns” to lasting weight loss

Everyone has a different pattern and flow of filling their stomachs.  There are many aspects that go into the act of eating, and understanding these individualized aspects are essential for unraveling the dynamics of losing weight.  I call it the “logistics of losing weight”.

By definition logistics is the management of flow of things between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet requirements of customers and corporations.  I take the liberty of substituting certain words of this term to get to my logistics of losing weight.

My definition of “logistics of losing weight” is the management of flow of things between an individual’s original weight to future goal weight in order to meet requirements of their physical and emotional well-being.  The more the client understands the flow of things, like eating patterns and variables impacting food choices, the more success the client will have at losing weight and keeping it off.

Factors In the Logistics of Losing Weight

There are many factors that impact the “logistics of losing weight” but they can be lumped into two categories:  the nutritive and emotional value of eating.  Losing weight is not just about eating less.  It’s a tug-of-war between fueling the body and satisfying the mouth in order to successfully keep the weight off.  And through it all, it means wanting it badly enough to forego immediate temptation in order to have long-term payback.

Nutritive Value of Eating

Nutritive value is the umbrella term for knowing how to plan, shop and prepare a healthy meal.  It means understanding the relationship between carbs, protein and fat and why they are each important.  It means knowing how to make substitutions that will still please your mouth, yet not compromise the end goal of weight loss.  It’s about finding the right foods that will keep you full.  It’s about knowing why eating whole, real food with simple ingredients is better than eating calorie free foods with lots of chemicals.  It’s about the journey in learning all these things over time, not overnight.

Emotional Value of Eating

Emotions play a big role in food choices.  Eating is a way people connect with one another and it often comes with expectations.  Addressing the emotional components of eating is essential for lasting weight loss.  This means being open to new recipes, putting time into planning and preparing meals and finding coping strategies to deal with temptation.   It also means exploring feelings of hunger and understanding what is real hunger, and what is mouth hunger and what is behind each type of hunger at different times.  It’s about continuously observing actions and patterns in order to gain “will-power” so you will get through temptation.  It also means becoming self-aware without judgement because this process is a journey and no one gets it right immediately.

A Good Health Coach

There is nothing like a good health coach to help you lose weight.  An impartial, supportive and knowledgeable coach will get you to your goal.  A good health coach will address both the nutritional and emotional components of eating by navigating you through your logistics of losing weight and keeping it off.

Barbara does personal health coaching in person or through Skype and can be reached at barbarahgroth@gmail.com.  Like her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AHealthyWeighTodayLLC/