By Dr. Kathleen Regan, ND
1. Choose a weight loss goal that is realistic for you. Bring into mind your ideal weight. Or, use a Body Mass Index calculator to determine your healthy weight. Remember that lasting weight loss occurs at about 1 pound per week. If this seems like it will take too long, plan your weight loss goals in steps. If your healthy weight is 150 and you are currently 200lbs – this could take 50 weeks. So set your first goal at 190 for 10 weeks and when you reach this goal – celebrate! Our best achievements in life do not happen all at once. They are the accumulation of many small victories.
2. Identify the habits that are holding you back BEFORE you choose a weight loss plan. Bad habits are one of the biggest barriers to weight loss. They say it takes 21 days to change a habit. Pick a habit that needs to change and work at it until you can maintain the routine for a month. Yes, this may delay your weight loss plan but it will make you more successful in the long run. ‘Slow and steady wins the race.’
What kind of habits are we talking about?
TIME MANAGEMENT. Eating well means planning well so that you can prepare meals at home or at least plan for healthier options. Taking some time on Saturday or Sunday to grocery shop & cook can set you up for the week. Or in today’s world, we have services like Grocery Gateway that bring the groceries right to you, or Blue Apron that bring you the prepped food for healthy meals. There are also healthy meal delivery services that provide you with healthy, cooked meals. Sit down and figure out how to arrange your time so that there are healthy options at home.
KNOW AND EXERCISE YOUR OPTIONS. If you really can’t prepare breakfast at home – there are better options than Tim Horton’s for breakfast. For example, in Toronto, the chain ‘Aroma’ serves up whole food breakfast options. Even Starbucks has a Protein Pack with a boiled egg and fruit that is a better choice. Sometimes health is about better choices – not the perfect solution. Sit down with your naturopathic doctor to discuss local options for healthy meals.
SELF CARE. You are more than your work and if you don’t believe that – it is time for a reality check. Running yourself into the ground creates stress that is a well-established factor in weight gain, hormone imbalance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease (to name a few things). If this is your biggest barrier to weight loss, it might be time to put aside your weight goals and focus on managing your stress in addition to creating time for yourself. Self care means eating well, sleeping well, exercising, relaxing, socializing, laughing and reflecting. You may need to get creative to include this in your life – consider a life coach to help you find your way.
3. Choose a weight loss plan that is right for you. I have worked with patients on many different weight loss programs over the years. I’ve come to the conclusion that the best program depends to a large extent on the learning style of the person.
People learn in different ways and weight loss is about learning. Yes, learning…. about your body, your constitution, your emotional triggers, food cravings, about food, how to cook, where to buy food, how to feed your family, about exercise, about work-life balance and about what makes you happy.
And like most good things, learning about weight management takes time – so you are best to play to your learning strengths so you can hang in there for the long haul.
Some people are practical learners and some people are analytical learners. Practical learners seem to do best with habit-based programs or portion-based programs. Analytical learners seem to do best with calorie counting-based programs.
HABIT-BASED PROGRAMS. Habit-based programs are a great starting point for most people. Depending on the person, we typically pick one area of focus. This may be as simple as starting with changing breakfast choices or quitting coffee. It may involve eliminating food sensitivities. It could mean regulating meal times. It could involve setting aside time twice per week to cook. But the point in every case is that you are making REAL SUSTAINABLE CHANGES with HEALTHIER CHOICES. These changes become permanent new habits that inevitably lead to weight loss.
PORTION-BASED PROGRAMS. Portion-based programs use general concepts and visual cues to help you better understand what to eat and when. General concepts will include the number of servings from the various food categories allowed per day, when these foods should be consumed and what healthy portions look like. Weight Watchers is an example of such a program. Naturopathic doctors have similar tools to Weight Watchers but our programs are customized and focus more on whole foods. Generally, I will use handouts that list the foods and portions per day depending on your weight loss goals.
CALORIE-BASED PROGRAMS. Calories have become a bad word in the holistic world of late. But the truth is – they are very important. And ANY successful weight loss program must consider calorie reduction whether through portion sizes or calorie counting. Calorie counting can give people a bit more control and specificity in terms of energy intake. I have most of my calorie counters use an online program called myfitnesspal.com. This program can be used right off most hand held devices and has a vast database of whole and processed foods. In addition to calories, it tracks macronutrients including protein, carbohydrates and fats. This allows us to make weight loss programs very specific. For example, we can adjust the carbohydrate content in a your diet right down to a specific percentage. This system is comprehensive and detailed and some people love it.
These 3 Steps are simple but will give you a lot to think about and a lot to work on. Consider reaching out for help – even if you know what you are doing. Regular check-ins with your naturopathic doctor can be motivating and will help to keep you on track.
- Choose a weight loss goal that is realistic for you.
- Identify the habits that are holding you back BEFORE you choose a weight loss plan.
- Choose a weight loss plan that is right for you. Do you prefer to learn with more general, big-picture concepts? Consider a Habit-based or Portion-based program. Are you best with specific information and more control over the details? Consider a Calorie-based program.
Contact us to take the first step!