Part of living sustainably means living in balance with your surroundings, and within yourself. As a weight loss author, I feel some degree of pressure to maintain a healthy weight, but like everyone else, each decade presents new challenges.
In the January issue of Delicious Living, three experts, a holistic physician, a health coach, and a nutritionist, were asked how to sustain healthy weight loss. Their answers varied, but taken together, offered something significant to everyone.
The holistic physician's advice: Keep your calories at or above 1200 per day, to keep your metabolism sufficiently fueled. Otherwise your resting metabolic rate can plummet as much as 45%.
In addition, take 250 mg of L-carnitine, an amino acid, along with 50 mcg chromium picolinate or chromium aspartate, a mineral, once or twice daily. L-carnitine transports fatty acids across mitochondrial membranes (the energy producing parts of cells) so you can use them for energy. Chromium transfers glucose across membranes, regulating blood sugar and minimizing cravings.
Finally, save your exercise for the evening, at least 2 1/2 hours before bedtime. A brisk walk after dinner is perfect. Those who did moderate exercise in the evenings reduced their nightly metabolic rate drop from 15% down to 5%. A higher resting metabolic rate, such as achieved with evening exercise, means you burn more calories while sleeping. Win!
The health coach's advice: Build muscle and bone strength to increase your resting metabolic rate. Avoid sugar; it creates an acidic environment in your body, creating a haven for disease and candida overgrowth. It also causes hormonal and immune responses, causing lethargy.
My tip for dealing with a sugar craving is to eat something sour instead, like a pickle. It works. Also, before you binge, drink a large glass of water. Even mild dehydration can make us mistake thirst for hunger.
Finally, the health coach recommends practicing mindfullness. Being aware of how you feel, and asking yourself why you are doing what you choose, or even if you want to do it, can help you feel more in control, limiting the release of weight-increasing Cortisol and other stress hormones.
One suggestion was to take up to 20 minutes a day to sit quietly, focusing on breathing slowly, to allow your nervous system to calm and your thoughts to untangle. Another proven method to reduce stress? Prayer.
Talking to God enables you to verbalize what's stressing you out, define what you need, and ask for help. Prayer helps you feel less alone and more capable of dealing with stressors as they come up, whether or not you have an outside support system.
The nutritionist's advice: Find a mentor who can guide you through your weight loss challenges. It might be a formal group, like Weight Watchers, or a supportive friend or family member to whom you can be accountable, or who will provide encouragement.
Know the foods that cause you to gain weight. Everyone's got a food group that seems to cling to their love handles with the first bite. In fact, it's likely those foods are your personal allergens.
Over time our sensitivities to common allergens build up, until one day, usually in our 40's, ahem, we've got the minute-on-the-lips, forever-on-the-hips syndrome. JJ Virgin's book, The Virgin Diet, helped me identify what my food no-no's were, and as long I stay strictly away from those foods, I lose weight, not gain it. So far I'm down 10 lbs. in the past month.
Finally, our expert advises to take a good, organic, whole-food multivitamin. I love the entire line of Garden of Life products. Look for them on-sale. If you can't get a deal, try the store-brand at your local food co-op or try Trader Joe's. I often order vitamins online through Vitacost.com. They normally have good quality organice, gluten-free, allergen-free options.
Some final tips from my own book, Effortless Weight Loss: Small Changes That Lead To Extraordinary Results!, include eat something good every two to three hours; preferably raw, like an apple, some veggies and hummus, a green smoothie, etc. Second best is barely sauteed greens in olive oil and garlic, a small sweet potato, or some organic yogurt.
Keeping your body fueled with the enzymes and nutrients only raw food provides, along with good fats and fiber, means you don't have to watch calories, plus, you won't be crazy hungry and ready to devour the fridge and - anyone who stands in your way.
I also recommend starting your day with a big glass of water with lemon juice and grated ginger. Sipping lemon water thoughout the day reduces mucous, cleans your liver, and helps your cells empty fats. Ginger is great for digestive health and gives you energy.
Finally, get out of the house and get some sunshine. Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients women need. It's been shown to help prevent breast cancer, prevent the flu or reduce your symptoms, ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder, and help you lose weight. I take at least 5000 mg a day, which my doctor initially considered too much, until she checked my levels and discovered they were still low.
The key to living sustainably is to live in health: a healthy environment, a healthy ecosystem, and most importantly, a healthy body, mind, and spirit. Be well.