Getting to a Healthy Weight: Why Is It So Hard?

Achieving a healthy weight may be one of the most difficult goals that I help people work toward in my practice. On the one hand, there are those folks, usually non-overweight folks, who say “you just have to eat less and exercise more!” On the other hand, there are the vast majority of us who know it is not that simple. If getting to a healthy weigh was a simple eat less/exercise more proposition there wouldn’t be sky-rocketing rates of obesity in this country and a 68 billion dollar a year weight-loss industry.

So, what gives? Why does it have to be so hard? Here are my thoughts on the main barriers to weight optimization.

  1. You eat too often, or too late in the day. For quite some time we have been hammered with the advice to eat every few hours. I think this is ok if you are eating mainly low-glycemic index snacks (very
    There has to be an easier weigh!

    They may not be slimming down, but they are having fun!

    low sugar, higher in fat and protein).  However, if your every 2-3 hour snack is a piece of fruit, or a 100 calorie pack of Oreo cookies, or a yogurt with 25 grams of sugar, your body will never go into fat burning mode.  Not if there is a constant source of carbohydrate fuel available. Snack carefully.
    Also, your metabolism is more active

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Why I Don’t Worry About My Kids Feeling Deprived

 

Some time ago a couple of moms asked me for tips on getting their kids to eat better lunches at school. I had

recently gotten my son the Planet Box, kind of a nifty lunchbox. What I like about it is that my kid can just flip open the fastener and eat. He only gets about 15 minutes for lunch, so if his lunch has a lot of containers for his little fingers to open he will not have enough time to ingest, and forget about chewing. As I went into a reverie about his fancy new lunch box I mentioned that I had sent him off to school that morning him with a salad with chickpeas . . .

And this is when they cut me off with their laughter.Chickpeas!?” One of the moms asked, “Forget that! We have already ruined our kids!”

Ruined? That sounds bad. How does a kid get “ruined” for healthy eating?

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Digestion: Something is just not right down there!

imagesMore than 2000 years ago, Hippocrates stated that “All disease begins in the gut.”  Knowing the digestive tract at the beginning place where our nourishment is transformed into our energy and our body itself, I think that Hippocrates must have been correct.

Food should leave us feeling nourished and energized.  Eating  should not be something we dread, not knowing how our body may react to a meal.  Like all normal body processes, digestion should be something we do not have to think about.  Sure, we can reasonably expect to have some changes in how things are working if we at times do not drink enough water or eat enough vegetables, or if we eat too many marshmallow Peeps.

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Thoughts Over Easy – Breakfast Musings

eating-fermented-foodsThis morning I am thinking about the gallbladder, the bowels and cultured foods.

In any case, I know from my studies of nutrition, most notably with my mentor, Dr. Howard Loomis Jr. DC, that “squeezing” of the gallbladder can be good or bad. By squeezing I mean the forceful emptying of the gallbladder that occurs with fatty meals or certain other foods. You see, the gallbladder is the receptacle in the body that concentrated bile. Bile is produced in the liver. The gallbladder concentrated bile by removing water. Bile works to emulsify fats in the diet, and it works better in a concentrated form. If your gallbladder is not working right, or you’ve had it removed, you still get bile mixing into food in the digestive tract. It’s just not concentrated and is therefore not going to work as well. That is where the squeezing comes in. The gallbladder is stimulated to really squeeze and empty all of its concentrated bile by high fat meals and with certain other foods.

If gallstones are present the squeezing of the gallbladder can cause colicky pain known as a gallbladder attack. If a gallstone gets lodged in the duct connecting the gallbladder to the intestine you can end up on the surgeon’s table. One home remedy that can sometime stop a mild gallbladder attack is a shot of sour tasting apple cider vinegar. I’ve seen it work, and I’ve seen it not work.

So, a healthy gallbladder helps you digest and absorb dietary fats. Why is good fat digestion important? Without proper digestion off dietary fats you will not derive energy from those fats, your body may become deficient in essential fats needed to, for example, balance hormones and maintain healthy cells. Undigested fat in the bowels can contribute to imbalances in intestinal flora and may be associated with increased risk of colon cancer.

And what made me think about his over breakfast? Well, you start to eat some wierd stuff when you are following the GAPS diet. I’ll discuss GAPS in a future post but for the moment let it suffice to say that GAPS diet is helpful to help heal permeability issues the lining of the gut, so-called leaky gut. So, this morning over a breakfast of eggs and sauerkraut — I know, but it was actually quite delicious, the arame ginger kraut from Wildbrine is totally awesome, could save money and make my own but theirs is unbelievable — I thought about the sour taste. In many traditional healing diets there is an emphasis on blending the tastes (sour, bitter, sweet, salty, Ayurveda actually identifies six tastes) in meals for optimal health.

Traditional diets all include some form of fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, buttermilk, pickles. Many of these foods are bitter or sour tasting and happen to make the gallbladder empty better. Better and frequent emptying of the gallbladder may mean you do not get gallstones and gallbladder attacks. Additionally, these fermented, unpasteurized foods are high in enzymes and probiotics which are natural enhancements to digestion, bowel and immune health.

How did ancient cultures know the value of these fermented foods? Maybe they did not know exactly, but included fermented foods because fermentation preserves foods, a good thing in the era prior to refrigeration. Our bodies work synergistically with billions of helpful bacteria colonized mainly in our lower intestine. Regular intake of naturally fermented foods helps keep that population healthy. Ancient societies could not have known about those bacterial counts, but centuries of observation of diet and health perhaps fostered an understanding of the value of cultured or fermented foods. I’ll leave that for the anthropologists.

In the modern U.S. our tastebuds have become attuned to sweet, salty and fatty meals. Where are the other flavors? The pickles on your fast food burger do not count. where are the bitter greens, pungent herbs and sour pickles? Dr. Henry Bieler may have been the first to say that “food is your best medicine.” If we focused more on a varied diet, ate fermented foods, combined a variety of tastes in our meals, I wonder how much better our health would be.

And I wonder what I will have for lunch!

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Now open for registration . . .

It’s just around the corner, better than ever . . .

21-Day Ultra Simple Detox

It is our third year running these groups and they just get better and better.  This time we are limiting space to have a very small group for more one-on-one support.  Looking to destroy sugar cravings?  Want to head into the New Year with your eating habits under control?  Want to feel better in all kinds or ways?  The group support will make getting on track so much easier than doing something like this alone.  Join us, I will make sure you get to the finish line.  Click for details or contact me if you have questions.

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Things I know for sure, for the moment.

Skepticism is sometimes absent when one embarks on a journey towards health (or enlightenment, or financial freedom, marital bliss, etc). Exploring the subject of health one is bound run into the New Thing time and time again. The newness of the New Thing causes an revolution in thought which is so exciting. And this excitement gives the New Thing automatic and often unearned credibility. This happened to me when I began my process of health education and discovery, still happens sometimes. I get turned on by some bit of wisdom, a new nutrition plan, a book, a film, a supplement, and later realize it isn’t right for me. The process of becoming healthier, a process I continue, is a learning process. Here are some of the things I have come to believe and wish I had known earlier:

1) When you get sick it is not necessarily because something is wrong.  Fevers, fatigue, and vomiting are certainly signs of illness, but not signs that something is wrong.  Illness is often a sign of your body doing something right, like cleaning up a mess.  So, the next time you are getting a fever say “Good job, body!”

2) Just because a physical complaint or symptom is typical does not mean it is normal.

3) Hours and hours of cardio will not make you healthy, strong or skinny.  If you like to run or bike or swim, do it.  Or don’t do it.  But DO be active.  And lift weights.

4) Aspartame is bad for everyone’s health (really, I did not know!).

5) Gluten is bad for many, many people’s health.

6) If you clean up your lifestyle and diet radically it is possible to experience a physical change in 7 days that will change your life forever, truly.

7) In the triad of health (structural, chemical/nutritional, and emotional) do not underestimate the power of negative emotional stress to cause your health to start circling the drain.

8 ) Touching the hot stove and moving the hand away is pain, touching the hot stove over and over is suffering. When something makes you feel bad physically or emotionally (margaritas, playing small, that certain brand of frozen pizza, staying up too late, the list goes on . . . ) to continue to indulge or allow it to be a part of your life is the definition of insanity.

9) On the other hand, making “Never again will I…” proclamations is easy. Following them is hard. Make your goals small enough to accomplish so you can achieve some successes, then turn up the ambition. And do not indulge in self-criticism. Reflection, honesty and loving kindness are enough.

10) Cast iron cookware is great. I know this does not really keep pace with the other things on the list, but I have owned many cheap and expensive pans over the years, and nothing beats a seasoned cast iron pan. Eggs doesn’t stick, they clean up easily, they’re inexpensive, and you can bake in them too. And they don’t have that toxic non-stick stuff on them. So glad I noticed my friends Rachel and Ray, arbiters of smart, using their cast iron last Spring, I may not have realized.

 

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Diagnosis: Not-Sick-but-Not-Well

What is the ultimate measure of health?  Some folks like to rely on certain numbers;  resting heart rate, cholesterol level, blood pressure, weight.  Others look at health more holistically, feeling that the measure of health is how well a person can function and enjoy life.  This second view makes more sense to me as a holistic health practitioner.  After all, the body is a dynamic system that cannot easily be defined by a single number or parameter.

Many people I help in my practice are not technically “sick.”  They are not in a disease state that can be measured by abnormal vital signs or laboratory findings.  However, despite being “not sick,” they are certainly not healthy and well – and they know it.  Many of my patients, from children to adults, suffer with difficult digestive function.  Many experience fatigue, brain fog, insomnia, and anxiety.  Some have body pain in their joints, back or neck.  What these situations have in common is that they are not diseases.  In most cases the vital signs and standard laboratory tests will be normal.  But the patient knows that something is not right.

Being not-sick-but-not-well can be frustrating.  You may be told that everything appears normal by your doctor and dismissed, or perhaps given recommendations for symptom care.  To the person who is not-sick-but-not-well I say “Great!  You are not (yet) in a disease state so your health challenge may be easier to resolve.”

At The Healing Center I do not attempt to put every patient in a box neatly label with a specific disease or diagnosis.  My goal is to find structural, nutritional and energetic sources of stress and apply a remedy or give a recommendation to address that stress.  The body will naturally self-heal and self-regulate when the stress levels are managed.  Removing and reducing stresses on the body will allow the body to get itself in balance, symptoms will resolve and health is enjoyed once again.

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