If you’re a veteran dieter, you’re probably aware that there are countless weight loss strategies to choose from. Maybe it feels like you’ve attempted many of them. People often find it somewhat easy to lose the weight, but as soon as you let your guard down the pounds start creeping up again. It’s almost as if your body has a “set point” that it wants to keep bouncing back to! Well guess what? Unfortunately, it does.
There are a wide variety of factors that lead to gradual weight gain over time. Some of these factors include overeating, lack of exercise or physical activity in general, medications that promote weight gain, stress, hormonal changes, and disruption to the circadian rhythm, which is the normal pattern our body follows when trying to stay awake or go to sleep. Over time these various influences start causing weight gain which continues until a person decides to “diet” and starts reducing calories, cutting out junk foods, and increasing exercise. Over time the weight goes down, but the body then starts to detect that there’s been a decrease in weight and a wide variety of hormonal factors kick in and start to cause changes in the body that often promote weight gain. A study done on “The Biggest Loser” contestants revealed this phenomenon.
Does that mean keeping off the weight is hopeless? Absolutely not. By paying attention not only to calories, but also macronutrient composition, a person can help the hormonal factors that promote weight gain to stay in check. Exercise is also very important when trying to keep weight off. The National Weight Control Registry is a well-known resource that studies people who successfully keep their weight off. Registry members lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years. 90% of these people exercise, on average about one hour per day. Additionally, 78% eat breakfast every day, 75% weighed themselves at least once a week, and 62% watch less than 10 hours of television per week.
So that brings us to a personal check on what we like to call our “outer wisdom” skills and our “inner wisdom” skills. When we use the term “outer wisdom,” we’re referring to how well-informed you are about the food you’re eating. Do you know the difference between a protein, a fat, a carbohydrate, and grams of sugar and fiber in your foods? If you know enough about nutrition to describe these macronutrients, are you actually tracking what you’re taking in, both in terms of calories and macronutrients? If you aren’t you may want to consider signing up for our Mindfulness Based Eating Awareness Class (MB-EAT) which is available to patients from our Schaumburg and Vernon Hills Internal Medicine and Weight Management programs. Over this twelve-week series you can increase and sharpen your “outer wisdom” to better understand what you’re eating. Dr. Nance and her well-trained staff make sure you feel comfortable understanding food labels, know how to measure your daily intake, and help you set SMART goals around your food consumption. When we talk about SMART goals, we aren’t just talking about your ability to look at a nutrition label and know what it contains, or the ability to keep and review a food diary to see if you are staying on track with the calorie and macronutrient composition you’re shooting for.
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.
When goals are too open-ended, it’s too easy to lose focus or get off track with your diet. The team at WellessenceMD in Schaumburg and Vernon Hills is highly skilled at helping you to stay on track with your weight loss.
And then of course there’s “inner wisdom,” which we often refer to as mindfulness. Mindfulness is a big buzz word these days, but do you actually know what it means?
Jon Kabat-Zin, a well-known mindfulness and meditation teacher defines mindfulness as:
“the ability to pay attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment, and with an attitude of kindness and curiosity”
When we practice mindfulness and meditation, we hone this ability to pay attention and know from experience the best way to feed our body.
There are so many ways to bring mindfulness into your weight loss journey. One way is to just check in right now and see how you’re even feeling about the idea of dieting. For some this is scary territory. How does your body react to the idea of putting boundaries on your daily consumption? Does your heart rate go up? Are you breathing faster? Are you noticing any tension? When we learn to meditate, we learn to be mindful and aware of the thoughts, the emotions, and the body sensations present as you contemplate beginning a weight loss journey.
Mindful eating is something people may want to learn for a wide variety of reasons. Some want to lose weight. Others want to improve a health condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or fatty liver disease. For some, there’s no specific weight or health goal, but you want to learn the healthiest way to nourish your body so that eating can be a joy and not a source of stress.
At our weight loss and primary care practices in Schaumburg and Vernon Hills, you will receive the latest nutritional science from Dr. Nance, a board-certified obesity medicine doctor. Since WellessenceMD opened in 2011, our obesity, diabetes, and nutrition specialists have been helping people navigate nutritional challenges and preferences as they embark on weight loss journeys or efforts to improve their health. In this blog, we’ll share some “best practices” when it comes to eating. We want to name that we consider them “best practices” and not “hard evidence.” You may be aware that nutritional recommendations have undergone a major shift and there have been many fads over the years. Analysis of the scientific literature on nutrition often reveals that there are many political and economic agendas that have influenced nutritional public policy and what many believe are healthy ways to eat. WellessenceMD has no financial disclosures to make. The advice you’ll receive in these upcoming blogs comes from Dr. Nance’s in-depth study on this topic and her experience as a specialist in weight loss, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Our goal for patients in the Schaumburg and Vernon Hills locations is to make sure they understand how to evaluate what they’re eating and provide some guidelines that help them lose weight, control certain health conditions, and feel more satisfied and less hungry as they move throughout their days. We’ll explore all sorts of different nutritional strategies from the ketogenic diet to the whole food plant-based approach, and many weight loss strategies in between. The reason you won’t see us (or Dr. Nance) promoting a specific diet strategy is because we believe many diets work great for some but not necessarily everyone. In the upcoming posts we’ll explain why.
We’ll also explore many different disease states and also touch on environmental issues, and topics that are important to think about as we do our best to take care of our planet and its limited resources.
If you just can’t wait to work on a customized diet or weight loss strategy that works for you, or you want to learn more about mindfulness and meditation, schedule an appointment at either our Schaumburg or Vernon Hills locations and we’ll get you started right away!
Dr. Nance is a board certified physician in both internal medicine and obesity medicine. She has been trained at some of the most respected places in the world including Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the University of Chicago Internal Medicine program. She is also a trained Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teacher from the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness and works as a senior medical adviser for Mindsciences, a company that creates digital therapeutics to teach mindfulness strategies for the management of stress related illnesses. She also becoming a certified trainer in Marshall Rosenberg's teaching of Non-Violent Communication and is an Enneagram enthusiast.