Being a woman in a time-period where image seems to be everything, and being skinny is perceived as being beautiful, it is no surprise that a very common topic I get presented with is that of weight loss and using various diets, or “weight loss” products. While I always immediately want to respond with a “you are beautiful just the way your are,” or “just eat clean and exercise,” I know that the real root runs much more deeper, and is intimately tied to our emotional being, not just our desire to fit into those pair of jeans from 5 years ago. Therefore, I take a step back and try to explain the mechanism of weight (our body’s defense and coping mechanism), educate about the harm of weight-loss tricks, and then offer true healthy and sustainable ways to feel amazing in your body. Because this is all about being comfortable in your own skin, appreciating what you have, what you can do with it, not how others will think of you.
While I would love to delve into analyzing the emotional root of weight, I think that it is best to address the logic of weight loss, and how so many people make the mistake of going for the so-called easy route, i.e 7-14 day weight loss kits, fat-burning supplements, extreme diets, that often lead to a more compromised and physically heavier state of being than when they began.
Your Body at its Happy Weight
The body has a natural weight that it is happy and healthy at, and once you reach that weight it is difficult to move it either way if that weight was achieved through exercise and a healthy diet. At this weight, your body is receiving all the nutrients it needs to function properly, and it is burning excess calories through a sustainable and high burning metabolism. This is where the body wants to be, and it is where it is the healthiest. Many people are here. When people want to move their weight below this threshold (meaning you have a low % of body fat) a few things happen, for one, you have to cut necessary nutrients and calories from the diet (typically from complex carbs and healthy fats) that cause the body to be forced into a state of stress. From there vital nutrients are not present so you can begin to see symptoms such as hair loss, fatigue, morning brain fog, constipation, dry skin, and hormone imbalance. I see this happen all the time, and I have actually been there myself.
Secondly, depending on how you do it, you can put your body in a state of starvation where it will be trained to hold onto any calories it receives, since the body’s intelligence does not know when it will receive food again. Think back to our hunter gatherer days here. As a result, you may actually gain weight in the long run since the body is retrained to hold onto calories, not burn them. Finally, if you embark on a long-term calorie-restrictive diet, you may begin to burn muscle, not fat, which can actually come from our very organs, in addition to the muscle tissue. And the less lean muscle tissue we have, the fewer calories our body burns on a daily basis. Therefore, we have to be very careful when addressing weight loss and you must make sure that you are in a place where you have excess calories to burn without compromising your current health and nutrient status.
Your Body at a Toxic Weight
One thing that you do not hear much about is the fact that an unhealthy weight is not only due to a high caloric intake, but also to an overly toxic system. The body’s job is to protect itself at all times, and that includes protection from the toxins that your body is being exposed to.
We are exposed to a copious amount of toxins daily through our air, water and personal care products, and largely from the food we eat. As a result, our body is constantly trying to detoxify in order to protect our organs, tissues and cells. If the detoxification pathways (liver, intestine, kidney, lymph, skin, lung) are congested, then your body will not be able to efficiently move the toxins out of our cells for elimination. And, if the body does not have enough energy at a cellular level (poor nutrition, poor digestion and therefore assimilation), it will not be able to move the toxins outside of the cellular body, due to a lack of energy. Therefore, the body will choose to hold onto the toxins inside fat cells as a way to protect itself from body-wide toxic exposure. It is only until you can open up the detoxification pathways, and provide proper energy to the cells itself, that your body will be prepared to move them out. As a result, weight loss often naturally occurs when the body becomes healthy and its internal toxic buildup is greatly decreased.
The 4 Steps to Reaching and Sustaining a Healthy Weight:
Clean up the inside, and the outside will follow
#1. Diet – There is not way around it. You are what you eat.
The simple act of cleaning up your diet will allow you to lose weight pretty quickly, and those results will be long-term and sustainable. What that means is that your diet should focus on whole grains, healthy fats, fresh organic vegetables, fruit, raw nuts and seeds, and beans, along with the elimination of toxic foods (and food-like substances).
First off, the elimination of conventional, pasteurized dairy alone will help tremendously. You will be quite surprised. Next, you must cut out anything processed or refined…pretty much most things that come in a package, bag, can or box. By removing all toxic foods from the diet (conventional animal products, processed and refined foods, fried foods and toxic oils – trans fats, canola, soy and vegetable oil, margarine, soda, artificial sugars, refined sugars, white flour), you will also naturally reduce your toxic load, which will allow your body to come back to a healthy weight. You can use this shopping guide as well as my articles: Cabinet Cleanup, Criminals in your Kitchen and a Healthy Eating Out Guide for further tips.
#2. Reduce exposure to environmental toxins (water, household and personal care products)
#3. Detoxification (remove harmful toxins and open up those detoxification pathways)
Supply nutrients to support gut, liver and kidney cleansing. This would include products such as GI Integrity, Detox Pure Pack, and Aloe Vera juice. I would then cleanse the body using my Easy Intestinal Cleanse followed by my Kidney Cleanse.
#4. Superfoods for Cleansing (increase cellular energy and use natural cleansing agents)
Once you start moving toxins out of the body via the supplement programs above, and through the natural process of losing weight, it is very important to ensure those toxins are safely leaving the body. The best way to do this is by supplying nutrients that increase the energy of the cells, while concurrently using nutrients that bind and force toxins out of the cells. A few great superfoods that I use are: chlorella, blue green algae, chia seeds, clay, seaweed, parsley and cilantro. My favorite form of clay is the product Medi Clay. Medi Clay is the smectite form of calcium bentonite, a specialized, non-toxic bentonite clay that binds to all kinds of toxins ranging from heavy metals, to bacteria, and fungus (to name just a few). Unlike most other clay you find in the health store, this form of clay does not bind to the beneficial vitamins and minerals in your body.
What about the Role of Hormones?
Finally, there is the last question of hormones. Hormones do play a role in weight and if they become imbalanced, it can lead to stubborn weight gain. A common way this occurs is from exposure to xeno estrogens. Xeno estrogens are foreign estrogens that interfere with normal hormone production and balance. The main culprits are dairy, animal meat, processed soy, plastics (water bottles), and personal care items (contain chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfates). By changing the diet, and eliminating chemicals, often the hormones begin to normalize. In some cases though, DIM (diindolylmethane) is needed to detoxify the xeno-estrogens, and natural hormone stimulants or replacements must be used.
Well, that all sounds good, but I need a Quick Fix!
Wedding, Tropical Vacation, Post-Breakup Body Stat!
Okay, so if you change your diet (I will not budge on this one), and want to lose a few more pounds and are determined 🙂 then I would suggest one of the two following HEALTHY options:
1. Juice Fast (cleanse, rebuild, burn and recharge)
A juice fast can actually be very healthy for you as it supplies your body with the nutrients it needs, but it allows the body to take a break from digestion. In this time, your body can push out toxins and repair the body. So I would try for a 3 day fast to begin, which would mean that you only drink FRESH pressed juice and purified water all day. Nothing else. During this time, you typically have to scale back your workouts to light walking or yoga as your body is not receiving macronutrients that are needed to support more intense energy expenditure. Remember, we do not want the body to go into starvation mode, nor do we want it to start using muscle as an energy source, but the bottom line is that you will lose weight in just these 3 days and you should actually feel really good afterwards. You can read my THK Juice Detox for more details.
2. Superfood Protein Shakes (high nutrition, fuel-efficient, low caloric density)
If you want to keep up a more active lifestyle during this time, you can drink superfood protein shakes as a meal replacement. Depending on how quickly you want to push yourself, how you feel and how much you are exercising, you can replace 1-3 meals a day with a superfood protein shake. I personally drink one for breakfast daily, as it is also a really easy way to get in all your nutrients for the day, and it is DELICIOUS. The idea is that the shake has a really nice blend of superfoods that help to boost your metabolism, keep you feeling good, while supporting natural weight loss, or helping you to maintain a healthy weight. The nice thing is that you can do this indefinitely, which will also be a great adjunct to your workout schedule.
The shake that I make is a combination of superfood powders like Maca, Chia seeds, Cacao Powder, and Green Coffee Powder by Navitas Naturals and Sunwarrior Vanilla Protein powder. The combination of these products not only taste good but also help to build lean muscle mass and increase weight loss. I will then add in low sugar fruit like berries, stevia (natural, zero-calorie sweetener), coconut oil (our favorite fat-burning secret – read my coconut oil article here), and greens like kale or spinach. You can also follow my Weight-Loss Green Smoothie recipe too.
What about those Weight Loss Kits, like Isagenix?
These types of weight loss and cleansing products are mostly made with synthetic nutrients, preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, and contain conventional whey and soy. Conventional whey contains hormones, antibiotic and pesticide residues, which are harmful to body and interrupt your hormone balance. Conventional soy is genetically modified (read more about soy here) and all soy contains phytoestrogens that interrupt normal hormone balance similarly to the whey. Mess with the hormones and it can actually lead to weight gain, acne, fatigue, hair loss, infertility, cancer etc. So the best protein options are vegan: brown rice, hemp etc. These shakes also contain “natural flavors” which is typically MSG, a neurotoxin (read more about MSG here), as well as caseinate, one of the most toxic components of milk that causes major mucus build up in the gut. Finally they contain synthetic vitamins which can actually damage cells in the body, even our very DNA, when they are taken in the wrong combination. A big no-no…so we do not want to take those.
Why add more toxicity and stress to the body, when it can be done a healthy and natural way?
We do not want to set ourselves up for long-term health complications, for the short-term satisfaction of feeling skinny, therefore, in my opinion, these options should really not be a consideration. Remember, our goal is to achieve a healthy weight that is sustainable and life-promoting.
Here is a nutrition fact label from the Isagenix Shake:
The main idea is that if you lead a healthy lifestyle that contains a blend of clean eating, daily exercise, stress management and the elimination of toxic products, your body will find its happy place. There really are no gimmicks, special diets or kits that can be used for long-term sustainable weight loss that do not compromise your health. Your weight is a reflection of not only how you eat, but also how healthy your body is, so focus on the inside, and the outside will follow suite. If you are doing all of the following and the weight just does not seem to come off, then it is very vital that you address the emotional components of your weight. Many times you hold onto weight because your subconscious is protecting you from some sort of emotional trauma, which you have not been able to let go of. Food for thought.
“I tried every diet in the book. I tried some that weren’t in the book. I tried eating the book.
It tasted better than most of the diets.” ~Dolly Parton