It’s that time again—another New Year, another opportunity for renewal and reinvention. For many, a New Year starts with a few weeks of inspiration followed by a return to unhealthy habits. A reason for the lackluster motivation is frustration that accompanies the world of weight loss along with misinformation or too much information. Is it really calories or is it something more that keeps us angry at our bodies and disenchanted with our weight?
In working with patients over the years, there are weight loss secrets that many women do not know or are simply never told. Thousands of women sit frustrated that heroic efforts at the gym or flat out starvation do not seem to shift the tide of weight gain. Before you throw in the towel on your weight loss resolutions, here are a few secret weight loss tips that you need to know.
Timing is Everything
Despite arguments otherwise, when you eat really does matter. We know that long periods of not eating triggers hunger that is difficult to satisfy later, while eating later in the evening is harder on the digestive system. Pace yourself and watch your intervals of eating. Consume the majority of your calories early – ideally before 6 pm – and don’t leave the house hungry. Eat a healthy breakfast and pack your snacks for 3-4 hour intervals, so you are never caught salivating at the nearest fast food joint. (1)
Your digestive system determines your metabolic rate. Digestive symptoms, including reflux, constipation, abdominal pain and bloating are all signs of a digestive system gone awry. You cannot lose weight with an unhealthy gut regardless of how much you diet or exercise. Add probiotics and digestive enzymes to your daily regimen and look for foods that may be affecting your digestive process. (2)
I know this one well. Stress and extreme stress disrupts cortisol, the stress hormone which then affects insulin, the other hormone for weight loss you need to know. I often describe it as a light switch that gets turned on and suddenly your waist expands, your arms feel fuller and you don’t recognize yourself. Watch your stress and try to minimize it, even if you are in the midst of a tough time. Devote at least 20 minutes per day to calming your nervous system down using meditation, journaling, drawing or just laughing. Schedule down time to create some boundaries between the stressors, preventing your stress hormones from becoming erratic.(3)
Exercise is important, but extreme exercise is counterproductive. Balance your body’s need for burning calories with its need for rest. Increasing your heart rate helps burn body fat, but not at the expense of injuries. Aim for 45 minutes of exercise that forces your heart rate to vary above your resting heart rate by at least 20 beats per minute. Include two stress lowering workouts like yoga, swimming or Pilates each week.
Many of my patients never realize how many calories they are consuming through alcohol, which is ultimately just more sugar. Skip the night cap, drink water and save the alcohol for the weekend. Once my patients are able to follow this, the weight often disappears.
Use these five weight loss secrets before you reach for a calorie counter or a cleanse so that this year can have lasting weight loss success.