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Soule Health Care

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Portland OR, 97239


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Newsletter Archive

A Weight Loss Plan That Actually Works

September 29, 2011

Early January is the time of year people become even more dissatisfied with their post-holiday, over-fed bodies and intend to punish them with restrictive, deprivation diets and harsh exercise plans. Sadly, the result is a vicious cycle. Did you know that over 90% of people who lose weight by dieting gain back the weight they lose plus a few more pounds added on? This staggering statistic should be evidence enough to see that dieting doesn't work long term.

When the mind says “diet,” the body hears “famine.” To help survive this perceived threat to its survival, the body slows down metabolically and becomes more efficient at storing fat. Each time that you ignore your hunger, you move further away from recognizing and meeting your body's real needs. When the mind and body are at war, they no longer work together for the good of the whole being.

Most of us are obsessed with our weight and think that thin is good, fat is bad. Psychologists who study dieting promise that if we start a diet with a notion of self-rejection, the diet is already doomed to fail. The only diet that really works long term has to do with self-care, quality foods and regular exercise. The following six-week program helps you treat your body with respect, making it an ally instead of a foe, and weight loss happens naturally.

Sound Nutrition: To nourish ourselves optimally, we should eat natural foods consisting of 5-9 servings of vegetables and fruits in a day, approximately 60 grams of high-quality protein per day and small amounts of good quality oils.

Get moving: Our bodies are designed to move. If your first response to this is, “I hate exercise,” it simply means that you haven't yet found the activity that brings you pleasure. Look for different ways of moving your body and activities that you enjoy. Hiking, skating, swimming and dancing are a lot more fun for most people than a stationary bike or a treadmill. Any activity that gets your heart rate up and uses large muscle groups will do.

Week One

Diet: Start off your first week by listening to your body's hunger signals. Let your hunger reach at least a “5” on a scale of 1-10 before you eat anything. Plan your meals around sound nutrition and then let your body be your guide as to what, when, and how much to eat. Stock your kitchen with an assortment of nutritious whole foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Wander through healthy, natural-food cookbooks for ideas.

Exercise: If you haven't been exercising, start off slowly with 15 to 20 minutes of exercise 3 days a week. If you're already exercising, consider changing your regular routine.

Week Two

Diet: This week concentrate on hearing your body's signals of “enough.” Consider smaller portions or even try using a smaller plate. Consciously slow down your eating and check in with your hunger level and decide if you need more. High-fiber foods help your body feel satisfied, improve your blood sugar stability and your energy level.

Exercise: This week think of exercise as something you do to please your body rather than as just a mechanical means for getting into shape. Increase your exercise total - 25 minutes 3 times per week.

Week Three

Diet: Consider using supplements to boost your metabolic rate, such as chromium or L-carnitine. A visit to your doctor would help determine if you have any medical reason for being overweight, such as adrenal fatigue, which needs to be treated, and appropriate weight loss supplements could be determined at this time.

Exercise: Exercise for 30 minutes on more than 3 days. Perk up your routine with rewards like a new pair of walking shoes, a backpack for hikes, a massage, etc.

Week Four

Diet: This week add at least two new foods to your menu. Experiment with a new type of grain or an exotic fruit or vegetable.

Eat smaller amounts more frequently. Small frequent meals provide a steady supply of calories that keep the metabolic fires stoked and encourage the body to burn calories rather than to store them.

Exercise: Increase exercise time to 35 minutes a day for at least 3 days. Stay focused on the pleasure principle. When you feel your body's enjoyment of an activity, you'll look forward to doing it.

Week Five

Diet: Fact: Protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram. Fat contains 9 calories per gram. It takes 25 calories to digest and store 100 calories of carbohydrates or protein, and only 3 calories to digest and store 100 calories of fat. If you want to lose weight, lower your fat intake. A protein, plant- and grain-based diet is naturally low in fat.

Exercise: Increase your exercise time to 40 minutes 3 times a week and experiment with adding variety to your exercise routine.

Week Six

Diet: Avoid large, late dinners and evenings spent snacking. Eat a reasonable lunch, have a mid afternoon snack, and think of dinner more as an evening snack - a bowl of soup or salad. No eating after 8 pm.

Because nighttime snacking is often a response to needs other than hunger, ask yourself, What am I feeling? What do I really need? Try meeting the underlying needs directly. If you're tired, rest. If you're feeling tense, take a warm bath or a walk. Feeling lonely? Call a friend. Attend to your real needs, and practice self-nurturing.

Exercise: Increase your exercise to 45 minutes 3 times a week. Focus your attention on the areas of your body that you want to change and add specific exercise to address it.

Problems with weight and food can be tied to imbalances in the earth element in our bodies. The earth element controls digestion, assimilation and nurturance at all levels. Physically, these problems are linked to a loss of vitality in the stomach, pancreas and the endocrine glands. Acupuncture works to correct these imbalances. In some cases, herbs and supplements can also be used to improve function in specific organ systems. When the earth element is in balance, a person feels grounded, at home in her own body, and tied to our mother earth. Consider acupuncture as another aid in weight loss.

Does the 6-week plan sound too easy? Try it and see for yourself. If you have any questions or would like to be evaluated for any medical reason for being overweight, call for an appointment with Dr. Horan.

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