If you’re like the majority of Americans, one of your New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight and get in shape. And now more than ever, it seems like everyone is looking for the magical formula to lose weight, shed fat, and build muscle. Every year, there’s a new diet book, product, pill, plan, or exercise gadget promising quick and easy results. And much to the dismay of the majority, every year the weight seems to end up right back where it started!
So the age-old question keeps returning to me from patients who ask: “How can I lose weight and keep it off without starving myself?” I love this question because it opens the door for me to counter with questions about the patient’s lifestyle and how they’ve personally contributed to their weight gain.
How Much Should You Weigh?
As part of the process of adopting a healthy lifestyle and improving your health and well-being, you must aim to maintain a healthy body weight. However, a lot of us get really hung up on that number on the scale. But did you know that lower body weight doesn’t necessarily translate into improved health? It’s true! In fact, your weight doesn’t necessarily tell you much about your health and fitness status, or even how you look.
A crucial part of determining how much you should weigh has to do with what makes up that weight. For example, two people can weigh the same and have the same BMI (body mass index) but have different health risks. If one person is an active bodybuilder with lots of muscle mass and the other person is someone who is sedentary with a lot of adipose tissue, they can both have the same BMI. But because the bodybuilder lifts weights and stays in shape, he won’t carry the same health risks of someone who is sedentary, weak and eats foods that promote obesity. Thus, knowing if your weight composed of a healthy ratio of muscle, bone and fat allows you to interpret your scale reading much better and even give you peace of mind!
Most physicians and researchers still rely on the Body Mass Index (BMI) chart to calculate body fat and its related health risk. The BMI number is derived using height and weight measurements alone and indicates whether or not your weight falls within a healthy range. For an adult, a typical BMI of less than 18.5 is considered underweight and may indicate an eating disorder, malnutrition, or other serious health problems. On the other hand, a BMI greater than 25 is considered overweight and above 30 is considered obese. Although this method has been the gold standard for determining obesity-related disease risks, new research has challenged this method, regarding it as badly flawed and outdated.
The latest research indicates that the waist to hip ratio and not your BMI is the best predictor of your health and future health problems. People with a higher waist to hip ratio had a higher risk of death from heart disease than those with a normal ratio.
That’s right, how big your belly is tells more about your health risks than what the scale reads! Simply put, people with more weight around their waist are at greater risk of lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes than those with weight around their hips. So, to decrease your risk of serious disease and even death, healthy weight loss is the key.
If you’re fighting the “battle of the bulge” and can’t seem to keep the weight off, by treating a few underlying factors, you can lose weight and keep it off!
The Real Reason You’re Overweight!
Some say genetics, and others say over-eating while still others point the finger at laziness as causes for weight gain. The fact is, for each person, there are a variety of reasons why you gain weight and can’t get it off. However, no matter who you are or how overweight you may be, in order to avoid the “yo-yo” effect of the weight loss-weight gain cycle, you must first determine the underlying factors that contribute to your weight gain.
It’s a well-known phenomenon: what you think and how you feel about yourself is the driving force behind what you create in your life. So, on the road to a truly healthy recovery, you must be willing to own up to your attitude and true feelings about yourself. Then, you need to be honestly accountable for the kinds of foods you eat, as well as your exercise habits.
Furthermore, there are sometimes underlying medical conditions that greatly contribute to your weight gain. In order to develop an effective plan of attack, these need to be addressed as well.
Glandular, Hormonal, and Blood Sugar Imbalances
Your thyroid hormone may be under-producing, or it may be impaired at the hormone receptor site of the target organ tissues. This results in a condition known as hypothyroidism. When blood levels are tested, it is important to have a complete thyroid panel.
Another test is to apply a tincture of iodine (Lugol’s solution) to the inner arm, and if it is absorbed rapidly (in less than 12 hours), it shows that you are low in iodine, a contributor to low thyroid production.
Other hormonal, glandular, and blood sugar imbalances contributing to unwanted weight gain include:
- Adrenal gland stress. This gland releases adrenaline and cortisol, which interfere with normal sex hormone regulation, if in excess.
- Decreased pancreatic enzymes. These impair digestion of nutrients adding to weight gain. The body of an obese person is actually “under-nutriented,” even though they appear to be “over-fed.”
- The hormone insulin (made in the pancreas) may not be effective at the target cell receptors where glucose is brought into cells. The illness this creates is either type II diabetes or the more common condition known as metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a pro-inflammatory state with similar metabolic pathways to abdominal obesity, also called VAT (visceral adipose tissue). These are the apple-shaped overweight men and women.
Therefore, to evaluate underlying hormonal, metabolic, and blood sugar imbalances contributing to overweight states, the following blood test should be performed.
Weight Loss Panel
This panel includes CBC, CMP (which includes glucose levels), Lipid Panel, TSH (thyroid), T3 Uptake (showing utilization of thyroid), T4 (thyroid), Free T3 (Thyroid), DHEA, Vitamin B12 & Folate, Vitamin D, Spot Cortisol (AM), Insulin, Ferritin, Magnesium, Hemoglobin AlC, and a Urinalysis.
Once you get back the results of your blood tests, we can help you change your diet, take the right supplementation to get you back on track and recommend a healthy lifestyle. Losing weight is never easy and you don’t want to set yourself up with a resolution for the New Year you can’t keep. Don’t shoot for the moon. Start with a commitment to lose 10 pounds and go from there.