Holistic weight loss…is there really such a thing? Yes, and it is the most natural way of helping your body to get healthy while creating new good habits.
Losing weight can be a very challenging struggle. There are many different diet plans and diet programs out there. That can be confusing and many people just don’t feel satisfied with or find success with these diets, as they don’t feel as though their whole person is addressed in the process.
Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic. My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible.
It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes. Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food and getting some sunshine is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life. You want a quality long life.
My blog posts are my opinion and the results of things that I have tried that either worked for me or didn’t. My opinions are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them.
Weight Loss…The Struggle Is Very Real
Too many people enter into a yo-yo diet struggle. Not on purpose, but because different weight loss plans work differently for different people and that can be confusing.
This is because the government, doctors, and dietician’s have been telling us for 50 years to eat 1800 calories a day made up of 50% carbohydrates, 15% protein and 35% fat. So diet guru’s push these “low fat” diet plans, and people try them and fail.
The problem is that these percentages do not work for everyone, and neither do the recommended foods. It can be hard to eat 50% of your daily carbohydrate calories from natural foods like vegetables, so health professionals encourage people to eat processed foods/grains to make up for it.
Low fat processed, pre-packaged, and grain-type foods (like crackers and breakfast cereals) are notoriously full of sugar and starches, which are used to replace the fat.
People don’t seem to be aware that sugar causes weight gain.
High amounts of carbohydrates, especially from processed foods like bread, also behave like sugar in the blood stream. When I say processed, I mean any food not in it’s natural state.
Wheat products like bread or pasta, as well as rice are very high on the glycemic index. This means that they impact your blood sugar quicker and cause you to be hungry more often.
They cause a spike in your blood sugar and your pancreas has to release insulin, a hormone, to bring it back to normal.
This is taxing to your body, especially if it happens multiple times per day. Over time, your body cannot keep up and you get Type II diabetes because your body is now resistant to insulin.
As well, people work very hard to restrict calories for a period of time but then they lose their willpower and fall off the weight loss bandwagon. Then they cheat on their diet and then cheat again because they feel the damage has already been done.
This is an early sign that you are not eating the right foods for your body.
Before long, the weight loss program is out the window and you end up gaining the weight right back again.
And you possibly gain even more weight so that you are heavier than before they started.
Then a few months later, you might start another diet, and the whole merry-go-round begins again.
If you recognize yourself in this scenario, you are not alone.
Many people choose semi-starvation as a way to lose weight and fail in the end. Both starving yourself and eating too many calories for your activity level cause weight loss to be unpredictable and unhealthy.
Yo-yo dieting is not only not helping you lose weight but it can also be harmful to your body.
While you are restricting calories, you often don’t take the time and effort to try and get adequate nutrients into your body.
You can suffer from things like vitamin deficiency, deficiency of essential fatty acids, protein deficiency, mineral deficiency, and diseases like osteoporosis from a lack of adequate calcium and vitamin D absorption.
Fortunately, there is a better way to deal with weight loss that addresses who you really are as a whole person.
This involves using a holistic approach to losing weight.
Through a holistic weight loss program, you can address the underlying issues behind your inability to maintain a healthy weight and can begin to lose weight in a healthier fashion.
Enter Holistic Weight Loss
A holistic approach to losing weight addresses the person as a whole being and takes note of the underlying cause of obesity rather than just focusing and treating the person’s symptom.
When this happens, you can reach a long term and meaningful way of losing weight.
Other weight loss programs fail because they just focus on restricting calories.
A holistic weight loss plan will help you lose the excess weight by recognizing your unique dietary needs, as well as triggers to overeating and incorporating exercise as part of the weight loss program.
Holistic Weight Loss Addresses Your Body’s Needs
Why practice holistic weight loss? Holistic weight loss recognizes that overweight and its associated health issues are much more complex than simply eating too much or a lack of motivation or self-control.
Obesity and eating too much can result in many dangerous health conditions, including stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some kinds of cancer.
It is important to make the necessary lifestyle changes to lose the weight and keep it off.
Using holistic health practices to achieve a healthy weight, you will not only prevent some serious disease but you will experience a greater quality of life.
Typically, most people are overweight because of the food you eat and how that food affects your body.
Unlike, other methods that simply put you on a diet and advise a gym membership, holistic medicine seeks the underlying causes of the behaviors, emotions and thought process that resulted in your weight problem.
And it then addresses all aspects of you as a person that lead to this dysfunctional aspect of your well being.
Ask Yourself These Questions:
- Why do you overeat or eat more food than you really should be eating?
- Can you approach eating in a healthier way?
- Why don’t you exercise more often?
- Is there a way to improve your exercise plan?
- What are the various factors, including physical factors, social factors, and psychological factors, getting in the way or exercising and eating properly?
- Do you have triggers to overeating and what are they?
- How can you stay on a healthy diet and avoid eating the wrong foods?
- What is your relationship with food?
- How do you deal with stress?
- Do you feel worthy of a healthier lifestyle? How do you feel about yourself?
When you uncover the answers to the above questions, you can avoid the unnecessary and unhealthy patterns in your lifestyle that keep you from achieving a proper weight.
Many people do not question the advice from the government food guide.
By following the guide, they are eating foods that their body just does not like. It is not that the food is “unhealthy” in and of itself. It is more that the food is just not tolerated well in their body.
This was my problem. I was following the food guide, but I felt ill after most meals.
I had chronic gut pain and bloating, as well as 24/7/365 hay fever. Regular doctors prescribed Protein Pump Inhibitors for the gut pain, which they said was an ulcer. It wasn’t. It was damaged caused by medications I was prescribed for pain.
And now we all know the PPI pills cause kidney problems. And I still had the gut pain.
I finally sought a Naturopathic doctor, who drew blood and sent it off to be analyzed for food allergies.
It turned out that I was highly allergic to beef, casein (a dairy protein) and egg whites.
It was eating beef that really aggravated the gut pain, but if I had multiple offending foods in one day, like eggs for breakfast and beef spaghetti sauce with parmesan cheese for dinner, the pain lasted for days.
Those foods are all fine on a standard diet, but my body did not like them.
Holistic approaches also attempt to uncover other issues in your life that may contribute to weight problems
These include things like relationships, stress management, and any other medical conditions that you may have that can contribute to weight gain.
And in my case, I have a damaged gut from the pain killers and anti inflammatory drugs I was prescribed for a workplace injury. The medications destroy parts of gut in different ways and start doing damage immediately.
This damage can take a long time to repair itself if you have taken these medications multile times over the years.
This overall approach to one’s whole being is key to sustained weight loss and is the underlying success of the holistic approach to losing weight.
Is Overeating A Problem For You?
People eat poorly or overeat for a variety of reasons. Often there are triggers to overeating that can be addressed.
A trigger might be to walk past a bakery, smelling the aroma and seeing the decorated cakes and pastries. That can be all that it takes to drop everything and go inside to make a purchase.
There also might be social triggers, such as cakes or muffins being brought in to work. That happened often in my last job. Everything was celebrated with food.
Most processed bakery items use the cheaper high fructose corn syrup instead of table sugar.
Fructose is highly addictive, which makes it easy to binge without you even noticing.
I have heard friends say that they have eaten a large chocolate bar all at once, or a box of doughnut holes, or even a whole pie in one sitting because they started and then couldn’t stop.
That is the power of fructose on your body…bingeing. Couple this power of fructose with other reasons to over eat and bam! Weight gain.
Other reasons why people over-eat:
- You might eat when you’re lonely as a way of cheering yourself up.
- If you are depressed, you may be using food to make you feel better without even realizing it.
- Or you might be using food as a way to reward yourself for doing something good.
- Sometimes you develop bad habits over time, like eating snacks while watching t.v in the evenings.
- And there are people who have learned bad habits from their family, and do not even realize that these “traditions” are causing them to be overweight.
Finding these triggers takes intense scrutiny on your life.
When you are overeating, think about the feelings you are experiencing before and after eating.
- Do you think that stress behind your weight gain?
- Is it a lack of knowledge into healthy eating?
- Maybe self-sabotage an issue you need to deal with?
- Perhaps you rely on food to alleviate sadness, loneliness or other difficult emotions?
Think about which things are contributing to your overeating pattern.
Please do not scold or berate yourself for any of these situations; we just want to seek out your “why”.
Many of our bad habits started when we were small children, just doing as we are told to do. There can be many different triggers to overeating that need to be dissected out of your behavior.
Understanding them can help you avoid the triggers that cause you to eat too much, eat the wrong foods, and to gain weight.
Here are ten alternative methods for weight loss. Please speak with your doctor before embarking on major changes to your health.
I use various combinations of all of these, with progressively more success.
The reason that most New Year’s resolutions fail is because people do not know their why and are not really invested in the results.
If you want success you must know why you want it.
Simple answers like “I want to lose weight” are not enough…you must ask yourself why you want it.
- Will it improve your life?
- Can it add to your overall happiness or freedom or ability to participate more in life?
- Are you doing it because you feel pressure from others? If you are doing it for others, your chances of success are quite low.
- If you are doing it because you know it will raise your spirits and your self-esteem (because you have succeeded with your goal), then you have a much higher chance of success.
To be truly successful in anything, you must understand why you are the way you are and why you want to change that. These techniques are often used in holistic medicine for their many benefits
It takes time to change our negative programming, but it is worth the effort.
Many people have been raised to not question the “why”, or even consider it.
I know that when I was growing up, it was a “do as I say” situation; in fact I was encouraged to not question. That is a habit I am actively working to change.
1.Affirmations or Positive Messages
Regardless of how you came to have a bad habit related to food, you must “choose” to replace it with something positive.
Choice is an essential component for success in any area of life. However, most people do not think about their ability to choose, and instead live life accepting what they are told is true.
For example, when your mom tells you that there are people starving in the world, so you must clean your plate. How one affects the other is an unknown, but you did what you were told.
We need a holistic approach to losing weight, like affirmations.
Affirmations are short messages that you tell yourself to counter-act negative programming.
This would be something you say to yourself when your inner voice (in this case, mom) tells you to clean your plate. An example of a positive affirmation is “I am in control of what I eat”.
Many people do not realize how much negative programming that they have floating around in their brain until they try removing it. We have this programming because people were trying to help us in their own misguided way.
One way to break the pattern of overeating is to give yourself positive messages.
Positive messages include telling yourself “I make healthy choices” when tempted to snack.
Saying to yourself “I only eat healthy foods” can reinforce positive patterns of eating and can lessen the urges to eat poorly.
When you are successful in reducing your consumption of food, you can send yourself other types of positive messages, such as ‘I enjoy being healthy”.
These thoughts and phrases can help you in re-framing your relationship with food.
You think of yourself in a different way as a responsible person eating food for the right reasons.
Affirmations work best went stated in the present tense, as if they are true now. By saying them over and over, they can become true and replace negative statements like “I am hooked on sugar” or “I can’t watch t.v without chips”.
Guided imagery is a form of meditation that involves imagining yourself in a beautiful and serene place while focusing on your breath. The place you choose can be anywhere but most people choose beaches, mountaintops, forests, or meadows to imagine.
You imagine your body to be much thinner and that you can see, hear, and smell everything in the place you have chosen.
Think about how great your body feels now that you are at goal weight. Imagine looking down at your flat stomach…what does it feel like?
This practice relaxes you and gets you more in touch with your body.
The more you imagine life as you want it to be, the quicker your brain will get to work to help you create this reality. Why? Because your brain is programmed to help you to be happy.
Your brain cannot discern whether eating a chocolate bar actually makes you happy until you give it clues like “this is so yummy”. So flip the switch by imagining optimal health and do it often.
I used to think journaling was going to be a tedious and boring task for me.
I have so many journals strewn about my home that it can be mistaken for addiction.
It’s not. I just keep them everywhere so they’re handy. I have one that I “vent” into (super helpful for stressful work situations). And I have one for future plans (designing my dream home/vacation). And I have a small one for shopping.
Journals can help you get thoughts out of your head, so you stop thinking of bothersome situations and can instead focus on goals.
You can keep a food diary, to give you clarity on what you actually eat (most people under-estimate).
And you can keep a journal for how you feel as well. This is helpful for discovering whether certain situations (boss/co-workers/teenage kids) trigger you into unhealthy eating.
Meditation is one of the best techniques used in a holistic approach to weight loss.
I used to put meditation in the same basket as journaling, until I learned how to meditate. The trick I learned was to breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds.
That’s it. Repeat as necessary.
What this does is:
- Distract your mind from other thoughts
- Helps to calm you
- Give you time to process
You can do this in many situations that stress you out like sitting in traffic, or before you interview for a new job, or going on a first date. Anytime you think a situation will stress you out and trigger bad habits later, try it.
5. Subliminal Programming/Hypnosis
Of all these techniques, my personal favorite is subliminal programming. Subliminal programming by-passes your conscious mind and goes right to the sub-conscious.
This allows you to change negative thoughts into positive thoughts without your conscious mind putting up barriers.#easypeasy
I have my favorite topics on my phone
I use a bluetooth headband to let the messaging absorb into my brain while I sleep.
I have purchased several subliminal recordings from Brain Sync/Kelly Howell. Kelly has a couple of recordings where she reads the affirmations out loud but her voice slowly fades into the music.
I found that I would wake up to having a new attitude. It was effortless.
Topics include abundance thinking, positive thinking, money mastery, exercise, quitting smoking and others. Most of the topics that I chose have a background of ocean waves with some light electronic music overlaid, which I really enjoy.
You cannot hear the affirmations layered underneath; affirmations like:
- I am optimistic; I feel great, I love my life; I achieve my goals with ease (Positive Thinking)
- I love myself, I feel great; I eat what is good for me; I am active and full of energy (Weight Loss)
- My mind is open to the infinite supply of wealth; I allow it to flow freely and generously into my life (Attract Wealth)
Hypnosis does much the same thing, but you do hypnosis while you are awake.
You sit or lie down and get comfortable. You listen to the hypnosis recording and are guided into a relaxed state that makes your brain more receptive to the message. After that, you are guided to come back to the world.
There are tons of websites that you can sign up at to get free recordings. I personally like Steve G Jones.
YouTube has tons of hypnosis videos on all subjects.
Yoga is a centuries-old practice that will not just improve your balance and flexibility but can improve your mind and body connection so that you can begin to eat better.
It involves doing several different poses in tune to breathing exercises. Yoga is part meditation and part exercise. It can be one of the forms of exercise you do as part of a weight loss program and can help you learn to eat less because you are more in tune with your body.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese practice. It involves inserting thin needles into “meridian” areas of your body. The needles are single-use and it is quite safe when performed by a professional, or Doctor of Acupuncture.
Acupuncture is used for many health issues including pain management, and it has a very low rate of adverse reactions. I have had acupuncture performed on me many times for pain, and it is quite effective.
8. Related in a way is EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique. a.k.a tapping.
With EFT you tap on various meridian spots while rephrasing your feelings on different topics.
When I first heard of this technique, my first thought was “woo woo”.
But I am a believer now, and I will tell you why…
About 8 years ago, I was super stressed because someone had treated me very badly and it was affecting my life.
I went from not eating to binging, to drinking, to crying all day, to deep depression. I did not want anti-depressants and I was desperate to feel better.
I went back and forth about deciding to try EFT, and then fate intervened.
I was given a free one-hour session with an EFT coach from Great Britain. I am sorry that I cannot remember her name, because she was awesome.
I explained the situation and the coach helped me through about six rounds of tapping. I was crying the whole time, because I was re-living the pain, but I persevered.
And guess what? Afterward the pain was gone. Totally gone. And it never came back.
I went looking for more of this help, and I chose Brad Yates. I like Brad’s way of helping to clear negative programming.
And there is an added benefit in that he has hundreds of videos on YouTube. Like this one:
Just reducing your food intake can help you lose weight, but you need exercise to tone your body. This is essential as part of a holistic approach to losing weight.
Our bodies are designed to be outside and moving around. The modern world of office jobs and fake lighting works against this. Therefore, the easiest exercise to stick with are the “natural” ones, like walking and yard work.
Be careful in the early days of a weight loss not to over-do exercise.
Excessive exercise, like eating too few calories, throws your body into a tizzy. It gets confused and holds on to body fat in case you are in some kind of crisis situation.
This is your body’s “set point”. When you mess with it, your body fights back by not losing weight.
This is why most weight loss plans encourage you to take it slowly, because your body does not notice the slower weight loss as much, and you struggle less.
I saw this first handed when I tracked 29,000 steps on a busy day at work. When I came home, I literally could not get enough to eat.
I was eating and snacking for six hours as my body tried to store energy for the next time I burned that many calories.
Moderation is the key. Start slowly, adding a bit more time or more reps to build your fitness.
Cognitive behavioral therapy can teach you how to change your behavior in order to reach your goal of losing weight.
Check your local mental health directories to find a therapist trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy. This person can help you learn how to replace negative patterns of eating with more positive behaviors.
I learned a lot about being mindful of what I ate and when, using CBT.
Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you change your obsession with body image as the reason behind your trying to lose weight.
It can help you focus on losing weight because this is a healthy goal rather than because you hate how you look and want to change your appearance.
These techniques are very helpful in helping you learn how to eat properly and with a goal of healthy weight loss.
I have presented several different techniques that can help you to change thoughts and behaviors that do not serve you or your health. Pick the one(s) that resonates with you and discard the rest.
We are all different and no one thing works for everyone
However, it is important to at least try something different from your normal routine.
Holistic approaches never just address symptoms of specific health problems, but instead aim to return or keep the patient in a state of balanced health between mind, body, and spirit. Holism targets overall wellness, and when we are well, we only get better with age.
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Until next time, here’s to our health!