My 6 Favorite Hacks to a Leaner Body
“Humans are no longer satisfied with simply living longer; they want increased quality of life and prolonged health during their senior years.”
Seeking the Fountain of Youth
For hundreds of years, man has sought his “Fountain of Youth” – that special elixir that would defy time and provide endless youth, strength, and vitality.
And while we’ve made great strides in longevity, almost doubling our lifespan over the last hundred years, our “healthspan” is shrinking.
We are living longer but our health is giving out sooner.
Unearthing the root cause
There are many factors that influence our health and longevity. But one in particular that is known to accelerate sickness and premature aging is our weight – specifically – how heavily we tip the scales.
In the US today 60% of us are either overweight or obese. And the excess weight we carry is not only a source of unhappiness and frustration. It’s shortening our lives.
“Excess body weight and adiposity cause insulin resistance, inflammation, and numerous other alterations in metabolic and hormonal factors that promote atherosclerosis, tumorigenesis, neurodegeneration, and aging. ”
It is well known that living leaner means living longer – and healthier, and yet, getting there and staying there seems to have eluded us.
What’s the answer?
Lie detecting and myth-busting
For years, all the experts have harped at us that the key to weight loss is: Exercise more. Eat less.
Have you ever tried it?
If so, you’ve probably experienced results similar to those of the “Biggest Losers”, individuals who were promised an effective remedy for their obesity.
After a hugely restricted diet (30% restriction) and hours of grueling, superhuman workouts (sometimes as much as 7-8 hours a day), they all lost LOTS of weight. However, once the show was over the weight came back with a vengeance. And now all but one are back to where they started and some are even heavier.
Ever wonder why The Biggest Losers never have a televised reunion?
Clearly something’s off here.
What don’t the experts know?
“There’s a dirty little secret that nobody is willing to admit: The low-fat, low-calorie diet has already been proven to fail. This is the cruel hoax. Eating less does not result in lasting weight loss. It just. Does. Not. Work.” Jason Fung, MD, “The Obesity Code”
Dr. Jason Fung, in his book, The Obesity Code, lays it all out, explaining that the body is always seeking to maintain balance. It’s called homeostasis.
When we cut calories, the body, in all its wisdom, cuts its energy consumption, slowing your metabolism to match what’s coming in.
At the same time, our hormonal systems shift, increasing our signals to EAT and diminishing those that tell us we’re full. Once again trying to bring us back to our original weight.
The hoax of the biggest loser
In the case of the Biggest Losers, their diet was restricted so severely, that the metabolism of the participants dropped precipitously and stayed there.
And, when participants went back to a normal level of calories for their size, their metabolisms were burning far fewer calories and all the excess was stored as fat.
“Their Resting Metabolic Rates (RMR), the energy needed to keep the heart pumping, the lungs breathing, your brain thinking, your kidneys detoxing etc., drops like a piano out of a 20 story building. Over six months, their basal metabolism dropped by an average of 789 calories. Simply stated, they were burning 789 calories less per day every day.” Jason Fung, MD
There’s much more to the story (you can catch it on google) but for now, here are some tips to help you with your own personal weight-loss program.
First, the do-nots…
- Do not severely cut your calories. Take it from the Biggest Losers… Your body will fight you. You may lose a little weight at the start, but then you’ll plateau, get frustrated, feel like an abysmal failure (not a good feeling), and give up – and maybe even start eating more carbs to assuage your frustration. Don’t do this!
- Do not spend hours at the gym expecting your workouts to help much with weight loss. Exercise has very little impact on weight loss. It can help to build muscle – a good thing – and is also crucial for good overall health. So exercise, but do it for the right reasons.
- Do not stress over weight loss or create ridiculous unachievable time frames for losing weight. It took you some time to get where you are today. It’s gonna take a little time to undo it. Stressing over your weight or forcing yourself to the gym – especially when you absolutely hate going there, triggers the one hormone you need to keep quiet and that’s cortisol. Because elevated levels of cortisol put more weight and fat on your body.
- Avoid fast-results diet programs, pills, and magical potions – This one comes with much experience. Diets don’t work and, besides, they’re no fun. Stay with a steady, long-term, achievable plan.
1. Eat a little less & a little less often – This advice comes from David Sinclair, Ph.D., and author of LIfespan. Why We Age And Why We Don’t Have To. There’s a big difference between severe CR and just eating a little less. Most of us eat way more than we need and way too often – and over time it shows. Find your “sweet spot” – not too much, not too little. Just enough to feel pleasantly satisfied.
2. Establish a minimum 12-hour fasting period – Going without food from dinner to your first meal of the next day will help to control insulin – a hormone that when constantly triggered leads to insulin resistance and weight gain. Increasing your fasting window occasionally to 14 or even 16 hours is shown to have even greater benefits for fat and weight loss.
3. Slow down – Eating fast generally translates to eating more since it takes about 20 minutes for your belly to notify your brain that it’s full. Take a bite… put your fork down… discuss politics (or maybe not)… take another bite… discuss the weather?…
4. Pay more attention to WHAT you eat than HOW MUCH you eat. We all know that a meal filled with sugar, pasta, rice, bread, and other white stuff, won’t help your weight-loss efforts. Refined carbs convert quickly into sugar in your veins and fat on your body. Diminish the processed carbs and focus on high-quality proteins (organic, grass-fed, and wild meats and fish), good fats (EVOO, salmon, nuts & seeds), and abundant vegetables and fruits.
5. Prioritize your sleep – A study by the University of Chicago found that sleep deprivation (sleeping 4 to 5 hours a night) increases hunger. It literally messes with your hormones, driving up ghrelin (the “I’m hungry” hormone) and decreasing the hormone that signals “I’m full” (leptin).
Strive to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. And don’t make the mistake of thinking that 8 hours in bed equals 8 hours of sleep. There’s a big difference I found when I started tracking my sleep with an App called Sleep Cycle. Give it a try or check into Oura, a wearable ring that will help you assess your quality and quantity of sleep.
6. Sit Less. Move more – Think that intense hour in the gym will make up for hours of sit time? Think again. Long hours of sitting convert to a lower metabolic rate, less fat burned, and more fat around the middle. It’s a perfect storm not only for weight gain but for other chronic conditions.
If your work requires long periods of sit time, consider breaking it up during the day. Get up to take your phone calls. Set a reminder on your phone to get up every hour or so. Take the stairs, not the elevator. Look for a distant parking spot or add a short daily walk into your schedule. Add a couple of short workouts into your day. (I’m a fan of the 7-minute workout. Anyone can do and it’s fun and quick.)
7. Patience – We all want immediate results, but, as they say, good things take time. Doing the little things time and time and time again compound for you.
Of all the concerns expressed to me as a health coach, weight loss tops the list. Try out a couple of these suggestions for yourself and see what feels right for you. And if you’re ready for a program that will kick-start your progress to lean, join me in May for a 5-day fast to improved health and longevity.
Look for more on that coming soon…
With love always, ♥