“I have been eating healthy, but it doesn’t seem to help.” “I’m working out more than ever, but I don’t see a change.” “No matter what I do, I just can’t seem to lose weight.” Does any of this sound familiar? You change your diet (and stick to it!) and don’t lose any significant amount of weight. You’ve been hitting the gym regularly (for months!) and haven’t seen a difference. No matter what you do, the scale won’t budge. What gives?
Healthy weight loss is not as simple as the old adage: calories burned should be greater than calories you consume. Instead, your metabolism is a complex interplay between multiple factors, each of which is unique to you. In this article, we’ll discuss how losing weight requires you to evaluate and address your own personal big picture.
What is an “integrative approach”?
The basic definition of “integrative” is to unify separate things. In medicine, the phrase refers to combining treatment of disease with complementary therapies. At our weight loss spa, we apply an integrative, holistic approach to weight management by looking at each individual’s complete set of physical, mental, emotional and environmental factors. The result is healthy weight loss that endures, not short-term progress that recedes quickly.
A complex set of factors influence your weight
A primary component of an integrative approach is to evaluate all of the factors that play into your body’s unique metabolic makeup. The team of experts at our weight loss spa begins by looking at a number of influences that shape your experience. Together, we review your stress levels, exercise history, the amount and quality of sleep you get each night, and your daily diet. We discuss your intake of drugs, alcohol, and other chemicals, like caffeine, processed foods, and pharmaceuticals. We administer a complete blood panel workup to examine your hormone levels. Only by obtaining a complete picture of your body and lifestyle can we determine your own personal ideal approach to healthy weight loss.
“Fad” diets don’t work
Part of our evaluation is to ask candid questions about your diet, exercise habits, and emotional stress levels. We’re looking for yo-yo diets, fasting, low-protein diets, high-fat or carbohydrate consumption, prolonged undereating and traumatic or prolonged stress. Not only can these things actually work against your efforts to lose weight–they’re also harmful to your health. When done to the extreme or practiced over long periods of time, these habits create metabolic damage. Your anabolic processes (the chemical reactions that synthesize molecules in your metabolism) cannot keep up with your catabolic reactions– the metabolic process of breaking down molecules for use in anabolic processes.
You appear to lose weight–at first
As your body breaks down more molecules than it synthesizes, you might initially see weight loss as a result. However, this is a short-lived victory. You’re not losing fat; you’re simply breaking down organ tissue, bone, muscle and other cell structures. Your body will rely on these functional and structural proteins to stay alive. Ultimately, you’ll reach a plateau where eating less and exercising more will result in weight gain. This is your body recognizing itself as being in a deprived state overall, so it will kick into conservation mode.
The Integrative Solution
Before you can achieve lasting weight loss, you must heal your metabolism and bring your body back into balance. This will require making some fairly significant changes to your diet and lifestyle. You’ll need to start eating a diet that primarily consists of whole-foods, replace micronutrient deficiencies with prescribed nutrient supplements, prioritize quality sleep, and engage in stress management techniques and therapies to help manage your emotional state, both overall and in your relationship to food.
Bringing each and every one of the factors above into balance is not the goal of healthy weight loss: it’s the starting place. It requires a shift in mindset from, “What one thing should I be doing more—or less—of?” to, “How are all the factors in my system working together to promote–or inhibit–my goal of reaching a healthy weight?” When you step back and look at the big picture, everything begins to make more sense.