New Year’s WEIGHT LOSS Resolutions: Friend or Foe?

by Dr. Tracy Brobyn~Well, it’s that time of year again folks. The time of year where we look ourselves in the mirror and vow to rebuild ourselves. We believe we have the technology (or at least we hope we do). “We have the capability to be better, stronger, faster”… and especially THINNER. Let’s face it though, although getting healthy is pretty cool, getting thinner is everybody’s top priority. In our quest to find that one elusive trick to losing weight, we lose sight of what our original goal was i.e. to make ourselves better.

By now, you are probably well aware that there are no tricks to weight loss. No amount of herbs, special dietary foods, or medicines will shed those pounds without calorie reduction. But there are small fairly easy changes we can make that will make us “better”. When I say better, I don’t mean bionic, I mean healthier. And if these changes are maintained over time, it may even lead to some weight loss but more importantly will make us feel good. Remember that even making one small change consistently over time equals big results. Here are Brobyn’s 5 cardinal rules for getting healthier and feeling good:

REDUCE OR ELIMINATE GLUTEN IN YOUR DIET

While it’s true that bread has served as a staple for the human diet for thousands of years, today’s wheat is not our ancestors’ wheat. Now through the power of hybridization and genetic engineering, many of today’s grains may contain up to 40 different types of proteins in one bite. The human body is not equipped to deal with that many different protein exposures all at once and it puts a tremendous burden on our immune systems. This can lead to excessive inflammation which can later translate into allergies, joint pain and, of course, weight gain. So do yourself a favor and lay off the bread and pasta. Choose starches like sweet potatoes, quinoa or better yet more leafy greens.

EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE!!!

Your ancestors likely spent 8-12 hours per day toiling in a field or engaged in some equally sweat producing activity. It’s not a lot to ask for 3-5 hours per week of a similar high energy physical activity. The human body was not meant to sit in a chair peering at a computer screen all day. The literature about this is very clear: exercise leads to a reduction in ALL CAUSE MORTALITY and MORBIDITY. That translates into a decrease in rates of death and/or getting sick for any reason. I include in that list cancer, heart disease, stroke, and even getting hit by a bus (afterall, what out of shape person can outrun a bus)! You can even include mental illness such as depression in that list. It has been shown that exercise in the elderly is as effective as medication for depression. So grab your Mom, Grandma or Great Aunt and get out there. Your body will thank you if you do.

FEED YOUR SOUL

You’ve probably heard it before but if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. You must have balance in life and that includes balancing activity with rest. We are great at activity, that is behavior or action for a given purpose (sadly for most of us, that doesn’t include physical exercise). There seems to be an endless barrage of expectation in the average American life whether it’s wowing our boss at that next meeting or planning a birthday party for 20 screaming five year olds. In fact as a people, we are always busy doing something even when we are doing nothing. For instance, when watching TV our bodies are trying to absorb thousands of stimuli per minute. Most of us are sorely lacking in our ability to achieve inactivity, in other words relaxation and peace. Luckily there are several skills whereby we can return to a peaceful state of mind such as prayer, yoga or meditation. Without that rejuvenation, our bodies don’t know how to stop releasing stress hormones such as cortisol. Excess cortisol leads to, you guessed it, increased weight as well as other conditions including chronic fatigue and insomnia. Do yourself a favor and learn how to truly do nothing. In other words turn off the cell phone and empty your mind in order to return yourself to a state of peace.

EAT GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES

I tell patients that they should look at their plate and half of it should be vegetables. This seems like an impossibility for most Americans and is a main contributor to our obesity epidemic. When you aren’t eating vegetables, you are likely eating something bad for you. Sure they are a pain to prepare and cook. Sure they go bad easily. Sure they are not filling. But they have magic in them you can’t even imagine such as vitamins and minerals that are absolutely essential to the proper function of a human being. Plus if you are stuffing your face with vegetables, you probably aren’t stuffing it with junk. Enough said.

AVOID PREPARED FOODS

When I first heard the term “prepared foods” I thought to myself, “What does that mean, aren’t all foods prepared by someone?” The answer to that is yes but often it is not by you. Why should that matter? Well, it matters because if you didn’t make it, you don’t know what’s in it and that’s just not healthy. When you didn’t make it, the ingredients are more likely to have preservatives, sugar and unhealthy fats. Unfortunately, that is how the food industry gets food to keep from spoiling in addition to keeping their overhead low and profits up. Reading the labels on prepared foods helps but you need know what to look for. For instance, sugar isn’t usually listed as sugar. It can be listed as high fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, brown rice syrup or a myriad of other pseudonyms. Nevertheless these are all different forms of sugar. If you make that sauce yourself, you know how much sugar is in it and you can control how healthy or unhealthy it is. Basic, simple ingredients are best. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware of how difficult this can get in the average chaotic family especially where both parents work. Still it’s progress, not perfection that you should strive for.

Great change is only achieved if what you do becomes habitual. Therefore those changes need to be brief, simple and few. If you follow these, you won’t lose 100 pounds by next year but you will lose. More importantly, you will feel better. And isn’t that what getting healthy is all about?

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About Dr. Tracy Brobyn

Dr. Brobyn is a board certified Family Practitioner with over 17 years of clinical experience. She is also an established medical educator . Several years ago, Dr. Brobyn took her skills to a new level with a pursuit in alternative medicine. She completed her training in medical Acupuncture through the Helms foundation in 2011 and now practices an innovative and highly effective combination of alternative therapies as an associate at the Chung Institute of Integrative Medicine in Mooorestown, NJ (www.chunginstitute.com). With the unique, non-traditional approach practiced at the Chung Insititue, she is able to offer hope to those who have been unable to find answers through the standard medical paradigm, specializing in those difficult to treat illnesses such as fatigue, chronic pain, gastrointestinal discomfort as well as hormonal and nutritional imbalance.

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