Which Way to Weight Loss?
If you are tired of trite New Year's resolutions and dread yet another diet, a more holistic approach to weight loss might be what you're craving. While it's true that some people can achieve their ideal weight by simply joining a gym or adopting a "fad" diet, for most people a multifaceted approach works best — one that involves nutritional, lifestyle, psychological and behavioral strategies.
The first and most obvious factor in weight loss (or maintenance) is what you eat. However, it can be hard to determine what you should eat, with all the conflicting information that exists on the subject. Are carbohydrates "in" or "out"? Should you eat "good" fats or hardly any fat? Should you eat right for your blood type or according to "The Zone Diet?" Unfortunately, there is no one right answer. But what is important is to learn about nutrition and become skilled at preparing healthy meals, whether you choose a weight-loss program or go it alone.
The Bastyr philosophy is that a whole foods diet, consisting primarily of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, helps people achieve and maintain optimal weight and optimal health. This whole-foods style of eating also helps you feel satiated.
Beyond the diet
But if you can't seem to shed or keep off those pounds in spite of whatever regimens you adopt, you may want to delve deeper. The real issue is not about diets. The issue is the role that food plays in your life. For people who struggle with weight, food might be a source of pleasure, escape, reward or the way they cope with difficult emotions or circumstances.
If you suspect this may be true for you, one strategy is to become aware of how you spend your time, especially if you tend to ignore your own self-care. Then it helps to identify and change the underlying distorted beliefs that perpetuate this behavior, such as "I have to take care of everyone else, or else no one will like me." Many people need to learn to say "no" and to realize they don't have to be perfect.
Taking time to get in touch with the feelings and thoughts that "trigger" overeating (perhaps by keeping a journal while eating) can also lead to weight loss. In addition, you might want to determine whether or not you have any food sensitivities, since offending foods can trigger overeating.
Address the 'physical'
And yet, food-related strategies alone will not suffice. You absolutely need to have a “physical” component to your life as well. Lauren Oktay, ND, clinical supervisor at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, agrees. "Exercise is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. I recommend my patients try to find an activity they can do regularly that makes them feel happier — whether it be dancing, gardening or jogging in the park," she says.
In the meantime, you can't hate your body to a better body image. You need to break through the distorted belief that “if I'm fat or overweight, I'm ugly and unlovable.” It is important to accept your body as it is today and know you are deserving of love, caring and self-respect. Once you understand that, you can start letting go of excess weight.
Bastyr Center for Natural Health offers resources for all these approaches to a healthier body and body image. We have nutritionists, counselors, and naturopathic physicians always on staff to discuss your needs and support your health.
Writer: Sydney Maupin, Christy Anderson--staff writers
Contributors: Randy Brandeis, MSW;
Lauren Oktay, ND
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