High cholesterol is one of the most common chronic health problems that can lead to several MORE serious issues. There are several different medications that can be prescribed to help lower cholesterol and while these medications are important, it’s also important to change your lifestyle and prevent yourself from needing them in the first place.
Side effects of cholesterol lowering medications called Statins (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) include:
There are several things you can do to help lower your cholesterol:
If you’re needing to reduce your cholesterol or risk for heart disease and stroke, pick one of the five listed ways to decrease your cholesterol and start implementing changes to make it part of your daily life. Make a SMART goal about the item you choose. For example- I will eat 25g of fiber a day by eating 5 servings of vegetables a day and using acacia fiber for the next two weeks.
Once you get one item down, move on to the next until you have all five of these as part of your lifestyle. You’re much more likely to succeed at lifestyle changes when you have someone holding you accountable and encouraging you along the way. Find a friend that wants to make the same changes or hire a health coach to exponentially improve your chances of making permanent changes to your lifestyle.
Did you know your fat is different colors?!You have both brown fat and white fat. You lose most of your brown fat as you age but you're born with a good amount of brown fat to help you regulate your temperature before your hypothalamus takes over.
Brown fat is somewhat of a hot topic right now because it's been recently (2009) discovered that adults have brown fat! Why is this significant?
Brown fat is an energy burner. It burns energy from white fat to heat your body up. When scientists looked at brown fat they discovered it has way more mitochondria (your body's power plant) than white fat and therefore theorize that brown fat can assist you in losing weight.
You naturally lose much of your brown fat as you age but there are a few things you can do to prevent its loss or promote the "browning" of white fat.
1. Expose yourself to cold. This one makes sense but research doesn't show any practicality unfortunately. Spending 2 hours at 66 degrees Fahrenheit may increase your brown fat because it stimulates the heat producing mechanism provided by brown fat just like it functions in babies. If you have a practical way to do this every day for several months, lemme know.
2. Exercise. There's been a study on men that showed when exercising for a few months some of their white fat turned to a beige color. Promising results and even more evidence that exercise is good for you.
3. Melatonin. Increase its production by avoiding screen time at night, good sleep hygiene and exposing yourself to light in the morning.
In summary, brown fat is an energy burner and white fat stores energy. It was thought that adults don't have brown fat until 2009 when brown fat was discovered in adults. The mechanism of brown fat in maintaining a normal weight is still being studied but researchers have observed normal weight adults have more brown fat. Early studies show that healthy behaviors promote the browning of white fat and retention of existing brown fat.
What does this mean for you? Keep up your healthy behaviors- sleep, exercise, manage stress, avoid sugar, drink water, etc. These are good for your body in more ways than we know!
Do you blame your metabolism for your propensity to gain weight when you look at a cheeseburger? You may actually be right. Your metabolism decides how efficiently you torch calories and use energy stores. But don't fret. You can change your metabolic rate! To make more effective change it's important you understand the basics of how your body uses food for energy.
Metabolism is “the processes that occur within a living organism to maintain life.” It is the process of cells creating energy. How do they do this? You may remember from high school biology the terms “glycolysis,” “Krebs Cycle” (aka TCA or CAC cycle) and “Electron Transport Chain.” In case you don’t remember what actually happens in these processes I’ll give you a high level view.
When you eat protein it’s broken down to amino acids. These amino acids are then used in the Krebs cycle to create energy. Protein is also used to create muscle, enzymes and antibodies.
When you eat fat it’s converted to fatty acids and glycerol through the digestive process. It then goes through a process called oxidation in your mitochondria that creates fatty acid acetyl CoA which can be used in the Krebs Cycle to create energy. Fat is also used for hormone production, energy storage and assists protein in its functions.
Carbohydrates are broken down to glucose through digestion or stored as glycogen in the liver. The glucose that’s not being stored is further broken down and then used in the Krebs Cycle for energy. Carbohydrates are almost exclusively used for energy but can be converted to fat for energy storage. It can be stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles for release when you need some extra energy.
HOW TO IMPROVE METABOLISM
When your body is very efficient as using the food you eat for energy you don’t store as much as fat. Your metabolism is somewhat determined by genetics but there’s good news- you can promote the expression of your helpful genes and turn down the expression of your “bad” genes through lifestyle changes. A newer field of genetics called “nutrigenomics” which is the study of how your genes are impacted by what you eat has consistently shown it’s possible to change genetic expression through what you eat. To promote your good genes to express themselves (control your energy use) you should eat more vegetables! Can it really be that simple? Eat at minimum 5 servings of vegetables every day.
Your thyroid is another big impactor of metabolism. You can support your thyroid to function at its best through other lifestyle factors. These include:
Basal Metabolic Rate and Total Daily Energy Expenditure
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the amount of energy your body uses at rest. It’s just the amount of energy your body needs for necessary functioning (heart beating, brain function, breathing, etc.). If you want to calculate your BMR you can google “BMR calculator” and find one that does this for you. If you’re a pen and paper kind of person you can use this formula if you’re a woman:
BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) - (5 × age in years) – 161
And this formula if you’re a man:
BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) - (5 × age in years) + 5
To make weight loss easier or weight gain more difficult you can increase your BMR by gaining skeletal muscle. Making more muscle and using those muscles will create an increase in energy expenditure.
Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is the amount of energy your body uses for all of your needed functions to survive as well as your typical activity throughout the day. You can also easily find an online calculator to figure out a rough estimate of your TDEE.
To increase your TDEE you have to move your body more. Spend more energy throughout the day and your TDEE goes up.
Scientists have made the discovery that people with a normal weight have different bacteria in their gut than people who are overweight. This is a very new field of study so we’re not sure yet how we can use this information to help with weight loss but we do know that taking care of gut bacteria is important. Luckily, this doesn’t really complicate matters because the behaviors that improve your BMR, TDEE and general health also improve your microbiome. Other things you can include are:
How you live life can have a HUGE impact on how efficiently your body functions. Taking care of your body will only work in your favor when you’re trying to lose weight. I cannot emphasize lifestyle changes enough! Your life should include these things:
Don’t you feel relieved to know there are things you can control about your metabolism? I’ve created a whole weight loss course to teach you how to think, eat and live to achieve a healthy weight.
You’ll get 7 learning modules plus 2 bonus modules as well as a >70 page workbook. The learning modules will teach you valuable information and the workbook helps you apply the knowledge to make the needed changes for weight loss. I’ll be available to answer any questions you may have along the way on a couple zoom calls (dates and times TBD). Don’t worry- if you can’t make it to the zoom calls can email me your questions and listen to the recording of the call later. You’ll also have access to exclusive coaching hours reserved only for my weight loss course participants.
During the weight loss course I teach you to build your meals using The FFP Method. This meal building method promotes overall health, optimizes your metabolism and hormones and is practical for use in everyday life. There are no rigid meal plans, forbidden foods, calculations or counting. I include a 2 week meal plan to get you well on your way to perfecting your meal building skills.
Enrollment only lasts one week (closes 4/18) so if you’re interested head over to my website to read more about the course and enroll!
Most people who set out to lose weight aren't giving it their first go. They're headed back to weight loss after either giving up on their efforts or having success that didn't last. So I invite you to take a deep breath and pause before you restart. Let's consider a few things that likely didn't work for you.
1. Deprivation- having "cheat days" and "good days" creates a mindset of deprivation that will increase cravings. If you've previously struggled with binging and severe restriction the deprivation approach will likely only work temporarily if it works at all.
2. Treating the symptom and ignoring the root cause- The symptom is being overweight and you're treating that by losing weight instead of focusing on the behaviors and reasons behind the unhealthy weight. Some people have an unhealthy relationship with food that turns it into their coping mechanism to control stressful situations causing over eating and weight gain. Others have physical issues that cause weight gain. Either way- starting a diet program that doesn't address these root causes will only treat the symptom. Until you treat the cause, the symptom will always exist but could be controlled temporarily by dieting efforts.
3. Doing it alone- Weight loss and healthy habit formation aren't easy. Doing these things alone makes it even harder. Even if someone in your household is trying to make the same changes it can get hard. Having someone outside of your household like a support person or group that can offer up support when it gets hard and give suggestions for how to overcome some obstacles can exponentially increase your odds of long-term success.
If you're not familiar with how to make a fab4smoothie you NEED to be. This is a method of making smoothies that will leave you feeling full while controlling calories and nourishing your body. You can read more about how to make a fab4smoothie here. (No, Kelly LeVeque doesn't pay me to recommend her method of smoothie making. I just think her method is spot on so I'm sharing it with you.)
Here's a fall fab4smoothie that you can try out!
There are few things more frustrating than doing a really good job on a diet and not losing ANY weight! AGHHHH!!!! I'll be sharing quite a few reasons why you aren't losing weight despite your best efforts. Discovering what the problem is or what needs to change is the first step to fixing it right?!
If you've been dieting for years and years there's a good chance that you've damaged your metabolism. This means that you've calorie restricted yourself for so long that your basal metabolic rate (BMR) actually slowed down because your body adjusted to not having as many calories. There are several strategies to recover your metabolism and these will work ONLY if you don't have any underlying health problems causing your metabolism to be slow (such as thyroid disease)-
If you have any imbalances of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone you'll likely experience weight gain. If you're having irregular periods, no periods or are pregnant, breastfeeding or going through menopause your hormones are changing. These changes in hormones impact everyone's body differently but often result in weight gain.
Testosterone is important for maintaining muscle mass and metabolism. Both men and women have testosterone however this hormone plays a more important role for men. Men have 7-8 times MORE testosterone than women.
You can regulate your hormones by-
Many of us have underlying inflammation we don't notice. We only notice weight gain (and difficult weight loss), fatigue, hair loss, digestive problems, joint pain, headaches and skin problems. (list is not all inclusive) Inflammation is driven largely by our diet but is also increased by our environment and stress. To decrease inflammation:
You're consistent but not persistent
Fat isn't just going to melt away because you felt hungry all week. Your body is adjusting to having fewer calories and may be getting rid of some fat around your organs such as your liver before it's going to get rid of any fat stores that you notice externally. Sometimes if you're not losing weight you need to give your body more time to respond to a caloric deficit. If your body is really resistant to weight loss it could take up to 4 months before you experience your first significant weight loss. Moral of the story- stay consistent AND persistent!
You need a new approach
No one's body is the same as yours. Sometimes if weight loss has stalled or never gets going it's because your body doesn't react well to whatever your current weight loss eating plan is. There are endless approaches to take towards weight loss but a few that I suggest are:
You're not being held accountable
Many times it's hard to keep yourself accountable. It's easy to not write down the unhealthy choices you eat in your food journal. So when you look back at what you've been eating and why your weight loss is stalled it can be difficult to pinpoint the problem. I encourage you to write down EVERYTHING you're eating if you're keeping a food journal. Also, find someone to hold you accountable. That person should help you remember why you want to lose weight, how you're going to lose weight as well as hold you to your goals. They need to have access to your food journals to encourage you to make healthy food choices. Don't sabotage your weight loss efforts with inaccurate reporting.
You haven't cut out processed foods
Processed foods are big inflammatory drivers and also increase your cravings for unhealthy foods. If you cut out processed foods not only will you cut out some pretty calorie dense foods but you'll also decrease inflammation in your body . If you've never heard of metabolic reprogramming I'm here to tell you it is wonderful. You can program your body to like healthy foods!!The more you feed healthy foods to your body the more it will want healthy foods making it easier to turn down unprocessed, less healthy foods.
Too many cheat days
Having "cheat days" isn't all bad unless you're doing it wrong. A cheat day doesn't mean binge day. It does mean that it's a day to not be quite as careful about what you eat. It can mean a day that you pick a sweet treat. If you have too many cheat days or too much cheating on your cheat day you'll find that the caloric deficit you've been working towards is no longer there.
Underlying health problem
Any autoimmune disease or disease based in inflammation can make it difficult to lose weight. It's important to work with your healthcare provider to optimize the disease process in these before you start attempting to lose weight. Decreasing your body's inflammation as much as possible will lend yourself to easier weight loss without such extreme measures.
Last but not least, if you're stressed you're probably going to have a hard time changing your body weight and composition because of some other pesky hormones I didn't mention above. Cortisol is a big driver of insulin resistance which means your body will more easily store fat. It will also make you more likely to over eat and crave sugar. It's pretty important for your entire body that you do your best to deal with stress in a healthy manner.
Now that you know some of your problems or what could prevent you from losing weight it's time to make a plan to overcome the problems. If you need some help with this reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.