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One of the hardest parts about starting a fat-loss program is knowing you won’t be able to eat a lot of the foods you enjoy. At least, not in the same quantities. For this reason, some people try to achieve their fat-loss goal through exercise alone, hoping they’ll burn enough calories during their workout to make up for poor diet choices.
WHY EXERCISE ISN’T ENOUGH
First of all, exercise tends to increase appetite, says Tiffany Chag, RD, a sports dietitian at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. If you’re not paying attention to what and how much you’re eating, you could take in more calories per day than you were getting before you even started your exercise program. “We don’t really realize we’re doing it,” Chag says. Over time, this could lead to stalled results or even weight gain.
In a recent study, a group of lean, overweight and obese women followed an eight-week exercise-only program. Not only did the women see zero fat reduction, but appetite hormone levels increased significantly in overweight and obese participants. These hormonal changes could explain the lack of fat-loss results, according to researchers.
THE CALORIES PARADOX
In addition, exercise only burns a small percentage of calories in the overall scheme of things. A vigorous 30-minute strength session, for example, only burns roughly 223 calories for a 155-pound person, according to Harvard Health. That’s the approximate equivalent of a couple of tablespoons of olive oil or a protein bar.
Granted, exercise — and strength training, in particular — will have you burning calories long after your workout is over, but it may not be as much as you think. “People often get a false sense of how many calories they’re actually burning [during exercise],” says Steve Moore, MS, lead physiologist and health coach with the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing LiveWell Fitness Center at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.
All too often, we assume we’re burning more calories than we actually are, which makes it easier to reach for higher calorie foods. In fact, we can overestimate the calories burned by as much as four times the actual amount, leading us to eat 2–3 times our caloric expenditure from that workout, according to the results of a study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness.
In other words, just because the display on the treadmill or elliptical says you burned 300 calories, doesn’t mean you actually did: “Those [machines] are notorious for being wrong,” Moore says.
THE BOTTOM LINE
You might lose fat through exercise alone, but you’ll have far greater success if you pair your exercise with a healthy diet.
In a study published in Obesity, overweight and obese postmenopausal women who followed a combined diet and aerobic exercise program lost more weight over the course of one year than women who followed a diet- or exercise-only program. Still, the women who followed the diet-only program lost significantly more weight than the exercise-only group (8.5% versus 2.4%), and only slightly less than women who followed the combined program (8.5% versus 10.8% for the combined approach).
Don’t think you have to completely overhaul your diet or add crazy amounts of exercise to see results. Set achievable goals, like adding one extra serving of vegetables per day or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and focus on meeting those goals for a few weeks before adding in other changes, Chag says. “[Your goal] has to be something that’s measurable, but set the bar so low that you can’t fail.”
If you feel overwhelmed trying to build a healthier life for yourself, stop stressing. You can perform the simplest tasks and still create a more active, flourishing life. Plus, executing such small activities can put you on a path toward accomplishing your larger health and fitness goals.
If you struggle with any of these issues, try incorporating these easy actions into your daily life and you should begin noticing encouraging changes:
If you’re ever feeling unproductive, a power nap could help. In a study published by Sleep, researchers found a nap lasting as little as 10 minutes mitigated short-term performance impairment. “What’s surprising is how little sleep is necessary for better focus,” says Martin Rawls-Meehan, CEO of Reverie, an organization that creates sleep systems. Plus, he says a nap can reduce your body’s levels of cortisol — a stress hormone responsible “for a lot of the negative physiological effects.”
If you’re ever lacked the motivation to work out, spend a moment thinking of friends and family. In a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers asked 220 sedentary adults to complete one of two self-transcendence tasks: reflect on what matters most to them (such as friends and family) or make repeated positive wishes for both strangers and people they know. A control group reflected on what mattered least to them. Then, everyone viewed health messages encouraging physical activity. Results showed those who thought of others decreased their overall sedentary behavior versus those who did not think of others.
Researchers looked at data from almost 92,000 middle-aged people and found that those with disturbed sleep patterns were more likely to experience depression or bipolar disorder. Worse yet, one of the culprits of bad sleep was something completely within people’s control: scrolling the internet in the middle of the night on their cellphones, according to a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry. To negate the negative effects of disrupted sleep, Rawls-Meehan suggests using an old-fashioned alarm clock and charging your phone overnight in the kitchen — completely out of reach.
Feeling sluggish and bloated? Dr. Brian Levine, the founding partner and practice director of CCRM New York, says to avoid foods like white rice and white sugar that cause inflammation. Although you might crave these foods, swapping them for a healthier alternative just one meal per week can help you begin a healthy diet transformation — you don’t need to make sweeping food changes right away.
For example, instead of chicken and rice, try chicken with cauliflower. You can pulse the vegetable in a food processor until it resembles the consistency of rice, say Jessica Jones, RD, and Wendy Lopez, RD, of Food Heaven Made Easy. Or, swap one cup of white sugar for a half a cup of honey. According to a review published in Pharmacognosy Research, “honey can act as a natural therapeutic agent for various medicinal purposes” such as diabetes and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
You don’t need meditation experience to begin a compassionate meditation practice. In fact, all participants in a study published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience had no background in meditation. But in 20 minutes a day for two months, researchers found people who practiced compassionate meditation increased their social support, felt more purpose in life, decreased illness symptoms and enhanced their life satisfaction. To start such a practice, simply sit with your eyes closed, concentrate on your breathing and think of someone you love. As you get more comfortable, expand your thoughts to more people you know, then on to strangers and on to the world. Although you will still hear bad world news, you should start to achieve a healthier ability to digest negative information.
Kick the New Year off right – reset your diet, your health and invigorate your life!
Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND offers Naturopathic Medicine with a Functional Medicine approach. She helps people better digest their food and the world around them. She is a Naturopathic Doctor, a Certified Gluten Practitioner, HeartMath Certified Practitioner and is engaged in a year long training module at the Kresser Institute of Functional Medicine.
Achieve Optimum Health
Why wait until disease sets in? A visit to Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can help you identify nutritional deficiencies before disease sets in. With a physical exam and intake that looks at your hair, skin, nails, sleep, stress and diet, Dr. Laura may identify nutritional deficiencies that, if left alone may lead to a number of common problems:
- dry skin
- leg cramps
- peripheral neuropathy
- poor workout recovery
- poor memory and concentration
- brittle, cracked or peeling nails
Food Sensitivity Testing
Sometimes we can be sensitive to foods and not even know it. Testing helps identify what foods may be bothering your system. Using blood or electro dermal screening test will help identify foods that need to be rotated, avoided or eaten occasionally. Knowing your personal food fingerprint may help reduce or even eliminate skin conditions, depression, anxiety, headaches, stomach aches, joint pain and more.
- Electro Dermal Screening Tests
- Blood Tests
Naturopathic Medicine is a comprehensive framework for medicine that looks at the body as a whole and integrated biological web of physiological function. Dietary analysis helps see if you get the ratio of fats, carbs and protein that best suits your individual requirements.
Clinical and laboratory testing is used to evaluate optimum levels for your best health. Most conventional interpretation use metrics that diagnose disease… but why wait until then? Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can evaluate:
- Physical evaluation of the health of the hair, skin, nails
- Dietary analysis helps identify meal timing and preference, macronutrient balance
- Blood tests are available to evaluate status of nutrients like iron, B12, folic acid, magnesium, calcium, zinc, copper, Vitamin D.
- Electrodermal screening will help identify an imbalance of a given nutrient.
Kick off the new year with an overview of your nutritional status and find your optimum health. Call 519.826.7973 to book your appointment today.
Experience the State of Calm Energy
Can you really change your emotional experience by changing the expression on your face or the shape of your body? How does an actor cry on demand?
Is it possible that the very tools you need to bring yourself into a state of calm energy are with you where ever you go?
Emotions and physiology are undeniably linked. We see it when the blood pressure rises in anger, the heart beating rapid before we get on a stage, and muscle tension when we are holding mental anguish.
The ability of the nervous system to engage the metabolic resources in response to external pleasure or pain is crucial to our survival.
From such simple examples to complex paradigms, how can we deny the relationship between body, mind and also the spirit?
How do our body actions and energetic states relate?
Do you find your shoulders constantly up around the ears, eyes squeezed and darting back and forth, thoughts circulating around being emotionally attacked? You are in a state of fear. Fear can often be paralyzing.
If you take a moment to observe your breath, is it shallow, do you maybe even feel light headed or dizzy from hyperventilating, are your muscles tender and sore from being tense? You are likely in the company of an old friend named anxiety.
Or can you sense your breath to and fro from the abdomen, your body relaxed without being slack, feeling alive without feeling stiff, consciously in touch with the many blessings in your life? You are in the blessed state of gratefulness.
Have you ever been wrapped up tight in a ball and feeling weak and small? Try making your body into the shape a very big star – stand tall, step one foot sideways, a little wider than shoulder width apart. Reach the hands up and then out to the sides. Ideally you are making your body take up as much physical space as possible. Take a very big breath in and out, then let the breath naturally rise and fall and you look up to the sky – stay here for at least 90 seconds. Do you feel free and strong?
When you visit a naturopathic doctor, your health assessment is medically focused however your emotional, spiritual, cognitive, physical aspects are holistically considered. Learn more about the Physiology of Emotions with Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND on Thursday May 12th at Goodness Me! in Guelph (at the corner of Gordon and Wellington).
Find out your one of a kind, individualized treatment plan to help bring the paradox of calm energy back into you life by booking an appointment with Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND at Forward Health in Guelph (at the corner of Gordon and Kortright) today.
Ever think you could be addicted to sugar?
Here’s what could be driving your cravings for sweets:
HANGRY = Hungry and Angry!!
Dips and spikes in blood sugar can wreak havoc on your moods. When you have a sugary drink or sweet it spikes your blood sugar and then the body rushes to put that sugar into the cells, resulting a drop in blood sugar and – you guessed it – craving for more sweets to bring the blood sugar back up again.
Let’s face it, we are pleasure seeking beings and when we use sweet treats to reward ourselves for a job well done, it changes our brain so that we look for sugar as a reward. Dopamine is a reward chemical that gets affected in sugar addiction as well as cocaine addiction.
Bacteria and Yeasts
The microbes in your GI tract can preferentially feed themselves by communicating to your enteric nervous system by sending signals for “more carbs please” or specific foods to provide the nourishment they require. Candida is a yeast that occurs naturally in our intestinal flora but overgrows during periods of stress, long term use of birth control pills or use of antibiotics. An imbalance of Candida can increase cravings for carbohydrates (sugar) – driving them from yeast to fungal form which can cause things like headaches, sinus problems, skin rashes, bloating and indigestion.
Effects of Too Much Sugar
Blood sugar dysregulation can lead to mood swings, weight gain and lack of energy. Long term it can lead to diabetes type II, inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, yeast overgrowth and non-alcoholic fatty liver.
Help to Kick the Habit
Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND has tools to help you kick you sugar cravings, loose weight, avoid or even reverse type II diabetes.
Book for your free 15 minute consult to learn more on how Dr. Laura may be able to help you or get started right away. Call (519)-826-7973 to set up your appointment.