My Weight Loss & Wellness Philosophy
I didn't set out to lose weight (not that I didn't need to). My body was breaking down and I set out to improve my health. So, you can imagine my surprise when in response to eliminating processed & packaged foods and targeting deeply nourishing foods, the pounds started to melt away.
From my appearance, you couldn't tell that my blood pressure decreased from dangerously high to normal or that my joints quit hurting but, you could tell that I lost 30 pounds.
I give you that background information because it’s not news to me that you’re probably here because you want to lose weight but, it may be news to you that I consider weight loss (the kind that isn't temporary) a bonus (secondary outcome) of improved health. My body released toxins & inflammation resolved (and I quit overeating) and my body eventually released the extra weight.
True weight loss occurs when the body is nourished and metabolic hormones are brought back into balance.
That’s it. That’s how it works.
That's about 25% of weight loss.
The other 75% is all in your mind.
It's all of the subconscious & unexamined beliefs we have about food. We've had them for so long, we don't even know we have them. Some examples are: what is (how we define or what we consider to be) "food", our entitlement to it, how easy it should be to buy & prepare, how tasty it should be, under what conditions we should eat it. I really could go on...but you get the idea. These things trip us up because they're running on a thought loop in our subconscious mind (revealed to us as our "habits" or the actions we take when we operate on autopilot) and they don't align with the actions we're taking to improve our health & lose weight.
This is willpower, when what we're doing does't match what we believe whether we know we believe it or not. This is what most dieting is. In some cases, the actions we take & the results we get are so compelling, we actually do change what we beleive (without even being aware). But food is soooo big that it's pretty rare to make significant changes without at least some amount of dissonance that needs to be identified and addressed.
This is the 75% work!
Oh, and there's one last mind piece; you've got to learn to be the new, thin person. I mean BE that person. You have to allow yourself to have this new body. Forever.
Tending to your mind & how you think about your weight, your diet (what you regularly eat), your health, all of it, is the structural piece to creating new habits because we know (scientifically, we know) that over time willpower wanes and old, unchanged habits reclaim our actions.
So please don’t be surprised when you work with me that:
I target improved health without much concern for the scale. It’s not that I don’t care about what you care about, it’s that I know how this whole thing works.
Mindset work is the bulk of what I offer you. It will make or break your long-term results.
Also know that you may well have spent decades achieving your current health status. I encourage you to allow this to be process, Understand that this isn't urgent. Let that thought really sink in. Be realistic about the time & effort needed for healing & weight loss, and for reprogramming deeply ingrained (and most unconscious) patterns of thought/belief.
This is life-changing work!
How I Decide What to Eat
I wrote a whole article on this that you can read (HERE) but the short version of what I take into consideration when I pick my food:
This is the quality fuel for my body which is my vehicle for enjoying being on this planet. I know there is a great deal of conflicting information out there about what makes up the “best human diet” and, to be transparent, I don’t know what that is *for you*. But I do know what foods pack nutrients and I chose those first!
This means the likelihood that a particular food will harm my body and lessen my joy. What foods are toxic and what foods aren’t is also quite “undecided” in the nutrition world as of right now. It’s also variable from person-to-person based on lots of individualities. But again, there are some “knowns” that are always worth considering
Every bite of food is not necessarily a party in your mouth but that doesn’t mean that healthy food can’t be enjoyable. To the contrary, I thoroughly enjoy my food and am always developing my capacity to increase it’s yumminess!
It’s always worth considering what you might otherwise eat. In other words, what food did another food displace on your plate?
What I Actually Eat (And Don’t Eat)
Meals (no snacks - except under extenuating circumstance). I explain this more (HERE).
No grains (really, 99.9% grain free or 100% - you pick!). I explain why (HERE).
No flour (even non-gluten flours) & no "flavorings"
Lots of veggies (mostly the non-starchy ones) that are loaded with healthy fats (I consider my veggies as little carriers for fat!)
A good amount of animal fat & protein (This would likely be a big mindset shift for you!)
Nothing that’s not a whole, unprocessed food
Nuts & seeds, fruit (almost always on salads or as an ingredient in another dish)
Herbs & seasonings
A minimal amount of cheese (and like nuts & seeds and fruit, it’s almost never on it’s own)
No bean (except coffee and the occasion peanut treat)
Dark (high quality) chocolate
Ice Cream (a small but very special dish twice a week)
Is My Diet Paleo?
“Paleo” is, by default, loosely defined & quite subjective. I mean, it’s prehistoric so, there’s some inherent guessing & conclusion-drawing involved. Right? And then we adulterated ”Paleo” with shortcuts & loopholes so that we could accommodate for paleo cookies, brownies & breads in our Paleo diets. You can do that and you can call it “Paleo” but if it doesn’t promote your health, it doesn’t matter what you call it or how neatly you’ve made your bread meat the definition..
So, basically, “Paleo” is somewhat an “in the spirit of” way of eating, not just because we don’t really know for sure but what we do know for sure is the our current foods supply (both plants & animals) is but a fraction (and much of it a very changed & distorted fraction) of what was available to our Paleolithic ancestors.
Not to mention (again), we want our internet! So…what is Paleo? It’s mostly anything unprocessed. Again, you can shortcut this but will it work?
Is my diet “Paleo”? Yes, for the very most part, I would say that it is. But it doesn’t really matter…
Is My Diet “Keto”?
“Keto” describes a state of metabolism (energy usage) by the body. But you’ve probably heard of it mostly as a diet or way of eating with the intended response being for the body to burn fat instead of the more common utilization of carbohydrates for energy. Ketones are the actual fat source of fuel. The body makes these from stored fat when it is easier for the body to access than blood glucose.
Yes, I think my way of eating, because it is low carbohydrate, very low sugar/starch, and high fiber plus ample dietary fat and a moderate amount of protein (only the amount needed to maintain my lean mass because excess is converted in the body to a carbohydrate), is often results in ketosis. It is quite natural for the body to shift in and out of ketosis and burn stored fat for fuel, which is actually a cleaner energy source for the body than carbohydrates.
Here’s the thing though, I don’t think it’s all that useful or even necessary to get all bogged down by “keto”. The body is a brilliant structure that, given the right circumstances, figures all of this out on its own.
Here’s the other thing, shifting from carb-burning (when you get “hangry” every few hours) to fat-burning (when your hunger is more of a gentle nudge to eat) isn’t always as quick as we would like. Your body has to not only have the right balance of macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates, & proteins), it also needs to be otherwise adequately nourished with micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, & everything else!), rest, movement, mental balance (this effects hormones too!).
I keep coming back though to the same way of eating! While there will likely be tweaks & adjustments for each individual, overall, the diet is very similar.
Why do I think it works?
Eating a micronutrient packed diet in the right macronutrient combination allows for the most nourishment to be absorbed by your body. And while the previous sentence may sound complex, with a bit of knowledge & know how, it’s actually way simpler than hopping from doctor to doctor for symptom management without any real cure, or navigating the drug store for medications & supplements & magic snack bars or powders to heal you.
The landscape of nutritional advice is confusing and conflicting at best. I spent a lot of time dissecting the recommendations & options. It is easily overwhelming. But the thought process that provided me the most clarity and confidence was to consider how the human body evolved to its healthiest and most optimal functionality. And this was what is considered a “Paleo” or “Ancestral” diet.
Basically, a hunter-gather diet. Of course, not exactly. OK, not even close. But as close as possible. Which turns out to be primarily whole foods with minimal processing.
I realize this is still quite subjective but it’s a very sound philosophy for thinking about food and with some effort and practice, the thinking will solidify for you and empower you to make the best decisions for your own personal health.
Who Convinced Me This Is All True?
My experience (including my setbacks & tweaks!) and now the experience of my clients are proof positive. Food matters and it’s no joke (even if your conventional doctor doesn’t believe it’s true).
How Did I Actually CHANGE my diet & lifestyle?
It’s hard, right!? My mind wasn’t any different that anyone else’s. It expected food rewards. I had subconsciously given food a different (yet very common) meaning than it is. At the end of the day, food is sustenance. While there is nothing wrong with food being delicious (this ensures that we’ll keep eating it and not die from food ambivalence) but it is, at its core, energy for our bodies and minds. It is not an emotional salve.
Coming to this understanding is the beginning of changing how you think about food. Again, food CAN (and SHOULD) be delicious. Creating the right balance is key to making good choices.
But ultimately, shifting how you think about food is the key to sustainable changes.
And I’ll be frank with you, this is where most people fail over the long run.