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Fertility and Weight Loss

Fertility and Weight Loss

Weight loss is about living a healthier, happier life. Why not? Losing those extra fats can indeed improve overall wellness. For many people – both men and women – it is also to increase the chances of getting pregnant. As it turned out, being overweight or obese has a negative implication on fertility. Read on to understand why that is so to have a better understanding of the science.

Infertility in Canada

The widely accepted definition of infertility is failure to conceive after one year or longer of unprotected sex. For women, fertility declines steadily with age. Hence the general recommendation for women 35 years or older is to consult with a reproductive endocrinologist if unable to get pregnant after six months of unprotected sex. Keep in mind, though, that infertility is not exclusive to women but also men.

In Canada, if you were to gather six couples together, there is a chance that one of them may have a fertility issue. 1 in 6 or 16% of couples experience infertility, a number that has doubled since the 80s (“Fertility”).

The cause of infertility in couples by gender are as follows:

  • 30% man
  • 40% woman
  • 20% both man and woman
  • 10% no reason found

There is no denying that infertility can take a toll on relationships, negatively impacting emotional and psychological well-being. The cost of treatments can also place a heavy burden on finances.

Overweight and Obesity in Canada

On weight, healthcare professionals refer to the body mass index (BMI), a calculation based on an individual’s height and body mass.

BMI = weight / height in meter squared

A person with BMI ranging from 18.5 to 24.9 is healthy and most ideal. If it falls between 25 to 29, that person is overweight. At 30 and above, that person is obese.

Overweight and obesity are a long-standing concern in Canada. Consider these figures in 2018 (“Overweight and Obese Adults, 2018”):

  • 8% or 7.3 million Canadian adults (18 years and older) are obese
  • 3% or 9.9 million Canadian adults are overweight

The numbers are staggering. A combined 63.1% of the population are either overweight or obese. Although there is no evidence, perhaps it could be one factor contributing to the continuous decline of the fertility rate in Canada (“Canada Fertility Rate 1950-2020”).

Canada’s fertility rate (births per woman) over the last four years:

  • 2021: 1.500
  • 2020: 1.509
  • 2019: 1.517
  • 2018: 1.525

A fertility rate of 2.1 is a must for the population to stay stable. It has been half a century since Canada met this threshold. At the present course of 1.5, the number of new births is not enough to replace the current population. It is the reason why the government introduced measures to accept 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021.

Fertility and Weight

Discussing the causes of infertility among men and women and treatment options is beyond this article’s scope. In particular, our focus is on weight (body fats) and how it affects fertility.

Infertility in Overweight or Obese Women

Overweight and obese women need more time to conceive. Furthermore, obesity increases the risk of infertility threefold compared to non-obese women (Silvestris et al.). The difficulties in getting pregnant are due to unhealthy weight, causing hormonal imbalances, inability to release an egg from ovaries, and menstrual disorders.

For women seeking assisted reproduction, excess weight negatively impacts intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), in-vitro fertilization (IVF), and ovulation induction.

Note: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which causes low fertility or infertility, is an obesity-related condition.

Infertility in Overweight or Obese Men

Every single-point increase in BMI causes a 2% testosterone decrease (Travison et al.). The waistline is, too, a factor, with every 4-inch increasing the chances of low testosterone level by 75% (Svartberg et al.).

Compared to men with normal BMI, being overweight increases the chances of low sperm count (oligozoospermia) by 11%, no sperm in the ejaculate (azoospermia) by 39%. In obese men, the chances of low sperm count increase by 42%, and no sperm in the ejaculate by 81% (Sermondade). Mainly, this is due to a prime hormonal defect leading to the inability to maintain testosterone concentrations (Katib). Consequently, it negatively impacts the production of sperm.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is another condition that may arise. For instance, having a BMI of 28 increases the chances of developing this condition by 90% (Garimella et al.).

infertility and weight

Weight Loss and Fertility

There are hundreds of studies on the negative impact of being overweight and obese on health, including fertility. The logical assumption is that for such people to be fertile, they have to lose weight. Indeed, a study shows that much. Losing even only 5% to 10% of body weight can already restore fertility (Balen and Anderson).

Particularly for women, PCOS can be the cause of overweight or obesity. The imbalance in reproductive hormones prevents ovaries from releasing an egg. For women trying to get pregnant, that difficulty does not end there. PCOS also causes insulin resistance that stops ovulation because the ovaries produce less estrogen and more testosterone.

With a BMI of 25 or above, weight loss greatly benefits women’s fertility – and men, too. It is also commonly believed that it helps improve the success rate of fertility treatments. However, recent studies suggest the improvements may not be as significant as previously thought (Gaskins). The focus, therefore, should not merely be about losing weight but also following a healthy diet. It is a must because there is also the entire pregnancy period to consider.

Citations

“Fertility.” Government of Canada, 2013, www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/fertility/fertility.html.

“Overweight and Obese Adults, 2018.” Statistics Canada, Government of Canada, 25 June 2019, www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-625-x/2019001/article/00005-eng.htm.

“Canada Fertility Rate 1950-2020.” Macrotrends, www.macrotrends.net/countries/CAN/canada/fertility-rate.

Silvestris, Erica, et al. “Obesity as Disruptor of the Female Fertility.” Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, vol. 16, no. 1, 9 Mar. 2018, 10.1186/s12958-018-0336-z.

Travison, Thomas G., et al. “The Relative Contributions of Aging, Health, and Lifestyle Factors to Serum Testosterone Decline in Men.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, vol. 92, no. 2, Feb. 2007, pp. 549–555, 10.1210/jc.2006-1859. Accessed 10 Dec. 2019.

Svartberg, Johan, et al. “Waist Circumference and Testosterone Levels in Community Dwelling Men. The Tromsø Study.” European Journal of Epidemiology, vol. 19, no. 7, July 2003, pp. 657–663, link.springer.com/article/10.1023%2FB%3AEJEP.0000036809.30558.8f, 10.1023/b:ejep.0000036809.30558.8f. Accessed 2 Nov. 2019.

Sermondade, Nathalie. “Obesity and Increased Risk for Oligozoospermia and Azoospermia.” Archives of Internal Medicine, vol. 172, no. 5, 12 Mar. 2012, p. 440, 10.1001/archinternmed.2011.1382. Accessed 9 Jan. 2021.

Katib, Atif. “Mechanisms Linking Obesity with Male Infertility.” Central European Journal of Urology, vol. 68, no. 1, 2015, 10.5173/ceju.2015.01.435.

Garimella, Pranav S., et al. “The Association between Body Size and Composition and Erectile Dysfunction in Older Men: Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, vol. 61, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 46–54, 10.1111/jgs.12073. Accessed 15 Oct. 2020.

Garimella, Pranav S., et al. “Association between Body Size and Composition and Erectile Dysfunction in Older Men: Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, vol. 61, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 46–54, 10.1111/jgs.12073. Accessed 15 Oct. 2020.

Balen, Adam H., and Richard A. Anderson. “Impact of Obesity on Female Reproductive Health: British Fertility Society, Policy and Practice Guidelines.” Human Fertility, vol. 10, no. 4, Jan. 2007, pp. 195–206, 10.1080/14647270701731290. Accessed 13 Dec. 2019.

Gaskins, Audrey J. “Recent Advances in Understanding the Relationship between Long- and Short-Term Weight Change and Fertility.” F1000Research, vol. 7, 26 Oct. 2018, p. 1702, 10.12688/f1000research.15278.1. Accessed 8 Oct. 2020.

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Hormonal Imbalance and Weight Loss

Hormonal Imbalance and Weight Loss

Hormone balancing medications, supplements, diets, and programs are some of the most intriguing weight loss methods. When hormones misfire, the claim is that it leads to uncontrolled weight gain or futile attempts at weight loss. By correcting the hormonal imbalance, you can prevent obesity. More importantly for many people, it aids in getting rid of unwanted fats.

Hormones

Hormones, secreted by endocrine system glands, act as the body’s chemical messengers. These chemical substances find their way into the bloodstream and get transported all over the body. Upon binding with an organ’s receptors, they send a signal instructing it to function in a specific way. It is in this manner that they play an essential role in controlling and coordinating vital bodily processes, such as:

  • Growth and development
  • Heart rate
  • Body temperature
  • Sleep cycle
  • Reproductive cycle
  • Sexual characteristics
  • Mood
  • Appetite and metabolism

Aside from the processes mentioned above, hormones also play a role in energy use and energy storage in the body. They also regulate the fluids, salts, and glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Hormonal Imbalance and Weight Loss or Gain

The endocrine system secretes more than 50 types of hormones to maintain homeostasis (List of human hormones). Not all of them affect the entire body, as some target only 1 or 2 specific organs. A hormonal imbalance – too little or too much of a hormone – can trigger a severe response even if the change is tiny. The inability to keep bodily functions stable leads to a plethora of conditions, including uncontrolled weight gain or sudden, unexplained weight loss.

Which hormonal imbalances lead to weight gain or weight loss?

1. Insulin

During digestion, carbohydrates from food get converted into glucose. Simultaneously, the pancreas secretes insulin, which triggers glucose and nutrients’ uptake in cells from the bloodstream (expressed as calorie). Once absorbed, glucose becomes energy.

An excessive food intake, particularly high-calorie foods, results in the body producing more calories than needed. Then, the body converts the unused calories into fats, storing them throughout the body, especially in the belly. Failing to live a healthier lifestyle, the accumulation of fats increases weight, which increases the risk of insulin resistance (Kolb et al.).

Over time, the body’s sensitivity to insulin decreases. Consequently, the pancreas secretes higher insulin levels to continue supplying energy to the cells. Without intervention – exercise, better food choices and eating habits – the vicious cycles continue. The body keeps producing higher levels as insulin resistance keeps increasing, leading to diabetes (Olatunbosun and Griffing).

Recently, researchers found a connection between the brain’s sensitivity to insulin, weight, and fat (Kullmann et al.). For one, it determines where the body stores fats.

It also appears that lifestyle intervention for people with high brain sensitivity to insulin can lose more fat and weight. On the contrary,

those with high brain insulin resistance do not lose much weight at all. Furthermore, they regain weight sooner, thus rendering weight loss programs ineffective.

You can look at the relationship between insulin and weight loss as this. It is possible to promote weight loss by controlling – suppressing, or lowering – high insulin levels (Velasquez-Mieyer et al.).

Related article: 4 Ways that Stress Can Affect Your Weight Loss Success

2. Cortisol

The build-up of physical, mental, or emotional stress levels triggers the “flight-of-fight” mode in the nervous system. In turn, the brain responds by signalling the adrenal glands sitting atop the kidneys to secrete cortisol – more popularly known as the stress hormone – as well as adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Think of cortisol as the body’s defence mechanism, a response to perceived or actual threats (Understanding the stress response). It helps heighten your senses and increase energy level by pumping fuel into the bloodstream to run away from danger or fight the stressor. At the same time, it also stops the digestive system and lowers the metabolic rate.

Cortisol and adrenaline produce a burst of energy by breaking down fat. Likewise, these hormones also tap into the carbohydrates stored in the liver and muscles. Instead of losing weight, more people undergoing stress tend to eat more and end up gaining weight (Herhaus et al.). If a high cortisol level contributes to weight gain, low levels may also produce the opposite results – weight loss (Neary and Nieman).

3. Thyroid

Hypothyroidism is an illness caused by an underactive thyroid gland, affecting 2 out of 100 Canadians. A thyroid hormone deficiency primarily slows down the metabolic processes (Hypothyroidism). People suffering from thyroid problems cannot stand cold temperatures, feel tired quickly, gain weight, and more.

The lack of thyroid hormones makes it incredibly challenging to lose weight. However, some medications to normalize its levels appear to help in modest weight loss (Agnihothri et al.).

4. Testosterone

Testosterone hormone in men mainly comes from the testicles and ovaries for women (although at much lower levels). A deficiency may occur with advancing age, leading to late-onset hypogonadism, affecting several organs (Morales et al.). For men, it negatively impacts reproductive and sexual function by causing low sex drive, difficulty with erection, and low semen volume. Because of these, it is – for many – considered as one of the essential sex hormones.

A healthy level of testosterone promotes muscle growth while also suppressing fat gain. As muscles burn more calories than fat tissues, it helps minimize the storage of excess calories as fat. On the other hand, a testosterone deficiency makes it easy for men to gain more weight (Fui et al.).

5. Estrogen

For women, the “dreaded” menopause is when many of them start to gain weight. It is when one estrogen levels drop. In particular, estradiol – a form of estrogen – helps regulate metabolism, keeping body weight in check (Russell et al.). Its decline leads to the accumulation of fat in the abdomen and midsection.

weight loss

6. Leptin

In 1994, scientists made an exciting discovery. Leptin – dubbed obesity hormone, fat hormone, starvation hormone, and hunger hormone – appeared to be a breakthrough treatment for weight loss.

Leptin hormone, produced by fat cells, plays a role in weight management by signalling the brain that there is already enough fat stored. This action curbs appetite to help prevent overeating.

If its level drops, the brain interprets it as starvation, increases appetite, and slowly burns calories (Kelesidis et al.).

An imbalance, particularly leptin resistance, can also occur when the body no longer responds to this hormone. This condition can cause a person to gain weight, and scientists believe it to be a leading cause of obesity (Park and Ahima).

Related article: Why Weight Loss is more than Counting Calories – Part 1: Hormones Play a Role

Hormonal Imbalances and Weight Loss Resistance

Gaining weight due to hormone issues may involve one or more hormones. In some cases, the gain is gradual while sudden in others. Because these chemicals play such an integral role in body processes, other symptoms also occur.

How do most people respond to weight gain?

Unfortunately, many people seek instant gratification by resorting to quick fixes. However, they are not entirely to blame. Makers and sellers of supplements and medication are excellent at creating enticing marketing campaigns. The best way to lose weight, however, is to change lifestyle habits. Exercising, eating healthy food, and getting enough sleep are the preferable ways. As for people who seem to have reached their weight loss plateau and suspect hormones might be the cause, seek help to regain hormone balance.

Citations:

“List of Human Hormones.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Mar. 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_human_hormones.

Kolb, Hubert, et al. “Insulin Translates Unfavourable Lifestyle into Obesity.” BMC Medicine, BioMed Central, 13 Dec. 2018, bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-018-1225-1#Sec9.

Olatunbosun, Samuel T. “Insulin Resistance.” Edited by George T Griffing, Medscape, 8 Apr. 2020, emedicine.medscape.com/article/122501.

Kullmann, Stephanie, et al. “Brain Insulin Sensitivity Is Linked to Adiposity and Body Fat Distribution.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 15 Apr. 2020, www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-15686-y.

Velasquez-Mieyer, P A, et al. “Suppression of Insulin Secretion is Associated with Weight Loss and Altered Macronutrient Intake and Preference in a Subset of Obese Adults.” International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2003, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1490021/.

“Understanding the Stress Response.” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, 6 July 2020, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response.

Herhaus, Benedict, et al. “High/Low Cortisol Reactivity and Food Intake in People with Obesity and Healthy Weight.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 27 Jan. 2020, www.nature.com/articles/s41398-020-0729-6.

Neary, Nicola, and Lynnette Nieman. “Adrenal Insufficiency: Etiology, Diagnosis and Treatment.” Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2928659/.

“Hypothyroidism.” Thyroid Foundation of Canada, thyroid.ca/resource-material/information-on-thyroid-disease/hypothyroidism/.

Agnihothri, Ritesh V, et al. “Moderate Weight Loss Is Sufficient to Affect Thyroid Hormone Homeostasis and Inhibit Its Peripheral Conversion.” Thyroid: Official Journal of the American Thyroid Association, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Jan. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3887425/.

Morales, Alvaro, et al. “Diagnosis and Management of Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome in Men: Clinical Practice Guideline.” CMAJ, Canadian Medical Association Journal, 8 Dec. 2015, www.cmaj.ca/content/187/18/1369.

Fui, Mark Ng Tang, et al. “Lowered Testosterone in Male Obesity: Mechanisms, Morbidity and Management.” Asian Journal of Andrology, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955331/.

Russell, Ashley L, et al. “Dietary Isoflavone-Dependent and Estradiol Replacement Effects on Body Weight in the Ovariectomized (OVX) Rat.” Hormone and Metabolic Research = Hormon- Und Stoffwechselforschung = Hormones Et Metabolisme, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5820000/.

Kelesidis, Theodore, et al. “Narrative Review: the Role of Leptin in Human Physiology: Emerging Clinical Applications.” Annals of Internal Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 19 Jan. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2829242/.

Park, Hyeong-Kyu, and Rexford S. Ahima. “Physiology of Leptin: Energy Homeostasis, Neuroendocrine Function and Metabolism.” Metabolism, W.B. Saunders, 15 Aug. 2014, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0026049514002418.

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Fighting Weight Gain in Children During COVID-19

Fighting Weight Gain in Children During COVID-19

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created a difficult situation for parents in Toronto and across the country. Social isolation remains one of the most important methods for mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus. Many parents are continuing to keep their children home from school and prohibit normal forms of social contact. That’s great for reducing the spread of the coronavirus, but it’s having an unintended consequence: increasing rates of child obesity.

 

If your child is already overweight, don’t give up. There are plenty of things parents can do to help their children stay active. That’s true even when access to school or regional sports activities is limited. A combination of increased physical activity and better nutrition may be enough to keep already-fit children in shape.

 

For those children already suffering from childhood obesity, a visit to a Toronto Weight Loss Clinic can help even more. Get in touch to discuss your options today by calling 416-221-1583 or booking a free consultation in-person or online.

 

The Underlying Problem

 

Weight gain has been a problem for many Canadians during the pandemic. Some are even referring to their added pounds as the “quarantine 15.” Unfortunately, child obesity is no joke. Being overweight in childhood increases the chances that you will become obese as an adult. Obesity leaves you predisposed to developing a range of more serious health conditions.

 

It can increase the risk of:

 

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Strokes
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Hypertension
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Cancer
  • Mental illness
  • And other serious problems

 

Parents want what’s best for their children. In this case, that means helping them attain and maintain a healthy weight to prepare for becoming a healthy adult.

 

Complicating Factors

 

Weight gain has both genetic and environmental components. It’s true that some people, including children, are predisposed to gain extra weight, especially during times of stress. However, pediatricians are noting that their young patients are gaining weight across the board. That points to environmental, rather than genetic, factors.

 

The primary problem is that most parents rely on their children’s schools and after-school programs in normal times. Now, most of these athletic programs are shut down. Parents who want to play an active role in helping to keep their children healthy are being forced to step up. Many have no idea what to do, and just about everyone has too much on their plates, already.

 

Obesity and Risk of COVID-19 Complications

 

For the last year, scientists have learned a lot about COVID-19. They’ve learned that while COVID-19 remains rare in children, obesity can be a risk factor for developing complications.

 

Experts believe there is a combination of factors that lead to worse clinical outcomes for obese children. Obese children are more likely to suffer from comorbidities like hypertension and dyslipidemia. They also tend to have less lean insulin resistance, more adipose tissue, and higher pro-inflammatory cytokine levels. All these factors are associated with immune, respiratory, and cardiovascular damage.

 

Obese children are more likely than their peers to experience severe complications from COVID-19. They may include the need for ventilation or intubation, a higher risk of thromboembolism, changes in immune response, and a more prolonged recovery. In other words, if there was ever a time to encourage weight loss, it’s now.

 

What to Do About It?

 

The first step is to come up with a plan. It’s important to avoid shaming your child about his or her weight gain. Just like adults, children are feeling the stress of the pandemic. They’ve had their lives turned upside down, and it should come as no surprise that many are stress-eating.

 

As a parent, your job is to offer support, advice, and compassion. You can start by encouraging more activity. It can help to incorporate physical activity into the family’s lifestyle. Keep in mind, however, that children ages six to 17 need more vigorous and frequent exercise than adults.

 

School-aged children should be getting at least an hour of moderate-to-vigorous exercise each day. They should also engage in a range of exercises for maximum effectiveness. The best way to get kids started on new exercise routines is to get them, personal trainers. You can contact us at 416-221-1583 to speak with a dedicated weight loss expert who can help.

 

Aerobic Activities

 

Most of your child’s 60 minutes of physical activity should involve aerobic exercise. While it’s still warm enough, try encouraging activities like bike riding or going for runs with the family dog.

 

You may also have to get more creative as temperatures drop. If your child doesn’t love ice skating, try virtual classes. Learning how to dance or perform martial arts can be considered a moderate-to-intense aerobic activity. Plus, your kids will love the classes.

 

Strength Training Activities

 

All children and adolescents should perform muscle-strengthening activities as part of their daily workouts at least three times per week. If you already perform strength training workouts, now would be a great time to get your kids involved.

 

Keep in mind that younger children may need to start with easier exercises. Have them try beginner push-ups instead of regular ones, for example, or spot them while they are performing pull-ups. Younger children respond especially well to being included in their parents’ exercise routines.

 

Don’t love strength training yourself? You should be leading by example, but if you don’t have the time, that’s fine. Encouraging kids to climb trees, play tug-of-war, or even swing on playground equipment can do the trick for younger children.

 

Bone-Strengthening Activities

 

Most bone-strengthening activities combine aerobic exercise and strength training. The difference is that they focus on building bone mass as well as toning muscles. Examples of activities that fall into this category include gymnastics, jumping rope, running, and even skipping.

 

Your older children can also incorporate resistance bands or body-weight exercises into their daily routines. Children should perform bone-strengthening or weight-bearing activities at least three times per week.

 

Adolescents and Exercise

 

If you’re raising a teenager, you might be wondering how all of this applies to your family. Chances are, your teen won’t be interested in learning your yoga routine or going out to climb trees. If you’re having trouble getting your teenager up and moving, don’t despair. It may just take a different approach.

Here are a few things you can try:

 

Offer Information

 

Don’t call teenagers out on their weight. Instead, offer helpful information about how valuable physical activity is. Not all teens are aware of the benefits of regular exercise. Let them know that physical activities aren’t just for fun. Frequent exercise can also help with stress, improve sleep, and even make it easier to focus while studying.

 

Suggest the Right Activities

 

Try to brainstorm activities that will appeal to teens’ interests and won’t feel too overwhelming. Adolescents who are already struggling with obesity may also have self-esteem problems. Attempting workout routines that are way too hard will only teach them learned helplessness. They’ll stop trying and will assume there’s just nothing they can do.

 

Emphasize Small Goals

 

Instead of telling a teen to get up and moving for an hour every day, start with smaller goals. Think about it like this: if you got up and went for a five-minute run one day and felt pretty good afterward, you’d be more likely to repeat it. Add five more minutes each week, and you’d be running for half an hour in just a month and a half. Plus, you wouldn’t be pushing yourself so hard you’d feel destined for failure.

 

Be a Good Role Model

 

If you prioritize physical activity, your children probably will, too. That’s because teens are especially predisposed to an observational learning mechanism known as indirect modeling. Teens who grow up with active parents are more likely to exercise or participate in sports voluntarily.

 

Nutritional Needs

 

There’s a common misconception that children who suffer from obesity just eat too much. In reality, that’s rarely the case. Most obese people of any age aren’t over-eating. They’re eating the wrong foods.

 

As a parent, you need to make sure your child is getting adequate nutrition. It can be unsafe to place a child on a fad diet. Instead, focus on making family-wide changes that will help your child prioritize healthy eating, more generally.

 

What Is Healthy Eating?

 

Even adults don’t always know what healthy eating habits look like. A healthy diet isn’t about placing strict restrictions on yourself or counting calories. It’s about choosing nutrient-dense foods and avoiding refined sugar, processed foods, and empty calories.

 

To maintain healthy eating habits, you might need to make some changes. If you’re not into healthy eating yourself, it’s time to learn. Instead of eliminating entire food groups, focus on creating well-balanced meal plans that have all the following essential nutrients.

 

Protein

 

Protein isn’t just responsible for giving your children the energy they need to get up and moving. It also supports cognitive function and can even improve your mood. Try to incorporate a variety of protein sources, from lean meats to plant-based proteins. Legumes, nuts, and soy are all high in protein.

 

Fat

 

Many people assume that they need to cut fat out of their diets for the sake of weight loss. That isn’t strictly true because not all fat is the same. Healthy fats like omega-3s are vital for maintaining heart and brain health. Industrial-made trans fats are the real problem. Cutting out processed food should eliminate most of them.

 

Dietary Fiber

 

Many whole foods are rich in dietary fiber. Eating a high-fiber diet is essential for anyone who wants to lose weight. Try to increase your family’s intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables so that everyone is getting enough fiber.

 

Calcium

 

Calcium is primarily related to bone health, which is very important for growing children. Calcium insufficiency doesn’t just weaken bones. They can also contribute to depression, anxiety, and even insomnia. All of these problems can make it more difficult for your kids to get enough daily activity. Incorporating calcium-rich foods like milk, yogurt, cheese, and beans into family meals can help.

 

Carbohydrates

 

While protein gives you long-term energy, carbohydrates provide a quick energy boost. It’s important to focus on complex carbohydrates, not refined carbs. Try to replace white bread, pastries, and starches with whole-wheat alternatives. It’s a great way to lose weight, regulate blood sugar, and even improve mood.

 

Tips for Making the Switch

 

It will be very difficult to convince your child to eat healthy if you don’t do the same. That doesn’t mean you have to throw out every sugary treat in your house. It just means you should start making small changes every day that will eventually add up to healthier eating for everyone. Here’s how you can get started:

 

Prepare Meals at Home

 

Buying prepared meals or ordering takeout from restaurants makes it very difficult to focus on nutrition. You need to take charge of your family’s eating habits. Cooking meals at home can help you avoid unhealthy foods and incorporate more of the nutrients your children need.

 

You don’t need to be a master chef to prepare your own meals. If you’re not used to cooking at home, start with easy recipes. Just make sure they’re healthy.

 

Find Replacements

 

It can be very hard to just give up unhealthy foods. Replacing them with healthier alternatives makes it easier. Try switching out the fried chicken for grilled salmon, for example, or eating fruit instead of sweet treats.

 

Practice Moderation

 

If your child loves sweets, don’t ask him or her to cut them out entirely. Instead, focus on moderation. Encourage everyone to take smaller servings of unhealthy foods and save confectionery treats for special occasions.

 

Consult a Professional

 

Losing weight the healthy way is hard. If making basic changes doesn’t help, your child might benefit from diet therapy. Cutting calories is always safer when performed under the supervision of a professional. You can call 416-221-1583 to speak to someone who can help.

 

Get Help Now

 

A combination of diet therapy and a targeted exercise plan is often the best plan for helping children lose weight. Parents shouldn’t have to figure it out alone. Instead, you can take your child to a Toronto Weight Loss Clinic that specializes in providing pediatric services.

 

At clinics, Naturopathic Doctors, professional weight-loss experts, personal trainers and body contouring specialists  will be available to create a customized plan and offer advice. Call today to schedule an appointment and get started. Get in touch with us to book a free consultation or call (416)-221-1583 to schedule an appointment and get started.

 

 

 

 

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Gaining Weight During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Gaining Weight During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us differently. Many Toronto residents have found themselves spending more time indoors, and stress levels across Canada have been on the rise. The result? Consumers have been exercising less, eating more junk food to cope with the stress, and gaining weight as a result.

Unintentional weight gain can lead to all kinds of physical, mental, and emotional problems, but we have the solutions Canadians need to get back on track. Whether they’re looking for naturopathic advice on healthy eating and exercise habits or information about cellulite reduction and body contouring, consumers can read on to find out how to lose weight and keep it off.

 

What’s the Solution?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to weight loss. Some people can lose weight through dieting and exercise alone, while others find that even months of dieting won’t get rid of their stubborn belly fat. Don’t get discouraged. We’re here to help.

 

The Problem with Fad Diets

There’s a right way and a wrong way to lose weight, and fad diets almost always fall into the latter category. Instead of encouraging healthy lifestyle changes, they often insist that consumers can simply cut out undesirable foods, or even entire food groups, then start shedding pounds like crazy.

While some fad diets can help some people lose weight in the short-term, they rarely produce long-term results. Plus, they can cause serious health problems, such as:

  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Weakness and fatigue

Fad diets claim to provide a universal solution to the problem of how to lose weight, but they rarely deliver on their promises. They’re just not worth the risk.

 

A Better Solution

Instead of following dangerous and ineffective fad diets, more Torontonians than ever are choosing to lose weight the healthy way. They’re visiting naturopaths.

 

What Are Naturopaths and How Can They Help with Weight Loss?

Naturopaths are medical professionals who combine different treatment modalities to help patients maintain optimal wellness. In the context of weight loss, these treatment modalities can include botanical medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, lifestyle counseling, nutritional counseling, and others.

They take a holistic approach to weight loss by helping patients address whole-body issues and make lifestyle changes that will produce optimal long-term effects, not just in terms of weight loss, but also in terms of overall health and wellness.

 

Factors that Affect Weight

Helping patients who have been gaining weight during the coronavirus pandemic requires more than just recommending healthy eating habits. Every body is different, so naturopaths start by evaluating the underlying causes of their patients’ weight problems. These can include:

  • Poor genetics
  • Mobility restrictions
  • Chronic diseases
  • Slow metabolism
  • Food sensitivities
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Stress
  • Poor sleep
  • And other medical or lifestyle factors

Determining the underlying problem behind weight gain is the first step toward coming up with a comprehensive personalized treatment plan, so expect to spend two hours with our naturopathic weight loss counselor before receiving any recommendations. We may also request lab testing for analysis to rule out problems like hormone imbalances, thyroid issues, and other underlying medical conditions.

 

The Basics of Eating Healthy

Learning how to choose healthy foods is harder than many people think. Most of the supposed diet foods sold in supermarkets aren’t as good for consumers as their packaging makes them sound, and healthy eating requires more than just counting calories.

 

Go For Whole Foods

Following a whole-food diet is the best way to lose weight without depriving the body of the nutrients it needs. Whole foods are fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and meats that don’t contain added sugars, starches, flavorings, or manufactured ingredients. Think of them as the opposite of processed foods.

 

What to Eat

Instead of focusing on calories, check the ingredients lists on food packaging to see what it contains. Foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and dried nuts, seeds, and beans usually undergo minimal processing and may not even have ingredients lists. They’re usually safe.

When it comes to meat and dairy, try to look for minimally processed options. That means choosing meat, poultry, and seafood that hasn’t been treated with antibiotics and doesn’t come pre-marinated. Milk is only minimally processed via pasteurization, as are regular cheeses and yogurts. It’s perfectly fine to include them in moderation in a healthy diet.

 

What to Avoid

There are a few telltale signs that a food product doesn’t fit the bill when it comes to health and nutrition. Heavily processed foods typically include extra ingredients designed to improve shelf-life, change their taste, or alter their appearance. Products that fall into this category include:

  • Jarred pasta sauces
  • Snack foods like potato chips and cookies
  • Deli meats
  • Frozen dinners
  • Candy and other manufactured sweets
  • Baked goods
  • Soda
  • Almost anything found in a convenience store

When evaluating options at the store, check the ingredients list. Look for refined carbohydrates, processed grains, and added sugars.

Tracking down added sugars can be a challenge. There are over 30 words that manufacturers use instead of sugar on their ingredients lists, but as a general rule, any product that has no added sugars is a safe bet.

The best way to follow a whole-food diet is to cook at home using unprocessed ingredients. It takes more time, but consumers will know exactly what they’re eating and won’t have to worry as much about deceptive marketing.

 

Starting a New Exercise Routine

Want an excuse to get outside for some fresh air after being cooped up for months? There are plenty of forms of healthy exercise that consumers can do on their own either outdoors or in their own homes.

Given that experts across the globe have come to a relative consensus on the fact that COVID-19 spreads primarily indoors, there’s no harm in donning a mask and heading out for a run, a bike ride, or even a swim provided there’s a safe place to take one. Just make sure to balance cardiovascular workouts with strength training, and always make sure to stretch.

 

Cardiovascular Workouts

Cardiovascular exercise is any form of physical activity that gets the heart pumping and increases blood flow throughout the body. Those who are just getting started with a new weight loss routine should begin with easy workouts that include walking, light jogging, bike riding, or swimming. There’s plenty of time to work up to running marathons, so take it slow at first.

 

Strength Training

Strength training involves targeting specific muscle groups to improve strength and endurance. It’s not just for bodybuilders, so don’t fall prey to that misconception. Strength training can also help consumers interested in excising the extra pounds they’ve put on during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Everyone should be performing basic strength training exercises like squats, push-ups, planks, and weight lifting. Those who want to take their workouts to the next level without risking a trip to the gym can even make homemade dumbbells using gallon milk jugs.

 

Dealing with Stubborn Fat

Sometimes, eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise just isn’t enough. Thankfully, modern medical science has provided plenty of safe, non-invasive methods for removing stubborn fat.

Weight loss acupuncture is a good option for those who prefer homeopathic therapies. Combining it with more modern approaches like body contouring, cellulite reduction, and laser treatments can provide optimal results when it comes to excising those extra pounds.

 

The Bottom Line

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all weight loss program. The best way to lose weight is to visit a weight loss clinic that specializes in integrative care and personalized treatment plans.

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5 Foods to Toss if You Want to Keep the Weight OFF

5 Foods to Toss if You Want to Keep the Weight OFF

Everyone knows to eat more vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats when trying to lose weight. But which foods should you avoid? After you’ve lost weight, can you reintroduce those bad foods? Having an occasional treat is fine, but any more than that and you could start putting weight back on. Avoid the following five foods if you want to keep the weight you’ve lost off for good.

  1. Frozen TV Dinners

Foods that don’t require any processing are perfectly healthy to freeze and eat, like fruits and vegetables. Other foods, especially those that have been processed, can’t be frozen without preservatives. Frozen TV dinners are guilty of using salt and other additives to keep the ingredients fresh while frozen. The extra salt in these meals causes you to bloat from water weight.

Instead, opt for homemade meals or takeout from restaurants that focus on serving whole foods.

  1. White Pasta Noodles

To produce white noodles, cereal, and bread, the grains must be heavily processed. This process removes most of the nutrients from the food, namely fibre. We need fibre to slow down the digestion process so that we feel fuller longer. When white pasta digests, it causes the body to release insulin which then stores the calories from the pasta as fat.

To continue losing or maintaining your weight, opt for whole grain pasta, cereal, and bread.

  1. Sugary Drinks

Excess sugar from any source, even fruit, is bad for the body. Sugar addiction has become an epidemic in Canada. Some of the main culprits of this epidemic are sugary sodas and juices. In fact, Health Canada has officially removed fruit juice from its food guide. This is due to the intense and substantiated link between sugary drinks and obesity.

Instead, drink water sweetened with whole fruits.

  1. French Fries

The body depends on unsaturated fats to support cell structures, maintain cognitive function, and promote heart health. The fat you ingest from French fries is not the healthy kind. This kind of fat, trans fat, has zero health benefits. It’s known to increase LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream and increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. Trans fat can lead to obesity and weight gain, so avoid it.

You can maintain your weight by eating healthy fats like omega-3s and 6s from salmon, nuts, and safflower oil.

  1. Some Alcohol

No one’s saying you have to cut out alcohol altogether. However, it’s important to understand how that margarita could contribute to your weight gain. When you enjoy a drink or two, you aren’t aware of how many grams of sugar you’re consuming. It’s too easy to exceed the limit and lose motivation to stay healthy. Even worse, when there’s alcohol in your body the liver puts all its energy into removing it. In this intense toxin-removal phase, it doesn’t burn fat.

Imbibe on special occasions with a low sugar drink but avoid drinking more than one.

If you’re excited about your weight loss, don’t throw it all away for some fries and sangria. Keep up your motivation and stay on a healthy path. Avoid the five foods listed above because they can halt the momentum you’ve worked so hard for. Keep those extra pounds off by eating non-processed, whole foods.

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What is Water Weight & Does it Matter?

What is Water Weight & Does it Matter?

Every function and process in your body requires water. In fact, water makes up 50 percent of your body weight. However, the amount of water you retain after your body’s natural functions heavily depend on your diet.

For many, excess water weight feels like bloating. But, here’s the thing: your body isn’t bloating because of the water. It’s bloating because of the foods you eat.

Yes, losing water weight will make you look thinner. But that doesn’t mean you should drink less. Dehydration is a big problem for the body. When you restrict your water consumption, you will notice a handful of symptoms. You may experience dry skin and eyes. Your thyroid slows down which decreases your metabolism. You could experience headaches, joint pain, mood swings, lack of focus, and bad breath. It’s also possible to notice a decline in muscle mass when you’re dehydrated.

So instead of limiting your H20 intake, focus on changing your diet to lose that pesky water weight.

Certain food groups are notorious for making your body store extra water. If your diet contains a lot of sodium, your cells get notified to absorb the water and swell up. Furthermore, your body will then store sodium when its insulin levels in the blood are higher than normal. What causes insulin levels to rise? Sugar. A diet heavy in salt and sugar will result in excess water weight.

Another culprit for water-based bloating could be your carbohydrate intake. Every gram of carb that your body uses for energy causes an extra 3 grams of water to be stored. Ever notice how bloated and uncomfortable you feel after a carb-dense meal like pasta and garlic bread?

During the weight loss journey, many people notice a significant initial weight loss. This is because we’re most motivated to change our health and fitness at the beginning of the journey. In those first few weeks, you will lose some of the water weight because your diet will ultimately limit your sugar and salt intake. It’s when you start slacking on your healthy eating that the water weight comes back.

So how should you adjust your diet? Focus more on proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. Antioxidants, fibre, and other nutrients need to make a daily appearance on your plate. Say goodbye to refined sugars found in pastries, cookies, and chocolate bars. The same goes for salty treats; no more potato chips or movie theatre popcorn. Creating a new diet plan is a lot of work, so we took care of that for you. Check out our Ideal Protein Program to get your eating on a healthy path that will last.

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Importance of a Healthy Mindset

Importance of a Healthy Mindset

Healthy Mind, Healthy Body: The Importance of a Healthy Mindset

Your mindset has immense power over your ability to lose weight. You may have noticed friends, family members, or even people on social media go through drastic lifestyle changes to lose weight. Did you think to yourself, why is it so easy for them and not me? Why can’t I seem to stick to my journey to get fit? Ask any one of those people with successful weight loss, and they’ll tell you that a healthy mindset is one of the superpowers that got them there. Luckily, your mindset isn’t a fixed personality trait. You can develop yours to make losing weight easier.

What Exactly Is a Mindset?

Your mindset is the lens you look through to see the world. It’s the way you interpret goals, dreams, and your own abilities. Your mindset determines how hard you push yourself to lose weight and whether or not you order pizza over a salad. Your mindset needs to be strong, positive, and open if you want to put in the work to get healthy.

Fixed Mindset Vs. Growth Mindset

There are two main types of mindsets: fixed and growth. With a fixed mindset, you believe that some people are just born with the ability to lose weight, but you aren’t. People with a fixed mindset often avoid challenges, resent feedback, and believe “it is what it is.” You can see, this mindset won’t help you lose weight.

The growth mindset is a perspective of positivity, hope, and hard work. These people understand that perseverance and hustle do pay off. Goals are worth having because they motivate you to become better. These individuals tend to embrace the challenge of getting healthy. The growth mindset is optimal for achieving the body you want and losing weight.

How to Build a Growth Mindset for Weight Loss

If you want to achieve your health goals, it’s important you also adopt a growth mindset. Changing your mindset may require a complete re-wiring of how you think and react. However, once the pounds start shedding off, you’ll see how worthwhile it is.

Here are some tips to build your growth mindset:

  • Change your language. Switch “I have to go to the gym” to “I get to go to the gym”; this will help you see working out as an opportunity.
  • Track your progress. Record your measurements or weight once a week. Keep track of how much stronger you get each week or month. Once you start seeing the progress, you’ll feel motivated to keep going.

The growth mindset will help you see yourself as a powerful and capable human. You can become the healthiest version of yourself and lose weight. You will achieve your health goals because hard work and perseverance pay off.

For more support during your weight loss journey, consider joining our 12-Week Weight Loss Program.  With the guidance of weight loss professionals and a growth mindset, you can get healthy and become your best self.

 

 

 

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4 Ways that Stress can Affect Your Weight Loss Success

4 Ways that Stress can Affect Your Weight Loss Success

In this day in age, everyone experiences some degree of stress. Whether it be minor or major, good or bad, stress impacts the way the body functions. When it comes to weight loss, managing stress is essential and here is why:

1. Elevated stress levels slow down your thyroid.

a. The Thyroid gland is responsible for metabolism. It works by first receiving a chemical signal from the brain called TSH which then tells the thyroid to convert inactive thyroid hormone (T4) to active thyroid hormone (T3). Elevated stress levels prevents TSH from being released, thereby inhibiting the conversion of T4 to T3. Thyroid hormone production decreases and overall metabolism slows down.
thyroid

2. Elevated stress affects blood-sugar levels

a. Elevated stress levels can lead to insulin resistance, subsequently resulting in increased fat storage, mainly around the abdominal region. Ultimately, increased insulin resistance causes sugars to be stored as fat!
blood-sugar

3. Stress can affect your sleep

a. When you’re feeling stressed you’re more likely to have ruminating thoughts at night leading to difficulty falling or staying asleep. If you get less than 7 hours of sleep your hormones Leptin and Ghrelin become affected. You may notice that you’re always hungry and never satisfied! A lack of sleep is a major cause for overeating. Moreover, if you’re not sleeping well at night you may feel tired and sluggish the next day. You may not have the energy to take a walk or work out. Less exercise and the intake of more calories is a simple cause for weight gain.

4. Stress can cause food cravings and lead to emotional eating!

a. When you feel stressed you may notice cravings for sugary or salty foods. It’s rare to crave a salad during a period of intense stress! Sugar cravings often happen when stress levels are high; when stress is prolonged and the body gets tired of releasing the stress hormone salt cravings take over. Regardless of what you’re craving, you’re likely to overeat. Coupled with a slower metabolism and insulin resistance, it’s not wonder it’s so easy to pack on the pounds!

If you’re experiencing stress of any kind it’s important to strategically manage it. For some it’s as simple of taking a few deep breaths while for others supplementation to address stress hormone imbalance is necessary. Massage therapy and acupuncture treatments can also reduce stress levels as well as improve sleep. If your goal is to lose weight, speak with a professional who can address all aspects that may be affecting your weight loss success!

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20 Tips to Weight Loss Success: Part 2 – “Above and Beyond Diet”

20 Tips to Weight Loss Success: Part 2 – “Above and Beyond Diet”

Yesterday I shared my 10 favorite dietary tips that are essential for healthy weight loss and optimal wellness (If you missed it, click here). Everyone who implements these changes notes significant improvements in how they feel physically, mentally and emotionally. When it comes to weight loss, you have to remember that diet is only one part of the picture. Lifestyle plays a major role and sometimes “life” is the biggest barrier to success. Below you’ll find a list of 11 tips that go above and beyond diet. Incorporating some or all of these small suggestions will surely help you reach your weight loss goals!

1. Chew your food 20-30 chews per bite.

Did you know that you are supposed to chew your food 20-30 times with every bite you take? If you’re like most people, you likely only chew your food 1-3 times! Most people eat their meals so quickly their brain doesn’t have time to receive the signals from the stomach that it is satisfied. Slowing down your meals can significantly reduce the amount of food you eat.

chew-your-food

2. Mealtime conversations should be light and fluffy.

Whether you’re eating alone or with family or friends, mealtimes should always be pleasant. Try to avoid hot button topics or any conversation that makes you or those you are eating with feel upset, angry, irritated or stressed. When the body is in a state of stress it automatically sends blood to the muscles and brain. If your body has this response during a meal, your food won’t be digested properly leading to physical symptoms and weight gain.

3. Manage your stress levels.

Weight gain around the abdomen is typically related to elevated or prolonged stress levels.

Increase cortisol levels (stress hormone) affect thyroid function and blood sugar levels. The thyroid is responsible for metabolism and imbalances in blood sugar leads to fat accumulation. Stress can also lead to emotional eating and sleep disturbances, which can in turn affect cravings and satiety.

life-in-balance1

There are many ways to manage stress levels, from deep breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation to incorporating adaptogenic herbs (botanical herbs that help the body adapt and cope with stress) and acupuncture.

4. Spend less time in front of screens.

Studies have found that the average person spends 7.9 hours a day in front of a screen whether it be a TV, smartphone, ipad or laptop. You may want to think twice next time you find yourself eating while watching TV or working. You are likely to consume a greater quantity of food when your focus isn’t on your meal. Instead of trying to multitask eating alongside your other daily responsibilities, schedule specific meal times where you can sit down, relax and enjoy your dish!

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5. Prepare your own meals.

I know that for some this is easier said than done. Preparing your own meals is one of the best things you can do for your waistline and your wallet. Come up with a menu for the week and make meals that will work well as leftovers. If you’re making any soups or stews, make enough that you can freeze a batch for another day. Washing and cutting vegetables for salads or stir-fry or save you tons of time. If this task is a challenge for you, consider connecting with a whole-food meal delivery service company that will bring you fresh or frozen foods, individually portioned and ready to eat.

6. Walk daily.

30-minutes of walking every day is enough to help you lose weight and leave significant health improvements. If you have a pet, walking it 3 or more times a day for 10 or more minutes at a time will help you reach your 30-minute mark. If you take the subway, choose to take the stairs instead of the escalator, if you’re driving, park your car a little bit further so that you have to walk. Every little bit counts.

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7. Increase your physical activity.

Exercise is not only important for healthy weight los but is fundamental to healthy living. Physical activity reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improves heart strength function and enhances lung capacity. It reduces stress levels, benefits sleep, manages pain and increase mood. 30 minutes of walking every day is the minimum amount of exercise you should be doing daily. If you have some barrier or limitation, speak with a professional to learn different ways you can exercise!

8. Get adequate sleep nightly.

Sleep plays a major role in weight loss and weight management. When the body doesn’t get 8 hours of sleep hormones are released that affect appetite and satiety. If you have a hard time with sleep, first ask yourself why. Are you feeling stressed out? Have you overeaten? Are you in pain? Understand the cause of poor sleep is the best way to improve it. Many patients benefit from writing their thoughts out on paper, taking supplements and getting acupuncture.

9. Sleep in colder temperatures.

I recently wrote a blog with 3 tips to boosting metabolism and one of my suggestions was the turn your temperature down. When you sleep in cooler environments your body uses more energy to perform its necessary functions. Studies have found that this one trick could substantially reduce abdominal fat.

sleeping-girl

10. Track yourself.

You need to stay accountable. Write down what you’re eating in a food diary on paper or on your phone. There are many free apps you can try that have great features such as myfitnesspal. Calorie tracking devices like the Fitbit and Jawbone will track your steps, how far you’ve walked, how many stairs you’ve climbed, calories burned and active minutes. It also tracks your sleep quality, which is fantastic if you suffer from difficulty falling or staying asleep. Calorie tracking devices often integrate with calorie counting devices such as myfitnesspal, which makes for a truly awesome experience. With my patients, I offer Weight Wellness Check-Ins. This gives me an opportunity to weight and measure my patient and evaluate their food diary. I make all my patients track obstacles so we can come up with strategies for success.

11. Find a friend.

Even though weight loss can be a very personal journey, it also requires a lot of support. If you live with someone who would also benefit from making dietary changes, try getting them on board with your plan. Often times the dietary changes you make for yourself will improve the health of your loved ones. If you’re thinking of joining a gym or taking a yoga or zumba class, see if any of your friends want to join you. Sharing your experience with a friend will not only help you both stay motivated but will help make your journey easier and much more fun!

When it comes to weight loss, there isn’t one formula that works for everyone. There are however, so many different tips and tricks you can try to enhance your goals. Of course, diet IS a huge component of healthy weight loss but lifestyle plays an incredibly important role as well. Pick one, some or all of these tips to work on and reap the rewards!

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20 Tips To Weight Loss Success: Part 1 “Diet is Everything”

20 Tips To Weight Loss Success: Part 1 “Diet is Everything”

I’m a big believer that small changes make BIG differences and time and time again, I am proven this is true. When it comes to weight loss, sometimes it takes many small changes to see the difference but everyone has to start somewhere. If you want to lose weight, optimize your health and improve the quality of your life, consider what changes you can make and start making them! I’ve come up with a list of 20 tips that are easy and doable. Pick one, two or all twenty and see big changes for yourself!!!

In my efforts not to overwhelm you, I have divided my list into 2 groups of 10. See below for all my dietary tips and check out part 2 of my blog for my remaining 10 weight loss tricks.

DIET IS EVERYTHING!

1. Cut sugar out of your diet.

There are two main sugars you will want to eliminate from you diet. The first is refined, processed sugar that is often found on the ingredient list of packaged foods under the names sugar, brown sugar, caramel, caramel syrup, corn syrup, corn starch, high fructose corn syrup, anything that ends in “-ose” such as dextrose or maltose and anything that ends in “-itol” such as sorbitol or mannitol (that list alone should be pretty scary!). Most of these sugars are artificial and all of them affect blood sugar, immunity and brain function. Studies have found sugar to be more addictive than cocaine.

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The second kind of sugar is glucose, the end product of carbohydrate breakdown. The body breaks down breads, pastas and potatoes into sugar in order to be absorbed and used by the body. Whole grain breads and pasta may provide more fiber and help stabilize blood sugar levels but the bottom line is they still break down into sugar.

2. Remove processed foods

Prepackaged convenient foods may be inexpensive but their health effects can be costly. If you do buy processed foods make sure you read the ingredient label. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, your body won’t either. Don’t be misled by marketing! The best thing you can do for your health and your waistline is avoid prepackaged foods and stick with whole foods.

3. Load up on vegetables

According to Health Canada’s Food Guide, adults should be consuming between seven and eight servings of vegetables per day. From what I see in my practice alone, few people consume even half of that. Vegetables are filled with vitamins, minerals and tons of phytonutrients that are essential to health. Most vegetables can also be considered zero calories and can be consumed in unlimited quantities.

4. Eat fruits in moderation

Like vegetables, fruits are a great source of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They are essential to health and are a great substitute for refined sugar. Fruits contain a third type of sugar called fructose. Fructose is a natural sugar that is jam-packed with anti-oxidants. If your goal is weight loss, it is important to limit your fruit intake. Enjoy up to 2 servings per day but avoid eating more than that.

naturopathic

5. Indulge in healthy fats

Lets get one thing clear: healthy fats don’t make you fat. Fats make food taste good and make you feel satisfied. It’s all about the fats you’re consuming. There are two types of harmful dietary fats: saturated fat and trans fat. Saturated fats can be found in red meat, chicken and full-fat dairy products while trans fats come from hydrogenated oils. These fats are implicated in obesity and heart disease. Healthy fats include monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids and omega 3 fatty acids. These fats come from a variety of sources including fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds and avocados. Fats should always be consumed in limited quantities because of their high calorie content but they do not need to be avoided. If you’re trying to lose weight, limit your fat intake to 2 tsp of oil per day in addition to 1tsp of seeds or 1 handful of nuts. Avocados can be consumed 2x/week.

6. Include Protein with every meal.

Protein is incredibly important for every cell in your body. You need it for your hair, skin, nails, hormones, neurotransmitters and muscles. Protein is essential and most people don’t consume enough of it. Protein can come from both animal and plant sources. Some people do best on a strictly vegan diet while others thrive on a paleo diet. If you eat meat, make sure you include a variety of different lean proteins and limit red meat to 1x/week.

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7. Include protein shakes daily.

If you don’t eat meat, it is important for you to include protein shakes at least one time per day. Meat eaters should also incorporate protein shakes one time per day. When you eat any animal or vegetable protein, your body only absorbs 30-50% of that protein. When you consume a protein shake, made from isolated proteins such as rice, pea, soy or whey, your body absorbs 95% of the protein. If you want to lose weight from fat, you have to nourish your protein stores. Protein shakes or premade foods as found in The Ideal Protein Program are an ideal way of doing this.

8. Add a variety of herbs and spices to your meals

herbs-and-spices

Adding herbs and spices to your dishes will not only give them tons of flavour but will also provide some pretty awesome health benefits. Black pepper, cardamom, cayenne, cinnamon, garlic, ginger and horseradish are all warming herbs. They increase your internal body temperature and in turn, increase your metabolism. All these herbs also contain antiseptic properties and help relieve colds and flu’s. Now that winter is almost here, it’s the perfect time to experiment with herbs and spices.

9. Drink more water

It’s amazing how many people don’t drink enough water. Either they don’t feel that they are thirsty or if they are, they prefer coffee, juice or pop. Water is essential for our vitality. The body is made up for at least 60% water. When we don’t drink enough water, our cells become dehydrated and their function changes. Drinking sufficient amounts of water is not only associated with weight loss; it is related to improvements in skin complexion, digestive functioning and pain reduction.

10. Avoid alcohol

Sometimes making small changes means giving up on certain indulgences. Alcohol is often associated with socializing and celebrations as well as relaxation – whether it be after a long day or a long week. The trouble with alcohol is that it contains 7 calories per 1 gram and has absolutely zero nutritional value. Alcohol is considered a non-nutrient and is a major contributor to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. If you find yourself having more than 5 drinks per week, ditch the booze and benefit from the positive results.

When it comes to weight loss and health in general, diet is everything. It truly is the core to well being. The best way to take control of your health is to take control of your diet.

Want to learn the last 10 tips? Check out Part 2: Above and Beyond Diet!

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5 Tips to Reducing Cellulite

5 Tips to Reducing Cellulite

You’ve probably heard of the saying “ Men are from Mars and women are from Venus” but did you ever realize that this is true right down to a cellular level? Yes, reproductively we are different and we have different physical structures but I am talking about a CELLULAR level – even our skin is different!

skin-cellulite

Women, have you ever wondered why men don’t get cellulite yet women are prone to it? Here is the deal: Fat cells are contained within layers of tissue called collagen. In men, collagen is arranged in a crisscross formation while for women, fat cells are stored in a cube like structure, separated by bands of collagen. When a man gains weight and his fat cells get bigger, the collagen stretches evenly due to its crisscross formation; when a woman gains weight, the collagen bands become thinner and lose elasticity causing the fat cells to push up into the skin, creating irregularities and dimpling.

Don’t get me wrong; you do not have to be overweight to have cellulite. Other causes of cellulite include free radical damage, reduced or inadequate blood circulate and poor lymphatic drainage.

So how can you prevent or reduce the appearance or progression of cellulite? Check out these 5 tips and say goodbye to stubborn cellulite

  1. Reduce refined sugar, processed food, convenient food and fried food consumption. These foods produce free radical damage, which reduce the integrity of collagen. Incorporate more detox-friendly foods such as vegetables and fruits and organic meat and produce.
  2. Increase water intake to 2L/day. Water is necessary for optimal cell functioning. Water helps to flush toxins out of the cells that are essential for cellulite prevention and reduction.
  3. Exercise! One more good reason to find time to hit the gym. Physical activity helps with blood circulation and improves lymphatic drainage. Vibration therapy and rebounding are both quick, easy and effective for enhancing blood and lymphatic circulation.
  4. Dry skin brushing is a great before-the-shower cellulite reduction strategy that also helps with general detoxification. First thing is first; invest in a brush with natural fiber bristles. Start at your feet and brush upwards, toward the heart. For complete dissolving of cellulite, do this 10 minutes a day for several months.
  5. Not feeling the dry skin brushing? Consider VelaShape. II VelaShape II is the only FDA approved, non-surgical alternative to liposuction. Comprised of 4 individual mechanisms: Infrared Light (IR), Radiofrequency (RF), Negative Pressure and Mechanical Massage, VelaShape II works remodel the connective tissue and increase firmness in the epidermis, thus contouring the body and reducing cellulite. Blood circulation is enhanced and collagen production is stimulated to restore the skins natural elasticity. Studies have demonstrated an average reduction of more than 2cm with a 60% overall improvement in skin appearance. Furthermore, lymphatic drainage is improved, moving excess fluid outside of the tissue, allowing for long lasting results. Skin appears smoother, tighter and more toned

velashape-cellulite

The bottom line is that there is no stopping cellulite. You CAN reduce its progression by adopting a healthy diet and participating in regular physical activity. For some these changes are not enough and other more manual therapies like the vibration therapy or VelaShape II treatments are necessary. Regardless, small changes make BIG differences. If you suffer from cellulite, consider your options!

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Why Weight Loss is More than Counting Calories: Are toxins making you fat?

Why Weight Loss is More than Counting Calories: Are toxins making you fat?

When it comes to weight loss and optimizing health, we often focus on calories in and calories out. In reality, multiple variables that can lead to weight gain and affect weight loss are frequently overlooked, such as hormones, food sensitivities and toxic overload. Over the last 5 years detoxes and cleanses have become extremely popular, yet, often remain misunderstood. Different health professionals have differing opinions about them leaving many people confused. Research shows that certain chemicals act as “obesogens” by altering a person’s metabolic processes, predisposing and contributing to continued weight gain. Understanding how the body naturally functions is essential to understanding why toxins contribute to weight gain, fluctuation and difficulty losing weight.

Water Soluble Vs. Fat Soluble Toxins

The human body is designed to continuously and naturally remove unwanted toxins. There are two types of toxins that can enter the body: water-soluble and fat-soluble. While the blood, kidneys and lungs naturally eliminate water-soluble toxins, fat-soluble toxinssuch as heavy metals, environmental pollutants, pesticides, plastics, preservatives, food additives and other environmental chemicals must enter the body and be converted to their water-soluble counterparts prior to being eliminated. The liver plays a crucial role in this process but if the digestive system and detoxification are not functioning optimally, toxins find their way from the liver to the blood, fat cells and brain where they can be stored for years.

Physiology 101:

In order to truly understand how toxins are stored in fat cells, it’s important to understand how the body’s natural elimination process works. When we eat and digest a meal, both nutritional and toxic fats get transferred from the stomach into the small intestines, where bile is secreted from the liver and gallbladder. Within the small intestines exist millions of small “hairs” known as villi and lacteals. They work simultaneously to sweep the gut,emulsify fats and help them absorb via Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue (GALT). GALT surrounds the intestines, absorbs lacteals and takes the absorbed fats back to the liver where good fats are used to make energy, cholesterol, hormones and brain cells and toxic fats are processed for elimination. If the lympathic system becomes congested and when the detoxification pathways in the liver and large intestine are not functioning properly, the body begins to store the toxic fats rather than remove them. Toxic fats get sent back into blood circulation and eventually become absorbed into fat cells throughout the body andstay stored for many years causing free radical damage and cellular degeneration while also affecting metabolism, leading to insulin resistance leading to abdominal weight gain.

Signs of Toxic Burden:

  1. Bloating and indigestion
  2. Fatigue
  3. Headaches
  4. Joint pain
  5. Weight gain
  6. Fuzzy thinking and difficulty concentrating
  7. Constipation
  8. Diarrhea
  9. Foul-smelling stool
  10. Sinus congestion
  11. Gas
  12. Heart burn
  13. Food cravings
  14. Water retention
  15. Rashes and other skin disorders
  16. Puffy, dark circles under the eyes

What Does Your Poop Have To Do With It?

The primary role of the large intestine is to eliminate unwanted toxins from the body through Bowel Movements. A healthy person typically has 1-3 sausage-like bowel movements per day. When a person is constipated, toxins become reabsorbed, reenter blood circulation and eventually become stored in fatty tissue. There are many factors that can contribute to constipation and addressing bowel health is essential to detoxification and weight loss.

Common Causes of Constipation:

  1. Dehydration
  2. Poor diet
  3. Inactive lifestyle
  4. Hypothyroidism
  5. Certain medications (i.e painkillers, antidepressants, some iron supplements, antacids)
  6. Intestinal inflammation

If constipation is an issue, start by making simple changes. Increase water intake to 8-10 glasses of water a day, incorporate more fibrous vegetables into your diet and remove refined sugars and processed foods and add some form of physical activity. Consider food sensitivities,have your blood or saliva tested for thyroid function and review all medications and their side effects.

Strategic Detoxification:

According to the latest CDC report, every person who participated in blood testing for toxin exposure was found to have a host of nasty chemicals including flame-retardants and Bisphenol A, a hormone-like substance found in plastics, stored in fatty tissue. The best way to remove these toxins is strategically, with the help of a medically guided program and healthcare professional. Naturopathic Doctors, Holistic Nutritionists and Functional Medical Doctors are extremely knowledgeable in different detoxification protocols and can determine which one is specifically best for you. Be aware: not all detoxes are appropriate for everyone so avoid going to a healthfood store and picking up any random cleansing kit. This may leave you feeling worse than you started! You will require a thorough assessment to determine which area or areas of the body need to be addressed so that a specific supplement protocol can be prescribed.

Small Changes Make Big Differences:

Before you see a healthcare provider, consider what small changes you can implement on your own. Firstly, reduce your exposure to toxins found in foods by removing any processed, pre-packaged and boxed foods as well as alcohol and caffeine. Eliminate refined sugars, additives, sweeteners, preservatives, artificial flavoring, food colouring and dyes. By sticking with organic, plant-based whole foods instead, you reduce the toxic burden on the liver and intestines. The next step is to review all cleaning and personal hygiene products such as chemical-ridden soaps, lotions and beauty products and opt for natural alternatives where you can.

How Detoxification Facilitates Weight Loss:

A medically guided detoxification will help you identify and get rid of specific toxins, address imbalances in the digestive system and get the livers natural detox pathways working effectively. Toxins stored in fat cells get pulled out and enter the blood stream, get reabsorbed by the intestines and re-enter the liver. The liver can then convert fat-soluble toxins into their water-soluble counterparts and effectively eliminate them through urine, sweat and breath. Subsequently, strategic dietary changes can facilitatefat loss, maintain muscle mass and result in long lasting weight loss!

Sources:

  1. http://lifespa.com/remove-toxins-from-your-fat-cells/
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3279464/
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25509564
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25646073
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18799442
  6. http://drhyman.com/blog/2012/02/20/how-toxins-make-you-fat-4-steps-to-get-rid-of-toxic-weight/
  7. http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/05/19/is-there-toxic-waste-in-your-body-2/
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