A Nutritionist's Experience: Chronicles of Weight Loss: Part 2
The Holistic Approach is required
Before I dive into this next blog, I want to point out that there are way more qualified, informed people than myself who could be telling you this, but as my passion dictates - I feel obligated to spread the word in my little part of the world to keep the movement of wellness and health spreading to as many people as possible. We all deserve great health!
So onto the serious stuff...what's holism? My trusty old school Collins dictionary (that's hard copy by the way!) defines it as, "The view that a whole is greater than the sum of its parts". In a medical sense, "Consideration of the complete person in the treatment of disease". Holos comes from the Greeks meaning whole.
As a complementary practitioner, I'd rather consider you a complete person when seeing you for preventative lifestyle advice, rather than when you have a disease, but that's a whole other blog. So the foundation is that no one system should be viewed independently or treated on it's own. When we visit the doctor we may get a diagnosis, a prescription to treat that diagnosis and maybe even an operation - that's where modern medicine usually stops. To truly address a person's wellness, a health practitioner must consider WHY?
This is pertinent then to the subject of weight loss. Why is someone overweight? They
eat too much? They don't exercise? They don't allow themselves time out? If we address an individual's weight issues with a single approach such as weight management, physical movement or mental status, there may be short term improvements, but for a meaningful, long term reduction in weight loss, the attack must be multi-pronged. When I googled holistic weight loss, I came across this interesting article by the Dr Ron Hoffman, who is considered one of the pioneers of complementary and alternative health. The article "A holistic approach to weight loss", supports this theory, that all aspects of an individual must be addressed.
I completely agree with and believe this, having gone through the exercise myself of trying to loose weight, improve shape, be happier. I've done them all individually with varying success but now that I understand the body much better, I realise it's not a 12 week program or a specified period of time that I must eat, move or practice a certain way - it's for life. Ahhh, the long game, not words we want to hear in a world of instant gratification but as the saying goes, "Nothing worthwhile in life comes easy, that's just the way it is".
Why must we go to so much effort just to manipulate our weight? Again, no set answer because each of us are so uniquely different. We've had different life experiences, been born into certain cultures, use food for many reasons, have beliefs that dictate our feelings, attitudes and preparation of food, live in different parts of the world, have different biochemistry, motivations, lifestyles. The list is endless but at the root of it, our metabolism - our body's ability to utilise nutrients, is determined by our unique genetic blueprint. One of my favourite health gurus, Dr Datis Kharrazian, recently put health status as, "The dance between epigenetics and environment". In saying this, it means we've gone past the idea of just inheritance and predisposition being considerations for disease manifestation. Yes, it's there and it can play a part in the development of weight gain/disorders if your parents suffer from them but we now know that we can manipulate our genes - "the dance" - by how we choose to live. Therefore, our environment is very important. (If you want to know more about Epigenetics and Environment, check out this article, "Environmental Epigenetics and Its Implication on Disease Risk and Health Outcomes", by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health).
So, back to weight. Let's not be preoccupied with it but instead break it down.
What we know:
1. What works for one won't necessarily work for another. ie did you try the diet your friend went on where she lost a heap of weight but it didn't work for you? That's your biochemistry, your metabolism efficiency at work.
2. We must address our health and wellness as a whole. ie look at our Emotional, Mental and Physical Health. I like to call these the 3 Pillars of Health.
3. Wellness and weight maintenance is a lifestyle. It's not a program, it's not a particular way of eating, it's not whats in fashion. It's what works for you.
4. To truly understand what our unique blueprint needs, we need to do some self hacking, experimentation and personal development. There's that term again - Long Game.
5. Our bodies keep changing so we can't treat our health and weight management as a set and forget scenario. Ageing is inevitable and with it, certain changes happen in our body. This calls for adaption and resetting of our food consumption/habits.
I think I'll pull up here for now, but hopefully I've shown you that weight management is a very complex creature. I hope it also makes you realise that all that negative self talk, punishing exercise and trying out every diet is not going to bring you long term weight loss or happiness. I suggest putting your energy into educating yourself on the latest research on wellness, pursuing activities and movement that you like and makes you happy and seeking some help if you truly feel exhausted and alone. There's plenty of people who want to help you live the only life you get!
One last thing - healthy weight does not equate to attaining a certain size or body shape. Healthy looks different in many diverse ways.
Stay tuned for more to come and if you feel you'd like some help with your weight management journey, please get in touch with me. I'd love to hear from you.