With the start of a New Year coming after some overindulgences over the Christmas holiday period, many people optimistically start out the year wanting to improve some aspect of their health.
While losing weight, getting fit or improving your health in other ways is a great idea, the research shows that only 10% of people will be successful …. that is a very low number so what can we do about that to make sure that we are successful? Here are some tips!
If your wanting long-term results with your health it should seem obvious that “crash diets” don’t work. Like the HCG diet, Isagenix, the cabbage soup diet or any other diet that is based on protein powders and supplements, or focused on limited foods they are bound to fail in the long term.
These types of diet can lead to quick weight loss, but the majority of people put the weight back on, plus a few kilo’s more! Low calorie diets and other fad diets, can affect your hormones and metabolism making sustainable weight loss harder and harder.
While there is no one perfect diet for everyone, all good diets have one thing in common! That is eating lots of fresh unprocessed produce, for some people this may mean a paleo diet, for others a vegetarian diet, or maybe a diet that has no label but just involves eating fresh unprocessed foods “most of the time”.
What you eat “most of the time” is the key here, it’s ok to indulge in some treats now and again if the rest of the time you’re focused on quality foods. This is known as the 80/20 rule and it is a good one to apply to your diet.
While I am a strong advocate of the 80/20 rule when it comes to what you eat, sometimes it is a good idea to do a 10, 20 or 30 day reset diet. This is something that I do every year, and while I think it is a great idea for everybody to try this, it is especially important for people with chronic health problems.
If you would like more information on how to do a reset program to fast track your health goals check out this article called The 30 Day Paleo Reset Program. It is also possible to do a vegetarian version of this program.
While having some self discipline is important when making any changes to your diet and lifestyle, there are certain steps that you can take to set yourself up for success. Everyone starts out optimistic of success but when little obstacles get in the way it is easy to self sabotage your plans.
It is much easier to be disciplined if you don’t have a bucket of ice-cream in the freezer, chocolates in the fridge or chips calling out your name every time you open the cupboard! Get rid of all of the temptation foods and stock your fridge and cupboard (mainly the fridge) with healthy options so that you always have a choice of what to eat.
Meal plans are a good idea for the first week or two at least, the first couple of weeks is the hardest when making changes and then it gets much easier, so if you have your meals planned out then you will not have to think about what to eat.
If 2018 is the year for you to get fit and healthy it is easier not to try and change everything at once. If you know that you need to improve your diet, start exercising, practice meditation, get more sleep and stop spending so much time looking at screens it can be overwhelming to change everything at once …. and this leads to giving up.
Start with one thing to change at a time and when you have had a “win” with that, or at least well on track then you can change something else …. the more success that you have with changing habits, the easier it will be to change other habits.
For most people the first thing they should do will be to improve their diet, but if you have major diet changes to make then you can break it down into steps like “eat more vegetables” or “increase good fats” …. it is easier to add healthy habits than try and just eliminate bad habits like stop eating cookies or stop all soft drinks.
Another place to start if your diet is already good or you don’t even have the energy to do that is to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night and reduce down the amount of times you look at your smart phone, iPad or TV …. rather than checking these devices multiple times a day try and restrict it to dedicated times 1-2 times a day.
Keep a journal of your activities, this can be an old fashioned pen and paper, or one of the many free apps that are now available like My Fitness Pal. This way you can see your progress and research shows that it helps people to stay on track and be more successful with the changes.
I like my clients to track their diet for 1-2 days a week in the first few weeks when changing their diet, this is a good way to check in and see that they are on the right track with their macronutrients. I don’t worry about tracking calories but I want to see that clients are getting the right balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates …. and this amount is going to vary from person to person, depending on their individual needs.
If your in the situation where you think that you have tried a real food paleo style approach, and you have done the stricter “30 day challenge” but still having issues with weight, hormones, digestion or other health issues, then some functional medicine testing is the next step.
The types of functional medicine testing that I usually start with depend on each person, but it can include tests like
Adrenal and Thyroid testing: This is done in a lot more detail than the average doctor’s thyroid or adrenal test. If these hormones are out of balance they can cause a wide range of symptoms including difficulty losing weight, fatigue, digestion problems and mental health issues like anxiety and depression
Sex Hormone testing: This includes testosterone, oestrogen’s, progesterone, DHEA and how your body metabolises these hormones. These hormones are especially important to test if you have PMS, menopause issues, infertility (men and women), skin issues, mood changes, weight gain or poor recovery from exercise. These tests are equally important for men and women.
Digestion testing: This can involve stool tests or breath tests to identify the underlying cause of food intolerances, I.B.S symptoms like constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, pain, gas and reflux. These tests can identify parasite, bacterial, SIBO or Helicobacter pylori infections.
Functional Pathology testing: These are detailed blood tests that identify inflammation, cardiovascular risk and vitamin deficiencies in a lot more detail than the standard blood test.
The first place to start is with diet and lifestyle changes and at Planet Naturopath I can help support and guide you through this process, helping you to work out the best diet and nutrition plan for you.
If you need help with the Functional Medicine testing I can help you with that, all of these tests are available in Australia, U.K, U.S, and Europe while the hormone testing is available in most parts of the world.
If you would like to make an appointment or if you have any questions you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael is head consultant at Planet Naturopath - Functional Medicine and Nutrition Solutions. As Seen