05 Mar Accepting the Process
by Meghan Doherty
Nutritionist, Certified Fitness Instructor
After one year of holding the nutritionist position at Prolean Wellness, and years of experience in the health, nutrition, and fitness field, my passion for helping others has grown stronger than ever! Thanks to you, I have learned so much, and it’s my hope that I’ve been able to help you learn more about nutrition and that I’ve encouraged you to make lasting changes for the better.
For anyone to have long-term, successful weight loss, it is important to have a better understanding of not only the physical elements that contribute to weight (such as metabolism, muscle/fat mass and nutritional deficiencies), but the psychological aspects as well. Practicing mindfulness and patience is vital to seeing lasting results. One of the concepts I have come to understand best in this past year is the importance of accepting the process.
Although many people participate in diet programs in order to lose weight, establishing a “non-weight” related goal is essential for success. For example, creating a realistic goal to be able climb the stairs without knee pain or to cook dinner with your partner once a week will help take the physical and mental focus off of the number on the scale. Aiming for a separate achievement, other than weight loss, will give you more purpose and drive. Losing weight for vanity reasons (like fitting into your bathing suit) can be motivating, but is not as fulfilling as being able to play ball with your kids without stopping to gasp for air. Putting all of your energy in one area, be it the kitchen or gym, and obsessing over the number on the scale is likely to backfire and actually hinder your chance of success. If you find yourself frustrated that you are measuring your portions, consuming organic foods, exercising daily, sleeping soundly, eating “perfectly”, yet still not seeing the results you are seeking to attain, it’s very likely that the culprit is stress.
I commonly see people become strained by an unrealistic view of their appearance. This negative self-esteem causes a flux in their cortisol levels. Even if you are following a diet program to the letter, setting unrealistic expectations and then being frustrated because you don’t meet them immediately can actually cause chemical changes in your body (production of cortisol) that will not allow your body to respond by releasing fat. When you are stressed, cortisol is released by the adrenal glands as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism. In consequence, your GI tract is shut off temporarily, which is imperative for digesting food. Cortisol also increases blood sugar levels and blood pressure, while suppressing the immune system, which is part of the body’s fight-or-flight response that is essential for survival. Studies also reveal that this hormone tends to take fat from areas like your hips, and move it to your abdomen because the abdomen contains more cortisol receptors. Subsequently, it turns healthy peripheral fat into unhealthy visceral fat that increases inflammation and insulin resistance. Hello, belly fat! As you know by now, high stress levels will not benefit your health or weight loss goals.
Besides engaging in activities that help lower stress (such as exercise, meditation, yoga, gardening, singing, dancing, drawing), setting a non-weight loss related goal will shift the all-consuming focus off of the scale. As you do this, you’ll see the number on the scale drop more quickly, but more importantly, you’ll see that weighing less is far less important than feeling better.
This past year, I have seen that a positive attitude is the greatest asset one can have in order to reach and sustain a goal. I always remind clients that it is not about perfection, but progress. Progress comes when we accept the process; accept that a slip-up is not a failure, accept that change takes time, accept your body, accept your journey and the experiences you are having along the way. Having an optimistic attitude and accepting the process then permits your body to respond positively as well.
Thank you for allowing me to be a part of the process.