Vitality Blog

Why Weight Loss New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

Resolution Tips offered by Vancouver Holistic Nutritionist

Well it’s that time of year again, and everyone is searching out ways to best reach their personal goals. The most common being to lose weight, as we have seen – gyms are busier, and membership sales are at an all-time high! While this comes from a good place, it stems from a place where we feel we are lacking, and as a result we focus on what we don’t like about ourselves and how we would like to improve upon this. While this is a good tactic, it’s really hard to keep to these goals if we are constantly in fear of failure.

Now, if weight loss is your goal for the New Year, fear not there are other ways to do this rather than counting calories, diet products and crazy gym regimes. In this article I am going to focus on the other side of the coin that most people don’t know about, or haven’t researched enough about on their own. Don’t worry; there are lots of actual research articles that support this though. But first I want to tell you to stop counting calories, using diet products, and crazy gym regimes. These are more often than not short lived, and has FAILURE written all over it! The problems with all these are that they are backed by a very powerful emotion GUILT. Another thing to add to the avoid list are DIET FADS – please, please, please stay away from the “latest and greatest” diet/pill fads! If it seems too good to be true – it ALWAYS is!

It’s time to shift your mindset when it comes to “dieting”. By focusing less on fads and more on maintaining a healthy balanced whole foods diet, you’ll impact your ability to lose weight much more effectively, and more importantly install healthy habits that enable you to keep it off!

For sustained weight-loss FOCUS ON these 7 easy tricks
1. Drink water!!!!

As a nutritionist I can’t stress this enough!! So often we confuse thirst with hunger and end up eating, when what we really need is a glass of quality water. Researchers in Germany have also reported that water consumption can increase the rate at which people burn calories – the effects are minor, but it is now proven.

Also focusing on drinking quality water will help by replacing (and thus removing) higher calorie beverages (sodas, juice and fancy flavoured coffees).

2. Reduce your stress

Prolonged chronic stress is one of the greatest causes of weight gain (typically around the abdominal area). Researchers have proven that over-secretion of cortisol (the hormone we produce in response to stress) can cause excess weight gain by:
• Slowing metabolism – the body cannot tell the difference between chronic every day stress and being attacked. When stress is heightened the body shuts down digestion and reproduction – the result is poor metabolism.
• Promotes fat storage – excess secretion of cortisol promotes fat storage. This is the body’s natural instinct because there may be a need to store energy, which means conversion of glucose to fat for long time storage.

3. Get enough sleep

By simple habit, when we are tired we more often than not consume more caffeine and crave sugary snacks for an energy boost. Also when tired, we more often than not skip on exercise and cooking nice healthy meals at home (opting more often than not for unhealthy forms of comfort foods).

A good analogy is to think of sleep as a credit card. As you accumulate debt you pay higher interests – eventually the account simply shuts down until you pay it all off. If you accumulate too much sleep debt, your body eventually crashes.

Sleep is controlled by a small gland, the pineal gland, within the endocrine system, so if the hormone produced by the pineal gland (melatonin) is out of balance – this could promote sleep disturbances. The pineal gland is also seen as the master of the endocrine system, so if this gland is not working properly, it can result in hormonal imbalances seen throughout the whole body.

4. Clean and strength your liver

Do you have stubborn belly fat? It could all be due to an overburdened liver. Our liver is bombarded by thousands of toxins daily. As you age, your liver often becomes overwhelmed because of overuse. This results in these toxins getting stored in our existing fat cells. This stubborn fat is why it becomes difficult to lose weight.

Your liver is also responsible for recycling hormones, so this can cause hormone imbalances that can cause weight-gain and an inability to lose weight. Which brings me to #5 (next)

5. Balance hormones/endocrine system

Hormones play a huge role in how your metabolism functions—how you use food for fuel, whether food gets stored or burned, whether you feel hungry or full, whether you experience cravings or not, your mood, and even your motivation to exercise. All of these can be affecting you in ways that encourage or discourage fat loss.

Common endocrine/hormone disruptors are found on environmental working group website where they highlight the “Top 12 Hormone-Altering Chemicals and How to Avoid Them”.

A common endocrine gland responsible for weight-gain or weight-loss is the thyroid gland. This gland if under-active (hypothyroidism) promotes weight gain, and if overactive (hyperthyroidism) promotes excess weight loss. A simple blood test through your MD may show imbalance, but the healthy range that your doctor uses is very wide, and does not take into account many other factors which could be leading to symptoms related to hypothyroidism. There are other tests that can be performed from your home that can help determine if you do in fact have an under-active thyroid (feel free to email me at for further information on this).

6. Balance blood sugar

Many of us have heard of the Glycemic Index when referring to diabetics, but not many of us realize that we would all benefit from considering this in our personal dietary intake. However, a more accurate indicator of the relative glycemic response to dietary carbohydrates is the “Glycemic Load”, which incorporates the relative quality and quantity of carbohydrates in the diet. The concept of glycemic load was developed by scientists to simultaneously describe the quality (glycemic index) and quantity of carbohydrate in a meal or diet. Short-term studies on appetite regulation and weight loss suggest that low glycemic-load diets may be useful in promoting long-term weight loss and decreasing the prevalence of obesity. A recent review of six randomized controlled trials concluded that overweight or obese individuals who followed a low-glycemic index/load diet experienced greater weight loss than individuals on a comparison diet that was either a high-glycemic index diet or an energy-restricted, low-fat diet. So in short monitor the carbohydrates you consume, simply keeping to low glycemic load foods and limiting high glycemic foods can aid greatly in the ability to lose weight. Note: low glycemic load diets also have positive results on reducing ones risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.

7. Food ratios particularly for weight-loss

This is a hard one to nail down because these ratios are so specific to each individual.
It easiest to start with protein, as there is an “ideal range” of what to consume daily. From there we can use percentages based up your protein intake.

Protein: Higher protein intake increases your metabolic rate and is said to satiate persons for longer than the other two macronutrients (fat & carbohydrates). The general idea is to consume 1.0-1.5g/lb of body weight. We should try to have between 10-35% of our daily intake from protein.

Fats: The main thing to focus on for weight loss in particular is that you do not go over 35% of fat in your daily intake. I want to make note that you need fat to function properly as your brain and hormones are made up of fat, and we need fat for so many bodily functions … but I do want you to focus on GOOD FATS, monounsaturated (fats that are generally liquid at room temperature, ex olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats (fats found in fish). Reducing fat too much can have negative effects on your health, and does not aid in weight loss in the long term. Fat has a bad rep, but you should be consuming somewhere between 20-35% of fat daily.

Carbohydrate: DO NOT cut carbohydrate consumption; rather focus on whole food sources for your carbohydrates – not processed carbs. Cut down the white rice, the white bread, all the processed grains as a general blanket statement. Carbohydrates (as glucose) are your initial source for energy – for exercise, but also for every day bodily functions. Ensure lots of vegetables, and some fruit – focusing more on vegetables than fruit (see Point 6 – balancing blood sugar. Fruits in general are higher in on the glycemic scale). Think of your plate as a palate – use lots of colours with your vegetables. Each vitamin is linked to a colour, so more colour means more variety in vitamins. Also a more colourful plate is more appealing and you will enjoy and feel more satisfied when your food looks good. Ideally this should be your highest percent falling at around 45-65%.

For sustained weight-loss AVOID on these 3 myths
1. Low fat diets
Studies have shown that men (and women) who eat diets in which fat is less than 20% of their overall daily intake have significantly lower testosterone levels. This can lead to general fatigue and weight gain. Diets that are low in fat also lead to reduced absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K) resulting in vitamin deficiency.

2. “Fat-free”, “low-fat”, “light”, and “reduced-fat” products.
These products often add sugar, flour, thickeners, and salt to make up for the loss in taste that is associated with a reduction or loss in fat. This means added calories! Cut out the BAD FATS (saturated and trans fats), but keep up the good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats). These good fats help in lowering LDL (Low-density-lipoproteins) “bad cholesterol” and raising HDL (High-density-lipoproteins) “good cholesterol” in the blood. HDL is said to clear the bad cholesterol from the blood.

3. Counting Calories
We all have the “calorie in, calorie out” analogy, but counting daily calories is not the way to go about it. Understanding calories and how we utilize them is the key here. Knowing that fat contains 9 calories per 1 gram of fat, both proteins and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. This is important when thinking about the ratios of the three macronutrients. Stressing about the actual number is counterproductive as stress makes it hard to lose weight, and counting calories is so closely tied to failure and guilt that I highly recommend against this.

What I think the best New Year’s Resolution is to learn to truly love yourself, FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU. By all means work towards being your healthiest, happiest person, but the most important resolution should be to accept yourself and realize how amazing you really are.

Have a great day,
Karen Tattersall
Registered Holistic Nutritionist

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