50 year old Kay was feeling dejected when she came to see me for weight loss late last year.
She had being trying to lose weight for about 8 years. Kay* could lose some weight if she concentrated hard enough on cutting out all the foods she loved, but whenever she stopped concentrating on her diet, the weight just came back on.
Kay wasn't sure if the thyroid problems she'd had in the past might be related to her struggles, or if there was any way to stop the constant sugar cravings. She was walking every morning but didn't enjoy sports or going to the gym.
When a client asks me to help them with weight loss we always look at their general wellbeing in a holistic way. I believe that improving your overall health is always the best place to start for sustainable weight loss. At the first consultation, these are some of the things that Kay and I talked about:
1. Hormonal problems
It is not unusual, especially for women, to have one or more hormonal imbalances. Menstrual problems, and the hormonal changes that come with peri-menopause and menopause can all be reasons why it might be difficult to lose weight.
If you have been diagnosed with an under active thyroid, insulin resistance or leptin resistance, this will be working against your weight loss efforts. A naturopath can assist you to support hormonal health with herbal medicine, lifestyle and diet changes.
2. Digestive symptoms
If you have trouble losing weight and you also tend to suffer from bloating or pain after eating, then a naturopath will help you to work out if the two things are related.
Food intolerances trigger inflammation in the body and cause you to retain fluid and feel bloated. It can be hard to pinpoint which foods are causing the problem and many people have experimented with cutting out foods such as milk or bread.
A naturopath can help you to resolve digestive problems, bloating and inflammation and help you to work out which foods suit your body. Cutting out foods without getting nutritional advice can result in a lack of essential nutrients and may contribute to weight gain.
3. Diet check
It is important for someone who is trying to lose weight to take stock of exactly what they are eating and how much.
I often see women who are trying to lose weight and are not eating enough food to keep them healthy. This can lead to thyroid and metabolism problems.
A naturopath will check for adequate nutrition to support healthy body function, assess if you are eating too much or too little and guide you to the best food choices for your health and weight loss.
Knowing which foods to eat and when to eat them can make a big difference to weight loss results.
4. Liver cleanse
I sometimes suggest that people who want to lose some weight should support their liver health as they begin a new dietary regime. The liver is an important organ for supporting digestion, detoxification and elimination. A well functioning liver can give weight loss a boost.
Our livers are busy organs and under constant pressure to perform many tasks for us. We add to the work load by eating sugary foods; drinking alcohol and coffee; exposing ourselves to environmental chemicals and pesticides; using medications; and everyday use of household chemicals and cosmetics.
A liver cleanse can involve drinking herbal tea, taking a prescribed herbal formula and eating foods that are good for supporting liver health such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
5. Nervous system support
Stress is everywhere in our daily lives and can disrupt our weight loss goals in a couple of ways. Stress can directly affect our digestion and it can also disrupt our hormones, leading to thyroid problems, blood sugar imbalances, mood changes and weight gain.
Naturopaths will prescribe a regime of herbal medicine and flower essences to help you deal with stress. However the best way to reduce stress is to address what is causing the stress and remove it from your life if possible.
6. Naturopathic coaching
Willpower is often not enough to get us to make changes in our lives. And willpower seems to come and go and it's not always there when you need it most.
A naturopathic coach can provide coaching support to assist with making the necessary changes, help you to set achievable goals and keep you accountable. Sometimes changing the food you eat can be challenging if the new foods are unfamiliar or if there are time pressures. A naturopathic coach will guide you through the changes and help to remove blocks that appear.
7. Emotional eating support
Emotional eating is very common and can have a number of triggers. We can eat to cover emotions such as grief, regret, loneliness, boredom or heart break.
For Kay, demonstrating her love for family and friends with delicious food was a big weight loss hurdle, and one that many women can relate to. We worked with some flower essences to help Kay to gently let go of the triggers for emotional eating.
Kay is now happy with the path she is on and is confident that she can lose weight and keep it off by having a good understanding of the foods that are recommended for her body.
She no longer suffers from the ups and downs of sugar cravings and has found ways to socialise with family and friends that don't involve eating cake and sugary foods. Now that Kay has lost some weight she is happy and more confident to exercise and move her body.
Have you been struggling to lose weight? Do you find that trying to eat less and exercise more just doesn't work for you long term? I recommend you give holistic weight loss a go and contact a naturopath to get a better understanding of your body and support to achieve sustainable results.
I am a Sydney based naturopath, nutritionist and naturopathic wellness coaching.
I welcome clients to my clinic in Gladesville, Sydney.
*My client's name has been changed for confidentiality, however she was happy for me to share her weight loss story.