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Stop Looking At The Scale

be well Dec 25, 2021

Focus on other metrics instead and your weight will be exactly right.

I do step on a scale, but it’s the least of several metrics that interest me. I’ve learned that if these metrics are in a good place, then my weight is healthy and exactly where my body needs to be.

 

These are the metrics I care about:
  1. Do I feel rested when I wake in the morning?
  2. Do I have a healthy poop in the morning?
  3. Do I have enough energy to get through the day without turning to caffeine?
  4. Do I have enough energy to get through a good workout?
  5. Do I feel confident, not stressed, regardless of what’s coming at me?
  6. Do I crave healthy foods or am I seeking a rush from empty carbs?
  7. Do I feel achy?
  8. Is my memory o.k.?

If any of these metrics is off, my weight is up. When they’re in a good place, my weight is stable and solidly in a healthy BMI range.

 

I’ve learned that these 4 key elements keep these metrics in the right place:

- A healthy microbiome
- Eating foods appropriate for the seasons, including the seasons of my life.
- Intuitive fasting
- Limited alcohol


In This Post:
  •  Start Your Healing Journey 
  •  A Healthy Microbiome 
  •  Eating foods appropriate for the seasons, including the seasons of your life
  •  Intuitive Fasting
  •  Limited Alcohol Consumption 

 

A Healthy Microbiome

Years ago, I went to a naturopath to seek help for chronic fatigue and achiness in my joints. She determined that I was suffering from the fallout of antibiotic abuse. By then I’d taken antibiotics to fight Lyme Disease for what must have been a combined couple of years.

Her advice was to eliminate all simple starches and sugars, take loads of probiotics and eat lots of fermented foods.

Within one month of following this simple protocol I had more energy, fewer aches, and ……. I had dropped 10 pounds!

It was the easiest ten pounds I’d lost, and I think it’s because I wasn’t trying to. My primary objective was to feel better, and I discovered that correcting the imbalance in my body automatically corrected my weight too.

That was my first peak at the power of a healthy microbiome. Since then I’ve learned that if I live in such a way that optimizes my microbiome, everything in my body falls into the right place.

 

Here are my top tips for optimizing your microbiome:

1. Eliminate, or massively cut back, simple starches. If you eat grains, keep them whole, as in with the bran still intact. If it’s white, I tend to keep it out of my mouth.

Don’t get me wrong – I love a good pasta dish and bread fresh out of the oven. But those are treats and I relish them as such.

2. Reduce simple sugars. A lot. If you can, avoid sugar altogether.

I’ve gotten to the point that conventional sweets are way too sweet for me. It’s not that I don’t crave sweets. In fact, every day I eat a sweet, but it’s in the form of fruit, 90% chocolate, some honey in my tea, some dates or other dried fruit.

If you switch to getting your sweet fix from unprocessed foods, you’ll satisfy the sweet tooth without poisoning yourself from sugar. And eventually commercially made sweets will actually turn you off.

3. Eat lots of veggies and other fibrous foods. The same way a zookeeper feeds the lion red meat and the zebra grass, you want to feed your microbes the foods they thrive on.

Heard the term “prebiotics”? It simply means microbe food. The microbes that keep us the healthiest have a solid preference for fiber, veggies being the best source. Which is great, because veggies are the preferred source of key vitamins and minerals that so many other systems in our bodies need.

Bonus points if you stick to organic.

4. Get probiotics into your life, especially in the form of ferments. I actually stopped taking commercial probiotics and instead seek a variety of fermented foods like yogurt and kefir, kombucha and jun, miso, and many kinds of fermented vegetables.

It’s incredibly easy to make your own ferments. Click here for a quick tutorial. If you’re buying ferments, be sure you’re getting them from the refrigerated part of the store. Anything that’s packaged for the shelves has been heat-processed and the microbes you’re after have been killed.

Also, be sure to check out the labels on kombucha even if it’s in the fridge. If it says it’s been pasteurized it’s useless to you.

5. Your microbiome also benefits from exercise. Multiple studies show evidence that exercise positively affects the gut microbiota, though it seems that longer and higher intensity exercise has the most impact. If you’re still glued to the couch, here’s more motivation to slowly and steadily unleash your inner-athlete.

The good news is that if you start starving out the bugs that like it when you’re feeling lazy and lousy, it will become increasingly easy to get your game on. Which will then make it easier to eat in a way that makes it feel great to move, and so on. I just love positive feedback loops, don’t you?

6. Stress less. I can think of times I’ve wanted to punch someone when they tell me to “just relax”. Yet I’m putting myself in the position of the punch-ee because I have to convey the news that many studies have found that stress negatively alters the microbiome, which in turn increases the level of colonic inflammation. We also know that healthy brain development and function in adulthood are regulated by microbiota. 

So now that I’ve made you even more stressed about your stress, I’m going to direct you to my favorite, most efficient way to calm my nervous system. This Breathing Into Gratitude practice gets the job done fast. As do exercise and time in nature. Find what works best for you and just do it. You and your helpful critters depend on it.

7. Expose yourself. Diversity is key when it comes to a healthy microbiome, so actively expose yourself to as many of them as you can. Here are some of my favorite ways:

-Snuggle up to Fido. Pets are an excellent way to diversify the microbes in your home.

-Walk barefoot on the grass and stick your hands in some good, clean dirt.

-Visit farms and petting zoos.

Eat foods appropriate for the seasons, including the seasons of your life.

Our bodies require different kinds of foods depending on the demands of the seasons, and nature has generously provided us with exactly what we need to thrive all through the year, wherever it is we’re living.

Here in New York it’s winter, and I’ve switched to eating hearty soups and stews loaded with root vegetables and meats from local farms. If I can get my hands on some venison I’m extra happy. Also on the menu are cabbages, kale, brussel sprouts, hard-skinned squashes, apples, grains and legumes. Almost everything I eat this time of year is cooked and eaten warm. I also always have a batch of bone broth going.

But these winter foods are flat out unappealing in the summer. They feel way too heavy, so instead I eat lots of veggies, mostly raw, and fruits straight from my garden or local farms. They offer precisely the anti-oxidants and other nutrients I need to combat heat and exposure to the sun.

Eating seasonally makes good, intuitive sense. And if you pay close attention to your body you’ll see it has a solid preference for eating this way.

There are also seasons of our lives, and as I’m transitioning into cronehood I’m realizing that my body’s caloric and nutritional needs are changing.

I’ve also learned to adjust my diet based on whether or not I’m sick, exercising a ton, stressed, etc. It’s important to learn how to be guided by signals from the body when eating, which brings me to…..

 

Intuitive fasting

Right now intermittent fasting is all the rage. A decade ago we were told that if we skipped breakfast we’d mess up our metabolism and our bodies would hoard fat.

I cringe when I think of all the people harming themselves because they’re following the latest diet fads instead of responding to the signals from their bodies. Here’s my advice:

Eat when you’re hungry. Don’t eat when you’re not.

Simple, right?

Your body knows how many calories it needs because it felt what you did the days before. It also knows if it’s fighting a bug and needs more or less energy directed to digestion. And why in the world would you keep eating if you’re not pooping regularly? Be sure to read this if constipation or other gastrointestinal issues are a problem for you.

Let your body tell you what it needs, not the other way around.

But here’s the thing, and this is really, really important to understand: Sometimes the cravings you have are not really coming from your body’s wisdom.

Ever stood staring into the fridge looking for something to fill a void? And you realize the void is not in your stomach? Sometimes if you’re really clear with yourself, you realize you’re not actually hungry in the stomach, you’re hungry in the soul.

In this instance, instead of feeding yourself with food, fill the void with something else. In my experience, I’ve found that most chronic over-eaters are repressed creatives or those who haven’t properly processed grief or trauma. There’s a spiritual or emotional void that needs to be tended to, but not through food.

We all need creative and spiritual outlets. We all have to process our past hurts. Find an outlet that brings you joy and fills your cup. The past will become easier to process. I bet your cravings will be satisfied and you’ll be staring into the fridge way less often.

The other very important thing to know is that the flora in your gut send you craving signals.

They want you to eat their food of choice. So, if your microbiome is populated with yeasts they will harass you with strong signals to eat sugar and carbs that convert to sugar in a flash.

Don’t listen to them.

Starve them out. Instead, feed the good guys with plenty of fibrous vegetables, bone broth, and ferments. Eventually, they’ll crowd out the bad guys and those nasty cravings will go away.

 

Limit alcohol consumption

My father and my brother are winemakers, and for the longest time I felt a dinner without wine is a bit like a meal without salt. Also, I fully believe in the curative properties of a glass of wine.

But as I’ve moved into menopause I realize my body’s relationship with alcohol has totally changed.

When I drink more than a glass of wine or its equivalent, I will without fail wake up in the middle of the night. Then surprise surprise, I wake up groggy and my day is suboptimal. My exercise isn’t as good. And that’s the beginning of a downward cycle.

My Covid ten came from drinking something nightly to calm the nerves. Wine is comfort food for me – it reminds me of home, of my family, of the good life.

But it turns out it was making me sick. As soon as I limited my intake to a glass or two a week my weight went back to its happy, healthy place.

All I did was replace my evening ritual of a glass of wine with a cup of calming tea.

It’s important that everyone continue to monitor their response to booze and all foods, and adjust as necessary. As with everything else, what we require to be healthy is a moving target based on age, gender, lifestyle, activity level, seasons, and whether or not we’re healthy.

Listen to your body, help it be healthy, and your weight will be exactly where it should be.


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