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  • Writer's pictureNicole Spear, MS, CNS

5 Weight Loss Tips

In the last blog, we looked at 6 weight loss myths. In this blog, we'll review 5 ways to healthfully lose weight.

Tip #1: Sleep More!

Everyone loves to sleep. It has been proven time and time again that individuals with disordered sleeping patterns or poor sleeping habits, consistently have a greater risk of being obese and a harder time losing weight. So how does sleep help with weight loss?

  • It reduces the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that circulates when the body is under chronic or acute stress. It deposits fat quickly and easily because stress indicates the need to conserve energy for potential danger. Cortisol cannot differentiate between the stress of a dysfunctional family situation and that of dodging a car accident, so it prepares for the worst scenario. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands. These specialized glands are easily "burned out" when we are under chronic stress. However, they take time to rejuvenate and repair if we are sleeping between 10 pm and 2 am. These are the "adrenal rejuvenation" hours. Consistently missing sleep during these hours, will enhance the fat-promoting effects of cortisol.

  • It decreases the hormone ghrelin, which induces appetite.

  • It increases the hormone leptin, which makes you burn fat better.

  • It increases growth hormone and testosterone, which build muscle and therefore increases metabolism.

Tip #2: Fall in love with the word "NO" - Stress Reduction

Controlling stress in your life will also curtail the effects of cortisol. However, stress can be difficult to manage and at times, seems impossible.

Learning to set boundaries and only commit to those things that are most important in your life is one of the best ways to control stress.

We cannot be supermen and superwomen, at the expense of our health. Learning to say "no" may be the best habit we could learn. People who don't "fill their plates" with excessive amounts of activities and make time to meditate, pray, read and/or journal are happier, healthier..... and lose weight better.

Tip #3: Less Sugar, Less Carbs

Sugar and grain-based calories make the pounds stack up quickly. Committing to a 30 fast from all grains and sugars, including healthy ones, is one of the best ways to kick the sugar/carb habit, and begin a healthier lifestyle. Slowly eliminating these addictive foods is not effective for many people. More can be accomplished in a short-term commitment to eliminate, than a lifetime of reducing.

Tip #4: Get the Hormones Under Control

In our era of estrogen-dominance, both guys and gals are paying the price of imbalanced hormones. Here's how they affect weight loss/gain:

  • Testosterone builds muscle mass, so the more the better!

  • Estrogen deposits fat in the thighs and buttocks and is terribly difficult to lose.

  • Progesterone keeps estrogen in balance. Most women benefit from some extra!

Tip #5: Make Exercise Work (Interval Training)

The old philosophy that long-endurance, aerobic exercising is healthy is just that - old philosophy.

It has been found that individuals who rely on long endurance runs may be at risk for heart attacks.

Overall, this type of exercise may burn calories, but requires excessive exercise to see a small weight loss change, and stresses the cardiovascular system. Of course, the die-hard endurance athletes love the endorphin rush, but their often thin arms and legs give evidence to the fact that these activities do not build muscle or strength. Aerobic exercise relies on glycogen (glucose stored in the muscles) for energy and only taps into fat stores after glycogen is depleted in about 20 to 30 minutes. Aerobic exercise requires fast energy for an extended time and glycogen is fast energy. Fat-burning is a slow process requiring a lot of energy. Therefore, fat is not a preferred energy source for aerobic exercise. This is why it is recommended that most aerobic activity last at least 1 hour, to effectively burn some fat. As a result, most aerobic athletes find themselves having to continue a strenuous exercise plan in order to burn their fat. Over time the body adapts to the needs of long routines, by increasing fat stores, so supply adequate energy for the length of the aerobic exercise. This is why many aerobic athletes easily gain the weight back if they stop their aerobic activity.

Increasing Heart Strength and Lung Reserve The quick bursts of high-intensity exercise will both strengthen your heart and increase your lung capacity. High-intensity usually pushes your heart to its maximum heart rate; however, you don't sustain that. In this way, you slowly stretch and strengthen it and allow it to become resilient and withstand the pressure. If your heart is strengthened to withstand this type of a challenge, then the next time you meet up with a Grizzly bear, you won't immediately have a heart attack! You will also find, over time, that you are well prepared to play with the kids, keep them out of danger, mow the lawn, rake the leaves, and perhaps even save the dog from the busy road.

Decreasing Fat Weight High-intensity exercise does not allow time to burn fat and therefore your fat stores will not fuel this type of activity. You are forcing your body to use free ATP, creatine and muscle glycogen (sugar stored in muscle cells). High-intensity interval training will first encourage your body to build up muscle glycogen which translates into bigger muscles and higher metabolism. Fat is then burned for hours after the exercise, when we are at rest and completing normal activities. Stronger muscles create a higher metabolism, which burns fat all day long. High-intensity activity increases growth hormone in the body, which increases muscle, bone and organ mass. This type of activity also increases testosterone, which builds muscle mass. Again, the effect is a boost in metabolism, which translates into more fat burning during rest - not during activity.

Consider the following example of this exercise technique at work.

At Laval University researchers studied calorie burning and body fat changes in two exercise groups. The long duration group cycled for 45 minutes without interruption (typical aerobic exercise). The short duration group cycled in multiple short bursts of 15 to 90 seconds with rests in between (high-intensity exercise). The end of the study revealed shocking results. Although the long-duration group burned twice as many calories, the high-intensity interval group lost 9 times more fat than the endurance group for every calorie burned!
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