There was a time when I was relatively thin and carried more fat than I would like to admit. As an avid hiker and backpacker, I was a lean 4 percent body fat.
In my late 20s and early 30s and not paying attention to what I knew was right for my own personal health, I ballooned to 24 percent body fat.
I felt weak, tired, emotionally snippy and frustrated. Although I kept plugging away, I felt a craving for certain foods that had some degree of sugar.
For awhile, I started drinking coffee; but really, it wasn’t the coffee I was drinking, but the number of teaspoons of sugar I added to it!
Eventually, after having some revelations, I determined it was time to really walk the walk, not talk the talk, and lose the unwanted fat while building more muscle in, preferably, a short amount of time.
As a chiropractic physician and practicing radiologist, I was destined to scrutinize every available way there was to improve my own personal health. I understood about the basics of nutrition; but at the time, I was way too busy pursuing the American dream.
I lost sight of what was really important. I knew better and decided to act. So I threw myself into the world of diets, nutrition and wellness. I studied volumes of research on fad diets, the “food pyramid,” and strenuous exercise programs.
I laid out the different action steps looked at by fat-loss drugs like Wellbutrin, Phentermine, Clenbuterol, Maridia and Amphetamines. What I learned was that medications could provide temporary fat loss; but unfortunately, I was putting my ultimate health at risk.
Through course work, seminars and an insatiable desire for knowing more about the science of it all, I discovered that I could lose fat and gain solid muscle by adopting some simple habits that would help control one single hormone in my body; insulin.
I learned that our body uses insulin to escort blood sugar and other nutrients into the muscles to be used for fuel. This keeps us alive and energized. Yet, too much of that great insulin can be detrimental. It tells our body to store fat and instead, use glucose for fuel. In addition, many hormonal systems that regulate appetite, mood, muscle growth and even fertility are made dysfunctional by excess insulin.
This state of imbalance leads to an addiction to sugar that has made the manufacturers of soda, cereal, juice, beer and candy… multiple, multiple millionaires! It has created a degree of mindless eating!
Most of us have learned to pay attention to how many calories or grams of fat that we put in our body; but, too many individuals remain ignorant about sugar and wheat. This is a deadly mistake. Low-calorie and low-fat foods tend to be loaded with sugar or certainly things that mimic sugar. These include: sucrose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed proteins, trans-fat and milk sugars, such as lactose and maltose.
When I look back at my own eating habits of years ago, I see that I was consuming sugar just about every time I put something in my mouth. Whether I was drinking a sports drink, munching on a health bar or having some Campbell soup; I was consuming some type of sugar. That meant that I was headed toward more treacherous health problems than just obesity.
Long-term sugar consumption can turn this metabolic nightmare into a living hell. Habitually, high insulin levels lead to a condition known as insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. The excess insulin numbs the muscle cells. Instead of allowing the glucose in so it can be used as fuel, the cells no longer react to it.
Unable to gain entry into the cells, glucose remains in the bloodstream. Blood sugar skyrockets.
Recognizing the rise in blood glucose, the pancreas produces even more insulin. Insulin and glucose overload leads to hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Aging accelerates so fast in people who suffer from insulin resistance that it can erase 10 plus years from their lives!
Certainly more aware and alarmed by what I was learning, I was now intensively motivated to control my own insulin.
What I found was that it wasn’t difficult and I never went hungry. I never did and don’t count calories, nor do my patients.
I never suffered by long hours in the gym. I learned how to control my insulin by changing a few lifestyle habits. Doing so allowed me over time to burn fat day and night. My body, like yours, innately knew when to eat and how much to eat. I just had to give it what it wanted.
By controlling my diet, thus my insulin, I decreased 24 percent body fat to a more lean 12 percent in a matter of months. I did gain some muscle weight in that time frame. Muscle weighs more than fat. Transitioning from more fat to more muscle does slow down weight loss. My energy level was markedly better throughout the entire day. My mood was constantly upbeat.
My mental and physical endurance had not been this high since being in high school athletics. My overall daily production increased and I realized I had found new habits that formed an entire lifestyle! I no longer feared metabolic nightmares and I avoided impending health crisis like so many people are experiencing today.
I offer this bit of personal history because I see so many patients who believe that it is just “how” they were created. It’s difficult when it seems like everywhere you turn, you are hitting road blocks. I believe, “When the WHY is big enough, you’ll figure out HOW!” Here are some helpful hints from my healthy journey in taking steps toward weight loss and improved health.
• Stop eating sugar and the sugar substitutes.
• Become a label reader. Ensure that there are no sugar in the products that you are eating.
• Avoid soda and reduce your fruit juice. Purified water is always a good alternative. There are many different flavored liquids made from natural sweeteners (Stevia) that can satisfy your pallet.
• Avoid formalized dieting. Lowering your food intake and dieting teaches the body pure and simply to store fat.
• Graze all day by eating vegetables snacks for several hours and eat only until you are full.
• Eat slow, chew your food well and allow the brain to tell you when you are full. Look for: healthy fats,vegetables, grass-fed beef, eggs, fish, steamed vegetables, real butter and nuts such as cashews and almonds.
• Get outside when you can for some sunshine. Expose half your body to sunshine for 15-20 minutes per day and enjoy the Vitamin D production. It not only controls your mood but can help you control your appetite.
• Exercise properly. A degree of proper exercise and insulin resistance cannot co-exist. Start with slow walks and gradually increase based on your physical endurance level. Most get the best results by exercising first thing in the morning prior to breakfast.
• Drink more water. Drinking water itself activates the body’s natural ability to burn fat. I attempt to drink 8 ounces of water at breakfast, lunch, in between lunch and dinner and in the evening before 8 p.m. I also use natural, whole-food supplements. Supplements can be extremely helpful in mobilizing fat and enhancing workouts. It is possible to increase your insulin sensitivity and enhance digestion and circulation.
• At minimum, at least take a whole-food, multiple vitamin supplement and something to increase your immune system to avoid being ill is helpful.
• It is also prudent to be aware that, for me and for my patients and I would recommend for you, on occasion, eat what you want. If it is only 10 percent of the time, that’s at least two meals out of 21 a week. That way, you know, you’re going to have something that you want, and you won’t obsess about it.
By adapting this overall process to my “Healthy Life by Design” program, the benefits of controlling insulin go well beyond that of fat loss. Learning to regulate insulin is one of the main facets for reducing the variety of degenerative diseases. One thing is for sure, if I can do it, anyone can do it!
You need to understand what you want as a goal, celebrate the progress along the way and appreciate subtle change. All change can be good change if it’s in the right direction. Ease into the transition and make that change! If you move well, think well and eat well, you will improve your health! My patients and I are living proof!
This article is by Dr. James R. Grilliot, a chiropractic physician and director of Natural Wellness Centre in Bremen, Ohio. For questions about the article or for more info, visit www.nwcdrg.com or call 740-687-0279.