Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is a goal shared by many people. The CDC estimates that about 40% of the US adult population is classified as overweight. The tools to live a healthy lifestyle and manage weight are not that difficult- they include healthy eating, physical activity, optimal sleep, and stress reduction.
Nearly 80 percent of adults under the age of 36 say that they “could be healthier”.
Fad diets and one-size-fits-all wellness plans may promise fast results, but such programs can fail to consider your specific health and wellness needs, including gender, the role of cultural influences, food preferences, or a person’s motivation for losing weight and getting healthier in the first place. Because quick-fix plans never look at a person’s unique history and needs, they tend to fail in the long run.
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for your overall well-being. However, most people still struggle to achieve it long-term. Getting rid of those extra pounds can be tough if you’re unsure how to go about it. The only long-term solution is to change your lifestyle to support your goal of losing weight permanently.
Jennifer Brooks is the president and co-founder of GOLO, LLC, the health and wellness solutions company. Jennifer is board certified in holistic nutrition and holds degrees in culinary arts and mind-body transformational psychology. Within a few minutes of talking to Jennifer, it was easy to see how passionate she is about helping people achieve a healthier lifestyle.
Following are some highlights from our recent conversation:
A lot of weight loss and weight management plans see a big Yo-Yo effect- lose 20 but gain back 25. How can a person who loses weight maintain that permanently?
Jennifer: There’s a reason they call it Yo-Yo dieting because that’s precisely what it is. You lose twenty pounds, but you lose it the wrong way. You usually gain it all back, plus another five to ten pounds. And the worst thing is you’ve now gained even more fat than you had before. Your body then must now readjust to this new ratio. It’s like when people say, “I don’t know why I’m trying so hard. I can’t lose weight.”
When it comes to achieving lasting and sustainable results, losing weight the right way really matters. Slow and steady is best, so you’re losing fat weight and getting your body back in control. That should be the goal. A healthy weight loss is between one and two pounds a week.. You’re losing mostly fat weight as opposed to muscle and water, and you’re going to be able to keep it off easier, and you’re learning things in the meantime that will help you keep that healthier lifestyle.
Ultimately, you lose weight and keep it off by focusing on good nutrition, whole foods, exercise, and good sleep habits. When you lose weight quickly by cutting calories or carbs or fat, you’re just depriving your body of the nutrition it needs. You might lose weight, but you’re going to plateau quickly, and it will be hard to maintain that loss.
Talk to us about the importance of eating balanced meals that include whole- foods.
Jennifer: Ideally, you should make sure every meal you eat is a balanced meal. So, every meal should contain protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, and fat to get that well-rounded nutrition. I suggest whole- foods compared to processed foods, diet foods, or low-fat foods. If you’re going to have yogurt, try to find a whole milk yogurt or full-fat milk versus 2% or low fat. A healthy balanced meal can suit anybody, whether you’re looking to lose weight or just trying to live a healthier lifestyle in general.
I recommend following a diet based on a holistic nutrition model, which is basically a whole-food diet. The idea is to eat foods in their natural state or as close to their natural state as possible. So, for example, you want to eat a whole piece of fruit instead of just the juice. Balanced meals fall into place because the philosophy is you get different nutrients from different foods, and you need a well-balanced diet to give your body the proper nutrition, not just for your body but your mind and how you feel. By cutting a food group, you’re going to be missing some nutrients because you’re not going to get them in other foods you eat. Holistic nutrition combines both whole-food and well-balanced meals so that you get all the nutrients that you need.
The resistance to following a whole-food diet is that people think they don’t have time to implement it. Time is not really an issue; an orange doesn’t take any longer to eat than getting a glass of orange juice, but the orange provides much more nutrition. Eating healthier takes a little bit of education, and it doesn’t mean you have to cook a gourmet meal. Personally, I feel eating foods in their whole state is easier. It might take twenty minutes to cook a serving of rice, but it also takes twenty minutes to put a frozen dinner in the oven and cook it too. Veggies, you could eat them raw. Wash them, cut them up. So really, it is perception, but in a way, it’s just an obstacle you’re putting in front of yourself because it is not time-consuming just to eat the foods the way they already are.
I also want to emphasize the importance of a balanced diet. You want to include protein, carbs, vegetables, and healthy fat because, again, you need that variety of nutrition to give your body what it needs and have your body systems work efficiently. That need might differ for different people because if you’re more active, you might need more protein and carbs because you need that immediate energy from the carb, or you need that protein for that longer sustainability. It does vary depending on the person, depending on your age, and depending on how sedentary you are. But that still starts at the base of those protein, carb, vegetable, and fat groups.
And as your metabolism starts using food better and not storing it, sometimes people go, “I’m really hungry. I’m hungrier.” You can actually end up eating more food and not gaining weight because your body is working efficiently. You do have to pay attention to what your body’s telling you. And if you have a particularly active weekend where you go hiking, you might need more food than compared to Monday through Friday when you’re sitting at a desk all day.
As we begin to eat better, what role does exercise play in weight loss and achieving a healthier lifestyle?
Jennifer: Healthy eating habits are the cornerstone of steady, lasting weight loss and better overall health. However, adding exercise to your routine can also lead to other health benefits. Whether you prefer cardio, strength training, or a mix of both, you can improve your general health by adding exercise to your daily regimen.
How does emotional eating impact our health?
Jennifer: Emotional eating can cause us to make unhealthy food decisions, including choosing the wrong foods or overeating. Many things can cause emotional eating, like stress and fatigue, which in turn can lead to hunger and cravings, low blood sugar, poor sleep, and other health-related issues. If left unaddressed, emotional eating can also cause weight gain and a lack of motivation to exercise or socialize, all of which, over time, can impact health. Identifying triggers to emotional eating and finding a healthier way to cope with them can help motivate people to see that they are stronger than they think.
Food Cravings or Feeling Hungry. What are the differences?
Jennifer: There’s a fine line between hunger and cravings. Hunger is the physical need for food. With hunger, you may experience stomach growling or fatigue, but once you eat, those feelings disappear. Cravings are the desire for food, sometimes a specific food. Cravings can be caused by stress, fatigue, habit, or even boredom. Cravings often occur for foods that aren’t the healthiest, which can sabotage healthy weight loss efforts or the desire to live a healthy lifestyle.
One thing that probably differentiates your company, GOLO, the health and wellness solutions company, is that you tend to approach weight loss from a holistic nutrition, healthy lifestyle, and healthy habits perspective. Why?
Jennifer: One of our objectives is to help people live healthier lifestyles by empowering them to change their habits. That it’s not going to happen overnight, it takes time. And improving habits like eating a whole-food diet, integrating exercise, and getting more sleep are all excellent habits we want to help people get better at. And it takes time for those healthy habits to turn into things that are automatic for you.
Building a habit is like building muscle, it doesn’t happen in a day. And even if you say, I’m going to do something consistently for thirty days, and on the tenth day you don’t do it, you don’t give up. You have to look at that overall picture. This is about creating a lifetime of new and healthy habits.
I always stress weight is just one thing. It’s just a number on a scale. It’s just one measurement tool. But there are so many other ways to measure progress, even if it’s something you do and you’ve done it for, say, five days in a row, that’s progress. I did that. I had breakfast for five days in a row, whereas I never really ate breakfast before. That’s a sign of progress. Sleeping better or realizing it’s the middle of the day, and I’m not having that three o’clock slump, or I had a little more energy today. I felt a little calmer. I stayed fuller longer. I learned to eat a new vegetable that I like. All of these represent real progress.
Remember, the path to sustainable weight loss and a healthier lifestyle is not just that number on the scale. Many people’s bodies start to change well before that number on the scale changes. You may notice your clothes fit better even though that number on the scale is not moving, which is frustrating. There are so many different ways to measure progress, and it’s essential to understand that. Even if you cook dinner tonight instead of getting takeout, that’s progress. And all of those little wins keep you motivated to keep moving forward to another day, another week until it does become just a part of your life. The same is true with exercise. Even if you do it for five minutes instead of thirty minutes like you wanted, you did it for five. What is important is to get out of the immediate gratification mindset and set your sights on the long term.