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A Holistic Approach Is Key to Overcoming Overweight
If you have a health problem, and you treat only the symptom and not the underlying cause, you may experience temporary relief. But the symptom will likely return . . . again . . . and again.
Sound anything like your extra pounds? The pounds you've lost and regained . . . again . . . and again?
"Overweight is the symptom of fundamental imbalances in your body, emotions, and mind," says Shoshanna Katzman, a certified acupuncturist, director of the Red Bank Acupuncture and Wellness Center in New Jersey, and cofounder of the Feeling Light weight-management program. These imbalances include:
* Emotional imbalance, in which food is used as a substitute for love or a way to "stuff" your uncomfortable feelings back inside you
* Nutritional imbalance, with the body crying out for the nutrients it needs for optimal functioningnutrients that your food choices aren't supplying
* Physical imbalance, such as stored toxins in the digestive tract that drain your energy and cause you to eat "stimulating" foods like sugar that make you even more toxic in the long run
* Mental imbalance, in which your thoughts anxiously or angrily or sadly dwell on the past or future and you're never mindful of what you're doing nowincluding what you're eating
"When you're in balance, you naturally and easily make food choices that support your overall state of health," Katzman says. Here are some of her best, client-tested methods for correcting the imbalances that she believes are the underlying cause of overweight.
Guide to Professional Care
The best alternative health professional to help you lose weight is a person who understands and can help solve the various nutritional, metabolic, hormonal, immune, and lifestyle problems that actually cause overweight, says Julia Ross, executive director of Recovery Systems in Mill Valley, California. The practitioner should be able to medically investigate and correct each of the following eight factors that are possible underlying factors in weight problems, according to Ross.
* Depleted brain chemistry
* A low-calorie diet, which is a common cause of overeating
* Blood sugar problems, including medical problems such as hypoglycemia, diabetes, and exhaustion of the adrenal glands
* Low thyroid function
* Food allergies and addictions
* Hormone imbalances
* Yeast overgrowth with candida, which can cause carbohydrate cravings
* A deficiency of essential fatty acids
Food: A Smoothie That Stops Cravings
Having this Feeling Light smoothie or blender drink for breakfast is the most important balance-restoring step for many of Katzman's weight-loss clients, she says.
"The drink is a total infusion of essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, protein, and fiber," she says. "And it's a great way to cut down on food cravings, because, with the super-nutrition in the smoothie, you're actually giving your body the nutrients it needs."
Just put the following ingredients in a blender, mix, and drink: 1 cup rice milk; 1 cup soy milk; 1 cup apple juice, orange juice, or other fruit juice; 1 banana; 4 fresh strawberries; 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses; 1 tablespoon aloe juice; 1 tablespoon black cherry juice concentrate; 1 tablespoon powdered "green" formulation; 1 to 2 tablespoons powdered brewer's or nutritional yeast; 1 teaspoon raw, organic bee pollen (loose, not in tablets or capsules); and 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil.
Be creative, says Katzman. Experiment with proportions to taste, or freeze the bananas or strawberries for a thicker, colder drink.
Affirmations: Make the Right Food Choices
Affirmationspositive statements of beliefcan help you make the right food choices, Katzman says. "When you're confronted with foodwhile looking in the pantry, standing in front of the refrigerator, shopping at the supermarket, or eating at a restaurantthe whole key to making the right, healthy, balanced choice is what your mind is thinking at that moment," she says.
What's more, she says, if you regularly spend 5 to 10 minutes once or twice a day mentally affirming your intention to be balanced and healed, it's much more likely that you will make the right food choices. She recommends choosing one or two affirmations from the following list, memorizing them, and saying them to yourself on a regular basis.
* I am revealing a clearer, healthier, happier me.
* I am in control.
* I take responsibility for my physical self, my wellness, and my health.
* I eat to nourish my mind, body and spirit.
Rebounding: The Best Weight-Loss Exercise
Jumping on a rebounder or small trampoline is a particularly good exercise for those trying to lose weight, says Katzman. Alternative practitioners believe that it helps strengthen the lymphatic system, the body system that drains toxins and supports stronger immunity. She recommends a session of 20 to 30 minutes of rebounding three to five times a week.
A Supplement Strategy That Cures Cravings
Julia Ross, executive director of Recovery Systems in Mill Valley, California, says that there often is a link between overeating and the levels of key chemicals in the brain.
"You are using food as self-medication because you are low in certain brain chemicals," she says, and your brain has to have these chemicals to function, she explains. Your food cravings, as well as depression, irritability, anxiety, and many other emotional and mental problems, are signs that your brain doesn't have enough of them.
When the brain is deprived of these chemicals, it sends out signals that overwhelm your willpower, triggering you to eat a druglike food (usually carbohydrate) that substitutes for the missing chemicals and makes you feel betterfor a little while, says Ross.
These brain chemicals, which include dopamine, a natural energizer; GABA, a natural sedative; endorphin, a natural painkiller; and serotonin, a sleep promoter and mood and attention stabilizer, are deficient for a number of reasons, Ross says. They range from genetics and stress to overeating refined sugar and flours and eating too little protein.
You can easily correct those deficiencies with nutritional supplements that boost those brain chemicals, however. That in turn will stop your cravings, soothe your emotional and mental problems, and start you on the road to permanent weight loss. Specifically, the supplements are amino acids, the building blocks of protein.
"Scientific studies have confirmed the effectiveness of using just a few targeted amino acid 'precursors' to the brain chemicals, thereby eliminating your cravings for food as well as your depression, anxiety, irritability, obsessiveness, and mental dullness," Ross says.
There are, of course, many factors that can cause overweight, says Ross. She believes that they include low-calorie dieting, blood sugar disorders, low thyroid function, food allergies, hormone imbalances, infection with the yeast candida, and a deficiency of fatty acids.
Correcting your brain chemistry with amino acids is the first and most important step in eliminating food cravings, Ross believes, so you can then address all the health problems that contribute to overweight. You can safely take all of the following supplements until you reach your goal weight or for a year, whichever comes first, Ross says.
Imagine a Thinner You
Don't think of a purple elephant.
You immediately thought of a purple elephant, didn't you?
That's because your subconscious mindthe mind of desires, dreams, impulses, and urgesresponds to words by forming images.
If you substitute the words chocolate cake or pizza for purple elephant, you'll have a very clear idea of what happens when you tell yourself again and again not to eat something. Your subconscious mind is overwhelmed with the desire to eat it, and eventually, you do.
That's why using positive imagery, or visualization, can succeed where willpower fails, says Debbie Johnson, author of Think Yourself Thin: The Visualization Technique That Will Make You Lose Weight without Diet or Exercise.
If you consistently imagine yourself thin, your subconscious will begin supporting everyday actions that help you become thin. Johnson calls it Focused Imagination, which goes beyond visualization to use all of your senses. Johnson herself lost 40 pounds and has kept it off for years using Focused Imagination. Here's her advice for making it work for you.
* Develop a "key image." Focus on an image of yourself as a thin person. "It anchors your mind to the ultimate fulfillment of your weight-loss goal," says Johnson. Use all of your senseshearing, feeling, seeing, and smellingto develop every aspect of the image. What does your body look likeexactly? What are you wearing? Where are you? At the beach, on the tennis court, dancing the night away? Imagine the happiness you feel with your new, thinner body.
"Picture the scene as if it were a movie or video about your new, thinner lifethe life that you will be living very soon," Johnson says.
* Experience the Golden Minute. This is a timetwice a day, for 30 seconds when you wake up in the morning and 30 seconds before you fall asleep at nightwhen you intensively use your key image and other reinforcing mental exercises.
First, tell your body that you love and appreciate it just the way it is; that way, you won't feed your subconscious with negative images about yourself. Next, says Johnson, "tell your body that you are going to make some helpful changes."
Next, imagine that you are in a corner of the ceiling of your room, looking down at your new body. See your key image. Feel the wonderful, exhilarating sensation of being your thin self. If it's morning, get out of bed with the feeling of your new body and carry it with you throughout the day. If it's evening, fall asleep with this image so your subconscious, which never sleeps, can reinforce your key image overnight.
* Use a key phrase. Whenever you think of your key image, you should also say a key phrase to yourself, Johnson says. Her own favorite phrase is "I feel a little thinner today." Using a key phrase, she explains, helps bring your key image "into the moment" and also helps reinforce the image.
* Don't give up, says Johnson. If you persist, Focused Imagination will work. And don't worry about negative thoughts. "They're just part of being human, " she says. "Every time a negative thought about you arises, use it as a springboard for visualizing and feeling your key image."
Glutamine: Balance Blood Sugar, Stop the Cravings
Food cravings, particularly for sweets and starches, are often caused by low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. But you can stabilize the delivery of blood sugar to your brainand stop the cravingsby taking two 500-milligram capsules of glutamine three times a day between meals, says Ross.
If you want fast, emergency relief of carbohydrate cravings, Ross recommends opening a 500-milligram capsule of glutamine, pouring the contents under your tongue, and letting it dissolve.
Tyrosine: For Low Energy and Poor Concentration
You feel fatigued and brain-fogged nearly all the time, and you use coffee and sweets (and maybe cigarettes) to give you a lift. If that description fits you, Ross recommends that you take 500 to 2,000 milligrams of tyrosine three times a daybefore breakfast, at midmorning, and at midafternoon.
Start with 500 milligrams. If that doesn't seem to do the trick, increase your next dose by 500 milligrams, to 1,000. Continue to increase by 500 milligrams until you feel energized and alert, but don't exceed 2,000 milligrams per dose.
You may find that tyrosine is too stimulating, making you jittery or keeping you awake at night, or that it doesn't clear away your fatigue. If that's the case, eliminate it and use a similar amino acid, d-phenylalanine, at doses of 250 to 500 milligrams on the same three-times-a-day schedule.
d-Phenylalanine: If You Eat to Overcome Emotional Pain
"If you overeat to help yourself deal with emotional painif you're sensitive, cry easily, crave comfort, and love certain foodsyou may need the amino acid d-phenylalanine," says Ross.
That's because this supplement builds up your brain's reservoir of endorphins, the natural opiates that help to create feelings of pleasure and reduces physical pain. She recommends taking 500 milligrams of DLPA (a supplement that combines the d- and l- forms of phenylalanine), along with 500 milligrams of glutamine, three times a dayupon arising, at midmorning, and at midafternoon.
If you take DLPA regularly, you don't need to take phenylalanine to give you extra energy, as suggested above. Ross also recommends that you consume plenty of high-protein foods, which supply amino acids, since the body requires all of the amino acids in order to manufacture endorphins.
GABA: For Stress and Tension
Your muscles are chronically tense. You feel stressed and burned out. Your doctor says that you should relax, but he might as well be telling you to levitate, because you just don't know how to calm down.
What's more, you chronically overeat sweets and starches (and perhaps smoke, drink, or use tranquilizers to help you cope). If this sounds like you, you may need gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), says Ross. She recommends taking 100 to 500 milligrams whenever you feel the need to relax. (Experiment to find the dose that works for you, starting at 100 milligrams and increasing by increments of 100 milligrams, but don't exceed 1,000 milligrams a day.)
Don't take the supplement first thing in the morning, since it may make you too relaxed to drive. And you might want to look for a product that combines GABA with two other relaxation-inducing amino acids, taurine and glycine, Ross says.
"This combination can be even more calming for some people than GABA alone," she says.
5-HTP: For Depression, Anxiety, or Low-Self-Esteem
If you have low levels of the brain chemical serotonin, you can have a host of emotional and mental problems that compel you to overeat sweets, starches, and chocolate. These problems include depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, obsessive thoughts, winter blues, irritability, and insomnia.
If you're experiencing any of those, Ross recommends that you take 50 to 100 milligrams of the serotonin-boosting supplement 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) three times a day.
Fats That Can Help You Lose
Fat supplements? For a person who's trying to lose weight, the idea of taking fat in a pill sounds like a cruel joke. But here's what you may not know: A deficiency of certain types of good fats, called essential fatty acids (EFA), that your body requires can lead you to crave and overeat the bad kinds of fats and put on extra pounds.
That's the opinion of Ann Louise Gittleman, a certified nutrition specialist in Bozeman, Montana. "Fat phobia is the cause of so much overweight in this country," she says. "Yes, saturated fats in animal products and trans-fats in processed foods are bad for your health. But not getting enough of the good fatsthe essential fatty acids found in foods like fatty fish, certain oils, leafy greens, avocados, and nuts and seedsis also bad for your health."
The different types of EFA, she believes, actually stimulate fat metabolism so that your body burns more fat, trigger the production of hormones that make you feel full, and balance your body's levels of insulin (the hormone that burns sugars) so you don't crave high-calorie sugars and other fattening carbohydrates.
Most Americans are deficient in various essential fatty acids, such as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), alpha-linolenic acid (LNA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahex-aenoic acid (DHA), Gittleman believes. The best way to make sure that you get enough of all of those types of EFA, each of which is crucial in helping you lose weight, is with EFA supplements, Gittleman says. Here's what she recommends.
Flaxseed Oil: Reset Your Thermostat
The LNA and other omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed oil help reset your body's thermostat to a normal level so you burn excess calories, Gittleman says. They also help normalize insulin metabolism, thus reducing sugar cravings. She recommends 1 tablespoon a day with a meal. Flaxseed is a great supplement, Gittleman says, and can be safely taken on a regular basis.
GLA: Activate Brown Fat
GLA helps you lose weight by activating dormant brown fat, the type of fat that helps burn excess calories.
"Brown fat makes it possible to expend ingested fat as energy rather than storing it as excess white fat," Gittleman says. "Many of my clients who had 10 pounds or more to lose have reported dramatically successful results by taking four to eight 500-milligram capsules of GLA-rich evening primrose oil a day."
CLA: Inhibit the Enzyme That Stores Fat
The essential fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) may help in your weight-loss efforts, says Gittleman. In a scientific study, people who took 3,000 milligrams of CLA daily lost 20 percent of their body fat in 3 months without dieting, she says.
The theory is that CLA interferes with the production of lipase, an enzyme that affects the way the body metabolizes fat. She recommends taking 1,000 milligrams three times a day before meals. As a bonus, CLA may have breast cancer-fighting properties and general immune-enhancing properties, Gittleman adds.
Fish Oil: Balance Your Overall Fat Intake
Although the fatty acids found in fish oil do not directly help with weight loss, they are crucial for balancing your overall intake of fats and maintaining good health, Gittleman says. She recommends taking 1,000 milligrams of the product SuperMaxEPA two or three times daily.