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How Lifestyle Medicine Can Help You Lose Weight and Keep It off Permanently



Anyone who’s struggled with weight loss can tell you that it’s a challenging process!


Right at the age that our metabolism starts slowing down, stress from life’s responsibilities is at a peak.


You’re juggling your career, family, and home--it can be downright difficult to find time to focus on taking care of yourself and losing weight.


Lifestyle Medicine has a different approach.


Let’s review exactly what Lifestyle Medicine is, how it can help you lose weight, and keep it off long-term.


What is Lifestyle Medicine?


Lifestyle Medicine is a field of medicine that is expanding rapidly.


Many illnesses are caused by unhealthy behaviors like poor diet, lack of exercise, and constant stress.


Unfortunately, most doctors receive very little education in these areas and are unable to offer detailed nutritional advice, exercise plans, or stress-reduction tips. (1)


Lifestyle Medicine uses evidence-based practices to focus on your habits. A primary goal is to replace unhealthy habits with new, healthy ones.


The six pillars that Lifestyle Medicine addresses are:


  1. Whole-food, plant-predominant nutrition

  2. Regular physical activity

  3. Restorative sleep

  4. Stress management

  5. Avoidance of risky substances like smoking or excessive alcohol

  6. Positive social connection (2)


Each of these areas influences body weight. When we establish healthy habits in all six of these areas, we develop a powerful plan to reach and maintain our target weight.


How can Lifestyle Medicine help you maintain your ideal body weight?


Lifestyle Medicine health professionals work with you to make changes in each of the six areas to improve your health and to help you lose weight.


It sounds too good to be true, right?


I promise, I see these changes happen every day!


We’ve got 5 ways that Lifestyle Medicine is different from just any old diet.


  1. We have a Big Why.

Any goal-setting book will tell you to always start with your purpose. Your powerful motivating reason for wanting to lose weight. The Big Why.


Lifestyle Medicine has been proven to prevent chronic disease and even reverse the effects of some diseases. Diseases that can be impacted by Lifestyle Medicine include:


  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Type 2 diabetes & pre-diabetes

  • Some cancers

  • Alzheimer’s and dementia

  • Obesity (3)


Living well for longer is a pretty Big Why for anyone.



2. We focus on tiny changes.


We understand that it’s hard to change a lifetime of less-than-optimal health habits. That’s why we believe in the approach of small incremental changes that will add up over time.


So you don’t have to run a marathon tomorrow, start by taking a walk around your block after dinner.


And it’s not necessary to give up all the foods you love in one day. Try adding just 1 more vegetable and 1 more fruit to your daily meals.


Don’t try to be a meditation monk on your first attempt. Add some deep breathing for a minute or two every few hours during your day.


When we make the changes tiny, they are much easier to accomplish. You give yourself a win and are establishing a new, healthier routine that you can build on down the road.



3. We’re in it for the long haul.


Diets that claim to help you instantly lose weight just aren’t sustainable.


You end up hungry from cutting calories and the first double chocolate brownie you see is enough to make you give up your goals.


Lifestyle Medicine is in it for the long game. Making small changes in your diet, movement, stress, and sleep will accumulate.


So if the scale doesn’t change from one day to the next, we know that we are building the right foundation for better health for next year, 5 years, 10 years, and beyond.



4. We look at the body as a whole.


Each of the six pillars of health is interrelated.


For example, it’s hard to eat healthy meals if you are tired all the time. Or if you are too stressed and tired at the end of a long day’s work, you will be less likely to exercise.


When we focus on people as a whole and make improvements in several areas, it becomes easier to reach our health goals.



5. Our methods are scientifically proven.


Let’s talk about inflammation.


Inflammation is when your body fights infections, bacteria, and viruses. But sometimes your immune system fights your own cells or tissues even when there isn’t an outside infection.


Long-term inflammation can lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity just to name a few.


Scientific studies show that following healthy lifestyle changes reduces your body’s inflammation. (4)


By attacking the root causes of our health problems, we set up our bodies to fight off harmful inflammation.


Evidence-based lifestyle changes can lead to huge improvements in your overall health. The key is incorporating small changes and mastering them before expanding upon them.


You’ll lose weight and boost your body’s ability to fight chronic diseases. It doesn’t get better than that!


Three Easy Things You Can Start Doing Today


Ready to give it a try?


Let’s test out some tiny changes to start you on a path to better health! Here are three simple ones that will get you used to developing new habits.


  1. Eat dark leafy greens.


Leafy greens are the Captain America of vegetables! They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Plus, they are low in calories.


Next time you go to the grocery store, grab any dark, leafy green that you see in the produce aisle.


You’ll find a variety to choose from:


  • Spinach

  • Turnip greens

  • Collards

  • Kale

  • Chard

  • Watercress


When you bring it home, google “Vegan + <your green>”. If you don’t put the word vegan before your green, you will find videos telling you to add bacon grease to the greens and that will defeat the purpose.


Keep in mind that you might not like the taste of the greens at first. Keep trying different recipes and a variety of dark leafy greens and slowly your taste buds will get used to it.


Make a plan: I will try one new leafy green each week.


2. Take a walk.


The key to building a habit of exercising regularly is to start wherever you are. If your typical evening routine includes hours of binging Netflix, add an evening walk to your day.


Link your new walking habit to something that you currently do daily like eat dinner.


Set your goal: I will walk around the block after I finish dinner.


Go for a streak by marking the days that you walked on a calendar or habit tracking app.


3. Try some deep breaths.


Have you ever noticed that when you’re falling asleep, you take slow, deep breaths? This tells your brain that it is time to unwind which then causes your body to relax too.


You can lower your stress by taking some deep breaths throughout the day.


Try this exercise any time you want to feel a little calmer:


  1. Lie down on the floor or bed.

  2. Put one hand on your tummy and one hand on your chest.

  3. Take a deep breath through your nose. You should feel your belly expanding as you breathe in.

  4. Breath out through your mouth. You should feel your belly deflating.

  5. Throughout your breathing, your hand on your stomach should be moving more than the hand on your chest.

  6. Do this 4 - 10 times slowly. (5)


Did you feel more relaxed? It’s easier to feel your belly moving when you are lying down. Once you’ve mastered that, you can do it sitting up.


Set an intention: I will do deep breathing at least once a day.



Although these three things may seem simple, they are very powerful if done regularly. You’re creating building blocks for a solid foundation for better health.


The Main Takeaway


Dieting fads, processed food, screen use, and stressful jobs are all conspiring against us in our efforts to reach a healthy weight.


Fortunately, we are realizing that in order to make a sustainable impact, we need to make changes to the way that we are living.


Baltimore Lifestyle & Culinary Medicine is here for you to provide guidance, knowledge, and accountability. We want you to live your healthiest life possible!


Contact us for a free consultation to talk about your health and start working on your new life today!


Resources:


  1. Lifestyle Medicine Education

  2. What is Lifestyle Medicine?

  3. Lifestyle Medicine: The Health Promoting Power of Daily Habits and Practices

  4. Lifestyle Medicine: A Brief Review of Its Dramatic Impact on Health and Survival

  5. Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation




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