Acupuncture and 9 Other Recommendations for Weight Loss
Weight is complicated for many reasons.
- It’s directly tied in with your body’s stress hormones.
- Food! What to eat and when to eat it? We’re told by experts all sorts of conflicting information.
- It all may be in your head – I’m not trying to be saucy here, but just that
- You may be at a healthy weight, but unhappy with your body.
- What we crave is tied in with our thoughts and emotions around food.
So, can acupuncture address any of these issues?
Yes. Obviously, the needles won’t make you start buying different food at the grocery store, but it can help reduce cravings, manage stress, and balance your hormones.
Also, most acupuncturists are trained to recommend food choices based on your individual constitution. The right foods for you help you find a healthy homeostasis.
Stress hormones and weight
When we experience the stress of a non-stop to-do list; stressful relatioships; or trauma, we may back away from our feelings. The feelings aren’t happy ones, so naturally, we try to avoid them.
We learn to distance ourselves from situations, feelings, and people.
One way to put distance between yourself and others is with excess weight.
Our bodies were designed to feel – we are designed as sensation-gathering machines.
If our body does not get the sensation from the “normal” sources, it knows that it can get some feeling from food or drinks.
Only when you get back the true sensations that your body was meant and designed to feel will you be able to lose the extra weight permanently.
How can we feel more and weigh less?
Feel your body sensations as you breathe, as you walk, as you talk to someone. Don’t avoid your negative emotions; work through them. The only way out of a dark forest is through it. If someone asks you how you’re doing, be honest. Find your people that you can let loose around.
Before you eat, do this:
Sit down, breathe a few times, and observe your food with all of your senses. How is your body feeling? As you eat, feel how your body changes. Chew your food until it’s liquid before swallowing. Pay attention to all the nuances of texture and taste. Notice the sensations as you get more full. Can you tell when you’re 80% full? Can it be OK to stop there?
“Play” in your body regularly.
As opposed to the thought of MAKING yourself go to the gym or whatever exercise you feel you HAVE to do, allow yourself an opportunity to “play” in your body. Make it fun; change it up from time to time; and vary your intensity based on your mood and energy level. I enjoy dancing, free-style, when I don’t feel like going to a more formal exercise class. Other playful exercise: walking the dog, keeping up with my kids on a playground, stretching, or jumping on a trampoline.
When you suppress your words, that part of your body still aches for its natural vibration. Another way to achieve that is through eating. If you find yourself eating when you’re not hungry, ask yourself what you may be avoiding saying to someone in your life. Are you quite literally biting back your words? (Especially if you’re also suffering from thyroid issues or jaw pain!)
Food and Weight Loss
When I go to the grocery store, I spend the longest amount of time in the produce aisle. I try to pick out seasonal and organic items in these categories:
- Greens – butter lettuce, arugula, spinach, cucumbers, etc.
- Spices – onions, garlic, leeks, cilantro, bell peppers, basil, etc.
- Root veggies – carrots, potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, radishes, squash, etc.
- Cruciferous veggies – kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts
- Fungi - mushrooms!
If you find yourself eating the same veggies week in and week out, change it up. Buy what’s in season. Go to the farmer’s market and see what’s recently harvested. Never cooked a rutabaga before? Look up a recipe online! Go for the adventure!
If you’re in the midst of a health concern such as diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), or high cholesterol (over 250), you’ll need to be more conscientious of cutting back on carbohydrates. Here’s a free guidebook for more information on doing that.
Rinse, chop, sautee, braise, roast, slow-cook, and steam your way to a healthier and more balanced you.
EXPERT TIP: Shoot for cooking at least 2 home-cooked meals per week. Just two! Based on those ingredients, plus whatever else you have stocked in your whole-foods pantry (you have downloaded our cookbook already, right?), you can make other small meals or have left-overs to fill in the rest of the week.
Body Image and Weight
I distinctly remember after giving birth to my son, when I first stood up from the hospital bed, I looked down at my body expecting all the belly to be gone. I mean, the baby was out, surely my belly would be flat again. If you’ve had a child before, you know what surprise I was in for!
Over the following 6 months I did lose the belly, but I didn’t right away feel “great” in my skin. I felt overly critical. I never considered that my body did something sacred. I brought life into the world; how is that not sacred?
The changing point for me was when someone mentioned that motherhood is the greatest sacrifice that we can make.
It was then that I realized how profound the entire experience was: the decision to have a baby; the feeling of growing to accommodate a new life form and his needs; the pain of birth. It was a sacrifice and I did it! My body took me through this transformation and she is just fine now. Nothing is broken or bad or needs fixing.
When we appreciate our bodies the way they are now at our current weight, we open the door to enjoying our bodies more.
If you woke up magically with your ideal body, it would not necessarily mean that you would feel any more sexy or enjoy your sex life any more.
Sexiness starts BEFORE the weight loss; the more enjoyment in our bodies we experience, the more weight we lose!
When someone loves their body, that natural radiance makes them beautiful regardless of their weight.
The scale is not a measure of your worth.
Try this: approach your body as if it was a best friend. I don’t think anybody would talk to their best friend like this: “Girl, you look terrible! When are you going to go on a diet or something?” I know if it was my best friend, I wouldn’t say anything because I think she’s gorgeously perfect all the time. If I was concerned about her health, I may drop some hints about nutrition or offer to cook her dinner.
To have a real, authentic heart-to-heart with yourself about weight gain, try the “friend approach.”
“Hey, sweetheart. What’s going on with you? Are you stressed out? How is work going? What do you need – a nap, a night out, a spa day, what?”
You may have an internal dialogue of what you’ll do when you reach that goal weight —
“When I’m thin, then I’ll go swimsuit shopping…”
“When I’m thin, then I’ll start taking dance lessons…”
“When I’m thin, then I’ll start dating someone…”
We end up putting off our lives until we’re thin!
How about this idea instead: live the life you desire first.
When I was struggling with my weight, I decided that “thin-Nicole” sits down to eat at the table. I also stopped taking my morning coffee to-go, but sitting down for that too. I use the “nice plates and glasses” and really look at, and smell my food. I notice how I’m feeling as I’m eating. As a result, I get fuller faster and enjoy it more. I’m actually less-stressed and feel thinner!
I love to use visualization of goals as a way of directing our thoughts into changing our habits which will, eventually, change our lives.
Life Balance and Weight
~ by Erica Marchand, Ph.D.
I’ve had an obsession with all things French since I was about 8 years old. So when I stumbled across the book “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Giuliano a few years ago, it was natural that I picked it up and devoured it.
The book describes a way of eating and living that is focused on pleasure and moderation, and advocates an approach to food and exercise that is sustainable over a lifetime. In other words, it describes a method very different from the restrictive diets and two-hour gym sessions that are commonly thought necessary to lose weight.
The idea that I could lose and maintain weight without devoting tons of excess time and energy everyday was really appealing.
Here’s my story: I’ve always been somewhat conscious of my size. I grew taller than other girls by the end of elementary school, and felt super awkward as a result. On top of that, I have always had a healthy appetite and love to eat – I still do! It’s just how I’m wired.
Unfortunately, when I hit puberty, the excess calories from eating too much junk food caught up with me. I got a little chubby and my conscientious mom put us all on a diet – herself, my sister, and me. The diet worked and I lost the extra weight, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. I remember always feeling a little hungry or craving some food I couldn’t have.
Later, in middle and high school, my life got a little chaotic. There were family problems along with the normal pressures of adolescence, and I had few coping strategies for dealing with an emotionally very difficult time. I developed a years-long habit of disordered eating, where I’d restrict my calories as long as I could, and then binge on high-calorie foods because I was so hungry. I felt bad about it, but didn’t really know how to get out of that pattern – I didn’t know what a healthy relationship to food was.
This continued into college, until eventually I learned enough about nutrition (which became my major) and how to manage life’s difficulties in ways that didn’t involve food, to normalize my eating to a large extent. Still, I always felt like I was eating too much and exercising too little, and was always compensating for perceived overindulgence.
So imagine my delight when I came across this book that said that eating for pleasure was a normal and celebrated part of life, and that pleasure could coexist with a healthy diet and program of weight management.
A lot of vegetables and fruit, a little olive oil, a little bread, protein, a bit of dessert and wine – every day!
I decided to try this, and to give up my approach of “overdoing it” on “unhealthy” food, followed by dietary repentance. With this new method, I’d have a bit of good quality pizza and a big salad – enough to feel full – with some wine and dark chocolate, and would be satisfied! And I didn’t feel like I had to cut back the next day.
An essential part of this approach is that life has MANY pleasures, not just food and wine.
When I was younger I relied too much on food for comfort and pleasure. I didn’t know all the other things I could do to soothe myself or experience enjoyment. We humans are wired for pleasure, and we ignore our need for joy and fun at our detriment. Including more fun activities, beauty, friends, family, and above all, space and relaxation, have been central to my French-woman lifestyle.
When I finally visited France for the first time last summer, I was struck by how thoroughly the people live by these principles. The pace of life is slower. Overwork, days spent rushing about, and chronic unrelieved stress are far less common.
Sit-down meals with loved ones, leisurely glasses of wine, and defined periods of work and leisure are far more common.
I’m still working on moving my life further toward the French ideal that I envision. It really is more a decision and state of mind than a life overhaul. We really don’t need to go to the market every day or have a four-day workweek and five weeks of vacation to start living in a more balanced way (though these things would all be nice!).
Balance is a process, not a static state.
Finally, a few concrete things that have helped me a lot:
(1) Eating until I’m satisfied at mealtimes, but no more often than every four hours. It’s better for me to be full after a meal and then thoroughly hungry by my next meal; otherwise, I’m just sort of hungry all the time.
(2) Along with that, if I get super hungry before mealtime, I have a cup of tea. I prefer green, but any kind will do. Good Earth ‘original sweet and spicy’ tea is delicious and has no caffeine. Try it – tea really decreases my appetite for a good hour or so, usually enough to stretch until the next mealtime.
(3) I move a lot. I do go to the gym, but only 1-2 times a week. I walk a LOT, hike for fun on the weekends, go to dance classes, and even do exercise videos in my living room. I do think weight or resistance training is essential to building muscle and maintaining a healthy metabolism.
(4) I’ve accepted that I love to eat! I have kind of a high metabolism, I’m tall, I get really hungry, and consequently I often eat more than other women my size. I used to feel like I must be doing something wrong, but now I realize that’s just how I’m set up.
Find your own guidelines based on experimenting rather than rigidly following rules.
Dr. Erica Marchand, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist specializing in Couples Therapy & Sex Therapy in Los Angeles.
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