Ballard Naturopathic Blog | All posts tagged 'weight-loss'

Stone Turtle HealthNaturopathic Medicine and Massage Therapy for the Whole Family

6204B 8th Ave NW Seattle, WA 98107 Work (206) 355-4309

Stone Turtle Health Blog

Jamie Oliver is my hero

June 7, 2011

"Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. " This quote from Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine is one of my favorites. The Hippocratic Oath, "First Do No Harm" is commonly used in medical and naturopathic oaths taken by doctors and is the first tenet of naturopathic medicine. Personally, I just love food so much- the tast, the texture, the smell, the sight and sound of cooking and eating freshly prepared meals, the joy of sharing food, drink, and laughter with those closest to me- that it's a natural part of treatment plans that my patients and I create together.

That's why this blog post is a plug for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Whether you watch the show on ABC or go to the Jamie Oliver Foundation website to see what the Food Revolution is all about: check it out one way or another. See, Jamie's a chef from the UK who decided he was disgusted by what local kids were getting in their school lunches. He launched a program that changed the way school lunches were made in the UK and now he's come across the pond to help US schoolchildren and their families get educated about what goes into their bodies, how they can make healthier choices, and how they can make changes happen locally and nationally surrounding the food that we grow, process, distribute, and ultimately buy and feed to our families. The TV show is incredibly touching and enlightening in many ways as it shows kids the difference between real vegetables and what they're being served, empowers families to start cooking for themselves, and addresses institutional problems inherent in the school lunch and fast-food systems.

When I was in school, I worked on a project with a grandiose vision: in-school public health clinics (naturopathic, of course) that provided health care, vaccinations, exercise and weight-loss programs, nutrition education, school gardens, worked with the cafeterias on improving school lunch options, and served as hubs for family and community health. Although we would have been the only clinical provider in the city, we met roadblock after roadblock- parents concerned that their children might receive healthcare without their knowledge, shrinking budgets and fewer opportunities (plus stiffer competition) for grants, and other issues. Eventually, the project went on hiatus, but not before our collaborators, who were simultaneously working on a similar project elsewhere offered me a job as the lead physician. Three weeks after graduation, that project folded due to lack of funds. Maybe we were reaching too far, too fast, but a large part of my dream of becoming a naturopathic physician was to work with kids to introduce healthy lifestyle options and prevent many of the chronic illnesses that are epidemic in American culture, like obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, and ADHD. To teach them the joy of healthy, fresh food.

If the thought of what we put in our kids' bodies concerns you at all, if you worry that your child doesn't know what vegetables look like, if you just want to know how, what, or IF anything can be done to stop this downward spiral into poor health at a younger and younger age, please do yourself 2 favors: 1) Don't buy it if you don't know what's in it (tetrasodium phosphate? YUMMY!), and 2) Check out what other people (including some in your community) are doing to make a difference at Jamie Oliver's website. Many hands make light work.

Right-Sizing

June 16, 2010

Today marks the beginning of my 6th week on the New ME Diet's Fat Loss program. Exactly nine days prior to that, I began doing weigh-ins for a local company's corporate weight loss competition. Exactly two days prior to that, I decided to weigh myself. On the fancy fat-measuring scale. While my weight was within the low end of my "normal" range, the fat percentage was through the roof. As I leafed through the instruction manual, seeking out justifications for a "miscalculation", it dawned on me that the scale might be right. If I was comfortable enough using its measurements for the company participants, why did I think I was immune to its cold, objective calculations?

Knowing that I have relatively healthy eating habits (aside from the occasional seven course meal at my favorite Italian restaurant), I knew it had come to this: If I wanted to lose weight, I needed to move. The thought of exercise conjures up images of being dragged around the track an extra lap because my gym teacher didn't believe I'd gone the full mile. Of working out with a personal trainer who would mock the way I was doing exercises rather than asking why I was favoring one side or correcting my form in a positive way. Of all the dread and embarrassment that came from being the misfit who didn't know the rules to games everyone else seemed to know how to play. Of being picked last for kickball, the cliche of cliches. Exercise was Not My Thing.

So, I turned to my social network, including Facebook friends who would cheer me on and hold me accountable and to my live friends who could be counted on for support when we got together for salads, not dessert or for tea, not beer. And to my family which, given the delectable manner of cooking they participate in, can't really be faulted for not understanding what on earth had come over me when I refused free-form cherry cheesecake, homemade gravy, and other tortures.

In particular, one former classmate of mine, Dr. Jillian Sarno-Teta, a naturopathic physician and bodybuilder, has been my rock. And she's responsible for introducing me to the program that has turned my "normal" weight on its head. Jillian's husband and brother-in-law (both also naturopathic doctors) have co-authored the best-selling "The New ME Diet" and are the creators of the Metabolic Effect 10-Week Fat Loss Program. Jillian was kind enough to get me started with some tips until my book arrived.

My goal: to drop 20 pounds in 10 weeks. This would put me where I was after my 3 month session with a personal trainer back in 2004. In the first week, I dropped a few pounds, but the main difference was in my waistline: 1 1/2 inches in the first 4 days. Since the beginning, my waist measurement has dropped a total of 3 1/2 inches and my weight has dropped over 10 pounds. I've been sleeping like a log and the exercise takes only 30 minutes 3 times/week (walking 30-60 minutes on off-days). Initially, I had to squeeze time into my day, but now that I'm sleeping better, my body has been waking me up naturally (without exhaustion) a good 30 minutes earier, giving me plenty of time to work out before getting ready for my day.

I spent the first 3 weeks standing in front of the mirror, just making muscles and admiring myself. Not out of any sense of vanity, but more out of a sense of wonder and playfulness. If I could have done this so easily, what else could I accomplish? Could I actually grow a few inches? (Answer: well, technically, no, but working out the kinks in my spine and improving my posture has me back to a "real" 5'9"). Could I really lose weight by eating 6 meals a day, all of them containing meat?

The past 2 weeks, I've been incorporating my "reward meals", mainly to make social interactions easier. The first was a yes to fettucine in gorgonzola cream sauce (no to dessert), the second on a date where I had pretty much what I would have eaten anyway (meat and vegetables), but with a coconut daquiri, beans and rice, and plantain fritters with garlic sauce. I've also been getting more creative with my planned meals, expanding from the simple chicken breast with broccoli and sweet potato or salmon burger with sauteed mushrooms and spinach to orange-chili glazed chicken stir-fry and cumin-scented turkey burgers with baked sweet potato fries.

Since I've been so happy with this program, Stone Turtle Health has become an affiliate clinic (Metabolic Effect is based in one of the Carolinas, I can never remember which one). I'm looking forward to providing my patients with free weekly weigh-ins and free entrance to my monthly Healthy Shopping on a Budget classes as part of their enrollment fee into Metabolic Effect's Fat Loss Program. I'm looking forward to having more partners in crime and creating a support network of patients to provide long-lasting changes in their health.

 

Food for thought

July 14, 2009

Last spring I took a class on weight loss froma new perspective. It was called Weigh to Go, administered by students in Bastyr's nutrition department, and was a combination of individual counseling sessions and group sessions, including a lot of recipe sharing. I thought it had real merit for anumber of reasons.

First of all, the group sessions were attended by all the participants and nominally run by a group of students. But the students simply offered up a topic of interest around food and our relationship with it, and then let the participants have at it. One day, a student handed around strawberries and talked us through a conscious eating exercise where we used all of our senses to experience the strawberry before finally eating it. A few ideas were reinforced (such as, strawberries don't make a lot of noise, but they smell heavenly), and some new ones introduced. Particularly when we got to the part where the demonstrator for the day listed all the ingredients in Cool-Whip and artificial strawberry flavoring on the board next to the words: strawberry, heavy cream, vanilla, sugar.Which would you rather eat?

It really opened my eyes about the difficulty found when trying to eat healthily and yet avoiding processed foods labeled "low-fat" or "light". Foods that are highly processed, even if they tout fewer calories, are a far cry from healthy, as much as we are taught to seek out words like "low-fat" and "fat-free". We discussed how fat is an important component in telling your body when you are full to prevent overeating in addition to all of the ways that your body uses it for tissue and cell repair. Without fat in our diet, especially with access to processed foods, people tend to not see their stopping point, eating 2 or 3 or more times the suggested serving, which cancels out the point of buying things with fewer calories. Finally, foods that are highly processed are stripped of fiber and nutrients found in whole foods. Even if they carry less calories, we're still not seeing the nutrients we need to survive that we find in more calorie-dense whole foods. As overweight as our culture is, it is also a culture of malnutrition and deficiencies because of our reliance on processed foods to fill the void.

A truly healthy diet is one that is based strongly in local, fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, augmented by protein in the form you choose, meat, fish, or vegetarian. A healthy addition of fat allows us to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E, and K) as well as providing essential fatty acids for our optimal health. Unsaturated fats, those that are liquid at room temperature, should be our primary sources, but solid fats such as real butter, coconut oil, almonds, and avocados should be used as well. Other saturated fats, from red meat or from hydrogenated oils should be ingested sparingly, if at all. With so many sources of healthy fat, and proper portion sizes, weight loss is much simpler because we feel full after eating an appropriate amount and have less desire to overeat.

Another point that was addressed (particularly in my individual sessions) was the effect of emotional eating. Now, for many, emotional eating equates to an extra brownie covered with vanilla ice cream after a break-up or a tough day at work. For me, emotional eating comes in the form of celebrations. If something good happens, i reward myself. If there's a big family event, it revolves around food. And not just the eating of, but the planning of menus, the preparation for the party (including multiple shopping trips), the creation of the dishes. Ninety percent of my conversations with my family revolved around what marvelous meal I had recently eaten or what my mother, aunt or sister was looking forward to preparing for friends. And no one in my family has been in the food industry for years, if at all.

The student running my individual sessions told me she always looked forward to sessions with me because she would hear about such wonderful food. But, it was counterproductive to my goal of weight loss just to be regaling even more people with temptations and delights I'd experienced. She suggested I try to find another way to celebrate the next big event in my life, which just so happened to be graduation. I signed up to learn how to sail at Seattle's Center for Wooden Boats, an eight-week course on the water where I would learn the rudiments of sailing a small sloop single-handedly. Saving up for the class turned out to use up all of my restaurant money for the whole quarter and some nights I came in so exhausted and excited about learning to sail that I fell asleep before dinner or after forcing down another bowl of lentils and rice that I didn't even taste. My counselor was right. There are many other great ways to celebrate without eating and I was lucky enough to begin on the path to my dream hobby by exploring one of them. And a boat is a great place for a picnic.