This article first appeared on drcarp.com.
I talked about the seven points that you’ll go through in my Weight Loss Awakening System, a course I have developed as a result of seeing my patients with autoimmune disease improve their health and achieve their ideal weight as a pleasant side effect of the diet I put them on.
Now there are also tools and strategies that you can use to succeed with the course. You can also use these very tools to improve your overall health and well-being, whether or not you choose to pursue the Weight Loss Awakening System.
Gratitude and celebration
There's always something to be grateful for and there's always something to celebrate.
There's a quote from Abraham Joshua Heschel that says, "The man of our time is losing the power of celebration. Instead of seeking to celebrate, he seeks to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state. It is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or spectacle. Entertainment is a diversion; a distraction of the attention of the mind from preoccupation to daily living. Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one's actions."
See the positive in every situation. It would be helpful to keep a gratitude journal where you write what you are thankful for at the beginning and at the end of each day. Gratitude journals have been found to reduce stress levels and help you gain clarity of what you want and what truly matters in your life.
A type of celebration that you can also do daily is dancing. Not only is it a great way to celebrate, but it’s also a fun way to exercise. You can join a dance community or pick a style that suits you if you prefer to do it alone. The important thing here is to break away and enjoy the dance.
A University of Maryland study finds that dancing promotes wellness by boosting the immune system through muscular action and physiological processes. Dance has also been found to decrease depression levels.
Inwardly directed relaxation
Inwardly directed relaxation is a calming and stress-lowering activity that’s internally focused. This could be a prayer, a massage, or deep breaths in the bathtub. For prayers, psalms are incredibly powerful. If you're a Christian or Jewish and you haven't used psalms to gather strength, I suggest you give it a try.
Nutrition comes down to these four suggestions:
- One pound of leafy greens per day. Half should be raw and the other half should be cooked.
- One handful of raw nuts per day.
- Two tablespoons of ground flaxseeds per day.
- Two tablespoons of a natural probiotic, like sauerkraut or kimchi.
There are things that we can eliminate, but for the Weight Loss Awakening System, we're focused more on nutritional additions than subtractions.
Avoid plastics as much as possible. Get BPA-free cans and avoid paper receipts, which are tainted with BPA.
BPA is a known endocrine disruptor that is harmful to humans. Not everyone is affected by these toxins as humans have an amazing capacity to detoxify their bodies through natural enzyme processes in the liver, but there's a small subset of people who are affected by these and so it's important that we are aware of these toxins and that we do our best to avoid them.
You can use mental imagery or visualization to heal your body, improve your health, and achieve your healthy weight. It all begins with your aims. Enter into a meditative state and visualize your aims: your ideal body, your ideal level of energy, your desired weight. Imagine what it would feel like when you start to lose all those extra pounds. Picture yourself pain-free and full of energy after having your salad for breakfast and your early morning walk. Imagine how you would feel once you succeed with your aims. Remember these vivid images and the emotions they evoke. Let these powerful visuals and feelings motivate you to work towards your aims.
The Jerusalem Diet. Guided Imagery and the Personal Path to Weight Control is a great book for learning mental imagery associated with weight loss.
Fellowship and friendship
You need friends who will support you and believe in what you do. These are the friends who can help you stay honest with yourself and who can also point out things in your life that may not be contributing to your health. Be in the company of people who are also in a similar health journey as yours. When exercising for example, one study finds that those who are doing it with a group had less stress and more physical, emotional and mental health benefits than those who exercised alone.
This is one of the reasons why I formed the Weight Loss Awakening Friendship Group, to form a community of people who can support and motivate each other on their path to better health.
Movement and mechanics
Aim for two sessions of one-hour walking per week at a minimum. Work yourself up to that. Try yoga, Tai Chi or Qigong as these aren’t only exercises, but are also inwardly-focused forms of relaxation. I happen to do a form of Qigong daily, which had been incredible for me. Add in high-intensity interval training and resistance training, whether that's just body weight or bands or weights. Consult your doctor before doing these exercises, especially if you are suffering from hypertension or heart disease.
Another important part of movement and mechanics is sleep. When we are not rested enough, we are also not able to make sound decisions in any of the four pillars of health: nutrition, environmental influences, mental state, and physical movement and activity. When we’re sleep-deprived and stressed, the body releases more cortisol, a hormone that increases your cravings and slows down your metabolism. Cortisol actually tells your body to store fat.
Sleep deprivation also impacts blood sugar for 48 hours. Just one night of poor sleep affects blood sugar for 48 hours and again, it can lead to more food cravings.
Log in all the foods you consume every day. Tracking what you eat and drink will help you understand your eating habits. You will also be able to spot factors that make you eat more, like emotions or your companions when eating. Your food journal will help you stay on course as you match your perception with reality. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that those who kept a food journal six days a week “lost about twice as much weight as those who kept food records on day a week or less.”
Here is a template from familydoctor.org to help you get started with your food journal. The key here is to make the journal as detailed and as specific as possible, including the amount of food, when and where you consumed it, who you were with while eating it, or other activities that you were doing especially before and while eating.
Want to work with me?
I'm looking for volunteers who want to try out mental imagery and/or food journaling with me for free and have these one-on-one sessions recorded. You can stay anonymous. I will guide you through your visualization practice and I will also review your food journal as your mentor. My purpose is to help you and at the same time help others learn from your journey as I will be publishing it in our Weight Loss Awakening Friendship Facebook Group. Please contact me if you want to volunteer for this project and take advantage of this learning opportunity.