What’s the Problem, Dr. Korman?
by Dr. Laura Korman, DC
Q: Why can’t I seem to lose the 20 pounds I gained in 2020?
A: There is no doubt that 2020 was a stressful year for all of us. With the lockdowns and layoffs, it might have appeared that we had extra time for self-care, but for many of us, the unrelenting stress and uncertainty caused quite a different result.
According to the American Psychological Association, 42% of Americans experienced undesirable weight gain in 2020, with an average increase of 29 pounds. Perhaps this was a result of people trying to cope with the situation and using unhealthy foods for self-comfort. Many lacked the motivation, as well, to exercise or even spend much time outside.
I am frequently asked by patients on how to resume making healthier choices and losing resistant, excess fat in their midsections. Here are four simple lifestyle strategies I recommend to slim the waist and increase their strength, energy and mental clarity.
Eat real food that has been grown and harvested or raised and butchered from local, organic, humane and ethical sources. Consuming these foods in the shortest period of time from farm to table will yield the most optimal nutrition and energy. These foods can be found at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, usually located around the perimeter where refrigeration is. Processed foods are strategically found in the aisles of the grocery store, often full of sugar and preservatives, and nearly void of nutritional value. These foods are addictive and do not provide satiety (or fullness) signals to the brain. This can cause overeating or leave you with residual hunger within mere hours of consumption. These foods also cause blood sugar levels to spike and then plummet which can lead to feelings of irritability and anxiety.
Drink more water—most people do not consume enough water, and are unaware of the impact hydration has on their health. The human body is 50–60% water, so adequate hydration is necessary for digestion, joint lubrication, skin health, brain function and detoxification. Many people have lost their natural desire for water due to the countless choices of sugary drinks available, but you can often mistake hunger for the need to be hydrated. A helpful rule of thumb is to drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day. For example, a 150-pound person needs 75 ounces of water daily. Sweetened beverages, sodas, juices, coffee, black teas and alcohol can result in dehydration, so additional water intake is required once these beverages are consumed. You also need to drink more water when you sweat by working outdoors or exercising.
Speaking of exercise, this is also a crucial part of weight loss, but more exercise is not always better. Most people need to start their fitness regimens slow with gentle impact movements. 20 pounds of body weight puts 80 pounds of pressure on the knees, so high impact exercises could make you more susceptible to knee injuries. Walking, biking, swimming and resistance training are the safest options for the first month or two until you have lost a significant amount of weight and increased your muscle tone. In addition, high-intensity workouts for over 40–45 minutes can raise stress hormones and further sabotage your weight loss efforts.
Be intentional about your sleeping habits. Most Americans are sleep deprived and, therefore, receive less than the minimum seven hours per night required for optimal brain health and recovery. One inadequate night's sleep can slow your metabolism the entire following day. Set a consistent bedtime around 10–11 p.m., to allow for at least seven or eight hours of sleep. Avoid eating two or three hours before bedtime, so the body can rest from digestion. Halt screen time, which emits blue light and blocks the natural production of melatonin, two hours before bedtime. Sleep in a dark room and keep the temperature around 70 degrees to optimize the deep and restful stages of sleep.
These four lifestyle strategies can seem overly simplistic, but when practiced on a consistent basis, they have a powerful impact on your metabolic health. If you need more help to achieve your weight loss objectives, join my free five-pound challenge. You can find more information at https://www.drlaurakorman.com/ Or to schedule a free 20-minute discovery consultation with me, please call 941-629-6700.