By Dr. Gregory Steiner~
As another hot summer descends upon us, the calls for weight loss become even louder; many frustrated women and men continue to seek the Holy Grail of losing unwanted weight and keeping it off. If only it were that easy….
Probably the most frustrated of all are the sincerely dedicated people who exercise, watch their diet, and sigh every time they look at the unmoving, heartless scale!
Over my 25 years of clinical practice I have noted there are actually three common weights people speak of and desire, not just one.
First, is what could be called a best ‘athletic’ weight, in which a person is at his or her strongest (e.g. a weight lifter), or has the best endurance (e.g. a runner). This weight is achieved by a combination of consistent exercise and diet specific to the sport they are engaging in.
Second, is the best cosmetic weight which is the most common desire. Most patients will tell me they want a healthy weight – which they do – but on further examination what they really, truly want is to achieve their ideal ‘visual’ weight, which us usually – but not always – quite thin.
Then there is the third weight, which is where a person actually feels and functions the best in daily life; they feel very energetic, they have few aches and pains, and they rarely get sick. Often this weight is a bit heavier than their ideal weight, and occasionally it is less. Interestingly enough it is usually not the best athletic weight, because a sport-specific weight demands that a body be tip-top to the demands of that sport, not for daily living. For example, I have known more than one weight lifter who could lift 600 lbs., yet who could barely walk up stairs without losing breath or downstairs without pain.
It’s a lucky person (genetically that is) where all three are the same.
“Ideal’ weight then, is particular to what you want and is determined by bone structure and hormones, and then by your activity level and what you eat. Where people run into frustration is when they want a weight -either too big or small – for what their skeletal frame will support, or when they have hormonal issues that hinder fat loss and muscle gain. For example, I often see a larger framed female who wants to be model-thin, or a small framed lanky man who wants to have Mr. Universe muscles. Their desires are real, and they spend no small amount of time and emotional energy fretting about not getting their dream body; it’s no wonder cosmetic surgery is such big business in the Metroplex.
Hormonal imbalances are frequently talked about, as the prevalence of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone excess and deficiencies become more known to the general public. Debates rage over the causes of hormonal irregularities and the resulting obesity, diabetes, premature puberty and low testosterone, but the ‘natural health community’ usually points to the use of hormones in food, plastics that leach into the system, and the persistent stress of modern American culture as likely culprits that either cause or exacerbate the situation.
Living in such an environment makes it challenging to defend against such hormonal ‘imbalancers’, but the natural medicine approach includes herbs to defend against the toxicities, acupuncture to balance the body’s energetics, chiropractic to do the same to the nervous system, and following a solid nutritional program day after day, meal after meal. Correction and re-balancing is the first step, but real nutrition and defense against the ‘bad stuff’ is the key to long lasting results and keeping the weight you want.