Tools for Healthy Weight Loss
Jacques: Welcome to the Clinicians Corner from Natural Horizons Wellness Centers, a weekly podcast focused on integrative medicine, healing, nutrition and exercise. I’m your host Jacques de Broekert and I’m here to help you learn new ways to improve your life as we explore treatments and therapies that will lead to a healthier you. Today we got Dr. Versha Verma in the studio again today. Dr. Verma is a doctor of chiropractic and he’s been talking to us recently about a variety of different things but you know what, I wanted to talk to you today about weight loss.
Dr. Verma: Yeah, no, it’s good to be back.
Jacques: Talk about what happens to the body when it gains weight. You got some hormone changes; you got some changes in stored body fat and fat liver, enlarged heart, at the extreme end of weight gain but what about the moderate weight gain. You got 20, 30, 40 pounds overweight which is a little more common that we see.
Dr. Verma: Yeah and you still see some physiological change obviously. Anytime you gain weight you’re going to get a physiological change in your body. Now obviously certain amount of weight gain maybe 10 pounds might not show that same level but 30, 40 pounds on most people on the average person is going to be pretty substantial.
Jacques: They start to feel it at that point.
Dr. Verma: Absolutely, you’re going to start to feel it and I think that’s when you start seeing from physiological change you go to physical change and obviously the body’s physiology will ultimately have to change the physical part of a person to sort of match that. But having said that, as soon as you start gaining weight let’s say the endocrine system changes, your hormones start to change. They way you assimilate foods and how you absorb things change. Well that’s going to start wreaking havoc all over your body especially your joints. And again, that’s the number one issue of most people. They never complain about so much just I have a muscle soreness; they have joint aches and pains.
Jacques: And so when you start exercising you’re pounding on those joints with that extra weight and that’s always an issue. I mean when I’m trying to get people to lose weight they want to go at it like full bore and not realizing that hey if I get on the treadmill and I do 20 minutes on the treadmill and I’m 240 pounds, my knees are going to suffer. So trying to get them to be safe about it is always a challenge.
Dr. Verma: And Jacques you know this, what’s the first thing you see, everybody wants to hit it at full bore. Nobody wants to –
Jacques: Hey I want to lose it now; I want to lose it now.
Dr. Verma: Right, right, and then you come across a lot of these diets then. T hat’s when you get into these fad diets and I know you’ve encountered a ton of those; everybody wants a fad diet. Nobody wants to do the hard work necessary in a comfortable amount of time to lose weight for that individual. It’s totally different individual to individual and you know that. It’s just naturally no two people are going to lose or gain weight the same.
Jacques: Right. Okay, so there’s – we can spend hours talking about diets and how to exercise and everything so I just want to keep it down to a few here and I’m just in my head I’m thinking through wow, there’s about six different things you just talked about that we could do literally hours of conversation about. Let’s talk about somebody’s gained 30, 40 pounds, they want to lose the weight, they’re fighting some changes physiologically as well as physically at that point, let’s talk about the physical aspect, changes in the body that need to happen. They’ve got to lose weight but what does that mean. How do you determine somebody’s got to lose some weight, well you’re going to look at BMI charts, you’re going to look at height and weight and all that. But the number one thing that’s an indicator of a problem is your waist circumference. And we know from the research that if you have a waist circumference that is for men above 40 inches, you’re going to have a cardiac event. There’s going to be a cardiovascular event in your lifetime. The research shows that. For women, it’s above 36 inches. So we want to get that waist circumference down.
Dr. Verma: Absolutely and that’s a scary statistic if you think about it because that’s a lot of people that I see walking around above those circumferences and then you see the incidences of heart disease and hypertension and just diabetes have gone up and they completely match that statistic right there.
Jacques: Right and the research shows that. So we want to get that physical change; you want to get that waist circumference down. But what is the weight that we’re losing; let’s stat with that. I want to lose 30 pounds, I want to lose 5 pounds, I want to lose 10 pounds, 10 pounds of what?
Dr. Verma: You know I’ve notice that the first thing you really want to focus on, and what I see a lot of people make the mistake of, they want to lose 30 pounds of fat right off their body and the biggest problem I think they run into is they automatically go into this mode of well if I have to lose weight I have to starve myself and/or just deplete myself of the same food I was eating before and I’ll lose exactly that number of pounds and fat. And you and I both know that’s just completely not true.
Jacques: Right and what you’re battling against is body type. What type are you? There’s 72 types within the body range and you’ve got endomorph, ectomorph and mesomorph and so it depends on what you are. I’ll have people that come to see me for weight loss and they are like 220, 230, 240, they’re clearly an endomorphic body type and the endomorph being the big sumo wrestler type, the power lifter, those great big people, they’re just big people, they’re not going to get down to 140 pounds.
Dr. Verma: Right, I think you have to accept that.
Jacques: Right, well that’s a hard one for them to accept because they get crammed that image down their throats from the media that they are got to look the Kate Winslet real thin.
Dr. Verma: Well that’s, yeah. If you start looking at it, it comes down to what you see in a magazine and we got to remember magazines and TV and lot of this stuff is, I don’t want to say a lot of people are just photo shopped but everybody’s touched up a little bit too to look the best they can at that moment. And even when you look at any person at their very best, they probably look great for that movie, but you have to remember that walking weight and what they’re normally walking around is probably not the same.
Jacques: So be realistic about what you’re working with by having somebody assess your body type and have that – what I have to do is I have to keep repeating that message to them of look you’re not going to be this weight because your body type will not get you there. Alright so then you have a body type variance there. You also have an age and a gender issue as well, right.
Dr. Verma: Asbolutlely. Right. Females and males who got to lose weight differently and gain muscle differently and to assume that I think one of the biggest myths and we’ll get into it right now is the biggest myth was females who won’t lift weight or do any resistance type exercises because they don’t want to become big and bulky. That’s the number one thing I hear; well I don’t want to lift weights. I’ll just do a lot of cardiovascular. So I can imagine you run across a bunch of that.
Jacques: All the time but women and men they’re going to shed body fat differently. Men tend to lose body fat more aggressively when they include a lot of resistance training; women, that’s not a means for shedding body fat. It’s a means for gaining some muscles in weight and size which helps burn excess calories but for women cardiovascular exercise is a more effective way of losing body fat. I’ve been a member of the same gym for seven years. I’ve seen the same people on the same treadmill at the same day for seven years. They have not lost a pound, they have not lost an inch and they’re the same and they do the same thing every time. Those people are the ones that come in and they get on the treadmill and the elliptical machine and they’re be in for an hour, three or four times a week, they don’t go to the weights and in particular women that do this, there’s no change. And some of them have actually gained body fat in that time.
Dr. Verma: And what’s interesting is that on that same note and I hate to use a cliché but the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. And the other thing I’ve noticed is then that’s when you lead to injury; doing the same thing over and over again and in clinical terms it’s called an overuse injury.
Jacques: Right, repetitive overuse injury.
Dr. Verma: I see a lot of repetitive overuse injury and nobody associates that with – I’ve seen it with guys lifting weights; doing the same motion 15, 20 repetitions when they probably could have gotten the same result out of 8 to 10 reps or maybe up to 12 reps total but.
Jacques: Stress fractures
Dr. Verma: Stress fractures
Jacques: Tears in the connective tissue.
Dr. Verma: Well the connective tissue tears are the biggee. That’s when you and you see people just injuring themselves beyond what they can handle.
Jacques: And you’re at the inflammation issue again.
Dr. Verma: And there we are. And then they’ll gain weight because anyway you can’t work out anymore.
Jacques: Yeah, and then they – you get the football, the retired football syndrome where they don’t change their diet but they were exercising before and now they’re not and they’re going to gain some weight. You know the influences of gender and age, as we age we do tend to have some changes in our metabolic rate. We do have some changes in the cell structures that regulate muscle gain or retention of muscle. There were some studies that were done that showed the rate of muscle gain doesn’t change through your lifetime. You could be 90 and if you do resistance training you’re going to gain muscle mass. You’re going to be starting with less muscle mass but you’re going to gain it at the same rate if you do it consistently. It’s a lot easier to stay in shape then it is to get into shape but as we age it is an issue and then again you have the coordination issues and the balance issues where the neuro pathways are not being activated as frequently. So that decreases so you have a chance for injury or it’s more difficult for people to keep their balance.
Dr. Verma: Well that’s interesting point because then I think at that point as you age, I think it’s prudent to say that you should probably adapt your exercises to what you’re doing. I used to always call them sports specific exercises but I mean that’s what they’re called anyway but it’s also training for what you’re trying to do. So don’t train to run marathons if you’re not going to do that. There’s more effective ways and means of training. And then as you age if you know you’re going to lose coordination and balance, which is what I see, a lot of loss of coordination, more loss of proprioceptors which are actually just balance receptors I call them, through your body that tell your body kinesthetically or muscle-wise where they are in space, you should do more of those exercises also, incorporating things like, I don’t know, Bosu ball, some stability type exercises. Maybe some more core structure exercises because you know that you’re going to start getting more joint related issues like back, lower back hurting especially. Add some more core in. You might be able to get away with not doing core when you’re 16 but you sure as heck can’t get away with it when you’re 35, 45.
Jacques: Right, it starts to create so for injuries and different things.
Dr. Verma: Right so adaptation is the key. You have to adapt just like your body’s trying to adapt to it.
Jacques: Okay, so we got gender, we got age, we’ve got body type then we have lifestyle. Do you work eight hours a day? Do you work four hours a day? Do you work 15 hours a day? How many days a week do you work? So how much time do you have to devote to any kind of fitness routine? Then you also have things like your adrenal glands and the issue of as you age you’re exhausting your adrenal glands in excursion and lack of sleep and so throwing exercise on top of that is good and bad. So the timing of when you’re working out, the timing of how you’re eating, your diet, how many times a day do you eat, what are you eating, all those kind of variables in there. And again, we can go on for hours about each of these things but I think generally when people are trying to lose weight, they need to be realistic, they need to understand their body type. Are you a marathon runner and you’re training like you’re a power lifter? What’s that going to do for you? Then you also have realistic goals. Understanding that I’m currently 220, I’m carrying 140 pounds of muscle mass on me, it’s unrealistic to think I’m going to be 145 pounds. So what can people do when they’re first starting to kind of address all of those issues and be realistic and have a goal? Where do they start?
Dr. Verma: I think it’s normally what comes out there; I think it’s good to be checked out by someone. Maybe getting a counselor or trainer because most of us who get into the gym for the first time or in a long time, I don’t think we know what we’re doing. We claim we do because we might have seen it in a fitness magazine but if you just follow a fitness magazine you’re probably going to end up in my office injured. So I would suggest getting somebody who maybe knows a little something about getting the components checked out from BMI to muscle weight, fat content; get a baseline done by someone professional. And then from there, establishing a plan that will work for again all of those different criteria we worked out, right. So starting slowly and progressively going to a more moderate to strong exercise routine to the point where then you have reached your goal in very small steps versus trying to get the 30 pound weight loss in a month. It’s just not realistic and it’s probably very dangerous for you for that matter. Actually it is very dangerous.
Jacques: Yeah it’s not going to be effective. So and you just said something that was very important to this process which is progressive. You want to start out slowly, you don’t want to be super aggressive in anything that you’re doing because you’re going to be doing this not for 30 days, not for 60 days, not for 90 days, all year long.
Dr. Verma: And for a lifetime hopefully.
Jacques: Every year. You can’t as soon as you stop, you start to deteriorate. The body starts to deteriorate. If you don’t exercise for three months or six months, again, you’ve lost all the muscle mass you would lose, you’ve kind of gone back to the place where your body has equalized exercising, you have to be realistic about the timeframe and if you’ve been out for three months, your skeletal muscle structure has deteriorated as well as your cardiac muscles. So you can’t just start getting on a treadmill, expect to be in great shape in a week, as you had said.
Dr. Verma: What’s interesting is actually I find that most people, especially if you play a sport, I know myself playing basketball taking two weeks off from that cardiovascular training of basketball is enough to make me winded the next time I play.
Jacques: Oh absolutely.
Dr. Verma: You lose cardiovascular I believe faster then even the skeletal muscle and I know if I took two weeks off from exercising, of a resistance variety, I would actually feel weaker and I almost couldn’t do it. It almost feels I couldn’t do the same level that I did just two weeks ago. Now that might be a lot in my head but I feel as though I don’t think you necessarily emaciate the muscle but you are losing that coordination, you are losing that muscle fiber firing. You are losing that sort of nerve reaction to the muscle itself.
Jacques: And the other thing that you mentioned there was working with somebody who had some training. It’s important you understand what their training is and that you do some background, research on them to find out is this person, do they actually know what they’re talking about. But having a professional help you along the way, accurate measurement, accurate diagnosis of issues but tracking your progress is very important. Not just get on the scale but check your body fat and you want to be as precise with that as possible.
Dr. Verma: Yeah you just beat me to the punch here. I was going to say I know a many a trainer who will put you on the scale and see your weight and then they’ll base everything on that weight and that’s kind of tough sometimes because I know people who haven’t necessarily lost any weight but boy do their jeans fit better. Or all of a sudden they’re able to get into that dress they weren’t able to get into before. Well that sounds like weight loss to me and that sounds like you’re getting toned and you’re getting fit which is what you want to do. It’s not necessarily what’s on that scale.
Jacques: If you get on the scale and you lose, let’s go to television, the Biggest Loser. They get on the scale; that’s all they do. Lost 10 pounds. Those people are morbidly obese, obese to morbidly obese, so yeah do you want to lose 10 pounds this week. Yeah, because you weigh 390 pounds but if you’re 210, 220 pounds for a man or you’re like 180 or 190 for a woman, no you don’t want to be losing 10 pounds. You want to lose some weight but you also want to gain some muscle mass most likely or maintain your muscle mass, you want to lose body fat. That’s going to change your size but it’s not going to be reflective on the scale. You may get on the scale and have lost nothing but you’ve lost an inch in your waist so does that mean you haven’t lost anything.
Dr. Verma: No absolutely not. And I think that goes again to the playing of the media and how they portray a fit person. There is that if you’re not bulging biceps and six-pack abs, you must not be in shape when in reality you’re probably in great shape if you have done a consistent variable resistance type of workout over time along with some cardiovascular. And really what I find is a lot of people you have to convince them to make it fun. If you’re going to the gym and you find it a grind, you’re probably doing it wrong. Well it should be fun.
Jacques: There is that other thing that the definition of fitness, the difference between the definition of fitness and recreation, recreation is fun, fitness is work.
Dr. Verma: Okay, fair enough.
Jacques: You shouldn’t be like killing yourself but it is work and it’s not necessarily.
Dr. Verma: You shouldn’t be able to talk too long with the person next to you. At the same time make sure you’re enjoying and understanding what you’re trying to do without injuring yourself. And I think it really comes down to injury for me. Ultimately I’ll see people get discouraged because they’re injured. I know what the goal is to lose weight to avoid injury but at the same time probably should be working on proper technique, proper form, and of course variety of exercise.
Jacques: Right. What we’re really talking about is not necessarily weight loss but we’re talking about body fat loss. We want to get that body fat down. There is research, of course, that shows the lighter you are the longer your lifespan.
Dr. Verma: Now that sounds about right. We keep hitting the key point which is just be realistic and have some realistic goals for yourself, for your individual body versus the person next to you. You can be just about a twin with the person next to you and you’re probably still going to have a different reaction.
Jacques: Have a goal of losing body fat, have a good realistic idea what that body fat percentage should be or what your goals should be with that, but what is healthy for you. That’s what it comes down to. Well thanks for coming by and it’s been very informative. We really appreciate it.
Dr. Verma: Thanks for having me.
Jacques: Sure, and that’s it for this edition of the Clinicians Corner, a regular podcast brought to you by Natural Horizons Wellness Centers located in Fairfax Virginia. We can also be found on the internet at NHWellnessCenters.com. If you have any questions for our clinicians about your health or wellness, please contact us through our website and please join us again for the Clinician’s Corner.