Trouble Losing Weight? Look No Further Than Your Gut!

‘Gut health’ is all the rage these days. It’s like the ‘new black’ in the health and wellness space. But why is gut health so important? Well for one, if you’re trying to lose weight and are struggling – this might be the reason why.

Gut bacteria is responsible for a number of important aspects of our health. It works with our immune system, it affects how we digest our food and it also produces chemicals that make us feel hungry or full, which affects our weight. In this post, I’m going to break down how your gut supports your weight (and weight loss) and what the best foods and supplements are to improve your gut health.

Bacteria… not sexy, but essential.

Trillions – that’s how many bacteria is found in our bodies – most of which is located in our intestines. And there are hundreds of different types that each fulfill a significant role in keeping us healthy and fight off infection.

Since this bacteria is located in our intestines, everything we eat comes in contact with it. Therefore, the health of our gut bacteria (or gut flora) can have a huge effect on how we break down our food, use it for fuel, and what nutrients we absorb.

The relationship between your gut and weight.

How much gut bacteria we have and how it performs can impact your weight. Ensuring that you have a variety of both ‘good and bad’ bacteria in your body that are supporting one another is essential for optimal gut flora.  Having too much of one, and not enough of another (taking only a probiotic without a prebiotic), or not having enough altogether (eating a diet mainly comprised of processed foods with a lot of sugar) can negatively impact your gut flora and as a result, your weight.

A variety of studies have been done to better understand the relationship between your gut microbiome and obesity. One of the most interesting was a study that was done on pairs of twins (where one twin was obese and the other was not). The research compared the gut bacteria of each of the twins and found that the obese twins had lower gut bacteria diversity (or fewer types of bacteria in their gut) than their non-obese siblings. As a result, this may have impacted the way in which they digested and processed different foods and as a bi-product how they used and stored fat.

How can our gut flora impact the way we digest and respond to foods?

A great example of how your gut flora helps us to digest foods is to look at fiber. Our bodies actually lack the ability to digest fiber, it’s our gut bacteria that does that for us. When our bodies have the ability to process and digest fiber properly, our gut bacteria creates chemicals that help improve our gut health and support weight loss. This explains why people with lower weight typically have high fiber diets which consist of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

A healthy gut can also affect how we absorb and store dietary fats as well as inflammation in the body. Inflammation is when your body triggers your immune system to fight infection. It can occur as a result of an unhealthy diet containing an excessive amount of fat, sugar, artificial sweeteners or calories that can increase chemicals in the bloodstream and fat tissue, and can cause weight gain, as well as prevent weight loss.

Bacteria can impact our hunger and fullness cues.

Different bacteria in the gut can affect whether we feel hungry or full. Leptin and ghrelin are the two main hormones that affect our appetite. Leptin is the hormone in our body that (when functioning properly) signals to our brain that we’re full and it’s time to stop eating. So leptin controls our hunger and satiety cues. It’s also released by our fat cells in direct proportion to the amount of body fat that we’re carrying, meaning that overweight people have higher amounts of leptin circulating in their bloodstream than leaner people (because they have more fat cells producing leptin). In theory, this would lead us to believe that overweight people should be less hungry, eat less and be able to lose weight easily, but this isn’t the case. What in fact happens is that even though you may have a lot of fat making a lot of leptin – it doesn’t work properly. Your brain isn’t listening. The result is that you have no decrease in appetite, no increase in metabolism and in some cases, your brain might even think you’re starving, because there’s not enough leptin, so you become even hungrier.

Ghrelin is the hormone that lets us know when we’re hungry. It triggers the digestive process and gets your digestive juices flowing before we eat to help us breakdown and process our food.  Before a meal, ghrelin naturally increases and after, it decreases. Ghrelin also causes the storage of belly fat, which can be impacted by yo-yo and crash dieting. When we yo-yo or crash diet, ghrelin sends the message to our system that we’re starving and tells our bodies to store fat as a defence mechanism just in case this ‘starvation state’ continues and we’ll need additional energy sources. Ghrelin is one of the main reasons crash diets lead to weight gain.

Our Second Brain

With all of these hormones and their impact on our eating habits and lifestyle, it’s no wonder the gut is referred to as the ‘second brain’. Almost all of nutrients are absorbed in our small intestine and these nutrients allow our brains to make chemicals that determine how we feel. These chemical messengers determine so much of how we feel and respond to things, that if our gut health is compromised, so too is our brain – ultimately causing our hunger and satiety hormones to stop working properly and a higher likelihood to gain weight.

Best Foods for Your Gut Bacteria

So how can we improve our gut bacteria? A simple way to get your gut back on track is by eating the below foods and supplements which are all available (online and in person) at my favourite health food store, Healthy Planet. Use code LindseyHealth online to save 10% off your order!

  • Prebiotics and probiotics. These days probiotics are promoted everywhere, but the truth is, prebiotics are essential to obtain the delicate balance of a healthy gut. Without too much of one type of bacteria and not enough of another, you could be causing more damage than good. Always be sure to consult with a doctor prior to taking them to ensure you’re taking the right amount of both to support healthy gut flora.
  • Whole grains: Whole grains are grains that haven’t been refined. They’re high in fiber, which is digested by healthy gut bacteria and can support healthy weight maintenance and weight loss. Healthy Planet carries an extensive variety of the best organic and GMO-free breads, pastas and cereals.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables contain many different fibers that are good for gut bacteria.
  • Eating an assortment of plant-based foods and proteins can improve gut bacteria diversity, which is also linked to healthy weight. My favourite plant-based protein is Progressive’s Harmonized Vegan Protein.
  • Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds contain lots of fiber and healthy fats, which support the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Healthy Planet has an assortment of nuts and seedsChia seeds are a great, gut-healthy addition to any diet.
  • Polyphenol-rich foods like dark chocolategreen tea and red wine are broken down by beneficial gut bacteria and can also promote the growth of good bacteria.
  • Fermented foods: Fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha, kefir and sauerkraut contain beneficial bacteria and can also minimize other disease-causing bacteria in the intestines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Try including these in your diet as much as possible and your gut will thank you!

With love and nut butter,

Lindsey Xx

 

Your Lack of Accountability Isn’t Just Preventing you from Losing Weight…

How good are you at keeping promises to other people?

Now let me ask you this: How good are you at keeping your promises to yourself?

If I could guess, I would say that there was a big discrepancy there.  I would imagine that when it comes to keep promises to other people, you’re really good at it – but when it comes to keeping promises to yourself… not so much. So why is that the case? Why are we typically better at keeping our promises to other people, but we fall short when keeping promises to ourselves?

The answer is simple: Consequences.

How Consequences Keep Us Accountable

When we break a promise to someone else, a consequence is usually associated with it. They’ll be upset, we’ll let them down, you’ll break trust with that person. And we don’t want to do that! Most of us typically want to be thought of as dependable people. Loyal. Someone who can be counted on. Which is why we’re less likely to do break a promise!

Yet, when we break promises to ourselves we don’t see it as being that bad.. or so it seems. Overtime, as we continue to break more promises to ourselves, we go through those exact same emotions that we would if we had let someone else down.  Except what’s worse, is that we suffer a far bigger consequence for all of those broken promises: We end up living an unfulfilled life. We never do achieve the things that we want to. We sacrifice our happiness and begin to lack confidence in ourselves to see anything through.

Talk about a MASSIVE consequence.

This is especially relevant when it comes to weight loss. Over the years, theories and concepts have been developed to help people stay accountable. Have a buddy system, create rewards for yourself when you achieve your goals, etc. As a coach, I employed them all. Yet nothing ever seemed to work – until I read “Maybe It’s You” by Lauren Zander. Her theory about attaching consequences to our goals made total sense. So I began to use it in my own practice and immediately started to see results with my clients!

How To Implement Consequences To Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals

So how do you attach consequences to your goals? Let’s use my client Sarah as an example. Every week she would ‘be good’ and then the weekends would roll around and BAM!! She’d binge from her usual Friday night ordering in pizza with her husband and the kids until Sunday morning when she’d have her weekly brunch with the girls.

Although she felt like she was putting in a ton of effort, she wasn’t losing weight.  She was unhappy, discouraged and depressed – but she couldn’t seem to give up her weekend habits that were setting her back. She simply ‘couldn’t stop herself!’ Until… we put some consequences for her actions!

Sarah had an affinity for her bi-weekly mani-pedis and her monthly facials. With her stressful job, the kids, and her hectic schedule, these self-care practices were the thing that she had vowed to maintain for herself and never missed. To me – it sounded like a perfect consequence for her weekend bingeing.

So what did we do? We sat down and reviewed her weekend and looked at how we could help Sarah stay on track, while also maintaining the parts of her weekend that she loved; like spending time with family and socializing with her girlfriends. Sarah said that she would commit to not ordering in or eating out on Fridays and Saturdays with her family and would also stop her habit of finishing off a bottle of wine with her husband on the couch after they put the kids to bed. She said that she would keep her brunch date with the girls but skip the mimosas and pancakes drenched in syrup and instead have a greek yogurt parfait with fruit and granola or an omelette with veggies and a side of avocado and toast. Perfect!

Then it was time to implement the consequences! If she ordered in or went out to eat on Friday or Saturday and made unsupportive choices in her diet on Sunday at brunch – she would forego her mani-pedi’s and facials for 6 months!  Did Sarah ever have to give up her mani-pedis or facials?  NOT ONCE! And within weeks, Sarah noticed that her weight began to come off as well!

Creating Your Own Consequences

In her book, Lauren Zander says that the bigger the goal, the bigger the consequence. So if you have something that you REALLY want to achieve, you have to attach some pretty big consequences to it to help you stay accountable.

Consequences should be something that scare you enough to do ‘the thing’ that you don’t want to do, but should also have an air of humour about them.

First, you need to clearly outline what your goal is without any room for technicalities, i.e. “I’m going to have ONE 5 oz glass of wine each week and if I have more than one, I’ll have to donate my favourite pair of shoes to that consignment store and I can’t buy them back.” Or, ‘My partner will watch the kids and I’m going to spend 30 minutes on Sundays and Wednesday nights cooking up some lean protein, veggies and healthy carbs so I have a variety of healthy options on hand for the week. If I don’t then we can’t book that trip down south in March that we’ve been talking about for months.”

So, pick a goal that you have and start attaching some consequences to it and see how you do! You might be pleasantly surprised at how well you suddenly start to stay accountable… and how soon you reach your goals!

With love and nut butter,

Lindsey Xo

How To Pick The Perfect Diet For Busy Moms

Why do you pick certain diets over others?

Is it something that your friend did that worked? Is it something that you saw an ad for that promised fast results? Is it something you found online for free?

And how many of these diets worked for you? How many were easy to follow and maintain? How many didn’t cause you to regain the weight? If I could guess… none. Because you should never start a diet you can’t maintain for the rest of your life.

Finding a diet that works for you is especially challenging for busy moms because our biggest challenge is something that is essential for weight loss – we have to put ourselves first.

So how do you go about picking the perfect diet if you’re the last on the list of priorities; if you struggle with being selfish; and if you have no time for yourself? Here are three tips to get you started:

  1. Identify what your biggest challenges are and where you need support. Whether it be time to go to the gym, help with cooking meals, or child care, as busy moms we all have things that are blocking us from achieving our goals. Unfortunately, we also try to ‘do it all’ which usually means that we inevitably get in the way of our own success. The way to overcome these blocks, its to ask for help. Whether it be from family, friends, neighbours or out sourcing support, there are always people in your life that are willing to help out if it means having a healthier, happier you. You only need to ask, and you’ll know just how many there are.
  2. Examine your lifestyle and figure out what will work for you and what won’t.  If you know that you love a glass of wine on Friday night or have a sweet tooth that you can’t seem to kick – the trick is to find a program that can adapt to you and your lifestyle, not the other way around. After all, there’s no point in starting something that you know you can’t commit to, when you can start something you can and be successful from the start.
  3. Get creative and rally the troops. I get it – your partner and kids don’t want to eat ‘diet’ food every night. However, teaching your kids healthy habits and instilling them in your family won’t just benefit you – it will benefit everyone. That being said, there are a million ways to create ‘healthy’ versions of almost every kind of food, so get creative and get the whole family involved in the process so everyone can get in the kitchen and help out and be part of the process.

Regardless of what your situation, where you’re at in terms of your health and wellness journey, and the resources you have available to you – being a mom and trying to shed those last 15 lbs isn’t easy. Which makes it even more important that you find someone that understands your challenges and can help you work through them with realistic tools and tactics that work for your busy lifestyle.

So, if this resonates with you, let’s talk. Because I know that you CAN lose the weight. I know you CAN get back into those jeans. I know you CAN get dressed in the morning and feel sexy as hell. I know that you CAN do this. You just need a diet that works with you – and not against you. Book a free Unblock Weight Loss call with me and I’ll show you how you CAN do this.

With love and nut butter,

Lindsey Xx

Can’t Seem to Shed the Weight? Look No Further Than Your Beverages!

Do you enjoy a glass of juice in the morning, a latte pick-me-up, or wine or beer with dinner? What about when you’re running late – isn’t a breakfast smoothie the perfect on-the-go option?

But sometimes, our go-to, favourite beverages may be the one thing preventing us from achieving our weight loss goals. But that’s the thing about beverages – because we drink them – we don’t think about them as ‘food’ nor consider how many calories they might be adding to our diet. But they can. And in a BIG way!

Take for example, your morning smoothie. Packed full of fruit, protein, healthy fats – but too much of a good thing… can be a bad thing! Watch:

  • 1 scoop of protein powder, 120 calories
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries, 50 calories
  • 1 banana, 120 calories
  • 1 tbsp of collagen, 30 calories
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds, 100 calories
  • 1 tbsp of hemp hearts, 100 calories
  • 1 tbsp of nut butter, 100 calories
  • 1 scoop of greens supplement, 30 calories

Total: 650 calories

Your smoothie just clocked in at more calories than a Big Mac!

Not to mention, the average Starbucks latte ranges between 250 and 450 calories and that bullet-proof coffee trend that everyone loves – depending on your ingredients – that could be adding as much as 350 calories to you day!

So how can you ensure that your beverages aren’t sabotaging your diet? Keeping a diary of what you’re drinking is a great way to understand how many calories are in your favourite beverages.

And if you do find that you’re ‘drinking your calories’, here are some tips to help you ‘skinny up’ your beverages so you can still enjoy them – while achieving your goals.

Low Cal Smoothie

When making your smoothie, think essentials – Protein, Fats, Carbs and Fruits/Veg and only include one source of each. For fats, you can choose a nut butter, coconut oil or butter, hemp seeds, or avocado). For fruit choose berries (blueberries, cherries, raspberries, etc.) for lower calorie options that won’t spike your blood sugar. Alternatively, for ever lower calorie and carb options, choose frozen vegetables like cauliflower, butternut squash, beets and kale. Use water instead of milk or juice and ensure that your protein powder is a pure source of protein and not a meal replacement shake. Meal replacement shakes have high amounts of carbs and fats and you already have that in your smoothie! And skip the supplements. Avoid greens, spirulina, maca, unless advised by your doctor. With a whole foods, balanced diet you won’t need fancy supplements!

Lower Calorie Coffees and Lattes

When ordering coffee, ask for a misto instead of a latte. It has half the steamed milk. Request that no sugar pumps be added to the beverage or ask for sugar-free pumps instead. Skip the whip cream and the drizzle altogether. Use stevia instead of sugar to sweeten your coffee and replace whole fat milks with skim or nut milks.

Lower Calorie Bulletproof Coffee

For your bullet-proof coffee, only include one source of fat (butter, ghee, coconut oil, XCT oil and MCT oil and be sure to measure your fat source diligently as fat has the highest caloric value of all the macronutrients and can really throw off your diet when over used. Only include one source of protein (an egg, a scoop of protein powder or collagen) or skip the protein altogether.

What else can you do to cut back on drinking your calories?

  • Avoid juices and pressed juices – most contain loads of sugar and carbs that will make your blood sugar crash!
  • Avoid wine and alcohol – opt for spritzers and other low cal options.
  • Opt for zero-calorie versions of vitamin water, pop and carbonated drinks.

Mostly, just being conscious of what you drink will make the biggest difference – and your body will thank you!

With love and nut butter,

Lindsey

Why Your Meal Prepping Diet May Be Keeping the Pounds On

I used to think that in order to lose weight, you’d have to spend hours in the kitchen meal prepping. Every Sunday I would spend the entire day prepping, steaming, roasting and pre-packaging all my food. As I cooked, I would resent the fact that an entire day of my weekend – MY FREE TIME – had to be given up to the kitchen of all things! And if I didn’t cook, and decided to spend the day with my family or friends, my entire week would be thrown off and my diet would go down the drain.

I felt handcuffed. I felt stuck. I felt like a failure. Perhaps you’ve felt this way before? I know I sure did and it made it impossible to stick to any diet.

Life would would happen. Plans would be made. Things would come up. And there would go my Sunday prep-day and my diet for the week! But yet other people were doing it – so what was wrong with me? There had to be a solution!

So I went on a mission. To find a diet that worked not only for me, but for my lifestyle. And when I finally found it, everything changed. No more restrictive meal plans. No more hours in the kitchen. I had finally learned to eat in a way that was flexible for my lifestyle while helping me achieve my goals. When I knew what to eat, I didn’t need to rely on someone else’s meal plan to tell me. I was able to make my own food, on my time, and without spending hours doing it. That was a diet I could stick to!

So if you’re anything like I was and are feeling trapped by your diet, come and hangout with my in my FREE Facebook group, The Nourished Life. It’s an amazing community of Busy Moms who are all on a journey to improve their health, balance their diets and stay out of the kitchen!

See you there!

With love and nut butter,

Lindsey Xx