Can you be fat and healthy?

Education to Empowerment with Esther Blum, Integrative Dietitian and High Performance Coach

I recently got some texts from my bestie about an article written by a friend who decided to make peace with being overweight. “Can you be both fat and healthy?”, she asked me.

Before we dive in, let’s unpack the emotional toll of having extra body fat, being obese, and the widespread fat-shaming that comes along with it. I’ve worked with obese men and women over the past 25 years who had deep scars that began during childhood; emotional or sexual abuse, feelings of unworthiness and shame, and feeling fat-shamed and judged all interwoven in my clients’ stories.

Obesity is not only a physical challenge, but a complicated web of emotions around failure (repeated attempts at losing weight, only to regain it), feeling unworthy (who will love me if I’m fat?), feeling judged in social situations (why is she eating that — doesn’t she know she’s fat?), feeling fat-shamed by doctors (why can’t you just stop eating so much?) and being unheard (if he says he’s not eating much he’s probably lying). It’s also a socioeconomic issue with little to no access to healthier foods in lower-income neighborhoods.

If we don’t start out looking at the pieces that contributed to obesity and the roadblocks to overcoming it, we won’t be any closer to finding a long and lasting solution. Listening to someone’s story, building emotional trust, and understanding intrinsic beliefs and patterns are all pieces my clients and I always crack open first – long before discussions about food and eating plans come into play. When we have insight into our behaviors and bring our shame out in the open, we can then begin to heal from emotional injury.

But what about health concerns with obesity and being overweight?
Exactly how many extra pounds are too much?

There is no one-size fits all number when it comes to a person’s ideal body weight, but here’s what research-backed science shows for risk factors associated with obesity.

What if you’re an obese person and your blood tests are all normal,
and you were told by your doctor that you’re healthy?

I have been practicing for 25+ years and I have yet to treat an overweight or obese person who had normal lab values. You can argue that is because people who come and see me usually have a health issue to tackle.

But stick with me here… just because you’re in a grace period with normal labs now doesn’t mean you won’t start to develop health problems down the road. Be proactive and take charge of your health by knowing your numbers. If you’re lucky enough to have dodged a bullet this long, then consider yourself lucky but don’t live in denial, either.

Also, blood tests are a snapshot of what’s happening in the body at the moment the blood was drawn. I prefer to explore the bigger picture and look at nutrient deficiencies, inflammatory markers, autoimmune antibodies, and thyroid function.

I always recommend getting the following labs tested (make sure you fast for these tests):

  • Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
  • HDL and LDL
  • Triglycerides
  • If history of Heart Disease: NMR profile, ApoB
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Lp(a)
  • Fasting glucose
  • Hemoglobin A1c
  • Fasting Insulin
  • TSH
  • Free T3 & Free T4
  • Reverse T3
  • If Hashimoto’s is a concern: Thyroid auto-antibodies (TPO, thyroglobulin)
  • Vitamin D
  • Complete Blood Count
  • Vitamin B12 and Folate Panel

Now here’s the good news…

the body is remarkably forgiving when it comes to reversing diabetes and heart disease.

If you’re pre-diabetic or diabetic, then losing 5-10% of your body weight will lower your risk of developing diabetes by 58%.

People with high blood pressure who lost 10 pounds over six months reduced their systolic blood pressure by 2.8 mm Hg and their diastolic blood pressure by 2.5 mm Hg.

Exercise, and weight training in particular, improves insulin sensitivity 4-fold in people with type 2 diabetes.

Action steps you can take to reverse health issues, inflammation, and lose weight:

#1 Celery Juice
Fresh celery juice is one of the most powerful healing juices one can drink and will restore your digestion, hydrochloric acid, and overall health. This means you can combat wicked stomach bloating, gas, diarrhea, and energy. I have helped many clients eliminate the need for antacid medications with this magical elixir!

#2 One Plant-Based Meal Per Day
If you struggle to get veggies in at every meal, or even enough over the course of a day, then eating a heaping course of fruits and veggies at one meal is the surefire way to get the job done. You should find your energy levels soar and your mind is clear after one of these meals. The beauty of a plant-based meal is that it puts out the inflammatory fire in the body and loads you up with vitamins, trace minerals, fiber, and just plain old REAL FOOD, people!

#3 Carbs at Night
Serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitter in the brain improves your mood and helps you feel calm. If you can get your serotonin up at night, it will help you get a more restful sleep. And eating complex carbs with dinner will do this beautifully. At night, enjoy foods with complex carbs (sweet potatoes, winter squash, beans and lentils) to jack up your serotonin and help you feel sleepy and relaxed sans the blood sugar crash.

#4 8-12 ounces of clean protein per day
I’ve been in the nutrition business for 25 years now, and can tell you that 85% of my clients feel best eating 8-12 ounces of clean protein per day. This averages out to having protein 2 meals per day, plus a protein-containing snack. So every morning, I get high (on neurotransmitters) and you should, too. Eating meat and nuts (or another protein and quality fat) will prime your body for mental clarity and a happy mood and will help your body feel super energized as it dips into fat stores and releases pounds of bloat and fat.

#5 Bitter Greens every day
Although bitter greens are truly a throwback to our Paleolithic ancestors, most people cringe when they come near bitter greens. But rest assured once you get used to the taste and start to see how amazing your body feels after you eat them, you’ll actually begin to crave them as part of your diet. Bitter greens are a nutritional powerhouse. They’re chock-full of vitamins A, C and K and trace minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. They will support your nervous and cardiovascular system, help your skin glow, keep your gut healthy, and clean out waste products and toxins from your liver.

As always, I love hearing from you so keep the questions coming in the comments below!

Live Gorgeously,
Education to Empowerment with Esther Blum, Integrative Dietitian and High Performance Coach

 

 

SOURCES:

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/can-you-be-overweight-and-still-be-fit
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24269108
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30236381
  4. https://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/everything-you-know-about-obesity-is-wrong/
  5. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/digestive_weight_loss_center/conditions/diabetes.html
  6. https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/how-excess-weight-affects-your-health.htm
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23671849
Why striving for perfection will bite you in the tush Mongolian Beef + Cauliflower Rice
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