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Loni Michelle

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How often do you weigh yourself? How often do you weigh yourself and get excited if you see a decrease in your weight? How often do you get disheartened and depressed when you see the number go up? As a human, I know most of us have felt like this. Take a look at the graph below for a minute:

The dots on that graph are the fluctuations in someone’s weight over the last month. As you can see the weight drops, increases, and plateaus. This is what weight loss actually looks like. This is completely normal and the reason why I wanted to show this graft.

Weight loss is not linear
It is perfectly normal for your weight to fluctuate on a day-to-day basis. There will be days when your scale weight goes up, just like there will be days when your weight will drop, and there will also be days (maybe even weeks) when your weight will stay exactly the same. This is completely normal and one reason why, as a health coach I do not have my clients solely rely on what the number on the scale says.

The fluctuations in weight are ok because, although there are these changes, as you can see from the yellow line running through the graph, the overall trend is going down – and that’s what matters. That is long-term weight loss. Every person’s graph will look different. Someone with a lot of weight to lose will probably have more dots trending consistently down, for a longer amount of time. For example, someone with 60 pounds to lose will most likely lose weight far more consistently than someone with only 10 pounds to lose. In the same way, someone who has 10 pounds to lose will have more dots trending downward in comparison to someone who has just 2 pounds to lose. 

You can always focus on losing weight, just as you can focus on maintaining your weight or even gaining weight. There is no right or wrong, you just need to be ready and committed to whatever goal you set yourself.

So, what can make your weight fluctuate? This is important to understand.

  • Having a big meal late at night. Eating late simply means that less food will be digested by the time you wake up, which may lead to the number on the scale going up. 
  • High sodium food or eating a lot of carbs. Both of these will lead to retaining more water which can lead to the number on the scale going up. This doesn’t mean that sodium and carbs are bad. It just means they may help your body store water inside the muscle which is temporary.
  • Bowel movements (pretty self-explanatory I think). 
  • For women the Menstrual cycle. Over the course of a month, female hormones fluctuate significantly, which can affect our weight as some of us may bloat more, retain more water and make us want to eat more. So, if you are trying to lose weight, try to control those menstrual cycle cravings by having small amounts of what you crave and drinking plenty of water. Remember also that during this time, your body will actually burn around an extra 250 calories due to hormone fluctuations. 
  • Exercise. This can lead to both the number on the scale going up or down. It could go down if you sweat out a lot of water that day. In the same way, if you had a heavy leg session for example, and ate a decent amount to help repair the muscles, the water from carbs etc…get stored in the muscles post-training, which could lead to the number on the scale going up. 
  • NEAT: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Say you usually do 8,000 steps per day and one day you do 15,000 steps: chances are the weight will drop down. In the same way, if you usually do 10,000 steps per day and then do 2,000 – the chances are the number on the scale may go up. 
  • Alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic which can lead to a lot of water loss overnight due to dehydration. However, alcohol can also make us eat very salty foods which could lead to weight gain. Either way, drinking alcohol can affect the number on the scale. 
  • Finally, food mass. If you eat a lot of high-volume foods (vegetables, potatoes, white fish, lean meats etc..) you can eat a much higher volume of food while consuming fewer calories – which is great! If you are in a deficit, you will lose weight – however, sometimes in the short-term, eating high-volume foods can lead to an increase in the number on the scale simply because you have more food bulk in your stomach. To put it simply, 200 calories in courgettes will weigh a lot more than 200 calories in pizza. So as you can see, a lot of things could affect your weight from one day to the next, so don’t get hung up if you wake up a little heavier one morning. 

Take a look below at what the fluctuations of weight over 6 months could look like:

This graph represents a longer period of someone’s weight loss journey, just to show that sometimes taking a break from losing weight and focusing on enjoying your training, getting stronger and building some muscle is a better idea than focusing so much on the scale. Times like this give people a mental break from trying to achieve a certain aesthetic and can focus on enjoying and living a little more freely. This is what I recommend.

You can always focus on losing weight, just as you can focus on maintaining your weight or even gaining weight. There is no right or wrong, you just need to be ready and committed to whatever goal you set yourself. Sometimes work gets so crazy and stressful that “dieting” isn’t realistic so it’s important to find a way to do things that work directly for your lifestyle. It may take time to figure this out. This is what I focus on with my clients because, if you can’t see yourself doing something longer than 8-12 weeks then it will never work long-term. I use the term dieting loosely because I would rather think of things as lifestyle and not diet. Long-term sustainability should also be the goal. No quick fixes when it comes to losing weight and lifestyle changes. Take the time to learn. 

At the end of the day, pick what is right for you and what you can honestly commit to doing and what you can sustain. The biggest thing to take away from all of this is sustainability and not overly focusing on the number on the scale because now you can see how drastically it can fluctuate. Remember, the scale is only a very small piece of the puzzle to your journey. While the scale can be a good tool to use, it can also be detrimental to us reaching our goals due to the mental games it can play with us. We are not what the number says on the scale. We are what we do and the habits we create. We become what we focus on, so focus on eating well and exercising to be healthy. The rest will follow, this is my philosophy. Focus on the small victories like; getting stronger, getting faster, walking longer, eating the best that you can, and feeling your best- these are all non-scale victories!

The human body is meant to move, not sit or be inactive for the majority of our lives. Unfortunately, in today’s world, many of us have desk jobs, entertainment, and a non-energetic diet can keep us sitting for most of the day. It has become far too easy for us to be inactive in today’s society.

An inactive lifestyle is something that we need to constantly fight against. The consequences of lifestyle can be grave. A sedentary/inactive lifestyle has been labelled as the new smoking because that’s just how bad it is for us. Imagine that. The consequences of a sedentary lifestyle come in the form of physical, mental problems, and emotional problems and can even lead to death.

Being active isn’t something to take lightly, especially in today’s world. If you think what I’ve said is extreme, you should hear what scientists and medical professionals are saying about a sedentary lifestyle around the globe. There is nothing good said about this type of lifestyle sadly. That’s why I felt that this message was so important to relay.

Believe it or not, your daily chores around the house really don’t even count because your body is used to these types of movements. When you think of an inactive person, you think of a “couch potato”. While these people are included, it could also refer to those who simply just don’t move enough throughout the day. Whether it be sitting for work, sitting for entertainment, or just not moving enough overall.

The most common consequence of being inactive is weight gain. This is the most common side effect that most people can see and feel but it doesn’t stop there.

Physically active people can also lead sedentary lifestyles. When you think about it, there are 24 hours in a day, and the most dedicated athletes spend 2-4 hours a day training and that still leaves 22-24 hours a day to be inactive. Eight of those hours are also already spent sleeping for the most part. This leaves 14 hours more so to be inactive. When you really look at the big picture here, it really puts things into perspective.

I believe that It’s a misconception that people who are sedentary are lazy. Our society today tends to promote inactivity through things like; having more transportation available, more technology, cultural values, and urbanization are all to blame for inactive lifestyles. This is a problem with our society but, we don’t have to be victims of it. We can change that.

The explosion of technology has made it very easy to stay planted in a chair all day. Think about it, the average person spends at least three to four hours a day on their phone and probably another three to four watching TV, then about eight hours a day sitting at work then, possibly another eight hours sleeping. So you do the math there. Kind of mind-blowing when you think about it.

The most common consequence of being inactive is weight gain. This is the most common side effect that most people can see and feel but it doesn’t stop there. There is more there than the eye can see. Just to name a few; Obesity is on the rise. Reduction of the lipoprotein lipase activity that clears triglycerides (the bad fats). Increased risk of high blood pressure. Increased risk of anxiety and depression. Increased risk of stroke. A decrease in skeletal muscle mass. Increased risk of metabolic syndrome. Increased risk of osteoporosis. Increased risk of cardiovascular death. Even an increased risk of some types of cancers and type two diabetes.

Preventing all of these problems is really simple though. All we have to do is get up and move more. Even if we have jobs that require us to sit all day. There are ways to increase your activity levels. We don’t have to be victims of an inactive lifestyle in the society we live in today. We have the power to change that and it’s really not hard to do.

A few ways to increase daily activity working around barriers such as; school, kids, medical conditions, and work may not be super easy at first so start out small if you need to. Start by making an effort to get up and stretch especially if you have a desk job or work from home. Start doing more household chores rather than letting robots such a Roomba sweep, limit your screen time on your devices, pick up a new hobby that doesn’t involve sitting, try walking your dog more, taking the stairs more, parking in the back of the parking lot so you have to walk. My favourite one is getting a device like a Fitbit that will remind you to GET UP AND MOVE! Once you find the activity that you like or multiple activities, expand your knowledge of those activities and use them as a way of life.

So how much activity is enough for us daily? As a health coach, I feel that we should all aim for two to even five hours a day of activity. This should be a mix of things like; moderate activity, vigorous aerobic activity, and muscle-strengthening activities to keep our bones strong and to help retain or build needed muscle. This will help us in our everyday lives and especially as we age.

The thing is, inactivity is actually not human nature. Humans evolved as a walking entity, exploring the world on our feet. We evolved to move, not sit in a chair all day or lack of activity. So when you are stuck at your desk all day, at home working or just sitting around, remember this. WE ARE MEANT TO MOVE. Do your life the favour today even if you have to start small- just move. You owe it to yourself to live a healthy, happy lifestyle.

Food choices have a huge impact on our mental health and wellbeing. Food is information that our cells used to determine fundamental functions of how our bodies function in day-to-day life. The vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that food delivers determine what genes get turned on and off, which enzymes work, and how well and it even affects the inflammation levels in our cells. FOOD IS REALLY THAT POWERFUL. For those who struggle with anxiety, it’s really important to pay attention to what we are feeding our cells and what information they are receiving from the foods we choose to eat. Better nutrition can reduce anxiety and benefit our mental health so much. It may never be perfect but, our food choices impact everything we do. Every function of our body and mind.

Our food choices should nourish our bodies and minds by providing crucial building blocks like vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and antioxidants. When we feed our nervous system high inflammatory foods, it can’t function properly and leads to worse anxiety or even cause someone to have anxiety.

The most common pitfalls in our nutrition that can create an anxious mind are, eating inflammatory foods like; anything processed, foods high in processed sugars and refined carbohydrates, and this is a big one and one that a lot of people don’t realize but, foods high in omega 6 that in are in some animal products. All of these foods cause nutritional deficiencies that make it extremely hard for our cells to function. They spark inflammation inside the gut which then signals our brain with an inflammatory response. An inflamed gut can not produce the serotonin needed (Our happy hormone). So if your diet is filled with these types of foods and you suffer from anxiety or things like brain fog, sore joints, digestion issues or, just overall not feeling well. I think you are starting to see why.

I personally have struggled with bouts of anxiety and the one thing that has helped me is, continuing to make good food choices and using natural supplements like magnesium and L-theanine. Most people today are actually magnesium deficient mostly due to our soils being so depleted nowadays. Magnesium deficiency has actually been linked to things like obesity as well as anxiety and depression.  I require every single client of mine to supplement with magnesium.

Making better nutrition choices to help alleviate anxiety includes things like; reducing sugar intake and I’m not talking about natural sugars from things like fruit. I’m talking about refined sugar, cookies, cakes, donuts, etc. We need to actually increase our fruit intake as the body requires a certain amount of sugar daily. Increased veggie intake. A lot of people don’t like veggies or we even hear some new fad diets claiming that they are bad for you. This is very untrue unless you have a rare autoimmune disease to which certain veggies can possibly cause a flare-up. Try to find something green or colourful like veggies that you enjoy!  

Another big thing we can do is overall caffeine intake. Especially man-made caffeine from things like pre-workouts or energy drinks and opt for natural caffeine. Things like green tea, coffee, and other teas work great.

My ending thoughts are; Why guess at how well our cells are working in our bodies or how well our body and mind is going to function. Why not just make better choices so, WE KNOW. Remember, Everything we eat or consume goes into our cells. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “We are what we eat.” There has never been a truer statement in my opinion. Reminding myself of that saying, helps me make the choices I need to make daily.  Making one small change today can impact the rest of our lives. Healthy cells equal a healthy mind and body.  I hope this information was helpful!

Photo By: Mike Lakomowski

A NEW STUDY NOW SUGGESTS THAT POOR GUT HEALTH IS LINKED TO SEVERE COVID SYMPTOMS

As a firm believer in overall gut health, this comes as no surprise to me that poor gut health contributes to the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. Commonly, our guts are called “Our Second Brain” and for good reason. Poor gut health is linked to every ailment in the body including anxiety and depression. As a result, the effects of poor gut health have an impact on the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. COVID-19 just like all other chronic diseases is associated with altered gut microbiota (poor gut health). Growing evidence suggests poor gut health adversely affects the prognosis of COVID-19 by enabling the virus to access the surface of the digestive tract and internal organs. If you have ever heard of the term “Leaky Gut”, this can exacerbate symptoms as well. “Leaky Gut” occurs when the lining of the gut has become damaged and cannot optimally function as a barrier to harmful things such as bacteria and viruses. When this condition is combined with COVID-19 symptoms in the GI tract, the effects can be detrimental to your gut health.

There is a very CLEAR connection between the altered gut microbiome and severe COVID-19. This imbalance can affect gut barrier integrity, which can allow pathogens and pathobionts easier access to the cells in the intestinal lining. Some studies have suggested that a person’s gut health (at the time of infection) may be critical for symptom development. Keeping this in mind, the virus can deplete a healthy person’s gut of beneficial bacteria as well. The depleted bacterial species associated with COVID-19 are said to be ones that are responsible for the production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid. Which plays a vital role in gut health by reinforcing gut bacteria. One of the biggest contributors to poor gut health is the western diet which is very low in fibre. Fibre deficiency is one of the main causes for altered gut microbiome dysbiosis which leads to chronic disease. The problem really goes beyond COVID-19 concerning gut health. It’s a global issue that is causing many ailments. Unfortunately, not everyone in the population fully understands its importance and role in the disease. I am hoping this article brings awareness to the importance of gut health and how to help improve it. While more studies are being done on this subject pertaining to poor gut health and COVID-19, there are ways that you can start improving your gut health today. Start eating high-fibre foods and probiotic-packed foods. Fermented foods are the best for containing probiotics! The majority of the population can safely supplement and benefit from a probiotic. A lot of research suggests that a good probiotic should have up to 10B CGU with 4 strains. The more variety the better. EXERCISE is like medicine to the gut. Exercise can improve the promotion of good bacteria in the gut. Limit alcohol intake as excessive alcohol intake causes inflammation of the gut which leads to unbalance of the gut microbiome. Cut back on artificial sweeteners as these can also be harmful to your gut microbiome. Choose better options like real stevia or coconut palm sugar.

Last but not least, pair your probiotic with a prebiotic. Prebiotics provide a source of food for the good gut bacteria that the probiotics place into the gut and help it grow. Prebiotics are carbs that your body can’t digest and are placed in the lower digestive tract as the food for the good bacteria to grow. For example, you can find prebiotics in foods such as garlic, onions, asparagus, bananas, oats, apples, cocoa, burdock root, flaxseed, seaweed, barley, and Jerusalem artichokes. It’s very important to take charge of your gut health, especially in today’s world where our foods are can be depleted of key nutrients and also heavily processed. My ending thoughts are; if we take better care of our bodies from the inside out, there would be a lot fewer ailments and diseases in today’s world. The problem is, they don’t teach us this, so our health is really in our hands and we have to take control. Keep yourself healthy to avoid health problems before they become serious issues. We have one body and it should be our temple to protect at all cost!