Maintain a Healthy Weight for Life

Maintain a Healthy Weight for Life

Once again, the $66 billion dollar weight loss industry is ringing in the new year by ringing in the sales made from “resolutioners” looking for the “secret” to weight loss. Yet it’s no secret that fad diets don’t work, and that new year’s resolutions don’t stick. Jenna Richardson, Clinical Director for PIH, shares her frustrations and offers tips to help you find and maintain your healthy weight for life.

Why most weight loss efforts fail, and what you can do about it

I am writing this blog on New Year’s Day, after spending the past couple of hours relaxing and recovering from the chaos of the holidays, lounging in bed and watching Eat. Pray. Love for the third or fourth time. It was broadcast on Lifetime, so not without commercial interruption, and I was forced to endure many minutes watching Oprah eating tacos and talking about her “freedom” to eat whatever she wants, and Marie Osmond pitching some pre-packaged Nutrisystem shakes. I quickly grew frustrated thinking about how many folks, “resolutioners” if you will, were going to “buy in” to the hype and invest time, effort and energy to potentially drop a few pounds or a dress size, only to lose muscle, compromise nutrition, wreak havoc on their metabolism and gain it all back and then some in a month or two.

Welcome to the New Year! The weight loss industry, which is a $66 billion industry, is once again ringing in the new year by ringing in the sales made from “resolutioners” looking for the “secret” to weight loss. Yet it’s no secret that fad diets don’t work, and that new year’s resolutions don’t stick. Here we are, once again, looking at statistics that sadly confirm that the U.S. population is fatter and sicker than ever, with two-thirds of Americans still overweight and a third clinically obese. These statistics fuel the fire of a chronic disease epidemic that includes more and more diagnoses and deaths resulting from heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

What Can We Do to Rewrite This Story?

Let’s start by thinking about the term resolution, which, in itself, is a funny one. By definition, resolution means a firm decision to do (or not do) something, or the action of solving a problem, dispute or contentious matter. A firm decision, huh? How many times have you or someone you know vowed to lose 10 pounds or join a gym or learn a new language? My guess is many times.

According to U.S. News & World Report, approximately 80 percent of resolutions fail by the second week of February. Here are a few reasons why:

  • We don’t have the right mindset. We haven’t done the necessary self-reflection to determine why we want to change or what limiting beliefs may be holding us back. We dive in headfirst, believing that we can create change without having laid the foundation to do so.
  • We bite off more than we can chew. We approach things with a black-or-white, all-or-nothing mentality. We go from doing nothing to saying that we are going to do everything.
  • We set goals and expectations based on external inputs rather than internal inputs. We do for others rather than asking, “What will make me happy?”

So what can we do differently? First, let’s throw away the resolutions and think about what we should be doing all year long, how we want to live our lives for the duration, how we can truly create habits and behaviors that stick and lead to true transformational change. Real goals aren’t something we commit to on January 1st; they are with us each and every day. The first step is identifying your needs, your wants and your why.

If you are looking to make a true transformational health change, you aren’t going to find it in a 30-second commercial or in a box of pre-packaged, calorie-restricted “food,” or even on the drugstore shelves. It’s got to come from within, from a place of understanding what truly feeds and fuels your body and how to best fire up the metabolic engine to burn fat, preserve muscle and achieve optimal health.

Now we’re faced with two challenges: the statistics that we are up against in terms of the “New Year’s resolution,” and the fact that most diets do, in fact, fail.

Let’s delve a bit further into why diets fail. Hint: It’s not your fault; you just don’t know what you don’t know.

Calories In. Calories Out? Throw This Notion Out. And Cut the Crap.

Disproven is the science of calories in, calories out. While calories can “count,” it’s more about the quality (or lack thereof) of the food or fuel that we are consuming. Given the average American’s SAD (standard American diet) diet, we are loading our bodies with things that are just no good for us—what my acronym-loving self likes to refer to as CRAP (Chemicalized, Refined, Artificial and Processed) junk.

We are consuming excess sugar, fat and salt, not to mention toxic chemicals as a result of genetically modified (GMO) crops. Further, unbeknownst to many of us, we may be suffering with unidentified/undiagnosed food sensitivities and intolerances. This is not just about what we are putting in our mouths; it’s also about how our bodies are digesting, absorbing/assimilating and detoxifying. This is what truly creates our nutritional status.

It’s Not Just What You Eat That’s Hurting You

Every day we are exposed to environmental toxins and deal with stress. Our bodies are ill-equipped to handle this toxic overload, which leads to chronic inflammation and even chronic disease. We call this the detoxification burden.

Unfortunately, as with calories, a basic mathematical equation (garbage in = garbage out) doesn’t work here. When our bodies are overwhelmed and we can’t appropriately detoxify, we are left with a garbage jam. This is a major reason most diets fail. They fail to address the true challenge, which is as much about what we put out in terms of waste/toxins as it is about what we are putting in.

When the body doesn’t have the capacity to detoxify, toxins build up, oftentimes in fat, triggering an immune response, which turns on our internal alarm system, catapulting us into survival mode. When our bodies are in survival mode, they store even more fat, causing even more garbage to build up. It becomes a vicious cycle. To get the garbage out, we need optimal function of a few key organs: our liver, our colon, our kidneys and our skin.

Most diets do not address this detoxification burden and, thus, don’t get to the root cause of the issue. Instead they “trick” our bodies into losing water and muscle, driving the numbers on the scale down, but not positioning our bodies for lifelong weight loss success. We need to focus on getting the garbage out as well as reducing the garbage in.

Nourish and Fuel Your Body with Whole Foods

Another major reason most diets fail is because they focus on calorie restriction or appetite suppression, which leads to a slowing of the metabolism and loss of muscle. This is the exact opposite approach of what we should be doing to sustain lasting weight loss. When you lose muscle, you lose metabolic fire, your fat-burning power. We need to maintain and build lean muscle by focusing on the best foods for our metabolic machines, keeping the blood sugar balance just right, in what we call the Goldilocks zone.

And, finally, most diets focus on restriction (i.e., what we can’t have) rather than on nourishment and replenishment. Not only is this a mind game, but it also ignores the fact that food is fuel. Literally everything we eat breaks down into glucose that feeds our cells for energy production. Think about your body as a car. Do you want to drive a Ferrari or a beat-up jalopy? What type of gas would you put in that Ferrari, 87 or 93 octane? Many diets leave us malnourished and lacking the energy that we need to function optimally. How can our bodies work to burn fat when they don’t even have the energy to perform basic functions? Like Ferraris, our bodies are complex machines, and this is basic mechanics. Once we understand how they “tick,” it’s much easier to provide our bodies with the right fuel and ensure that everything is moving as it should.

Healthy Weight Loss for Life Starts Here

  • Find your why: Weight loss starts with your mindset.
  • Evaluate your toxic burden, which might be a combination of foods, environmental triggers, stress, trauma and infection.
  • Get tested to see how your body is functioning from a metabolic standpoint.
  • Eat whole, unprocessed foods.
  • Eliminate or limit grains and glutens.
  • Up your intake of phytonutrients by eating fruits and veggies in the colors of the rainbow.
  • Seek good fats: nuts, seeds, fish, healthy oils, etc.
  • Eat smaller meals, and space them out to avoid blood sugar fluctuations.
  • Focus on relaxed, mindful eating: Slow down, turn off the TV, and stop looking at your cell phone.


If you are looking for testing, guidance and support on your health journey, join us at one of our free community health workshops: Healthy Weight for Life. You’ll learn more about our approach to lasting weight loss. For dates and to register, please visit our website at

To schedule a consultation, call 609.512.1468.

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The information on this website is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Princeton Integrative Health advises that you use this information in consultation with your functional medicine doctor or other healthcare professional.