By Carol L. Roberts, MD, ABIHM

Tired of gaining and losing the same 10 pounds over and over again? Dismayed by the rolls around your middle? Want to know the secret of maintaining a healthy weight for the rest of your life?

As a doctor of functional medicine with 30 years of experience, I have a few tips to share. Read on.

The key to “losing” weight is to “gain” fitness. Broaden your view and graduate from the very limited idea that a number on the scale is your goal. Rather, focus on the idea that your health and your energy is something you can improve through acquiring better habits. Looking good depends on that – not on weight loss alone.

What is the most important item in your wardrobe? No, it’s not your bra or your girdle, or even your designer jeans. It’s your body! A healthy, fit body will look good in a burlap sack, and that individual will feel good, too.

So here are the main ingredients for lifelong fitness. Listen and learn, then DO. Make changes little by little, but always keep the goal in mind. These suggestions for lifestyle changes are based upon the promise that the ancestral way of life is what we are adapted to, and the closer we get to “natural” choices, the better we will feel, perform, relax and enjoy. Tons of studies can back up this claim, but the real test is by you, for you, on you. Try it this year and see what happens.

Below are six tips to help reach your ultimate goals:

1. Sleep

Go to bed when it gets dark and wake up with the dawn – no screens, no stimulants, no drugs. Meditate, take a hot bath, use Epsom salts or take magnesium supplements. Sleep is a nutrient, so if you don’t have it, your brain will not work. If sleep is a problem for you, address the potential cause or causes, like too much stress, caffeine, screen time, responsibility or worry. Additionally, maybe you are lacking enough time to play, time in nature, exercise, magnesium or iodine. Breathing problems at night are often caused by milk-based dairy products or mold in the house.

2. Healthy Diet

Eat a whole food, mostly plant-based diet. Protein and fats in moderation will keep you from getting hungry, and the sheer volume of veggies can fill you up. The typical American’s diet (high carbs with bad fats) produces inflammation that keeps joints stiff and sore, and gut activity is unpredictable. An organic, whole food diet provides more natural nutrition. Choosing organic foods also avoids most of the poisons, toxins and pesticides that are used to grow food in this country. The volume of brain-damaging chemicals that we pour onto our grains, into our animal feed and thereby into our children, is staggering. It’s measured in – not grams or ounces – per year.

3. Movement

Move your body, and move it often and with pleasure. Exercise should feel really good, revitalize you and keep you limber and strong. If you’re just starting a new exercise routine, it’s important to first consult with a physician before taking action.

4. Junk food

As noted above, diet is important. Get rid of the junk food in your home. Junky food leads to a junky body.

5. Molecular levels

Hormone levels are critically important for women and men, and especially for older people. Hormone deficiencies can be addressed by a doctor who prescribes bioidentical hormones. Hormones send “youthifying” messages to your cells and keep your weight in proper balance.

6. Treat yourself right

Never be mean to yourself, in your thoughts or deeds. That means no starvation, no severe fasts and no thinking bad thoughts. You must be your own best friend and be honest with yourself.

This year – 2022 – has to be the year you get your act together. It’s not an act, though, because you really can start enjoying the rest of your life! Will you be able to stand up out of your comfy chair by yourself at any age? Climb in and out of a bathtub safely? Drive a car as long as you want? Dance at your 75th wedding anniversary?

Take the long view. Make your changes as rapidly or slowly as you wish. Just do it. Oh, and watch the weight roll off – never to return again!

Carol L. Roberts, MD, ABIHM, is Medical Director at Naples Center for Functional Medicine and author of “Good Medicine: A Return to Common Sense.” Dr. Roberts has practiced functional, integrative and holistic medicine for nearly 30 years.

This article appeared in the Winter 2022 edition of Essential Naples Magazine.

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