Is It Possible To Reverse Metabolic Syndrome?

Is It Possible To Reverse Metabolic Syndrome?

Obesity. High blood pressure. High cholesterol. Low HDL’s. High triglycerides. High blood sugars. Your head can start spinning to hear them all, let alone in one long sentence coming out of your doctor’s mouth. Why are all these things happening at once? And can I reverse metabolic syndrome?

The real awakening comes when your doctor starts mentioning the possibility of a heart attack, stroke or diabetes. At some point it can all start to run together in a numbing stream of “blah blah…heart disease…blah blah…diabetes…blah blah…if you don’t make changes now….”

This is a typical conversation surrounding metabolic syndrome. And it can be a real moment of reckoning for the person hearing it. 

If you’ve been on the receiving end of that health analysis, you have no doubt wanted to do anything necessary to reverse metabolic syndrome. You will never forget seeing your life flash before your eyes in a moment of naked truth about the prospects for your health. And you never want to see it again.

It’s natural when you hear that you have a medical condition (or two or three) to want to know if there is a “cure.” You instinctively want whatever it is to be gone…for good.

The irony of metabolic syndrome is that it’s not a disease to be cured. It’s a cluster of metabolic disorders that increase your risk of disease — heart disease and diabetes being the biggies.

The fact that close to 50% of Americans over 40 have metabolic syndrome shouldn’t mitigate your concern. This is no beast to mess with. 

Typically, if you have three or more of the following metabolic conditions, you are said to have metabolic syndrome:

  • high blood pressure (systolic and/or diastolic)
  • abdominal obesity
  • abnormal cholesterol values, especially low HDL’s
  • high triglycerides 
  • high fasting blood sugars

Too often, instead of devising a plan to reverse metabolic syndrome, each abnormal condition is treated pharmacologically and in isolation.  Diuretics, beta blockers or ACE inhibitors may be prescribed to normalize blood pressure. Statins may be prescribed to lower cholesterol. And on and on. 

So, while these medications may help you manage specific conditions, they do nothing to reverse metabolic syndrome. 

Surprisingly, statins may even double your risk of getting type 2 diabetes! Recent evidence from The Ohio State University shows that efforts to medically prevent heart disease may actually cause other problems.

So, what are your choices if your wake-up call involves a long list of issues that are individually bad and collectively life-threatening?

In most cases, losing weight will lead to the changes that will reverse metabolic syndrome. And that’s because all of the other conditions are so directly related to carrying excess weight, especially around the belly. 

You won’t be able to do anything about your age or genetics, but you can always do something about your diet and activity level. 

You probably already know what to do and what not to do to lose weight and reverse metabolic syndrome. Unfortunately, it often takes a bad report card to make any of us pay attention to the threats to our health.

Get moving. You don’t need to register for a marathon. Just stop parking your chassis in the chair and your car in the front spot. Find activities you enjoy and make time to do them every day.

And the diet? You know what you shouldn’t be eating. But you may have no clue what to eat. Sure — fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish with healthy fats, lean proteins, lots of water. But how much? How often? And what about boredom and emotional eating?

You can’t reverse metabolic syndrome overnight. And you can’t reverse it without a plan that is doable, sustainable and supported. 

The SprintSet Energizing Weight Loss System addresses all the concerns that come up when trying to lose weight. It anticipates the problem areas, guides you through all the essentials, and sets you up to succeed.

Knowing that you can reverse metabolic syndrome the natural and safe way should be a great relief. It’s imperative, however, to catch the contributing conditions early and take action before permanent damage is done.

How To Stay Motivated To Lose Weight

How To Stay Motivated To Lose Weight

Bravo to everyone who makes the decision to lose weight in order to be healthier! It’s no small thing to commit to the work ahead, knowing you will have days when you just want to throw in the towel. But if you know how to stay motivated to lose weight, the journey can lead you to more than just a smaller number on the scale.

Most of us would be a healthier, happier version of ourselves if we dropped a few pounds. Studies show that, for those who have weight to lose, even a 5% drop can have significant health benefits. Joints get a reprieve, cholesterol and blood pressure take a turn for the better, and medications may become less necessary.

That promising fact alone should be a great start on how to stay motivated to lose weight. Whether you start or finish your weight loss program with health in mind, it will ultimately be the health incentive that is the most sustainable motivation.

If you are like most people, you have more than just a better check-up in mind when you think about losing weight. Perhaps you have been avoiding the mirror (or “sucking in” when you pass one) because you know you have let your physique go. Perhaps you just don’t have the energy to keep up with your kids, grandkids or active dog anymore.

Whatever triggered your decision to burn the pounds, spending some time with your “why” is essential for strategizing how to stay motivated to lose weight. Write down all your reasons, from the obvious to the not-so-obvious, and read them daily.

Ask yourself, “How will my life be different on a daily, yearly and long-term basis if I lose this weight? How much more will I accomplish? How much money will I save on doctors and medications? What can my family and I do with that money? How much better will I feel physically and emotionally?”

While starting off on a weight-loss journey can be invigorating, it’s important to have realistic expectations. Sometimes you have to reel in your enthusiasm enough to create a sustainable balance. Think long-term. The healthiest weight loss comes from a slow burn. One to two pounds per week is a good gauge. Those who lose weight at this pace are more likely to maintain their accomplishment.

Once you have realistic expectations, it’s time to set specific goals. It’s difficult to know how to stay motivated to lose weight if you don’t have a plan. “Exercise more…eat a heart-healthy diet…get enough sleep…buy organic for the ‘dirty dozen’…cut portion sizes…meditate….” Those generalizations are great when you’re looking at the big picture. But when you wake up in the morning, you need to know specifically what to do, right?

Having a proven plan for your nutrition, exercise and support will free up your mental energy to simply focus on executing the plan…and celebrating your successes. In the SprintSet Energizing Weight Loss System, a plan is created for you. And you have everything you need right at your fingertips — including support from experts and other people on their own journeys.

We work the program together. When the tough days hit (and they will), we are there to show you how to stay motivated to lose weight. We understand the emotional connection to food and the innate tendency to sabotage one’s own best interests. The SprintSet System is designed to help you embrace the journey so your emotions work for you, not against you.

We also celebrate together because celebrating the little successes is as important as celebrating the big ones when it comes to staying motivated. There is no “final outcome” because the objective is to create and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Finally, by focusing on the process and not just the outcome, you will be much more likely to stay in the game. Fifty pounds can seem a long way off at two pounds a week! Documenting your progress — your diet, exercise, measurements, weight, BMI, moods, energy — will deepen your connection to the journey. It will also give you something verifiable to look back on when you forget how far you have come.

If you have made the decision that it’s time to shift your habits toward health, congratulations! You are about to find out just how much you have to gain by losing weight!

5 Tips For Living A Healthy Life With Chronic Conditions

5 Tips For Living A Healthy Life With Chronic Conditions

Aging has a way of making us all conscious of living a healthy life. With chronic conditions, that can be especially difficult. There are physical, medical and emotional factors, and they all have to be managed in order to stay on the healthy side of life.

A chronic condition is a persistent, long-term health condition with no “cure” in sight. While it may not be life-threatening, if it isn’t managed, it can shorten one’s lifespan and/or quality of life. According to the Center for Disease Control, chronic diseases affect nearly one in two US adults.

If you live with high blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes, arthritis or osteoporosis, for example, you know how challenging living a healthy life with chronic conditions can be. You live with the physical symptoms and limitations on a daily basis, and you feel the emotional weight of knowing there is no cure in sight.

But hope is not necessarily lost. Many chronic conditions are preventable, and the effects of most can at least be mitigated with lifestyle modifications.

Here are 5 tips for living a healthy life with chronic conditions:

  1. Be your own advocate.

In the long run, you are the one who is responsible for your own health and well-being. Your doctor isn’t with you 24/7, but you are. It’s up to you to take charge of your lifestyle habits, self-monitoring and communication with your medical team. You are the common denominator.

What kind of advocate would you be if your child had a chronic condition? Be the same for yourself.

  1. There are no stupid questions, so ask a lot of them.

The body is a complex miracle. Even doctors don’t know everything about it.

The only way you will ever learn about living a healthy life with chronic conditions is by asking questions from those with the knowledge you need. Ask your doctor questions about your condition every time you go in. Research your condition on the web.

Knowledge is power, and the more you open yourself to information — even differing opinions — the more power you will have in managing your own health.

  1. Keep a journal dedicated to your health.

Learn to listen to your body so you can track its changes. Document your daily measurements — weight, heart rate, blood pressure, etc. — your medications, doctor visits, changes in your physical health and moods.

Take your journal with you to every medical appointment so you can provide detailed information to your doctor. Again, your doctor isn’t with you 24/7. But you are.

  1. Build a team.

Choose an excellent primary care physician whom you can trust to be the hub of your “health wheel.” Then seek out experts and specialists in specific areas.

The body’s systems don’t exist in isolation. They all affect each other. Take responsibility for making sure all visits and records are reported back to your primary care physician and, where relevant, to the other specialists.

Self-management education (SME) programs are designed to help you manage your symptoms, habits and stress when living with chronic conditions. They can also help you navigate communication with your medical team.

  1. Maintain a positive, healthy lifestyle.

Most chronic conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes are preventable. At the very least they are modifiable with healthful lifestyle changes.

Having a plan for eating a heart-healthy diet and getting the right amount and intensity of exercise can make dramatic changes in chronic conditions. Adding a health and weight loss coach to your team will ensure that you don’t have to figure out the plan on your own.

Living a healthy life with chronic conditions isn’t impossible. But the decision to implement lifestyle changes is up to you and is a key component of your self-advocacy.

How To Control Metabolic Syndrome

How To Control Metabolic Syndrome

Ever watch a round-up of animals in the west? Helicopters, wranglers, pilot horses, cowboys. All these outside forces being used to control and direct the movement (and destiny) of animals enjoying their freedom or a leisurely graze. Learning how to control metabolic syndrome is, albeit metaphorically, a lot like one of these round-ups.

The very nature of a syndrome lends itself to a sort of “herding” response. Metabolic syndrome isn’t a disease, but a collection of symptoms correlated with each other and with potential diseases like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Having three or more of the following symptoms qualifies as metabolic syndrome:

  • abdominal obesity
  • high triglycerides
  • low HDL cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • high fasting blood glucose

Other risk factors include:

  • age
  • ethnicity
  • diabetes (especially gestational diabetes and a family history of type 2 diabetes)
  • other diseases (specifically non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, polycystic ovary syndrome or sleep apnea)

While age, ethnicity and some diseases are out of your control, most of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome aren’t. And when devising a plan for how to control metabolic syndrome, starting where you do have control can corral most of the problem.

Instead of isolating each risk factor — “How do I lower my triglycerides?” “How do I raise my HDLs?” — go for the herd first. Most of the five identifying symptoms of metabolic syndrome are directly linked to being overweight or obese. By making healthy weight loss your focus, you will find the other risk factors start to fall off the list.

Until your lifestyle intercedes to reverse those symptoms, one means to control metabolic syndrome is through pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, there is no one magic pill for metabolic syndrome. There are, however, drugs to deal with the individual symptoms.

Statins help with high cholesterol. ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers and other drugs help to lower blood pressure. And fibric acid derivatives, niacin and omega-3 fatty acids help to control elevated triglycerides.

Knowing how to control metabolic syndrome pharmaceutically, however, doesn’t take away the causative issues. And every medication comes with its own list of potential side-effects, allergies and drug interactions.

If you’re going to use medications to control the risk factors for metabolic syndrome, be careful not to become complacent. Medications should be a warning sign that you need to make lifestyle changes so your body can function healthily on its own merits.

Commit to a program that will help you make a shift in how to control metabolic syndrome. The following should be your focus, and a mentored program can help you achieve it:

  • lose weight
  • increase physical activity
  • eat a heart-healthy diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, unsaturated fats, fish, nuts and plenty of water)

Obviously the first goal is largely dependent on the second two. And those are both entirely within your control.

Physical activity doesn’t have to leave you wringing wet and panting after a two-hour workout. Just stop protecting your right to sit all the time and start enjoying your right to move! You were, after all, perfectly designed with movement in mind.

So, find activities you enjoy and do them. Start walking while you talk on the phone instead of sitting at your desk. Take the stairs. Dance when you get up in the morning. Park a little farther away from the building. Walk your dog. Walk a neighbor’s dog. Just. Move.

Nutrition, of course, is the component that often makes us want to throw in the towel. There’s so much to consider. There’s also — sigh — so much to give up.

But even that involves a shift in perspective. Sure, the first few days of eliminating the junk you’ve been using to fuel your body can be frustrating. You are, after all, standing against the tide of long-practiced habits.

Once you experience how fantastic your body can feel when it is being fueled with healthful, nutrient-supplying foods, however, you will instinctively learn the difference between cravings and hunger. You will even free up all that emotional time spent chasing down an answer to your cravings, as you will respond to what your body truly needs.

Now that you have some tips for how to control metabolic syndrome, the ball is in your court. The good news is: you can reverse metabolic syndrome. A smart, doable, support-based program of exercise and heart-healthy eating can set you up for a vital, energy-filled life.

How To Identify Your Barriers To Living A Healthy Lifestyle

How To Identify Your Barriers To Living A Healthy Lifestyle

You may not even be aware of your barriers to living a healthy lifestyle. After all, they don’t come with big road signs or flashing lights.

Most barriers to making successful lifestyle changes are deep-rooted. They grow from emotional seeds and become protective, often avoidant habits over time.

As habits develop into barriers to living a healthy lifestyle, you’ll notice shifts in what you think, believe and say. “I don’t have time.” “I’m too busy.” “I don’t know how.” “My job doesn’t make it possible.”

In order to identify what’s getting in the way of you living a healthy lifestyle, you have to first make the decision that you are the one responsible for moving forward or staying stuck. And if you choose to move forward, you have to be willing to examine your own destructive thinking and habits.

Let’s look at some of the most common barriers to living a healthy lifestyle:

  • Lack of time.

Most Americans live life on the run. And if you are balancing work, family and self-improvement, chances are that self-improvement takes a back seat.

It takes time to implement a healthy lifestyle. You need to plan trips to the grocery store to make sure you have healthful choices on hand and don’t sneak in those impulse buys for weak moments. It takes time to prep food and fit in a workout in the midst of a jam-packed schedule.

But the allocation of time is a choice. And if you have time to make unhealthy choices, you have time to make healthy ones.

  • Lifestyle choices.

Open your refrigerator and pantry and just look. Take note of what you are looking for and what you instinctively reach for.

Barriers to living a healthy lifestyle may not come with flashing lights, but they’re often right in front of you.

How much of your fruits and vegetables go bad because you reach for a quick-fix item you bought “just in case”? When it comes to exercise, do you seek to add it or seek to avoid it? Do you take the stairs or the elevator? Park in valet or get your steps in? Sit all day at work or initiate “walking meetings” to change the health and effectiveness of your entire office?

If you fill your fridge with healthful foods, you will eat healthful foods. And if you look for opportunities to move, life will dance along with you.

  • Emotional connection to food.

Food isn’t just about the delivery of nutrients to the body. It’s about connection to emotions and people, too. We build events and memories around food. And we use it to numb our pain, celebrate our victories and hide from our fears.

We give food so much power! And in doing so, we usually forget that we are the ones with the power. Food doesn’t choose. We choose.

If food piggy-backs on your emotions, brave the introspection and figure out when and why you make your food choices. Journaling is a great way to get real about your motivations and barriers to living a healthy lifestyle.

  • Lack of support.

Trying to make big changes is difficult enough without having to do it alone. One of the most important components to any successful lifestyle change is access to knowledge and support.

Perhaps you need the accountability and confidence-boost that come from a coach or trainer. Perhaps you need the familiarity that comes from someone else who is on the same journey.

Either way, having support can make all the difference in overcoming barriers to living a healthy lifestyle.

The decision to move forward into a healthy lifestyle starts with identifying its barriers. And, while that can sound like a barrier in and of itself, you don’t have to tackle every trigger at once.

Take on one at a time. One a day. One a week. Whatever keeps you moving forward into a sustainably healthy life.

And remember that you don’t have to do it alone.

Why Is It Hard To Lose Weight?

Why Is It Hard To Lose Weight?

So, you know you need to drop some pounds. You’ve put the tub of protein powder out by the blender and your chocolate stash under lock and key. You’ve bought a membership to your local hot yoga joint. You’re sweating and starving…and the scale doesn’t budge. It’s maddening. Why is it hard to lose weight? You ask the question every time you pass by a mirror or forego a favorite indulgence.

At some point, you think, it should be about simple math: calories burned have to exceed calories taken in. But the solution isn’t as simple as maxing out your Fitbit while eating like a bird. There are a lot of factors that go into losing weight, and they’re not all based on willpower.

Why is it hard to lose weight? Some of the more obvious answers might include:

  • Your mindset.

We all know that crash diets don’t work — at least not for the long-term. And “long-term” is how you should think of weight loss.

It’s easy to obsess over looking trim and fitting into your favorite clothes. It takes more discipline, however, to focus on your health, especially when it’s not always visible.

  • Your diet.

High-sugar, high-fat, processed foods are the curse of the American diet.

If you are used to eating on the fly or reaching for what emotionally feels good, you are doing more than packing on pounds. You are actually starving your body of the nutrients it needs to function properly. That’s why a person who is overweight can also be severely malnourished.

  • Your activity level.

Exercise is an important component to the weight-loss process. But forcing yourself to do something you dread will only lead to a return to a sedentary life.

Exercise, like nutrition, is a long-term commitment, not a short-term fix. Your body was created to move. Find activities you enjoy and do them. A lot.

Maintaining lean muscle is also important, so find an enjoyable way to incorporate resistance work into your workouts.

  • Your stress level.

When you’re doing everything right but are still asking, “Why is it hard to lose weight?” you may need to take an honest look at the stress in your life.

Not only does stress lead to the release of fat-storing hormones like cortisol, it also reduces your willpower to resist high-calorie, high-fat foods. It may also give you an excuse to “chill out” with a glass or two of wine at the end of a tough day.

  • Your age.

Metabolism slows 2-8% every decade. This is one reason that incorporating weight training into your workout routine is so important as you age. Lean muscle keeps your metabolism fired up.

Other factors include health issues, medications, genetics, thyroid issues, skipping breakfast, eating too close to bedtime and not getting enough sleep.

But why is it hard to lose weight on a deeper, systemic level that you don’t actually see and can’t directly control?

The answer lies in metabolic dysfunction and a vicious cycle that goes from bad to worse if you don’t take aggressive steps to stop it.

Most overweight people feel hungry because they have a metabolic problem that includes no satiety signal. They are often insulin resistant, meaning that their muscle cells have closed their doors to the sugar that insulin is trying to clear from the blood.

Instead of pushing the sugars into the muscle cells to be used as fuel, insulin has to detour and deposit those calories into fat cells. Meanwhile, the pancreas has pumped out even more insulin to try to clear the elevated blood sugars.

Keep in mind, the body needs nutrients in order to function. And no matter how much “poison” you put into it, it still needs specific, clean nutrients to accomplish its tasks. That goes for burning fat, as well. You may eat in response to cravings, but your body will still be hungry for what it needs.

Once insulin resistance sets in, a host of dangerous problems aren’t far behind. This is how metabolic syndrome and pre-diabetes begin.

Fat continues to build up, especially around the belly. The pancreas and liver get fatter, and the cycle intensifies. Because the liver is responsible for breaking down fat, anything that disrupts its healthy functioning also disrupts fat metabolism.

The important thing to remember when asking, “Why is it hard to lose weight?” is that everything is connected. None of these processes and risk factors exists in isolation. And neither do your choices.

By choosing to intervene on behalf of your health with a medically guided program of nutrition, exercise and support, you can do more than just lose weight. You can give your body what it needs to sustain you for a long, healthy life.