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Susan's Story of Fat Loss

by June Butlin(more info)

listed in weight loss, originally published in issue 55 - August 2000

Diet programmes rarely produce safe and effective methods of achieving fat loss. Indeed, America spends 36 billion dollars on weight loss programmes each year and it is a highly profitable business that is secured by the unsuccessful results of most people. Popular diets are mainly concerned with quick methods of reducing weight and invariably cause loss of water, muscle tissue and reduced metabolism resulting in an initial weight loss followed by weight gain. This way of dieting seldom results in permanent fat loss or optimum health as Susan, my client, has found out.

Susan was thirty-two years old, married and worked for the government. She had followed many popular diets in her life ranging from low fat, meal replacement, grapefruit, apple fasting and calorie restricted and had lost and regained the weight each time. She weighed 12 stones 10 pounds and wanted to achieve and maintain her ideal weight of 10 stones. Her latest plan to lose weight involved exercising intensely for four 1 1/2 - hour sessions weekly and pursuing a diet high in protein and fruit and low in fat, vegetables and carbohydrates. She had followed this regime for 6 months before seeing me, and although she felt fitter she hadn't lost an ounce. She was desperate to know why she couldn't lose weight and was very motivated to achieve her goals of improving her health and fitness, to lose body fat and to feel 'full of life'.

Her initial functional health assessment revealed that she had digestive problems, dysglycaemia (inability to keep the blood glucose level), psoriasis, poor sleep pattern, high sodium and low potassium levels, pre-menstrual syndrome, low energy and feelings of light headedness. She described herself as grumpy most of the time. The diet profile suggested that she had had a battle with eating all her life and that she was not in tune with her appetite as she misjudged portions and ate too much. She put her poor eating habits down to childhood when she was taught to eat what she was given.

I explained that all the restrictive diets that she had followed in the past had affected her body composition in that she had more fat to lean body tissue, which was slowing down her metabolism. In practical terms this meant that in order to lose weight she would have to eat very little. These diets are also often depleted in essential nutrients, fibre and water resulting in low vitamin and mineral status, toxicity, dehydration and loss of electrolytes, particularly potassium, which is important for cellular functioning. Rapid weight losses of more than 1/2 -1lb of fat each week also results in the body defending its 'set point' (memory for fat) by producing more of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase to store fat, increasing the appetite and decreasing the metabolic rate.

Susan's present strategy for losing weight seems as though it would be effective, but it was not working either. Her diet was low in the energy producing complex carbohydrates that was causing ketosis with symptoms of light headedness and low energy. It was low in essential fats as well as vegetables and wholegrains, which supply the body with the fat burning vitamins B, C and magnesium. Low carbohydrates also result in low serotonin levels, which are important for appetite control and calming the body and mind. She was following the wrong type of exercise programme and was overtraining.

Susan changed her diet to three meals and two snacks each day with a high percentage of vegetables and wholegrains to increase fibre. She ate carbohydrate and protein at each of the main meals, reduced fruit to three pieces each day, avoided fruit juices, and included vegetable oils and oily fish to stabilize her blood glucose levels. 6-8 glasses of filtered water were taken each day to help rid the body of toxins. A kinesiology test indicated sensitivities to dairy products, oranges and nickel, all of which are implicated in psoriasis. Susan avoided dairy products, oranges and jewellery made from nickel as well as hydrogenated margarine since nickel is used as a catalyst in the processing.

Her existing exercise programme of intense aerobics resulted in a frequent build up of lactic acid, which inhibits the mobilization of fat and causes fatigue. She changed to 40 minute training sessions 5 x each week split between cardiovascular and resistance training to aid fat loss and increase her lean body tissue to raise her metabolic rate. Stretching exercises were advised both before and after her training sessions and she took 20 minutes out of her busy day to do breathing exercises as a form of relaxation.

Susan found the first week hard, but not unbearable and after three weeks she had the energy to start a four-week cleansing programme using special herbs. She developed severe headaches in the first few days, but as she started to feel the benefits it motivated her to keep going. After seven weeks her weight had dropped by 5 pounds. She continued with the original diet, but was disappointed after 6 weeks, as the scales showed no weight loss. However, an analysis of her body composition revealed she had lost just over 4% body fat moving down from 29.7–25.2%.

For the next 20 weeks Susan concentrated on portion control and getting in tune with her appetite. She also reached two plateaux where she did not lose any weight or body fat and at these times the diet was changed to shock the body into lowering its 'set point'.

During the first plateau Susan followed a food combining diet for ten days and during the second she followed a raw food diet for 5 days.

After 33 weeks all Susan's symptoms had cleared including the psoriasis, she felt extremely well and had a much happier temperament.

She achieved a weight of 10 stones 7 pounds and a body fat percentage of 18%. She was highly delighted with her progress and was satisfied with her present weight realizing that 10 stones was not a realistic goal for her physique.


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About June Butlin

June M Butlin PhD is a trained teacher, nutritionist, kinesiologist, aromatherapist, fitness trainer and sports therapist. She is a writer, health researcher and lecturer and is committed to helping people achieve their optimum level of health and runs a private practice in Wiltshire. June can be contacted on 01225 869 284;

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