News that Weight Watchers lost 300,000 members and 30 percent of its stock price last week demonstrates how difficult it is to stick to a diet. In her book Release Your Weight, Dr. Karin Drummond offers an alternative to both old-fashioned programs like Weight Watchers (disastrously rebranded “WW” last year) and diets-du-jour including the controversial Atkins and Keto.
Rather than prescribing a specific diet to help you lose weight quickly, Drummond advocates for slowly making small, sustainable lifestyle changes. Her wholistic approach to a healthier body includes addressing how much sleep and exercise you get, tackling mental health issues and identifying factors that both motivate and impede your personal progress. The topic of food doesn’t appear until chapter eight.
Equal Parts Science and Support
In Release Your Weight—the latest in the author’s series of books on healthy living—Drummond serves up a combination of science, psychology and encouragement. She talks to readers in a way that you wish all your healthcare practitioners would, sharing her personal experiences and daily health routines.
She always eats breakfast and avoids processed foods and simple carbs (like bread and potatoes) at all costs. If she’s on the go, she hits the grocery store for salad, soup or sushi. In a pinch, she says, deli food is better than fast food. Does she ever cheat? Yep.
“If I go to a party and cake is put in front of me, I either eat a piece or take a piece to enjoy as breakfast the following morning,” she tells readers. “Life is too short to deny yourself yummy food. The trick is to eat it in moderation. It is rare for me to eat junk food, but I don’t get upset with myself if I do eat it. I enjoy it and move on.”
Weighing in on the Microbiome & Sleep Hygiene
In addition to giving readers a primer on leaky gut syndrome, a condition increasingly tied to excess weight and obesity, Drummond describes the loss of the ‘full button,’ which causes the inability to moderate food intake. In her critique of the outdated Body Mass Index (BMI), she offers more accurate measures for determining your healthy weight.
She also addresses the connection between weight gain and sleep deprivation, offering tips for selecting the right mattress and improving sleep hygiene. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say more than a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep, putting them at increased risk for obesity, heart disease and stroke. From meditation apps to supplements, there’s no shortage of solutions for insomniacs to try, but Drummond offers a host of tips including the use of CBD, refraining from using back-lit screens two hours before bed choose a red night light instead of a blue light, which halts the body’s production of sleep-inducing melatonin.
Straight-Up Advice for Everyone
When it comes to food choices, Drummond acknowledges there is not optimal diet for everyone—she suggests finding a good nutritionist to help personalize your diet to account for individual body type, allergies and underlying medical conditions. But she also offers straight-forward advice that nearly everyone can embrace: substituting water for soda, intermittent fasting (eating 500 calories a day twice a week), eating your last meal three hours before bed and spacing out meals by at least four hours.
As a vegetarian, I appreciated Drummond’s advice to add variety to my diet instead of relying on the same greens and roasted brussels sprouts. She cites studies that suggest we need to eat dozens of different types of vegetables to maintain a healthy gut flora, or the naturally occurring intestinal bacteria that are part of a healthy immune system.
Do What Moves You
Another important daily habit Drummond wants us to cultivate is exercise. She suggests engaging in five to 20 minutes of physical activity a day plus one exercise class a week. Moving your body throughout the day might mean hourly stretching breaks at your desk or doing squats in the grocery checkout line. I was inspired to learn she has a chin-up bar in the doorway of her bathroom so she can do a few pull-ups every time she hits the loo—that’s dedication.
Drummond thinks outside the box when it comes to longer forms of exercise as well. While most of us immediately think of hitting the gym, she has done salsa dancing, pole fitness, rock climbing, wake boarding and yoga. She knows from personal experience that making daily physical activity a permanent behavior change is much more likely if we have some fun at it.
It’s obvious Drummond cares about her patients—the last thing she wants is to is heap more stress on already stressed-out readers by handing them a strict list of have-tos and must-nots.
“Stress is the number one cause of ‘dis-ease’,” Drummond writes. “Living stress-free means that sometimes I must simply enjoy the food in front of me, the company of my friends and life in general.”