Like many Canadians, some of you look forward to Groundhog day and wait anxiously on the edge of your seat to see what Wiarton Willie has to say about the remainder of the winter. Well this year Willie emerged from his cozy den Sunday morning and immediately spotted his shadow, which according to groundhog folklore, means we can expect six more weeks of what has been a cold, snowy winter. Nova Scotia’s Mr. Sam however delivered a promising forecast when he did not see his shadow — signaling an early spring. Whoever you believe, I think it's safe to say we have at least 6 more weeks of the white, fluffy stuff!
That can be GREAT news, as long as you stay positive and take part in all the fun winter can bring. It means more time to ski (at which I am getting a little better every week) snowboard (at which I have pretty much given up) skate, or toboggan (at which I'm pretty good ☺) or for the more adventurous, visit la Fete des neiges and try ziplining!
It also means at least another 6 weeks before we start thinking of shedding our coats. This is when so many of us make plans to eat better, be more active, lose weight and get healthy. This week I had a patient tell me that he never has trouble losing the weight, but he has a terrible time keeping it off. I could hear the frustration in his voice as he said "It just keeps coming back"!!!
SO...that said, for those of you out there who are trying to lose weight I have some information to pass on to you to help you meet your goals. Remember that pillow I had suggested in my very first blog? Time to get it out and get comfortable.
Our appetite is controlled by several hormones, two of which are called Leptin and Grehlin. Leptin is produced mainly by fat tissue and acts on the brain to decrease appetite and increase metabolic rate. Grehlin (think gremlin), on the other hand, is secreted mainly by the stomach when the stomach is empty, increases our appetite and slows the metabolic rate. It has been hypothesized that these 2 hormones work as if on a seesaw. When Leptin is high it inhibits Grehlin release so Grehlin is low.
If you are dieting in such a way that you are leaving long periods of time between meals, then Grehlin levels are going to rise. Additionally, if you have lost a lot of weight very quickly, Leptin levels can drop, leading to a rise in Grehlin. This is one of the reasons people have difficulty keeping the weight off. Grehlin levels rise and suddenly we are hungrier! So we eat...too much... and put the weight back on.
Now you're asking, how do we keep Grehlin from rising? Small, frequent, healthy snacks and...yes...EXERCISE because exercise elevates Leptin levels!
Those of you who have succeeded in losing substantial weight need to know this, so that you can recognize that the hunger you are feeling is due to your body trying to put the weight back on. After all, it doesn't know that you are still a healthy weight. All it knows is that you have lost a lot of reserves and should we suddenly experience a severe food shortage, you won't last as long!
So be patient. Incorporate exercise, eat small quantities (about every 3-4 hrs) and when the time comes to shed your winter coat, you'll be feeling quite proud of yourself for successfully controlling your inner gremlins!
Ref: J Clin.Endocrinol Metab.2003 Aor;88(4) 1954-602