October 5 2014

I know, some of you are thinking “WHAT?! Who the heck wants to GAIN?! I’ve spent thousands of dollars and my whole life trying to LOSE weight!”

Well, keep in mind that each of us were gifted with different bodies, and although we are 99.999999% the same, those nuanced differences in our body function, lifestyle and genetics really do create the opportunity for individuality in our body’s specific needs.

For those who are interested in gaining healthy weight, the process can be challenging – lack of support or understanding, lack of nutritional information, bad advice (“my friends all tell me to eat lots of junk food – it worked for them!”…uh, NO!). Yet, some of these same concepts can be applied to LOSING weight as well. It comes down to providing your body with the best possible conditions to balance and regulate itself, something it was designed to do, and something we are very good at unintentionally sabotaging.

Regardless whether your goal is healthy weight GAIN or LOSS, the most critical concepts to embrace are QUALITY first then QUANTITY. Quality, because basically, to coin a phrase, “you are what you eat.” Your body will function at its best with good stuff going in to fuel it, what you eat is what your cells will be made of. And what your cells are made of, is what you are. Quantity because the amount of energy in the food you consume is very relevant to whether it is used immediately to function or stored as fat for future need. While I don’t embrace wholesale calorie counting as a lifestyle, a week or two of tracking what you eat is a great start for getting a sense of what you take in vs what your body really needs. Tracking is the first step to understanding what your specific healthy lifestyle looks like as you begin to see and feel how your body responds as you reach for your health and weight goals.

Here are a few guidelines to start re-regulating and listening to your body toward that ideal functioning healthy weight:

Eat often. Eating at least every 3-4 hours provides your body with a continuous fuel source your body needs to keep it going. For weight gainers, this helps prevent muscles from being tapped for that fuel. For weight losers, this keeps your metabolism from slowing down. For everyone, consistent fuel allows you to maintain a healthy energy and organ function. Keeping a food log helps develop a consistent intake of fuel for your body’s best work.

Work Out. Whether you want to gain or lose, working out is fantastic for your body. Gainers should look for strength training that specifically addresses areas of their body they’d like to bulk up most. Targeting large muscle groups really helps ensure the weight you gain is muscle, not flabby untoned fat. Be sure to consume a pre-workout snack 30-40 minutes before working out to offer the fuel for the workout, and an after-workout snack or meal to help build the tissue those muscles just initiated. Weight losers, focus a bit more on cardio, and stay light on the pre and post workout snacks.

Drink Water. Your body has work to do. Help it metabolize the changes within while your body is under transformation. Drink at least half in ounces what you weigh in pounds. For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water daily.

Drink a meal. No, not at the tavern! Smoothies are a great way to get tons of nutrients in without the overwhelming fullness a similar (large) nutrient meal might give you. A base recipe of some plant food – around 2/3 green veggies, maybe 1/3 of it fruit, then add a little healthy fat and protein. For weight gainers, look at building the ingredients up by adding chia seed, protein powder, nut butters, whole dairy or hemp milk, coconut oil, and wheat germ. For weight losers, pay attention to serving size – smoothies can be VERY good for you, but also can quickly contain a LOT of calories!

Choose nutrient rich foods. Vitamins, Minerals, Nutrients, and Calories. Everyone can benefit with this action, with weight gainers including a greater number of calories, weight losers fewer. A combination of protein, fat, and carbohydrate together is best. Nutrient rich foods will normally be rich in color, and often lower in water than other foods. Examples are dried fruit, nuts, grains, and seeds. These compact bits of quality nutrition lack the water content of less dense foods, and won’t fill you up as quickly right away, so it’s easy to consume a fair amount. *Beware weight losers – this is where quantity is key as to whether this will provide a weight gain or loss for you!

Consume from mixed food groups. Weight gainers should try to include a wide variety of nutrients from all three nutrient areas: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, to give your body a better base of nutrients to work with. Weight gainers, aim for at least 3 food groups per meal or snack, such as almond butter on toast with banana slices. Weight losers aim for 2 different food groups, such as an apple with almond butter.

Eat right before bed. I hesitate a little in suggesting this, because as a person living on the weight losing end of the spectrum, this is something I NEVER do! That said, eating a healthy snack right before sleep allows your body to really employ that extra nutrition as it regenerates your brain and body tissues all night, and it will be able to take it up efficiently in weight gain. *Note to weight losers, enjoy a light tea instead! =]

Instill Hunger. As most people who wish to lose weight rarely have a problem with having an appetite to consume, this tip is for weight gainers! Take a short walk before eating to help build an appetite. Use your favorite spices to create an enticing aroma and taste to your meals.

Fatten your food intake. Strangely enough, this tip is for everyone. Consumption of healthy fat has been shown to increase weight loss success. Confusing, right? Your body is designed to function best with healthy fat in your diet. Lack of fat to metabolize nutrients initiates a protective reaction that slows metabolism and stores up or hoards nutrients and energy for the future to ensure your body can survive. Adding healthy fats sends your system the message that ‘all systems are go, everything’s fine, run the engines on full power!’. Good choices of healthy fats include extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, coconut, nuts (especially raw), full fat organic dairy (raw cheese when possible – look for ‘raw’ or ‘un-pasturized’ on the ingredient list), and even butter. Also, avocado, hummus, and seeds and nuts sprinkled or spread in and on salads, casseroles, in smoothies, and on sandwiches and wraps add good fats. Again, for weight losers, moderation is key – SOME fat, perhaps 1/8-1/6 of your meal at most. Weight gainers can consume fats more freely. What types of fats? That could be a whole article in itself, but here is a brief outline:

Enjoy Monounsaturated fats in the form of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, nuts, olives, and avocado.

Enjoy a limited amount of Saturated fats in animal products and coconut oil.

Consume Polyunsaturated fats in whole food form only (nuts and seeds rather than nut and seed oils unless cold pressed).

Avoid Trans fats of all kinds (mainly found in processed foods).

Sleep. This is your body’s processing time, where your brain sorts file folders of information you’ve taken in, and your body does it’s sanitation and reconstruction that it can’t do when it’s under use while you’re awake. And sleep is crucial for building muscle mass, a significant portion of our weight. Sleep keeps your entire system running optimally – make sure your day’s efforts get used to th greatest advantage with 7-9 hours of good sleep.

Skip the miracles. Are those quick weight gain or weight loss supplements any good? If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. For the most part, gimmicks and supplements advertised for that purpose have isolated perhaps one or two known things that might enhance your weight goals, but don’t behave the same as the original natural source that makes it work so well. And more than anything, they enhance the bank accounts of the manufacturers. Keep in mind you want a LIFESTYLE, not having to live on these things the rest of your life! Save your money for some really good nutritious food instead.

Embrace the journey. Be patient with your weight transformation process as one set of steps in your life journey and your story. If you have struggle moments, days, or even weeks, be gentle and accepting of your imperfection. Instead of mentally punishing failures or backward steps, accept that they happen. Then decide to start there moving forward again. Learning to read and understand your body, and loving it at each stage, is an important part of creating the self value to maintain it for the long term. A body which will serve you well and healthily for a long time to come!

To explore your unique needs, challenges, and how I can support you best in reaching your greatest health transformation, let’s talk. Contact me to schedule a complimentary session at:
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