Another important step to support weight loss and weight maintenance is to regularly detoxify the liver. The liver breaks down fat and eliminates toxins from our body. If it doesn’t function efficiently, we tend to store more fat and toxins in our bodies. Eating a clean diet of whole foods is the number one thing we can do for liver health. All of my clients go through a 3-week focused liver detox followed by daily gentle ways to support and detox the liver. One of these things is drinking freshly-squeezed lemon juice in warm water right after waking up. There are also great supplements that help our livers like grass-fed bovine liver, colostrum and milk thistle
So many of us have tried dieting. All too often though, many of us lose 10–20 pounds, but we end up gaining it back. Not only is yo-yo dieting unhealthy, it is also demoralizing and makes us feel like giving up. What exactly do we have to do to achieve a healthy body weight and to stick with it forever?
In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Do To Achieve A Healthy Body Weight And Keep It Permanently” we are interviewing health and wellness professionals who can share lessons from their research and experience about how to do this.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ramona Smith.
Ramona Smith of Reaching Summits is a registered nurse and certified health coach who recently started her own online health coaching business. Her passion is helping women get their health back for good using an individualized approach that is based on functional medicine. She specializes in energy, gut and hormone health.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in Hamburg, Germany and moved to the U.S. in 2013. My mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis before I was even born and my dad has asthma as long as I can remember. I got very used to living around people with chronic illnesses and thought this to be normal and part of adulthood. I spent my late teenage and early adulthood years constantly dieting, obsessing over my weight while still eating a very unbalanced diet. When I was 25, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes. I had to have surgery immediately. After that, I took eight months off to heal and really figure out what happened. This all served as a wakeup call. I was done accepting sickness as a normal part of life, especially at such a young age. I felt constantly stressed and anxious and I was always striving for perfection. I finally decided, “This has to stop. If I want to live a long and healthy life, I’m going to have to learn to do things differently.” And that is where my healing journey began, a journey that I now use to help so many other women who are struggling with some of the same issues.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
My mother was a nurse and she absolutely loved her job. I have always enjoyed working with people and helping them to get their health back, so the decision to go into nursing was easy. However, I quickly learned that the hospital setting is not always conducive to that. I got burned out by seeing all my patients return for the same issues and never getting better no matter how many medications were prescribed to them. I decided to become a certified health coach instead and start my own business to truly help people become well and stay well for the rest of their lives.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I am thankful to have many friends who encouraged me and breathed life into my new business. Most of all, my husband is the one who gave me continuous support and the courage to be able to step out and do things differently. I never saw myself as a business owner, but having him believe in me gave me the final push.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
I originally gave my business a different name. I started the whole process and officially founded the business. A week later I realized that I actually prefer a different name. I learned right away that besides it being actually quite difficult to change the name of your business, that this is part of stepping out on your own. You might not have it all figured out and will change your mind about things, but the important thing is that you’re doing it and that you’re living your dream.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
My favorite quote is from Terry Tempest Williams: “Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.” I just love the way it highlights that we can change the world around us just by looking at it differently. If we concentrate on the good and beautiful things in our life, we automatically find more of it. We attract what we are looking for. We will treat ourselves and the people around us in a kinder way. No matter how broken the things around us may seem, there is always something to be thankful for.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I’m working on offering group programs as well as some smaller webinars for women that want to take charge of their health for good. Since logically, I can only accept a limited number of 1-on-1 clients every 6 months, group sessions would allow me to reach and help a larger number of people.
For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field?
Besides getting my bachelor in nursing and becoming a certified health coach, I am absolutely passionate about anything related to health. After my own journey with sickness, I have been studying everything I can get my hands on to truly find out what it means to live a healthy, vibrant and long life. I am putting my knowledge to work for others achieving their health goals and dreams. Obviously I don’t wish sickness on anyone, but true authority in anything comes from living it, overcoming it, and thriving afterwards.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about achieving a healthy body weight. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. How do you define a “Healthy Body Weight”?
A healthy body weight looks different for everyone. Paying attention to your weight to height ratio and staying within a normal body mass index (BMI) range of 18.5 to 24.9 is very important. However, I’ve seen “skinny” people with a “normal” BMI having too much fat for their height and not enough muscles. Looking at an individual’s total body composition is often a better way of looking at a healthy weight range for someone. Both of these numerical ways of determining a healthy body weight are key but I also want to include how a person is feeling about their weight. There are a lot of cultural and personal factors when it comes to determining what a healthy weight looks for each individual personally. If we are technically at a healthy weight but don’t feel happy with it, these negative emotions can be more damaging to us than carrying a few extra pounds.
How can an individual learn what is a healthy body weight for them? How can we discern what is “too overweight” or what is “too underweight”?
There are tons of free BMI calculators out there and you can start by just googling it and filling in your weight and height. Some of them also include your gender and age. From there you can go to many fitness studios and other wellness related places to have them measure your total body composition. If your BMI is over or under the normal BMI range, you are most likely not at the healthiest weight. The body composition test will show a little more detail on how your weight is distributed and whether you need to work on things like your metabolic rate, your amount of fat or muscles or your bone density.
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons why being over your healthy body weight, or under your healthy body weight, can be harmful to your health?
Being over your healthy body weight is linked to many chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, gallbladder disease, kidney disease, inflammation, arthritis, gout and sleep apnea. Being under your healthy body weight can lead to malnutrition, anemia, osteoporosis, lowered immune function and hormonal imbalances that might lead to irregular menstrual cycles and fertility issues. Being outside of a healthy weight range is also connected to low energy, anxiety, depression, and poor stress tolerance. Long-term healthy weight management is the number one thing we can do for our health and body.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few examples of how a person who achieves and maintains a healthy body weight will feel better and perform better in many areas of life?
Healthy body weight is linked to a higher self-esteem, improved mood, more energy, better sleep, less illness and pain, and a general feeling of wellbeing. Besides being able to support healthy aging, it gives a giant morale and motivation boost. If we feel good in our skin and are full of vitality, we can go after our dreams. We have more energy to step out, try something new, reach our family and career goals and really build a life we love.
Ok, fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Do To Achieve a Healthy Body Weight And Keep It Permanently?”. If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
- To start with, we need to change the way we think of our body and the food we’re consuming as the enemy. It all starts in the mind — we can’t heal a body that we hate. I see so many women (I used to be one of them) only seeing the things we don’t like about our bodies. When we look in the mirror, those are the only things we concentrate on. When we think of food, we often think of it as the enemy, something that causes our problems yet something we cannot get away from. Learning to first completely and totally accept our body where it is, is the greatest way to start. Start by thinking of all the ways our bodies have served us, have been strong, resilient and life-giving and then concentrate on the things we love about ourselves. Just changing our self-talk and the things we ruminate on all day will do wonders for our health and weight management. Part of this is also looking at food as a way to nourish our bodies. Something that is essential and vital for our wellbeing. We are in control of what foods we choose and whether they’ll support our long-term goals.
- After that, I strongly believe in time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting. Starting with a 12 hour overnight fast is a simple way to start. By eating dinner at least three hours before going to bed and not eating breakfast right as we wake up, 12 hours can easily be achieved. Intermittent fasting improves insulin sensitivity, balances hormones, supports a healthy circadian rhythm, reduces the risk of getting chronic illnesses, and is very effective for weight loss. It prevents nighttime snacking, therefore reducing daily calorie intake, and it gives our bodies a chance to burn fat overnight, repair damage that occurred throughout the day and resets us for the next day.
- Next, eating a diet that is lower in sugar and carbohydrates and high in healthy fats, quality proteins and organic fruits and vegetables will help us regulate the hormones like insulin that are essential for weight loss. Reducing carbohydrates also helps us feel full faster and stay full for longer, reducing calorie intake overall. For most women, I don’t recommend ketogenic or extremely low carbohydrate diets (at least not long-term). There are of course exceptions to that but in general if carbohydrates are too low, it can actually disrupt our reproductive and stress hormones. Aim for 100–150g of carbohydrates a day, preferably from fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains like oats, brown rice and quinoa.
- Another important step to support weight loss and weight maintenance is to regularly detoxify the liver. The liver breaks down fat and eliminates toxins from our body. If it doesn’t function efficiently, we tend to store more fat and toxins in our bodies. Eating a clean diet of whole foods is the number one thing we can do for liver health. All of my clients go through a 3-week focused liver detox followed by daily gentle ways to support and detox the liver. One of these things is drinking freshly-squeezed lemon juice in warm water right after waking up. There are also great supplements that help our livers like grass-fed bovine liver, colostrum and milk thistle.
- Last but not least, a very key thing is finding ways to move by doing things that we love, instead of engaging in exercise that feels more like a chore. Moving our bodies daily is essential for weight management, hormone and immune system health and it impacts our overall mood. If running on a treadmill doesn’t sound fun, there are so many other ways to get our daily cardio in. We can join classes like spinning, pilates, yoga, zumba, dance, or kickboxing. We can join sports leagues like soccer, volleyball, basketball, tennis or even axe throwing. We can put on one of the many Youtube exercise videos. I also want to mention that while cardio is necessary for a healthy cardiovascular system, including resistance exercises is just as important. Working with our body weight, free weights or machines builds stronger bones and muscles which in turn burn fat long after we’ve finished working out. Alternating days between cardio and resistance training is a great way to include both into our routines.
The emphasis of this series is how to maintain an ideal weight for the long term, and how to avoid yo-yo dieting. Specifically, how does a person who loses weight maintain that permanently and sustainably?
A lot of times, people try to lose weight by severely restricting calories. This slows down our metabolism and actually leads to weight gain once we eat our normal number of calories again. I would never recommend for anyone eating less than 1,200 calories a day. If we are active and engage in daily exercise, the minimum number of calories should be around 1,500. Eliminating processed foods is necessary for preventing weight gain, especially after successfully achieving your goal weight. Slowly increasing calories, listening to your body’s signals (also known as intuitive eating) and staying active are all key to maintaining your weight permanently.
What are a few of the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to lose weight? What errors cause people to just snap back to their old unhealthy selves? What can they do to avoid those mistakes?
I’ve seen people obsess over the exact number of calories instead of focusing on the nutritional content of food. This puts so much stress, restriction and negativity on us throughout the journey. And many times, when we reach the final goal, we finally relax and enjoy food again, eating everything that we restricted before. This leads to overeating and gaining back some if not all of the weight. It’s important that we find a way of eating that can be sustained long-term. The goal should never be to lose weight as quickly as possible but instead to move towards your goal consistently while still learning discipline for the moment you return to eating what you want and crave.
Another mistake that I see is that people don’t start slowly increasing their calories once they reached their goal weight. After eating less for a prolonged time, our metabolism will likely have slowed down some so increasing calories slowly to give our body time to adjust is vital. Combining this with regular strength and resistance training to keep muscle mass high and our metabolism fast will help prevent having our weight slowly creep up again.
How do we take all this information and integrate it into our actual lives? The truth is that we all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
Fast food is like the name says fast and easy, while cooking organic and nutritious meals takes time and preparation. Time that we don’t always have or want to give up, especially after a long work day. And this is where the emotional component of eating comes in as well. After working all day, we want to enjoy our favorite pizza, dessert and drink. Switching to something healthier often seems less satisfying or rewarding. Brainstorming what little changes we can make and celebrating our successes are great ways of integrating this information in our daily routine. The more we reflect on the positive, the easier it will be to keep up momentum.
On the flip side, how can we prevent these ideas from just being trapped in a rarified, theoretical ideal that never gets put into practice? What specific habits can we develop to take these intellectual ideas and integrate them into our normal routine?
Sitting down on Sundays and making a plan for the upcoming week is something that works well for me and for a lot of people I’ve worked with. We can meal prep our lunches to take with us to work and come up with a plan for what we’ll be eating for dinner, what exercises to include each day, and when our last meal of the day is going to be. Using positive affirmations every day to focus on what we love about our bodies and the food we’re eating will also bring a shift in mindset that will make choosing healthier foods much easier in the long run. If we look at our body as something that we value and that we want to nourish and support for the rest of lives, choosing an apple over candy becomes much more appealing. Like everything in life, it will take some time for all of these action steps to become habits and to start changing the way we live our life, but if we stick with it, it will be so worth it in the long run.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
First, I would want to start working on banning so many of the harmful additives that are put into food in America. These are chemicals that are already banned in Europe due to all the known health risks. Second, instead of putting all the money for research on new medications, I would also use it to research how much of disease is linked to certain ways of eating and living in general.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I would love to have lunch with Dr. Josh Axe and Dr. Chelsea Axe. I have been following them, their company and their products for a long time and I just love the way they approach health and wellbeing. A lot of the things I include in my practice now are things I first heard about from them.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Feel free to follow me on Instagram at Instagram.com/Reaching_Summits, or check out my website www.reachingsummits.com.
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.