Who doesn’t get a frisson of excitement about the concept of a brand new start that a new year promises? For millions, losing weight and getting fit (looking and feeling good) is an exciting energizer. The significant change of diet and exercise begins immediately with a robustly positive outlook – but for many, that path paved with good intentions abruptly turns into a rocky road. It’s hard to sustain.

And it isn’t so much that the individual cannot perform regular exercise or swap out junk foods for any of the teeming array of natural snacks (think grape tomatoes, sunflower seeds). Other adjustments are necessary – mood support, sleep support, stress support and immune protection.

When a change to lifestyle habits is abrupt and significant, the result is often a feeling of being out of whack, off balance. This creates higher stress, which leads to irritability, and to sleeplessness.

Be Like the Tortoise

The classic fable about the tortoise and the hare applies here: the slow, lumbering tortoise crosses the finish line before the over-confident speedy hare. Meaning, slow and steady wins the race, especially when persistence and determination are the drivers.

A recentForbes poll about 2024 resolutions by Forbes finds that the number-one resolution for this new year is to improve their fitness (48%), followed by improving mental health (36%). Also, women are more likely to focus on their fitness/weight than men (52% vs. 42% respectively).

Further, the poll revealed that resolutions tend to last 2 to 3 months (at 22% each), At the crux of failure, according to Forbes’ advisory member, clinical psychologist Sabrina Romanoff PsyD, is the focus only on the specific goal, e.g., losing 50 pounds by summer. She stated, “Goals take time, and many folks become discouraged and eventually relent before attaining the goal.”

Such failure can largely be prevented. It is generally suggested to focus more on small reasonably achievable goals one at a time, such as losing five pounds and working to add an extra half mile on the treadmill. When both are reached, the next goal would be losing another five pounds, and adding another half mile, and perhaps another 5 to 10 pounds on the weight machines.

Another tactic that helps sustain the weight/fitness resolution is rewarding oneself for each micro-goal achieved. Additionally, we all tend to fall off the wagon and over-indulge in comfort foods, or just skip the exercise session. Self-forgiveness is critical rather than browbeating and giving into defeat. Just pick back up because the routine is already established.

The Diet-Stress Link

When seeing the numbers on the scale descend, it would stand to reason that stress would be reduced as well. However, dieting is known to elevate stress. Most dieting for weight loss revolves around restricting the amount of calories consumed and increasing calories burned. And when dieting stress sets in, weight is often regained. And this is a primary reason why many individuals choose not to resolve to lose weight the following new year.

According to researchers, “stress can increase weight through the stress-responsive hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) pathway that affects energy metabolism. Research suggests strong connections between stress and weight gain through elevations of cortisol regulated by the prolonged activation of the HPA axis and resulting insulin resistance.”

When stress intensifies, sleep and immune function are impacted. Instead of giving up, appropriate supplementation that begins at the same time as the new diet/exercise plan can help ensure that the plan is successful not just for short-term achievement, but for long-term sustenance.

Weight Wellness Toolbox

Key supplements that can help facilitate healthy weight management and fitness are ashwagandha, melatonin and vitamin C.

Ashwagandha: Withania somnifera is a much-researched adaptogen, a class of herbs attracting droves of consumers. Ashwagandha leads the adaptogen pack and has been researched demonstrating improved well-being and reduced tension. One review found that studies suggested improvement of low mood and insomnia with ashwagandha supplementation and is believed to do so through modulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, as well as through both serotonergic and GABAergic pathways.

Of interest is the observation by these researchers regarding withanolides: they write, “some studies link specific withanolide components to its neuropsychiatric benefits, there is evidence for the presence of additional yet unidentified active compounds” in ashwagandha.

Prolanza®is a unique root-only ashwagandha ingredient that contains a high concentration (4-5%) of 10 USP Withanolides plus 10 additional identified Withanolides, all of which work synergistically to produce clinically substantiated health benefits.  In addition, unlike other ashwagandha ingredients that require multiple daily doses, Prolanza™ has been shown to provide long-acting biological action and high bioavailability with just a single daily dose of 300mg.

Melatonin: Good sleep (relatively unbroken for about 7 to 8 hours) has a direct impact on weight. Poor sleepslows thermogenesis and tends to increase cravings for comfort carb-laden foods. Insufficient sleep affects appetite by increasing ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and decreasing leptin (the satiety hormone).

Melatonin remains the “go-to” supplement for people seeking to attain quality sleep. A recent reviewsuggests that melatonin can be applicable to tension/anxiety, a stress-induced state. Bonus, according to the researchers, melatonin has also been shown to modulate body weight and energy metabolism as well as to improve lipid and glucose metabolism.

Melotime™is a market-distinctive melatonin that releases systematically during 8 hours of sleep. After consumption, 50% of the dose is released in the first hour followed by the remainder released at each hour for 7 hours, allowing for extended slumber.

Vitamin C: Combining the cold-weather breeding ground for viruses and the stress of dieting as well as from exercise, supporting immune function is a great idea to ensure weight wellness is sustained and therefore, goals are reached.

C-Fence is a novel vitamin C that is released slowly for all-day sustenance.  A phamacokinetic randomized placebo-controlled study assessed bioavailability of vitamin C in plasma of 18 participants who consumed a single 500 mg dose of C-Fence. The results showed that the supplement was well absorbed and that levels of vitamin C were sustained well above the baseline values for the entire 24-hour study duration. The average time to achieve maximum levels in plasma was about 4.5 hours, in contrast to the typical 2- to 3-hours seen with immediate-release formulations. The authors concluded, “Taken together, these findings confirm the slow and sustained-release characteristic of the tested novel formulation.”

Other Tips

Losing weight and improving physical fitness is difficult at first as the new routine needs to embed itself. To remain on track, there are a few tips that can help. First is how food is viewed – don’t simply calorie count; look at the macro- and micronutrients. A low-calorie food can be empty of components the body needs to keep healthy. This doesn’t take much research, either – just try to eat as much from the perimeter of the supermarket (but keep low on dairy) and avoid the inner aisles resplendent with alluring packaged foods.

Don’t be fixated on the scale – weight can fluctuate from day to day by a few pounds, this is often due to water retention. Instead, weigh yourself either once a week or once every two weeks. Your clothes will tell the truth more than a daily scale weighing.

Drink plenty of water and eat plenty of fiber as both keep the body healthy and promote early satiety so you eat less.

Finally, realize that this is not a short-term goal but a design for living – and enjoy the journey!

Posted by:Arun Narayan