Episode 34: Post-COVID Weight Loss

PYP 34 | Post-COVID Weight Loss

The pandemic was the perfect storm for a lot of people to gain weight. Everyone was working from home, on top of all the stress and fears. All those things add up to a slower metabolism, leading to weight gain. With normality slowly coming back, listen to today's episode to learn how to get your health back on track. Join your host, Haylie Pomroy, as she talks about post-COVID weight loss. Learn what factors affect your weight loss. Know the proper diet, exercise routine, and the correct sleeping habits. Fix your metabolism today and be on your way to better health. 



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Post-COVID Weight Loss

What were some of the factors that caused people to gain weight during the pandemic?

The first thing that I would say and I say to my clients in our community is that guilt and shame are fattening. Right away, if you can have a little paradigm shift or draw a line in the sand and say, "I'm going to let everything go that was in the past and start fresh now.” Give yourself the grace to do that knowing that this pandemic-based weight gain happened very easily for a lot of people because it was the perfect storm.

We had stress around home, career and lifestyle changes, but there was also a significant hormone that is what we call our fear hormone that can affect certain thyroid hormones, our fight and flight. We can call it cortisol, but there's also a hormone called Reverse T3. When we're afraid, not just startled, but truly afraid to the core, that hormone can get elevated. It slows the metabolism significantly. Fear of catching the virus, homeschooling your children, losing your job, having to cook for the first time or not having access to basic supplies like toilet paper, the first of what I call three things that were the perfect storm.

We have hormonal shifts in our bodies during this time that we didn't have control over that made it easy to gain weight. A salad could suddenly become fattening with our hormones elevated. That would be the first thing to be proud of our body for doing what it felt like it was best that it could do for us at the time. The second thing to be mindful of is that there was a definite shift in the schedule for people. When we get out of our rhythm, our diet suffers. There's no doubt about it.

Two of the worst things that I saw people doing is fasting before going fast. What I mean by that is getting up in the morning having coffee and maybe if they could, get an exercise, the treadmill or something in. When you don't eat before you go fast or exercise, your body steals sugar from 1 of 2 places, the liver or the muscle. I always say, "You do eat. You had a bicep sandwich." Being off schedule for a lot of people, it wasn't like they had breakfast and went to the gym or maybe they went to the gym on their way home from work and they had already eaten breakfast, snack and lunch. That would be the first thing is fasting before you exercise, which is bad for the metabolism.

Guilt and shame are fattening.

We know for sure if you test your blood sugar, and it’s a simple test, if you test your blood sugar before you work out without food and then after you work out, your blood sugar will elevate because you break down muscle in order to fuel that exercise without food. I always say fruit before you work out and that's going to help you. The other is a lot of people skipped breakfast. Maybe they jumped up and they got on a Zoom call or they started helping their kids with school or something like that.

You want to eat within 30 minutes of waking. You want to set your metabolic pace early on. The body's autonomic nervous system has wake and rest cycles. We lose the majority of our weight when we sleep. You can see that this is a scientific fact by weighing yourself before you go to bed and weigh yourself in the morning. I'm told none of us are doing cardio all night. You lose weight when you're in a rest and when you're in a rebuilding state in the autonomic nervous system.

When you wake up in the morning, your body says, "What do we have planned for the day?" The first thing we want to do is try to within 30 minutes consume food like 10 to 15 grams of protein, some food that has a cellulose digestive enzyme stimulator like spinach, celery, carrots, or raw nuts or seeds, something that's fibrous because that sets the secretion of your enzymes for the whole rest of the day. If a cheesecake accidentally falls in your mouth or you have fried chicken on your way home, you want to be able to burn through all of that. The way to burn through that is by turning on your digestion, turning on your enzymes, and supporting proper blood sugar-based hormones.

The second problem in this perfect storm is the schedule. The schedule got off and the third is we all didn't lean into comfort foods that truly comfort us by nurturing us. Maybe we didn't always put power on our plate to balance those stress hormones and to stimulate those digestive enzymes. I do think food choice and accessibility did play a little bit of a role. When we're ordering food to be delivered, maybe it's either pre-prepared food or packaged foods, and there's so much sodium, additives, chemicals and food dyes that we're not even aware of.

I have a client that says, "I ate steak and salad at a restaurant." I've done several restaurant makeovers. One was a very high-end, private club that I did. I went in and the chef was getting all this farm-to-table food brought in, organics and sprouts, going over the top, but he was using peanut and soy oil. That'll slow the metabolism so much. He also had seasonings that had sugar, red dye and yellow dye. Their corn chips, blue and yellow, had blue and red dye in them. I said, "These are what we call obesogens," things that chemically are known to proliferate the growth of fat cells. What we put in our mouths was not always conducive to speeding up the metabolism.

We were at a restaurant in Arizona one time and I'm very allergic to blue dye. They had blue corn tortilla chips. This restaurant was amazing, wonderful and lovely. The food was amazing and I said, "Do you mind checking to see if there's any dye in this?" He said, "We make our own corn chips. We make them here in-house with blue corn tortillas.” I said, "I understand. Do you mind just doing a drive-by? Nevermind. I just won't eat them." He said, "No, I don’t mind. I'll check." He was white as a ghost. He's horrified and he said, "Ma'am, I am so sorry." He said, "There's blue dye in our blue corn chips." I said, "Yeah," and he said, "I'm going to let the manager know and the owner know right away because we pride ourselves on making everything from scratch."


Anything pre-packaged, you better turn those bottles around. What's so unfortunate about it is a lot of stuff that's labeled diet food or healthy food, oftentimes you have tartrazine, Yellow 5, Red 6, and all these things that are carcinogens. These are classified as obesogens. They are known to proliferate fat cell production. I tell people to give themselves a lot of grace because you were not set up for success during this time. It’s quite the opposite. You were set up in a situation where weight gain would have been definitely more the norm, and weight loss would have been almost an impressive feat.

We were on the ranch. Sometimes we'll order things from Amazon or shipping companies or you're trying to get paper goods or something like that. Maybe you grab the boxed soups or chips and snacks and the gluten-free stuff out right now. This food is maybe the most fattening thing you could put in your mouth, but I'm a huge advocate for gluten-free when it's an actual food product. Packaged stuff, the organic and gluten-free stuff out there, when you turn it around and you see how much processed soy or processed corn is in there, it is difficult to lose weight.

Let's move on to what we can do. What I've learned from our conversation so far is, number one, you are not a fan of intermittent fasting. You want people to hold off on eating. That is one thing that I have learned from you so far.

Let me comment on that. I'm probably much older than you. I'd been in the nutrition world for a long time and I have a degree in Agriculture. In my day and age, if we had a college student or we had a middle school student that was applying that food philosophy, we would encourage to speak to somebody that dealt with things like eating disorders or body dysmorphia. It has gotten this fancy name, but if my grandchild or child were doing that, I would be worried for their health physically, mentally and emotionally. It is heartbreaking to me as a nutritionist.

We expect more of our bodies every single day. We are sustained and made by food. Our hormones are secreted only because of food. Every other species in the world when we talk about their diet, it's to enhance their performance. When we talk about horses and cattle, it's to enhance production. When we talk about animals in the zoo, it's to enhance their health. The human species, the only time we talk about diet is the less you do, the better you are. That is, in my opinion, psychologically abusive.

Let's go back to what you should do. What are the right things to do? I want to hear what you were saying about having some power in your breakfast. One tip would be to eat within 30 minutes of waking up. What is the type of breakfast that would be a good breakfast to have for the normal person who is not probably not eating spinach in their breakfast unless they're having a smoothie? Let's talk about like average Joe or Josephine. What should they eat for breakfast that would be a power breakfast?

When you get out of your rhythm, your diet suffers.

I have one little punctuation on the intermittent fasting. The one last thing about intermittent fasting is a lot of the philosophy is it gives your GI tract an opportunity for rest. The only time your GI tract rests, is when we're dead. It's not physiologically possible. What can you do? I have a couple of things that are basic that can help get your metabolism back on track. First and foremost, eat within 30 minutes of waking. Ideally, you're having whole food products in that process. I would love to see 10 to 15 grams of protein, a vegetable, a whole fruit and some form of healthy fat. Healthy fats can be walnuts and seeds. It can be a coconut, avocado, a tablespoon of olive oil over a sweet potato or something like that. If you eat whole organic eggs, that would be your healthy fat. That's what I would love to see in the morning.

What's a veggie that we can eat in the morning that you think the average person would be open to including in their breakfast?

Our community eats everything. If you do like an egg scramble, throw in mushrooms, zucchini or leftover dinner. I was talking about adding in an egg scramble. Another vegetable that a lot of people don't mind eating is a lot of times I'll take sweet potatoes and make either sweet potato cake. If you have a waffle iron, you press it in your waffle iron and it is so good with a little bit of salsa in the morning. That's another great way to get a vegetable in. You can always do sauteed spinach. I'm a big bell pepper person, so I'll chop up some bell pepper, gnash on that or cucumbers in the morning. Cucumbers are good with a little bit of olive oil and basil. You can spice it up if you want. We have a cool digital download of dips and dressings that's fun to keep in the fridge.

I'll do zucchini, sweet potatoes and yellow squash. You fine-shred it and you put it in the waffle iron, it is so good. If you want to add more protein, you can whip an egg and throw it in there too. It's so yummy.

Those are some great veggie ideas for breakfast. What are some other things we need to do to help shed these pandemic pounds?

I am an advocate of eating every four hours. Your day should consist of three meals and snacks. If you're pulling an all-nighter and you're up four hours past dinner, you could have another snack. We want to keep the metabolism ignited and going. I believe in 3 meals and 2 snacks a day. The other thing and a lot of people didn't do this being at home again and off schedule, but I would say half your body weight in ounces of water every day. It will help the metabolism for a lot of reasons, but the biggest is dilution is the solution for pollution. What I mean by that is we all day long get exposed to things that are what's called fat-soluble toxins. Those toxins make you gain weight and you can dilute those by having enough hydration. I'm a big spring water advocate. I don't like electrolyte water. If you can dilute that with some nice spring water, it can help your metabolism. It helps make me feel full. The other thing that I would say is eating before exercising.


I know you can't out-exercise a bad diet. What else should we be doing whether it's sleep or exercise to maximize our metabolism-boosting efforts?

In our community, we talk about everything. If you can flip those sounds, just like you can't exercise a bad diet, when you have a good diet, you want to make sure that those nutrients are delivered throughout the structure of the body. Into the bone, muscle and fat area so that it can break down the fat and burn it for fuel. Exercise and stress reduction are a huge part of our program. What we usually suggest with individuals is what we call confuse it to lose it. That means rotating between cardio and heavyweights.

Typically in our community, on Monday and Tuesday, we'll do cardio. I like to see people keep their heart rate between 125 and no higher than 145 because we start to elevate our cortisol level and our rate of burn is less than efficient higher than that. My dream is that we become fit enough to sustain that for 45 minutes. That would be cool, but 5 or 10 minutes can be amazing for your body. With that cardio, we're increasing blood flow. Remember when you increase blood flow, it allows the nutrients to get to the tissues. If you want tighter skin, better hair, denser bones or to burn fat, you've got to deliver those nutrients.

We usually do 1 to 2 days of cardio. In our community, Wednesday and Thursday, we do heavyweights. We like to do the weights heavy and not light so that we create what they call a micro tear in the muscle. These little teeny micro tears when you do heavy weights and you got to be safe throughout your posture to make sure that you are supported in that process, stimulate hormones that help burn fat and build muscle. The heavy weights 1 to 2 days a week are awesome.

In three days a week, we do what we call success boosters or stress-reducing type exercises. In our community, massage, acupuncture, infrared sonic, dry skin brushing and yoga counts. All of those counts in lowering that cortisol and allowing the hormones those times of rest and repair, which brings us right to sleep. We have some cool success boosters like alternate nostril breathing. There is a whole bunch of fun things I can share with you if you want links to, a lot of things that can help promote deep sleep because we lose all of our weight during sleep. We're focused on the diet and workout. We have what we call protocols for progress in our community. In our protocol for progress, we talk so much about sleep because exercise and diet are important, but if we don't have deep sleep, you're losing the most valuable time to burn fat.

If we follow these guidelines, I'm curious how much weight do you think someone can expect to lose in a safe and healthy way?

You cannot out-train a bad diet.

In our community, because we use food, we say eat more food to lose more weight. In our community, we say 20 pounds in 28 days. On the higher-end, we usually range between 12 to 20 pounds in four weeks. It happens time and time again. We want people to focus on health gain and not weight loss because we will never count a calorie and restrict a food group. We used food strategically to speed up the rate of burn. When we feed our community, we eat in a cycle of heavy carbs for two days, heavy greens and proteins for two days, heavy fats for three days, and then we cycle back through that rest and restoration through that burn and build cycle, so that our bodies can burn fat efficiently for fuel. Fat is a gold mine. Don't ever be bummed with your belly. Give it a big old hug and say, "I'm going to get you the nutrients that you need so that you can turn this into fuel." When you diet, every day you're dieting and by restricting calories and food groups, you're slowing your metabolism down more and more.

What else would you like everyone to know?

We run these challenges every month and they're free. I'm not trying to sell anything or any of that. We have a very successful business. We run these challenges because people need help navigating the totally dysfunctional diet industry. The biggest thing is the rule of thumb. If you would not do it to your grandchild or share the meal with your grandchild in their classroom or at a picnic, it is not worthy of you.

We always say our programs are not a diet for first-time dieters. They're diet for last-time dieters. It's about putting power on your plate. I was asked the question one time because I do own integrative health care clinics. I travel all over the world to help navigate and they said, "What is the number one thing that you think would change in our society that would drastically change our society's health?" I said, "Make it absolutely illegal to call anything food if it didn't come from the sky, the land, the ocean and the lake. It's not food especially in the diet world." There are chemicals in our diet products that are listed. We know Surgeon General says these are known obesogens. My heart breaks for people that have been in a health challenge because there's not always an easy, healthy way to navigate it.

I've never heard of obesogens before, and I'm surprised because they're a big deal.


Many times, when people want to lose weight, they're focused on what's in their fridge. I said, "Let's focus on what's under your sink." I don't know if you saw that huge article that came out about surfactants, which are in soap, but the hormones with the male children. It was an NIH study and it's very fascinating. There are hormone disruptors. When we go and we clean our organic fruits and vegetables with these things that are known to proliferate fat, or we put our air fresheners with chemicals that are known to proliferate fat. Sometimes I say, "I want you to eat breakfast. I want you to focus on your snacks and drink plenty of water. Don't stress. We're going to clean out your house first and worry about the fridge later." It's crazy what a difference that can make metabolically in the body.

I like how you simplify weight loss. There is a lot of noise in the diet industry and many fad diets come and go. People genuinely want to lose weight, but they don't know or they get discouraged. It can be damaging and upsetting. People want to be healthy and feel good about themselves, and it can be hard for them to get to that point. I appreciate you taking the time to talk about this. I respect your understanding about their feelings, where their minds are and where they are trying to struggle to lose weight. Thank you for your understanding and knowledge around this topic. It's great having you. Thank you so much.


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