Shanti Pappas is a Digestion & Weight Specialist and the creator of Happy Belly Health. Shanti specializes in helping others curb their cravings and lose weight long term, without dieting º but before we dive into that, I want to share her story.
Today, things are going great for Shanti. She’s happy, she feels fulfilled in her relationships, she’s part of a strong supportive community, she has a rewarding and stable career, and she’s a healthy and vibrant person.
But like so many of us drawn to work in health, this wasn’t always the case.
For a long time, in fact, Shanti’s health was awful. She grew up asthmatic, overweight, and she struggled with digestion and weight for years… but nothing seemed to work.
Shanti ended up starting her first diet when she was just 11. She eliminated all fat and was able to lose weight pretty quickly, but at some point, she stopped. “I remember eating a whole loaf of bread because I was so hungry. I then found myself eating giant Snickers bars for lunch and, yes, my weight was a problem again.”
This was just the beginning of Shanti’s dieting – “I was always off or on a diet.” The goal was to be thin, not healthy, and she did some pretty desperate and unhealthy things in pursuit of that goal. She was even a competitive athlete, but still, weight was my biggest struggle. Exercise didn’t fix the problem.
Inevitably, Shanti’s hunger and cravings always won.
The Turning Point
Hiring a health coach saved Shanti tons of time, and the support meant she didn't have to fail miserably with every attempt.
The coach helped her realize that food isn’t a dieting tool. The nutrients food offers can put you into balance and you don’t have to feel deprived, hungry, and a slave to cravings. “I felt better when I changed what and how I ate. This was very powerful.”
The transformation was so powerful, in fact, that Shanti founded a company on these principles.
“I didn’t want to help people diet. I wanted to help people not have to!”
Okay, now let’s dig into Weight Loss…
The U.S. weight loss market is estimated to be a $70 billion a year industry, and this continues to climb. Most people have tried and failed at least 10 weight loss programs, or gained most of the weight back after completing one.
In fact, 95% of those who lose weight gained it back. But why?
“So often, we are looking for weight loss without an overt focus on health gain. And that's just not how it works.” If you want to lose weight and not have to diet anymore, three things have to happen simultaneously:
- You need to lose body fat, not just body weight. Otherwise, it's just a short matter of time before the weight comes back.
- The dynamics in the body or mind that actually caused the weight gain in the first place need to be found and reversed. Because it’s seldom just (or even primarily) about food.
- Detoxification needs to be enhanced and supported. Our adipose tissue is where we store many toxins. Body fat loss = Toxicity, unless we intervene otherwise. Extended weight loss can actually be dangerous without this focus, especially for people who are already inflamed. And as a matter of self-protection, the weight returns! Yes, our body will make fat to have a safe place for toxins to live!
“So I want to be very clear and set the expectation that the type of weight loss I’m talking about – permanent weight loss – can only happen if you lose actual body fat; you figure out the root causes of the extra weight since it’s seldom food; and you boost detox while losing weight.”
This is rarely ever addressed in the weight loss industry. Actually, this is probably what makes weight loss such a profitable business! Repeat customers.
What about the Mental and Physical reasons for weight loss failure?
Physical reasons for failing to lose weight can be from nutrient deficiencies, microbiome imbalance, hormone imbalance (this is actually a huge part of it, as both sex hormones and stress hormones are big factors to consider with weight), or gut health.
But there are plenty of emotional reasons, and these are often the biggest obstacles. Eating fills a void, which can also be tied to physical reasons like neurotransmitter imbalances as a driver for binging strong cravings. Neurotransmitters, like serotonin, for example, simply make us feel good and helps us stop when we are satisfied vs using food to calm and comfort us.
What about Calorie Counting?
“I don't believe in tracking anything that can be counted because I think it makes people obsessive about their food.”
It also just doesn’t work for long-term weight loss.
We think we’re outsmarting our bodies by giving it low calorie foods and exercising more, but what we’re really doing is training it to need less calories in order to keep the same weight.
Curb Your Cravings
Shanti’s program, Curb Your Cravings, isn’t the same as every other weight loss program out there. Shanti’s goal with Curb Your Cravings is to educate, guide, and support people who want freedom from dieting and weight struggles so they can be their best selves – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
“We’re not giving you a diet to follow. It’s designed for people who don’t want to diet anymore and want to learn to eat in a way that supports their body. In the program, they’ll rebalance their blood sugar and learn to eat nutrient dense foods.”
People who do the program learn to understand what a balanced plate of food looks like for them and why it’s important. “Sure we tell them why we think it’s important to eat vegetables, fat, protein, complex carbs, etc, but they experience the benefits of it.”
They also experience how much more challenging a day of eating well is for them when they slack a bit or overindulge: their cravings increase and they feel crankier, more tired, and more obsessed with food.
“The best part is no one has ever complained of feeling deprived or hungry. They really do embrace this way of eating as their own because they’ve customized to what their unique needs are.”
Basically, it’s a practice in habit building around taking care of yourself as a priority!
Three Steps to a Healthier You
- Be a Detective
Most people I meet are walking around like their heads weren’t attached to their bodies. They simply don’t pay attention until there is some sort of pain or discomfort that’s shouting at you to wake up and take notice.
- Look for Clues
The second step is to look and see what’s out of balance. Do you have all the raw materials your body needs to function and heal? Things like oxygen, water, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein and healthy fats? Do you have strong cravings for wine, sugar or bread?
- Solve the Mystery
Once you know what’s hurting you, you can eliminate those root causes.
You can learn more by downloading Shanti’s free PDF, “How to Curb Your Cravings: 3 Steps to a Healthier You!” Click here to gain access.
- Learn more at happybellyhealth.com
- Start Curbing Your Cravings: happybellyhealth.com/weightloss
- Instagram: @happybellyhealth
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/happybellyhealth/
- Twitter: @happybellyh
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Disclaimer: The activities and research discussed in these podcasts are suggestions only and are only advised to be undertaken following prior consultation with a health or medical professional. Fitness training, nutrition, and other physical pursuits should be tailored to the individual based upon an assessment of their personal needs.