Why is it so hard? I’m doing x,y and z. I just want to lose weight!
I’ve been having conversations with numerous clients recently that sound like the above. It’s not just that summer is here, for many it’s an ongoing frustration. Our weight, size and body image can be a major cause of stress. With that in mind I thought I’d share my most frequent suggestions for those who want to lose weight. Eat less and exercise more… Nah, just kidding. If that really was the magic formula there wouldn’t be so many people still wanting to shed those extra pounds. Unsurprisingly I tend to take a big picture view, holistic one might say. Of course everyone is individual, so what follows is general advice.
So here you go, some suggestions to help you overcome your existing weight loss challenges. If what you’ve tried before isn’t working for you, make some changes. You may find some of what I suggest surprising.
It can be such an emotionally charged subject. Working through limiting beliefs and helping your system release blocks that are holding it back can help. If you feel you need some help in this area do get in contact.
If you want different results, you have to do things differently
I’m guessing that whatever you’ve been trying hasn’t worked. Either it’s a completely wrong approach for you. Or it could get you your desired results but you have some blocks that are getting in the way (see ‘check your mindset’ below). Are you looking at it as a diet or a lifestyle choice. Is it all about a number on the scales or how you will feel in yourself? Consider your motivations and the actions you’ve chosen to achieve your desired weight loss. Something about what you’ve been doing isn’t working for you. Just repeating yourself will only get you the same results again. Something has to change.
Stop weighing yourself
Yes, really. Stop weighing yourself. Weight gives us very little information about our body composition. Weight gives us very little information about the real progress you may or may not be making. You can weigh yourself 4-5 times a day and get 4-5 different results.
Take measurements instead
Why? Well, what is it you really want? I’m going to guess that for most people if they were slimmer and they felt good in their clothes they’d be much happier. Regardless of what the number on the scales said. Body fat takes up a lot of room but doesn’t weigh very much. Muscle is much denser. It takes up much less room but weighs more. Remember of course that it is your muscle mass that burns the calories (not your body fat). So wouldn’t it be better to aim to lose your excess body fat whilst maintaining happy, healthy muscle mass?? This is what taking measurements allows you to track. When you lose cm or inches, you’re losing body fat.
It can take some time for this to show on the scales. Because remember fat doesn’t weigh that much. So this can be really disheartening. You could actually be making good progress but because how you’ve chosen to gauge your success doesn’t reflect it, you don’t recognise it.
If you must weigh yourself then please do so in tandem with taking measurements. Should you exercise and gain muscle mass (which is a really good thing if you want to lose weight) this will show as weight gain on the scales. If you have been measuring and you see that you’ve been losing cms you can then tell what’s really going on. You have lost fat and gained muscle, which is an ideal situation. You will be slimmer with more muscle to burn more calories. And just to clarify, gaining muscle will not make you big and bulky. You won’t turn into Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, I promise 🙂
Drink more water
You may hear this all the time. But drinking water will support your metabolism, help you burn more calories and you’ll feel satiated. It will help keep your system flushed if you’ve recently cleaned up your diet and are detoxing. Studies have found that there is a correlation between being dehydrated and being overweight.
You don’t have to go from no water to 2 litres a day overnight. Build it up gradually. 2 litres is just a suggested amount. The best way to tell if you’re hydrated is the colour of your urine. If it’s very pale, you’re on track. If it’s dark, drink more water.
Eat real food
Real foods, whole foods are what your body knows and has evolved to metabolise. Whole foods are sources of nutrition and fibre. Food products, which is what many of us predominantly eat these days do not provide our body with good nutrition and sources of fibre. Regardless of what the marketing/labeling says.
Food is fuel for our body. Give your body good, clean fuel and it will run well. Fill it with synthetic rubbish and it will not just get sluggish but start to develop any number of issues.
Fruits and vegetables. Organic meat and fish. Healthy fats and oils. Water. Yes, yes and yes.
Complex carbohydrates and dairy have in moderation.
Refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, trans/hydrogenated fats, artificial sweeteners etc… Avoid
Little changes over time create big differences and longer lasting results. And they’re so much easier to maintain. Taking drastic action, cutting out food groups, radically reducing calorific intake and full on exercise will most likely be short lived. You might make some progress but you’ll probably slip right on back to where you were before you started, as your will power and determination abandon you. It all just becomes too hard to keep doing. Welcome to yo-yo dieting.
Consistency makes a big difference. Consider the difference between what you do in the week, compared to the weekend. Here’s a nice article to give you some top tips to avoid overeating at the weekend.
If you don’t feel hungry, have reasonable energy levels and feel pretty good in yourself how much easier is it to make good choices for yourself? Compare that to when you’re hungry, tired and grouchy.
It’s not just about the calories
Firstly, not all calories are equal. Consider the nutritional value they provide, that’s what’s really important. There are foods that are highly nutritious which are shunned for being highly calorific. Nuts, avocados etc… If you’re just counting calories they don’t fit into the eating plan. If you’re looking to provide your body with vitamins, minerals, fibre, lipids and protein then they are good food choices. Just have them in moderation.
A ‘slimming’ or ‘diet’ food product may have fewer calories but the chances are they also provide limited nutrition. It certainly won’t be whole food based nutrition. It may be fortified with synthetic ingredients but chances are it’s also laden with artificial sweeteners and salt. Somethings got to give it some flavour after all.
Secondly, different food groups have different roles to play and we need a balance of all of them. Cutting out a food group because it’s calorific will cause problems in the long run. Proteins are the building blocks. Not enough protein and eventually repair and regeneration in the body becomes compromised. Protein also leaves you feeling fuller for longer and helps balance blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates provide energy. Cut out all carbs and you might lose weight but you’ll feel rubbish. Note that fruits and vegetable are carbohydrates – nutrient dense foods. Not the same as pasta, bread and pastries, also carbohydrates and far less nutritious. Fats provide energy, essential insulation as well as being a carrier of hormones around the body. Aim for meals that contain all food groups.
Do you need to eat more?
It is possible that you are not eating enough for your metabolism to be as happy as it could be. If your system thinks there is a shortage of food it will slow your metabolism down. Restricted calorie and nutritional intake over a long time is not healthy. Even with plans like the 5-2 diet, you eat well for five days of the week. Make sure you are eating enough of the right kinds of foods regularly enough.
Get active & rest
Being more active has many benefits, not just if you want to lose weight. If you enjoy exercise, great. If the idea leaves you cold, then at the very least aim to be less sedentary. Reduce the amount of time you sit per day. Put more gusto into the housework or gardening.
If you are happy to do more exercise keep in mind that resistance training will help you increase or at least maintain your muscle mass. This is what burns the calories in the long term. Cardio has it’s place but it only burns the calories for a short period after exercise.
And rest. If your system is over exerted you’ll probably find it a challenge to drop the lbs. Whatever form the stress comes from the cortisol in your system will reak havoc if you want to lose weight. It causes cravings for sweet and fatty foods and messes with our insulin levels. Belly fat has more receptors for cortisol than other fat cells in the body so every time we get stressed it makes the situation worse.
Mindfulness can be great. It allows the mind and body to relax. But being mindful when you eat will also reduce overeating and binge eating, help you lose weight and leave you feeling more satisfied. Being mindful of your self talk as you make your food choices and eat can really help you change your relationship with food.
Check your mindset
Tune into your self talk, without engaging with it. Just start to pay attention to what may be getting in the way of your weight loss. “I’ll never be slim/thin” “I’m so fed up if trying, what’s the point?” “I can’t lose weight because I have x condition” ” It’s my age” “Nothings ever worked before, why will it be any different now?” “I don’t deserve to be slim and happy” “It’s not safe to be slim and attractive” “I have to give up all the food and drink I love and enjoy to lose weight” ad infinitum …
Our self talk is incredibly powerful. It determines a lot of what we experience. By getting clear on what thoughts are actually running the show you can choose to change them. This may be an area you need some help with. But that’s ok because there is plenty of help available to you.
A word of warning. Please don’t make food the enemy. Please don’t make your body the enemy. If that’s your mindset chances are you will always struggle with your weight and body image.
Be honest with yourself
Do you really want to make some changes, lose weight and keep it off or are you just venting. Is it just an aspect of your life that you’re dissatisfied with but don’t really have any intention of remedying. You can’t really be bothered with it but you complain about it anyway. Either way it’s fine. Just because society/the media say you should lose weight and be a particular size doesn’t mean that it’s something you actually want. It may not be a priority for you, which again is absolutely fine. If that’s the case, accept it as true for you at this time. Let go of the conflict and angst it may be causing for you. Just be honest with yourself.
How will it feel?
Get clear on how amazing it will feel when your body is feeling healthy, you’re energised and your clothes feel great on you. Let your mind wander and imagine yourself slim and healthy, enjoying life and eating well.
If when you let your mind wander it feels heavy or bad, somethings gone wrong. Consider your motivation for wanting to lose weight. Body image may be part of it but your health and well-being play a big part too. Are you trying to lose weight for somebody else? Are you afraid it’ll make you a different person? What is the concern? If the prospect of achieving your goal is not a positive experience for you it’s unlikely to come to fruition.
So there you go. If you feel you need some help in this area do get in contact. I can provide a review of your current challenges and help put a plan of action together for you all the way through to designing a program to help you achieve your desired results.