If only I could lose some weight!
I have seen many clients and they have come to see me for a variety of different challenges but one of the most common, especially with female clients is a desperate desire to lose weight. The reasons vary from wanting to be healthy to being slimmer for aesthetic reasons. Whatever the reason, they all seem to battle with this goal.
Although individuals are so different, I’ve noticed that there are still many common factors when it comes to losing weight. I will try for the purposes of this article to summarise the key factors to take heed of. Bear in mind that I am not a medical doctor nor a dietician. However, what I share here is a result of my years of research as well as what has been successful for my clients.
The first thing you would want to avoid putting into your body for health and weight loss purposes is sugar, followed closely by refined carbohydrates. These create an environment for disease to develop as well as putting on the calories. There is enough scientific research to show why this is so – too much for the scope of this article. Avoiding sugar also means things like fruit juice, even the ‘100% pure’ variety, which actually contain lots of sugar. Also avoid artificial sweeteners which have been proven to be poisonous to the system – aspartame, acesulfame k, saccharine etc. It also means avoiding processed foods as these often contain hidden sugars and ingredients that promote metabolic dysfunction, insulin resistance, and obesity,
Another thing to take note of: Do not assume that low fat foods are good for you. We are all aware of the recent explosive findings that have blown out of the water years of advice by mainstream bodies that fat is bad. Professor Tim Noakes and his high profile court case made headlines. Noakes, whose book ‘The Real Meal Revolution’ promotes a low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) diet, was charged with giving unconventional medical advice via Twitter after he advised a breastfeeding mother to wean her baby onto LCHF. After a much publicized trial, he was acquitted of the accusation that this advice was harmful in any way.
Even theNew York Times had this to say:
‘In recent years, a number of studies have cast doubt on the health benefits of the traditional low-fat diet, suggesting instead that eating more fat — with the exception of trans fats — and less sugar and refined carbohydrates might be better for overall health’. (September 23rd, 2015)
Even if you do initially lose weight on a low-fat diet, you’re sacrificing your long-term health by promoting insulin resistance and related diseases for the simple reason that low-fat diets tend to be high in sugars instead.
More often than not, you’ll find that the weight comes off much easier when you eat more healthy fats and less non-vegetable carbohydrates (added sugars, processed fructose, and processed grains).
There are many other things to consider when it comes to dietary choices but I will cover these in subsequent articles. I am focusing on key aspects of weight loss here.
Any changes in your diet have to be accompanied by an exercise routine. Any exercise is beneficial – the key thing is to keep moving. We were not meant to be sedentary. Our ancestors were far more mobile than we were. They walked more, did more manual activities and certainly didn’t sit in front of a computer for hours on end. Small wonder that we have diseases today that were unheard of previously.
Exercise may help fight off colds and flu, reduce the risk of certain cancers and chronic diseases, and slow the process of ageing. A growing body of research is showing that regular exercise can boost your body’s immune system, increasing the circulation of natural killer cells that fight off viruses and bacteria. Regular exercise has also been shown to combat the ongoing damage done to cells, tissues and organs that underlies many chronic conditions. Studies have found exercise can lower blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol, and cut the incidence of Type 2 diabetes. Medical experts say inactivity poses as great a health risk as smoking, contributing to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, depression, arthritis and osteoporosis. What, you’re still sitting reading this instead of getting off your butt and moving?
But seriously, it’s insane to ignore this but almost all of us do. Even better news is that (news flash) exercise also burns calories and will result in weight loss. Ideally, we should be doing a combination of aerobic, pilates style exercises (like stretching and bending) and resistance training. If that sounds exhausting it will be a consolation to learn that the good old fashioned walk is still one of the best exercises. The health benefits are enormous. Again, the number one word of advice: Move. 30 minutes at least three times a week is the minimum to maintain your health. If you’re trying to lose weight, you have to aim higher. But work out a routine that’s best for you and try and enjoy it. That will ensure that you stick to it.
One more thing I would like to mention here is related to lifestyle and how and when we eat. Don’t eat close to bedtime. This can sabotage your health and attempts to lose weight. It’s important to have a minimum of three hours after your last food intake before you go to bed. Alternative health expert Dr Joseph Mercola explains in detail in a number of articles why this is harmful to your health and results in weight gain:
‘For a number of years now I have been strongly advising to avoid eating at least three hours before bed, and now two recent studies highlight the benefits of eating early dinner, or skipping the evening meal altogether. In one, this singular meal time change was found to combat weight gain. In another, it was found to have a significant influence on your cancer risk. There are logical reasons for these effects’.
He goes on to say that the first study found that eating a very early dinner, or skipping it entirely, alters the way your body burns fat and carbohydrates, resulting in reduced hunger and improved fat burning. The key timing feature of this early time-restricted feeding (eTRF) regimen is to eat your last meal of the day by mid afternoon, and then fast until the next morning. The study found that eating only during a much smaller window of time than people are typically used to may help with weight loss. Eating between 8 am and 2 pm followed by an 18-hour daily fast kept appetite levels more even throughout the day, in comparison to eating between 8 am and 8 pm, which is what the median American does.
The team followed 11 overweight volunteers for a total of eight days. During the first four days, they ate all of their meals between 8 am and 2 pm. During the following four days, they ate between 8 am and 8 pm. The only thing that changed was the timing of the meals; the total calories remained the same throughout. Data on calorie burning, fat burning and appetite revealed that even though the participants ate the same number of calories each day and burned about the same number of calories, the TRF schedule:
- Lowered hunger
- Increased fat burning for several hours during the evening
- Improved metabolic flexibility, allowing their bodies to more efficiently switch between the burning of carbohydrates and fats
Even if an 18 hour window cannot be achieved, anything more than 12 hours between meals is beneficial, with 14 to 16 hours being preferable.
The final factor which I’d like to mention as they key to tackling weight loss is what’s going on inside or with your emotions. I was interviewed for a community radio station on the link between weight loss and one’s emotions and the response was phenomenal. Most people are either completely unaware of the link or have heard of it but are not sure what to make of it as most of the advice on weight loss don’t discuss this aspect. Besides the obvious connection of using food as an emotional crutch or comfort eating, not sorting out negative emotions can itself hinder your attempts to lose weight.
Jessica Ortner is one of the people who have created huge awareness about the role of our emotions in weight gain and given seminars and published a book on it. She has case studies of people who have tried everything to lose weight. When they stopped all this and just focused on their emotions, even though they continued eating what they like, they still lost weight. And this happened repeatedly, with different people. Jessica uses a technique which was established decades ago to release harmful emotions and I use this as well in my coaching practice.
If you would like an integrated weight loss programme which addresses diet, exercise and your inner emotional health,