Do you feel less like your arse is attached to you and more like it’s following you? Have you reached an age where you look in the mirror and think ‘what the hell happened?’ Do you find yourself holding in your stomach to try and avoid fat rolls and muffin tops? Have you gone from slinky and seductive to baggy and comfy? Have you got wobbly bits that you’d rather you didn’t have? If the answer to any of these questions is yes then you’re probably thinking that you could do with dropping a few pounds…..
If that’s you then, firstly, stop thinking about ”weight loss”; ‘losing’ something has very negative connotations, instead think about gaining health and life as that’s what you’ll actually get if you’re carrying too many extra pounds. How great is that? You’ll actually be getting something and not missing out on something! Also, forget the concept of ‘going on a diet’ as this won’t be something that you’ll start and then stop when you’ve reached your goals, you’ll be making changes, doing a few things differently and that’s all…
Secondly, ask yourself the question ‘do I really want to lose weight’; there’s a big difference between thinking that you’d like to do something and actually wanting to do it. It’s a reason why a lot of diets fail, you need to make a commitment to changing your eating and exercise habits and a half-hearted effort just isn’t going to get you there.
If you’ve made the commitment then the next thing is to be honest with yourself about what you eat and how much exercise you do. Many people find that writing down what they eat and drink (yes most drinks have calories too) is a good wake up call and makes them realise quite how much food they’re taking on board on a daily basis. The same applies to exercise: if you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day and then go home and sit on the couch in front of the TV all evening, be honest about it!
Once you’ve got a clear idea in your head about how much you eat and how little you exercise don’t beat yourself up about it. Feeling bad about yourself is not a good starting point for weight loss because, if you stray from the path towards a healthier you, you’ll feel guilty and pissed off with yourself and that can then lead to comfort eating. Instead, accept that your body is what it is at the moment and focus on how good you will feel when you’re not carrying around extra pounds – your back and legs will ache less, your breathing will be better, you’ll be able to move more easily, you’ll be cooler in the summer, your clothes will feel more comfortable etc etc etc. You’ll have your own great reasons for wanting to shed the weight so focus on those; concentrate on how amazing you will feel as you see the changes that you make to your body.
Now you’ve got the right mind set, it’s time to look at what you eat and drink. There will be no doubt that you eat too much, if you hadn’t you wouldn’t have gained a lot of weight, but you probably eat too much of the wrong types of food. You could eat mountains of carrots and broccoli without really gaining any extra pounds but, if you have pizza for dinner every night you’ll find yourself going up a dress size pretty damn quickly!
There are three things that are responsible for most people’s excessive weight gain:
Refined Sugars: think cakes, sweets, ice-cream, donuts, biscuits etc etc
Junk food: think burgers, fries, pizza, fried chicken etc,
Processed foods: think crisps, sausage rolls, breakfast cereals, pies and ready meals.
If you are looking at that list and thinking that’s pretty much your diet at the moment you’ll probably be panicking a bit and wondering what the hell you’re going to eat now! If that’s the case then think back to the reasons why you want to lose weight and visualise the happier and healthier you. If that doesn’t work and you’re still craving burger and fries with a couple of donuts to finish off then you have a choice – eat what you want but also accept your body and the problems that come with it or find a middle ground……
Work out what it is that you like most about burger and fries – is it the texture of the meat? The taste of the sauce? The cheese or bacon? The crispiness of the fries? The taste of the salt and ketchup? The fact that you can dip them in a sauce? Trust me, if you really think about it, there will be a primary reason why you like to eat burger and fries. So, let’s imagine it’s the meat that you really enjoy, the taste and texture of ground beef; could you enjoy that without the bun and the sauce, could you be satisfied with ground turkey meat instead of beef? If the answer is yes then try turkey burgers between two portobello mushrooms; it’s still meat, the look is similar, the texture will be similar but it will have far fewer calories and be much healthier for you.
If it’s the fries that really do it for you, could you be satisfied with baked sweet potato wedges? If it’s the crunchy crispiness that you like could raw carrots sticks work? I know that sounds weird, burger and carrot sticks, but why not? It’s just a change, something different, you don’t need to have it for every meal, it’s just a way of educating your taste buds so that you will feel comfortable moving away from the unhealthy to the healthy.
Moving on to dessert; this is where things can get a little trickier because sugar is addictive and that’s why so many people struggle with weight loss. We often have the idea that cakes, sweets and biscuits are a ‘treat’ (remember your mum or dad saying if you’re good you can have a……something with loads of sugar in it) so the thought of not eating them can have the inverse effect and make us feel as though we are being punished in some way. Excessive amounts of refined sugars are anything but a treat for your body but you can re-educate your taste buds to appreciate the sweetness of fruit for example or, if chocolate is your thing, eat a couple of squares of very dark chocolate (70% plus cocoa); it will satisfy the craving.
On top of educating your taste buds, you can also re-educate your mind and your stomach; how often do you feel slightly peckish but tell yourself that you’re ‘starving‘ or ‘famished’? Try this little experiment – next time lunchtime comes around just say to yourself ‘I could do with a little something to eat’. Your mind has told your stomach to expect some food in the near future but just enough to satisfy it, it’s not on red alert because you’ve told it you’re going to die from lack of food and waiting for half a cow to descend….
Lastly, think about leaving food. Many people were brought up with the idea that they absolutely must finish everything on their plate. It usually comes from parents or grand-parents and comes with the phrase ‘think about all the poor people starving in the world’. No-one will be any less starving because you decide not to eat every scrap of food that’s served to you; you really don’t need to feel guilty. If you get a disappointed look from a waiter in a restaurant just be honest – tell them it was delicious and you enjoyed it but the portion was just too big for you. This is another positive affirmation, telling yourself and other people that there’s just too much food there will get your mind and your stomach used to healthier portion sizes.
Once you’ve got the food angle sorted out think about how much you move and how you could move more. You don’t need to join a gym or start hurling yourself around a tennis court; walk to work, take the stairs and not the elevator, don’t sit at your desk at lunchtime, take a stroll around the park or shops instead, go and play football with your kids, dance while you’re doing the housework. Exercise will make you feel good and, as the pounds come off, you’ll want to do more of it and you’ll find the right programme for you but, until then, just move more!
If any of you out there are planning on making some changes to your lifestyle I really wish you the best of luck and I’d love to hear how you’re getting on….