How To Lose Weight

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…..

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…..

DietIf 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 toois 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!

Dear meOnce 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!

Real food

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……

Turkey burgerWork 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….

half-finished-glass-of-beer-and-pie-with-meat-on-plate-at-table_7yyj9nho__F0000.pngLastly, 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….

Lisa x

 

Be honest. Is it just me?

I can’t help but wonder if the people that put out these ‘quick and easy’ weight loss plans actually think about the people they are supposedly trying to help; if something is so ‘quick and easy’ how does it make the people feel who don’t shrink down to a size 10 in a couple of months? Like failures I would imagine – how is that helping?

Warning: this post contains profanities because the article that prompted it pissed me off (opps, sorry!)

Is it just me or does it seem as though there’s new ‘weight loss’ advice published every single bloody day? If you’re struggling to lose weight do you find that you’re running around like a headless chicken trying to keep track of what everyone is telling you? Does it make you feel as though, whatever you try, you never get it quite right? I can’t help but wonder if the people that put out these ‘quick and easy’ weight loss plans actually think about the people they are supposedly trying to help; if something is so ‘quick and easy’ how does it make the people feel who don’t shrink down to a size 10 in a couple of months? Like failures I would imagine – how is that helping?Diet frustration

The latest ‘gem’ to be published follows on from yet another study on the best way to tackle obesity. We’ve had – low fat, low carbs, Mediterranean diets, keto diets, the Atkins diet, the raw food diet etc etc bloody etc – the list just goes on and endlessly on…but now, we’ve come full circle and gone back to the ‘crash’ diet which was all the rage when I was young!

So what is a crash diet?

Tiny foodBasically you eat bugger all. Oh sorry, were you waiting for a more detailed explanation or something sciency? Can’t help there I’m afraid, the ‘plan’ really is that simple – you cut your calorie intake down to 800 a day and…..well that’s it. If you want an idea of what you could eat on 800 calories a day have a look: https://www.eatthismuch.com/diet-plan/800-calorie/ – trust me, it’s not a lot!

Mind you, you won’t have to worry too much about meal planning as they are all ‘replaced’ with shakes, soups and nutrition bars which are all designed to make you feel full. Apparently a former Government ‘obesity Tsar’ (God give me strength!) said:

‘By referring people to this programme, they lose 7kg more than they would have lost under what we usually offer them. [The advice to cut calories and eat more healthily] It’s phenomenal – extraordinary – and like nothing we’ve seen in primary care before.’

Its-not-rocket-9lkofsNo it isn’t!!!! It’s not fucking extraordinary at all – it’s simple bloody logic!!! And you have seen it before – meal replacement diets have been around for donkeys years! I do apologise for that small outburst but this kind of mindless nonsense really gets on my pip!

If you eat 4000 calories a day and you change your habits so you eat 3000 a day, you will lose weight

If you usually eat 4000 calories a day and you then eat 2000 you will lose more weight

If the norm for you is 4000 calories a day and you just eat meal supplements which give you 800 calories a day you will lose shit loads of weight – absolutely no question at all…..

The problem is (and this is always the problem), if you lose all this weight and then go back to the 4000 calories a day, you will put the weight back on again. According to this particular report, apparently that doesn’t really matter as you will have seen health benefits in the ‘short-term’. So you had type 2 diabetes….you lost the weight and then you didn’t…..you put the weight back on and the type 2 diabetes comes back…..and you’re back where you started!

This plan, which costs around £700, has been proposed to the NHS to help with the obesity crisis. I have a much simpler and considerably cheaper solution – just print this, in great big red letters, on a piece of A4 paper, hand it to people who want to lose weight and then leave it up to them:

HAVE A LONG HARD THINK ABOUT WHY OVER EAT AND ADDRESS THAT PROBLEM THEN MEMORISE THIS:

CALORIES PUT ON WEIGHT. THE MORE CALORIES YOU INGEST THE MORE WEIGHT YOU WILL GAIN.

EAT LESS CALORIES AND BURN SOME OFF THROUGH EXERCISE AND YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT

EAT NATURAL HEALTHY FOOD AND NOT JUNK FOOD AND PROCESSED CRAP AND YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT

WHEN YOU ARE AT YOUR DESIRED WEIGHT – DO NOT REVERT TO OLD HABITS AND YOU WILL NOT GAIN WEIGHT

What do you reckon? Think it will catch on?

I’m really sorry if any of this sounds harsh but I am really sick and tired of all these ‘diets’ that promise miracle results to, sometimes, desperate people. There is no quick and easy solution, losing weight is a case of balancing what you eat and what you do; the only effective way to shed those pounds and keep them off is to change your eating and exercise patterns – not for a few weeks or months but for the rest of your life………….

Lisa x

 

 

Try, Try…..Try Again and….

Either that or you have to completely change your shopping habits and try to persuade the proprietor of your local small shop that there will be a huge demand for quinoa and chia seeds if he would but stock them and what does he mean he’s never heard of Swiss chard???

Oh f**k it! I give up! How many times do we say those words? Well, maybe not exactly those words but you know what I mean. We start something new with all the passionate enthusiasm of a child wearing big pants for the first time and then what happens? The newness wears off, we wander slowly towards mundane and then its just a few steps to “what new project? Oh that, yes um well…….[quiet muttering]”

How do we go from rampant excitement to complete indifference, or even irritation, in a few short months or weeks? I think pretty much everyone likes to experience new things, even if they might have some trepidation before hand, and people often like a challenge but, sometimes, we start at point A and focus all our attention on point Z without realising that we have points B, C, D, E etc in between the two.

expectationsThis is one of the reasons that so many diets fail. People have an idea in their mind of what they’ll look like when they’ve lost 40lb and it’s an image that pleases them so they decide to lose weight. A quick search on Google brings up 91,800,000 diet plans (I checked) and they pick one; all is well, they have a goal in mind and then they have the novelty of a new mental focus – counting calories. This can be quite fun at first, until you realise that all the foods that you would normally eat have so many calories that, no matter how hard you try, you cannot shoehorn them into your new regime without cutting down to one meal a day. Either that or you have to completely change your shopping habits and try to persuade the proprietor of your local small shop that there will be a huge demand for quinoa and chia seeds if he would but stock them and what does he mean he’s never heard of Swiss chard???

So there you are, 3 months down the line, spending 2 hours in the supermarket every time you shop, calculator in hand, trying to work out the calorie content of your weekly shop and wondering how you will ever face your local shopkeeper again after he got stuck with the 400 packets of Quinoa that you persuaded him to buy……

Lycra failThen there’s all the money that you spent on all that new exercise gear. Of course, when you decide to lose weight, it’s not actually mandatory to spend $300 on a pair of trainers or to equip yourself with the entire Nike Spring line but, let’s face it, shopping is fun and wearing the new clothes will be fun and, no doubt, the exercise will be fun when you finally get round to it. Not everybody does ever get round to it but if you’re a bit more of the determined type you might rock up to your local gym with every good intention. It will be at that point that, faced with the mirror covered walls, that you’ll realise that lycra is not the most forgiving of fabrics; you can just wear leggings or shorts and an ordinary t-shirt……

All of this is going straight to Z, and putting enormous pressure on yourself to boot, so don’t do it. You honestly don’t need to. The fact that you have a leaner and healthier image of yourself in your mind is a fantastic starting point but just accept that it might take a little while to get there. In the meantime, give yourself permission to celebrate each little achievement on the way – if you only lose 2 ounces in one week – so what? The fact is that you have taken a step in the right direction. black-woman-celebrating-being-single

Don’t change all your eating habits over night and don’t expect to learn the calorie content of every food on the planet before you die – it won’t happen! Instead, focus on eating less than you do now. If you want a little bit extra to do, write down everything that you eat today – drinks included – and, tomorrow, reduce that amount by 10%. The next day write another list and do two things:

  1. Notice that the list of today is smaller than yesterday’s list and write yourself a little message of congratulations
  2. Reduce today’s list by 5% – that’s all.

Do the same thing again the next day and see what happens but don’t forget to write yourself a ‘well done me – I’m awesome’ message (in your own words obviously).

Man walking at sunsetYou don’t have to lose 5lbs a week, the diet gods will not smite you if you don’t; all you need to do is take things slowly but surely and, little by little, you’ll get there.

The same thing applies to exercise, you’re not going to transform into Usain Bolt overnight! What you can do is write down what exercise you do on day 1 and, on day 2 just do 10 minutes more. That’s it. Just an extra 10 minutes – we can all spare that, however busy our days are. Try that for a week and then, the following week go for an extra 15 minutes and so on.

It may have been one giant leap for mankind but it started with one small step ;O) x

 

 

Is This What You Want?

My Pilates instructor said “yes, that’s it perfect! Just stay like that while I find my phone and I’ll take a picture”. A couple of minutes in that position and your abs definitely know that they’ve been worked so I was cursing her by the time she took the shot :o)

Yes I’m talking about the six pack, what did you think I meant cheeky?! If you’re a gym bunny you’ll know that the female six pack is pretty much the holy grail and, if you get one, you’ll be able to rock a bin bag let alone a teeny pair of cut off shorts. So, how do I get me one of those I hear you ask?

First things first, you have to be really determined and prepared to work your backside off for months and months; a defined tummy is not a goal for the faint hearted and it’s a big fitness commitment.  Secondly, the older you are, the more difficult it will be (sorry) as women tend to carry more fat around their midriff as they approach and go through menopause.

If you’re still determined this is what you need to know:

  1. You cannot crunch your way to a six pack. If you have a lot of fat around your tummy area you can certainly exercise your way to better core strength and you will be able to build muscle but, unless you change your eating habits to lose the fat, it will stay hidden and you will still have a family pack rather than a six pack.
  2. You will need to reduce down your body fat to around 16-18% in order to get definition but if you want the really sculpted look you’ll need to go down as low as 10 or 12%. Trust me, that’s not a lot for a woman! This will give you an idea:

body-fat-percentage-women.jpg

If you still haven’t given up on the idea I really admire your tenacity! So, what are we talking about here:

  • Your diet will need to be a permanent juggling act as you will need to eat enough to give your body the fuel that it needs to be able to build muscle but you will need to keep your calories low enough that you will burn fat. That means a combination of natural carbs and protein: very lean meat, fish, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans. Refined sugars and carbs will be a no no so you’ll need to cut out all junk and processed foods, white bread and rice etc etc. [Nb that’s pretty much my diet and I don’t have a 6 pack]High protein foods
  • Losing fat through diet i.e. ingesting less calories is not an exact science as it depends on many factors such as body type, muscle mass and activity levels but, as a rule of thumb, if you burn around 3,500 calories, you’ll lose about a pound of fat. That means, to lose a pound each week, you’ll need to reduce your calorie intake by around 500 a day.
  • At the same time as cutting your calorie intake, you’ll need to up your activity levels. Workouts should be a balance between cardio, weights and exercise designed to build core strength such as Pilates. RunningCardio means running, walking, swimming, biking – effectively any exercise that raises your heart rate and gets you sweating. Working out with weights will grow muscle and the larger and stronger the muscles, the more fat you will burn.[Nb. I walk 25km per week on average and I’m doing cardio and weights in the gym at least twice a week and I don’t have a 6 pack]
  • Next, comes core strength. You will need to include exercises which specifically target your abs and obliques in order to get real definition. Pilates is brilliant for this as building core strength by using your own body weight is a fundamental part of the exercises! Abs are the muscles that run down the centre of the stomach and obliques are those down the side and you have to work both. Shown below are a couple of exercises for abs on the left and obliques on the right. Personally I find abs exercises far easier than obliques but everyone is different. [Nb I do 2 hours of Pilates each week and I don’t have a 6 pack]

Yes, top left picture is me; you can’t see me gritting my teeth. My Pilates instructor said “yes, that’s it perfect! Just stay like that while I find my phone and I’ll take a picture”. A couple of minutes in that position and your abs definitely know that they’ve been worked so I was cursing her by the time she took the shot :o)

That’s pretty much it; a strict diet and bucket loads of exercise for months and you too can have a 6 pack. Simples!

Ps. Why don’t I have a bloody six pack?! Oh yes, I like a glass of wine in the evening and there’s only so many things that I’ll trade for a washboard stomach ;O) x

The Power of Advertising?

With their almost hypnotic powers of persuasion, we become convinced that the new Biological Bling will make our whites so dazzlingly white that everything we ever dreamed of will be delivered to us on a silver platter by a pink unicorn…..

Some people could sell snow to Eskimos and they are dearly loved by the advertising industry who, mercilessly exploiting their abilities, make sure that we crave things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like. With their almost hypnotic powers of persuasion, we become convinced that the new Biological Bling will make our whites so dazzlingly white that everything we ever dreamed of will be delivered to us on a silver platter by a pink unicorn…..

Just do itIf I say “Just Do It”, what pops into your mind? A pair of Nike trainers by an chance? If yes then that’s the power of advertising and exactly why Nike make billions of dollars every year. Their trainers are great, I wear them, you wear them, hell everybody wears them; there are other brands out there but it’s just not the same is it? The slogan “Just Do It” is somehow inspirational; it’s almost telling you ‘You CAN do it; don’t be afraid, wear our trainers and you will get where you wan’t to be’. You WANT to get out there and exercise so you end up looking like the person in the ad. Amazing right?

McDonalds HealthyWell, yes and no. I’m just as much a sucker as the next person; if a new beauty product is launched and lauded with the promise that it will fight all the crap that’s been giving me wrinkles I’ll try it! Of course, deep down, I know that no such miracle exists but the only thing it’s cost me is cash (quite a lot of it in some cases but hey ho). However, when those marketing geniuses are snapped up by companies whose sole purpose is to sell junk food to an unsuspecting public it’s a different thing entirely. The sole purpose of advertising and marketing is to convince people to buy a product and, one of the best ways of doing it is to tell people what they want to hear. Unless people have been living in a cave for the last 10 years, they’ll know that fast food, eaten in quantity, is not healthy so what do the advertisers do? They word their ads in such a way that the customer thinks that they are getting a healthier version of the food that they want to eat but know if bad for them. The companies continue to sell their products and the consumers get to appease their guilty conscience, despite all the evidence that that their food choices are making them fat and unhealthy but, let’s face it, McDonalds and their ilk wouldn’t shift many burgers if their slogan was “Want to get Type 2 diabetes?  We’re lovin’ it”

If the marketing campaigns are targeted at adults, that’s one thing but, when they’re targeted at kids I do wonder if it’s entirely ethical. I would think that most parents find it pretty difficult to say no to their children and when they’re complaining of being hungry and a cheap meal with a free toy (!) is on offer just across the road what are they going to do? Yes, in an ideal world all parents would be aware of the dangers of consuming too much junk food and say no to the tears and the foot stamping but, also in an ideal world, advertisers would have a few scruples.

I don’t like the idea of banning anything really as I believe that we are all free to make our own choices in life but I am beginning to question whether Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall is right in his calls to curb the junk food adverts that are targeted specifically at kids – what do you think?

Food. Unhealthy food
Join Millions of others on their journey towards heart disease and diabetes. You’ll never be alone with Junk Food!

No S**t Sherlock.

I wonder how many more ‘studies’ will need to be commissioned and how many more campaigns chefs will have to embark on before people realise the simple truth – if you feed your children fattening foods and don’t encourage them to exercise – they will get fat?

Apparently if parents and grandparents are obese then, the likelihood is, that the children will be obese according to a recent study; shocker! The researchers didn’t speculate as to why this may be the case but the newspaper that published the study was kind enough to point out that it could be something to do with the adults having a preference for fattening foods! Feel free to join me in a collective eye roll…..

shocked babyIn another shocking discovery – children who are severely overweight will be more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes in later life and, wait for it, if they lose the weight as they arrive into adult hood the risk is then the same as everyone else’s; well I never! I wonder how many more ‘studies’ will need to be commissioned and how many more campaigns chefs will have to embark on before people realise the simple truth – if you feed your children fattening foods and don’t encourage them to exercise – they will get fat?

Kids learn from their parents and other adults in their lives; they watch and they listen to everything that is said and done. As youngsters they don’t have the intellectual capacity to differentiate between the things that will benefit them and those that will have a negative impact. For instance, if a child is told that they are loved and that love is demonstrated by hugs and smiles, it’s something that they can easily relate to; we all like to be told that we’re loved and it’s a fundamental need in most human beings.

Love burgerHowever, what if the child then hears from the people that they’re learning from “I just love burgers and fries, I could eat them for every meal” and what if they see the same smiles adults use when they say they love them bestowed on a giant, jelly filled doughnut? The same applies to negativity. Children pick up on facial expressions and exclamations of dislike or distaste; if your little ones are trying to find our how much toothpaste is in a tube by squeezing it all over the bathroom, sometimes just a look of intense disapproval can be enough to make them reconsider their actions. What if you have that same look on your face when your restaurant meal arrives with vegetables that you don’t like? If you turn your nose up at salads and look aghast when your local takeaway has run out of coco-cola do you think that your children are going to lecture you on the nutritional benefits of healthy foods v high sugar sodas? No, of course not, they’re going to copy you because that’s what kids do….

Fat mum and childRates of obesity in the UK and the US are increasing with each generation and everyone is bleating about it, wringing their hands and wondering what to do. In the UK the Government is considering implementing a programme in schools whereby kids are routinely weighed and, if they’re considered obese, they will receive home visits and free gym classes (well paid for by the tax payer but you get the picture). It’s something I suppose but it can only work in the parents are on board and, if the parents see nothing wrong in eating junk food or ready meals every day then what’s going to change? The same applies to exercise – if the parents are couch potatoes who encourage their children to spend their free time in front of a computer rather than in the park playing football, from whom is the child going to learn the health benefits of exercise.

Yes, schools can make children aware of the need for a healthy diet and exercise but who’s going to educate the parents? I don’t know what the answer is for such a large scale problem other than to promote the positives of a life style that’s more McMotherNature than McDonalds………..

Diet Decision

It’s A Miracle!

This is it! It’s finally happened, a miracle! Years of research and scientific discovery have, at last, found a way to lose weight that is absolutely guaranteed. It’s absolutely free, you don’t have to buy any special potions or powders and it will work – no doubt! Are you ready………..?

This is it! It’s finally happened, a miracle! Years of research and scientific discovery have, at last, found a way to lose weight that is absolutely guaranteed. It’s absolutely free, you don’t have to buy any special potions or powders and it will work – no doubt! Are you ready………..?

ta-daDon’t eat for a week – only drink water. Are you impressed? Nope thought not and that’s why I have a real problem with advertisers who say that they have found a ‘miracle’ weight loss ‘cure’. Some of these wonder solutions are completely natural and people turn to them in the hope of finding the holy grail – weight loss without effort and without changing eating habits. Here are just a few that I’ve come across:

raspberries-727x485.jpgRaspberry Ketones: basically the chemicals in this delicious fruit that make them smell so nice. The claim is that they will help you to ‘lose weight fast’ by helping your body to burn fat more efficiently. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it and the claims are apparently based on ‘scientific evidence’. Ah the wonders of marketing! This actually translates as ‘we’ve done a few tests in some glass tubes and on some poor mice (who did not presumably give their consent) and it looks as though these chemicals might speed up metabolism……a bit’. You could try this and if you replaced all your usual desserts with actual raspberries you might actually lose weight.

Garcinia cambogia: this is another fruit, a tropical one this time, and, allegedly, if you take the supplement that contains it, you’re body won’t make fat and you won’t feel hungry. There is some evidence that it works as claimed and also that it could aid lowering insulin levels. However, a review into the product found that the difference in weight loss between the people that took it and those that didn’t was negligible and the reviewers couldn’t prove that any of the weight loss was down to the Garcinia Cambogia and not the healthy eating and exercise programme that the participants were put on whilst the trial took place.

apple cider vinegarApple Cider Vinegar: This is quite effective as a colon cleanse if you mix a couple of tablespoons into a large glass of warm water as is fresh lemon juice. I find that both work well to help stomach bloating and apple cider vinegar is a great cure for heartburn. However, as with all these ‘miracles’ they won’t actually help you shed the pounds if you carry on with your normal exercise and eating patterns. To be blunt, at most, they will make you poop a little more easily if you happen to have problems in that area.

Mint and fennel seeds: Again these are hailed as mini miracles in the battle against excess flab; there are various videos on Youtube using these ingredients which all claim that you can lose umpty ump kilos in less than a month blah, blah, blah and they’ve had thousands of views. Does it work? Sitting on toiletInsomuch as you will poop through the eye of a needle if you drink too much, yes. A drink containing these two ingredients will work as a pretty effective laxative so great if you’re constipated but otherwise really not a good idea as you run the risk of becoming severely dehydrated and disturbing the natural balance of mineral and electrolytes in your body.

To sum all of this up – and, trust me, these are just a few of the ‘miracles’ that I’ve found after a few minutes searching on good old Google – the only effective, safe, long term solution to losing weight is to eat less and exercise more. I’d love to be able to tell you that there’s a holy grail of dieting out there but there really isn’t and anyway, I’m too busy looking for the Elixir of Life to spend too much time on that just now ;O) x

 

Surely You Can’t Be Serious???

There you have it, you can eat whatever you please but, like a deal with the devil, there is always a price to pay so, if you want to lose weight, just make sure you know the price and then decide if you’re willing to pay it.

Ever wondered why you can’t lose weight and, if you do, it never lasts? If you read this and ask yourself “How Many?!?!?!?!” you’ll understand why……..

There is a completely befuddling mountain of information available about what you should eat and what you shouldn’t – carbs/no carbs? What are carbs? Does fat make you fat etc etc. let me simplify it for you:

If you eat more calories than you burn off, you WILL put on weight.

If you eat less calories than you burn off, you WILL lose weight.

That is the basis of any diet; it really isn’t any more complicated than that. There are certain foods that will have a positive effect on your body and there are others that will do you no good at all but that’s a whole other story.

Recommended daily calorie intake for women is around 2000 and for men around 2500 so that’s the number you need to arrive at at the end of  the day. You could eat 4,000 calories every day but, provided that you burn off 2,000 of them, you will maintain your weight; eat 3,500 and burn 2,000 and you will lose weight. The only problem with this simple approach is that many people don’t realise how easy it is to eat 4,000 calories and how hard it is to burn off 2,000.

That’s it, give or take 4000 calories in one day’s meals and snacks; now we have to look at what we’ll need to do to burn off 2000 of those to keep our weight stable:

Devil winkingThere you have it, you can eat whatever you please but, like a deal with the devil, there is always a price to pay so, if you want to lose weight, just make sure you know the price and then decide if you’re willing to pay it. An additional 500 calories per day above the recommended daily amount will give you an extra pound of weight each week. That’s one bacon sandwich and a packet of crisps daily…………….for over 3 1/2 stone of EXTRA flab in just one year OR, you can keep the sandwich and crisps and walk and additional 5 MILES per day…the choice is yours.

I’m going to finish by saying that, if you WANT to lose weight, you will because you will take the time to learn about nutrition and how it can benefit your body. If you’d like to shed some pounds but you’re not really motivated, you’ll look for a quick fix and you’ll be stuck on the path of yo-yo dieting for ever more. Again, the choice is all yours.

Debunking Diets (Part 2)

The bread here tends to be of the baguette variety and not the sliced white kind which means that it’s not chock full of additives and preservatives. If you buy a baguette here you have to eat it on the same day because the following day it will be so hard that you could beat someone to death with it! 

This is part 2 of my post looking into some of the diets that are out there – what do they involve and, more importantly, are they going to work! The diet industry is absolutely huge with millions of $$$$ being spent every year as people search for the magic formula that will take them from fat to thin as quickly and as easily as possible:

The 5:2 Diet claims that you can lose 2 stone in 12 weeks by eating a ‘Mediterranean’ diet 5 days a week and just one quarter of your normal calorie intake on the other 2 days. capreseThe ‘Mediterranean’ aspect of the plan is to cut back on bread and cakes and to include more fats, from oily fish and olive oil, and use fresh vegetables and fruit. Apparently during the 5 days a week you are encouraged to eat ‘normally’. As, during the other 2 days your calorie intake should be around 600-800 (25% of your typical intake) we can assume that ‘normal’ will be between 2400 and 3200 calories per day.

The plan suggests that the 600-800 calories should be ingested in the course of up to 3 meals a day. Obviously this includes everything you eat but also everything that you drink as well so it will need a lot of careful planning to keep within these levels.

The fitness regime that’s recommended to go with the eating plan is short bursts of high intensity interval training (up to 20 minutes) three times a week with strength training on two other days to help build muscle and burn fat faster.

Verdict: I live on the Cote D’Azur i.e. the Mediterranean and I can tell you that the people here eat a lot of bread and also their fair share of cakes! Pasta and pizza are also very popular so why aren’t they all desperately overweight and turning to this kind of diet plan?

  1. They eat very little in the way of processed foods, meals are cooked from scratch using fresh and natural ingredients.
  2. BaguetteThe bread here tends to be of the baguette variety and not the sliced white kind which means that it’s not chock full of additives and preservatives. If you buy a baguette here you have to eat it on the same day because the following day it will be so hard that you could beat someone to death with it!
  3. The weather here tends to be very good with around 300 days of sunshine a year so people spend an awful lot of time outside, walking, swimming or playing sports
  4. Although cakes are very popular, they’re not eaten to excess for the most part and, again, they are freshly made without additives and preservatives.

All of that said, the eating plan that is proposed with this diet IS very healthy and, as you will be cutting your weekly calorie intake and cutting out processed and junk food I’ve no doubt that you will lose weight. However, what I cannot for the life of me understand, is why you wouldn’t just cut the number of calories that you eat each day to give yourself the same weekly total rather than carrying on as normal for 5 days and then drastically reducing intake for the other 2. I understand the principals of fasting and it can be very beneficial in terms of overall health but, in order to maintain the weight loss, participants will need to continue eating in this way long term. Cheating on a dietAs you are effectively, ‘depriving’ yourself 2 days a week I wonder what affect this will have psychologically on people who are fasting purely to lose weight. If you come to dread the fasting days and see them as something to be endured rather than something beneficial then I would expect the tendency to be to ‘cheat’ on the fasting days or to overeat on the other 5. Although the testimonials for the plan were good, the fasting days were also described as ‘hard’ which, for me, never bodes well. Healthy eating should be a pleasure and not a torment.

When all is said and done, what this programme advocates is eating less crap, more fresh fruit and veg, cutting down on calories and exercising more so not really what you’d call ground breaking.

 

Do You Just Want it or Really Need it?

The thought of either agony or ecstasy are extremely powerful motivators, ‘I’d really like to….” just doesn’t quite cut it unfortunately. 

I came across a really interesting piece in the paper this morning which told of a woman who lost 230lbs in just 14 months and has maintained her weight loss for the last 6 months. She was morbidly obese and her health was suffering but she was inspired to change her lifestyle when she realised she was just too heavy for her scale. She shares her story here:

Basically she reached a tipping point – the psychological pain of the weight that she was carrying far outweighed the pleasure that she got from over eating. In many instances it’s not what we do that will enable us to shed unwanted pounds, it’s how we think and this is a case in point. Noelle reached the conclusion that the negative things in her life that resulted from her obesity, such as not being able to play with her children, were enough motivation for her to turn her life around.

It’s pretty much the pleasure/pain principal; Noelle’s mental and emotional pain was strong enough for her to make a big change in her life. We could also argue that the desire for pleasure i.e. the thought of being able to be physically active with her children was also a big motivator for her. This process is how we make many of the decisions in our lives; a desire  to do something is often not enough, it’s the difference between wanting to do something and needing to do it.

ToothacheFor example, let’s imagine that you really hate going to the dentist, all the while that your teeth are getting more and more yellow and beginning to decay, as long as you feel no pain, you’ll avoid going to the dentist. You want to be able to go because your smile is being ruined and you’ve noticed that the people close to you move away slightly when you breathe on them BUT your fear is sufficient that you’ll still resist going. However, if years of neglect means that you end up with chipped and cracked teeth and a sneaky little bacteria creeps in a gives you an abscess you will start to feel pain. You might put up with it for a few days because you still have that long held fear of dentists but, at some point, the pain will become so bad that it will overcome your fear and you will face your fear.

The physical act of losing weight is not rocket science – you eat less (ingest fewer calories) and you exercise more. You can try any weight loss plan that you like but that is at the root of all of them. What is more difficult is the psychological aspect and that is what stops many people from starting a healthy eating plan or makes them give up half way through. What we really need is something to attach to the thought of losing weight that will either give us a huge amount of pain or a huge amount of pleasure:

  • Obesity is thought to have contributed to more than 4 million deaths worldwide; imagine having to explain to your children that you won’t be with them as they grow up because you heart cannot cope with the stress of carrying around all the extra weight that you’re carrying Morbidly obese woman
  • Imagine the pride and delight on your children’s faces as you stand next to them on their wedding day a picture of health and vitality because, a few years previously, you decided that you wanted to change YOUR life.
  • Imagine, if your one dream is to see the world before you die, that you are prevented from air travel because your body has simply grown too big to fit into the seats on an aeroplance
  • Imagine yourself, free and healthy, enjoying all the sights and sounds of the place that you’ve wanted to visit your entire life, the place you dreamed of visiting as a child.
  • Imagine the utter humiliation of being told, in front of a shop full of people, that the dress you’ve saved up to buy for months and months, just doesn’t come in a size that big
  • Imagine the pleasure you’ll feel when you hand over your hard earned cash for the dress that you’ve so admired that looks absolutely beautiful on you and fits just perfectly. Beautiful dress

All of these are just examples, we are all motivated by different things after all, but, if you do want to lose weight and feel healthier and happier make it something that you really, really need and not just something that you want. The negatives that I’ve given here might seem harsh and even cruel but, if we want to make an enormous change in our lives that’s what we need to do. The thought of either agony or ecstasy are extremely powerful motivators, ‘I’d really like to….” just doesn’t quite cut it unfortunately.