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.

Are You Really Trying?

The bad news is that no such diet exists; you can starve yourself and exercise until you’re blue (or red) in the face but, if you were born without gazelle like legs and your DNA has determined that your boobs will forever remain like two fried eggs on a draining board, you’re not going to feature in the Victoria Secrets catalogue any time soon.

Are you struggling to lose weight? Do you try every diet going but find that nothing works? Do you wish that there was a quick fix that would shed the pounds and give you the kind of body that would make a super model jealous?

Lingerie modelThe bad news is that no such diet exists; you can starve yourself and exercise until you’re blue (or red) in the face but, if you were born without gazelle like legs and your DNA has determined that your boobs will forever remain like two fried eggs on a draining board, you’re not going to feature in the Victoria Secrets catalogue any time soon. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh but, if you really want to improve your fitness and lose a few pounds you have to have realistic expectations. I read something this morning which discussed whether or not you can lose 10lbs in a week; yes of course you can, you just don’t eat anything. Is it a healthy approach? No! Will you put back on all the weight when you start eating normally again? Yes and probably more besides. The very simple answer to weight loss is that you need to eat less and exercise more so why are we always looking for a quick fix and why do so many people struggle to lose their excess pounds?

Personally, I think that part of the reason is that some people simply don’t really want to lose weight and therefore they aren’t motivated to do the things that are required. Every day, thanks to the internet and the power of advertising we are bombarded with images of women that current society has deemed ‘beautiful’. There is a very specific body type which is considered attractive and most women aspire to it. Photoshop-main-imageHowever, images are often photo-shopped and, frankly, there are only two ways to get a body like that if you weren’t born with it:

  1. Find a way to travel back in time and be born to different parents
  2. Spend thousands on implants and plastic surgery

We have the weight loss Nirvana thrust in front of eyes every single day, sometimes in the name of health but, more often in the name of beauty. Girl friends get together and discuss the celebrity diets, the latest crazes in dieting (think eating nothing but cabbage – bleugh!) and encourage each other to shed a few pounds so that they are a uniform size 10. With this kind of pressure from all sides, it must be pretty difficult to stand up and say ‘actually, I’m quite happy being a size 14; I’m healthy and fit and I like my big boobs and bum’. However, if you don’t you’ll end up in an endless circle of doing what you don’t like: dieting to lose weight and then reverting back to what you do like: eating shepherds pie in front of the TV and putting the weight back on. Worse, you’ll beat yourself up every time you choose the shepherds pie and the TV over a run round the block and a salad which will then make your pleasure a guilty pleasure which, somehow, then makes it even more desirous.

If the motivation to lose weight is not there you will find excuses; we all do it when we’re doing something we don’t really enjoy. Human beings are prone to procrastination – why do today what you can put off until tomorrow – and this applies as much to weight loss as to everything else.

“I’m going to make sure that I eat regular healthy meals every day and I won’t snack……unless I’m really hungry”

“I’m going to make sure that I stick to my diet at all times……….unless I go out for dinner”

“I’m going to try and cut out sugar…………but I need to have a treat sometimes don’t I”

“It won’t hurt if I have a pizza a couple of times a week……….everything in moderation right?”

“My friends are all going out for burgers…….I can do an extra 30 minutes at the gym tomorrow can’t I?”

“I know the trainer said 4 miles per hour on the treadmill………..what difference can 0.5 mile per hour make?”

If you still look cuteTo get your body in a peak physical state takes time and dedication. You don’t ‘go on a diet’, you eat a certain way all the time and you plan your meals to ensure that you have the optimum amount of fuel in your body to enable you to exercise it and keep it lean and healthy. You spend hours every week sweating and straining, working every muscle in your body to the point of fatigue; you run, walk, swim, lift weights, do Pilates or yoga, team sports, ski, whatever, all to keep yourself in top shape.

Being Happy QuotesIf you’re not prepared to do that it’s ok, it’s your body and you can do with it whatever you like but, before you say that diets never work for you, ask yourself if you are really committed to changing. If you’re not then be happy with that decision and celebrate the body that you have; the only person you should ever change for is you!

Stop! It’s Naughty

If you then tell them, yes it’s naughty but you can have it twice a week on Monday and Thursday afternoons at 3 o’clock, what will that do? For most of us by the time Monday and Thursday lunch times swing round we’ll be salivating and trying to stop ourselves diving head first into the fridge (or wherever you’ve stashed your tasty treat). At 2.59 we’ll be breaking out in a cold sweat and, at 3.01,heaving a huge sigh of relief as our taste buds finally come into contact with whatever it is we’ve been craving.

Some people absolutely swear by slimming clubs and, until 2017, The Biggest Loser was one of the US’s most popular TV shows but are these types of organisations really the best idea for people who want to lose weight? More importantly, are ‘diets’ really the way to keep the weight off or even to lose weight in the first place?

The fundamental thing that needs to be considered before any kind of weight loss programme is why you want to lose weight. You might say ‘well it’s obvious isn’t it’ but if you really take the time to think about it, it might not be. Being slim for some people is like the holy grail, they think that, if they shed, 50llbs their world will suddenly be filled with rainbows and unicorns but, unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that. Whatever you look like on the outside, you will still be you on the inside so you need to have a think about whether it’s your body that needs fixing or your mind.

Most weight loss programmes are based on systems of punishment and reward: foods will be given points according to their calories and will then be labelled good or bad for you. Some slimming clubs even label certain foods as ‘sins’ (it didn’t stop Adam and Eve with the apple did it!?) The thinking behind this is that if you commit too many ‘sins’ you will continue to gain weight whereas, if you stick to the foods that have been deemed good for you, you will lose weight. However, built into most of these regimes will be the concept of a ‘treat’ which, continuing with the Garden of Eden analogy is a bit like telling you the apple is forbidden and then handing it to you on a plate with a nice bit of cheese and some crackers! If you think about human psychology, what will it do to most people if you tell them that something’s ‘forbidden’ or ‘naughty’? They’ll want it even more – think teenagers with alcohol! If you then tell them, yes it’s naughty but you can have it twice a week on Monday and Thursday afternoons at 3 o’clock, what will that do? For most of us by the time Monday and Thursday lunch times swing round we’ll be salivating and trying to stop ourselves diving head first into the fridge (or wherever you’ve stashed your tasty treat). At 2.59 we’ll be breaking out in a cold sweat and, at 3.01,heaving a huge sigh of relief as our taste buds finally come into contact with whatever it is we’ve been craving.

The other way that weight loss programmes work is to cut your food intake drastically and exercise you into the ground which is exactly what they did on the hit show The Biggest Loser. The contestants were alternately bullied and cajoled but they were also given ‘motivation’ in the form of a dirty great cheque at the end of it all; $250,000 to be precise. For some of the contestants it worked, they lost huge amounts of weight and they kept it off but many of them reverted to their previous eating habits and piled the pounds back on. biggest loserSome were back or close to their previous weight within a couple of years and some even exceeded it. For those who were truly motivated the regime of healthy, low calorie food and 4 to 6 hours of exercise a day was enough for them to transform their bodies and the transformation itself was enough motivation for them to continue with a healthy lifestyle.

However, the contestants on that show were in a bubble; their meals were tailored to their requirements, their exercise plans were designed specifically for them and they had top level personal trainers at their disposal all day and every day. Once many of them went back to the real world and didn’t have access to all those things, the weight piled back on again. What they also lost when they returned to normal life was the time to train and the emotional support that they received from their trainers and the other contestants.

So what’s the answer if you don’t have a huge team of people who are willing to help you undertake your physical transformation and you don’t like counting calories and having to wait until Monday afternoon for your sinful pleasures?

SuccessThe first thing is to stop thinking that your weight loss journey will be a battle and that you’ll have to give things up in order to succeed. In that way you start from a positive place rather than a negative place which is an awful lot easier mentally and emotionally. Think about all the things that YOU will gain if you lose weight. Don’t think about what other people may say or feel, think about how it will benefit you personally and write those things down, just 2 or 3 if that’s all you can think of, in a little notebook everyday. Secondly, realise that weight loss is not, when all is said and done, complicated – if you take in less calories than you expend you WILL lose weight, no question about it. However, counting calories requires you to microscopically examine everything that you eat and that is a pain in the ass. What is much easier is to take the plate that you normally put your dinner on, measure it and then go out and buy one which is 2/3rd’s the size. You will not be able to dish up the same portion size that you would normally as some of the food would just fall off the edge but your plate will still be full which means that, psychologically, you won’t feel that you’re being deprived of anything.

Next use smaller forks and spoons. I know this sounds a little strange but what it will do is to slow down your eating; you will be taking smaller mouthfuls because you’ll have no choice. This will then give your stomach a chance to register that food is on the way and have time to tell you that you’ve eaten enough. As our meals have a little way to travel before they turn up on our tummy radars it’s very easy to over-eat; you know that feeling when it seems that, all of a sudden, you are absolutely stuffed? Taking smaller mouthfuls should mean that you will stop eating long before you get that ‘I think i’m going to explode’ feeling.

The third thing is to cut, by half, the processed foods that you consume – ready meals, burgers, pizzas, cakes,pastries, sausages, bacon etc. You don’t need to cut it out completely and you don’t need to have days without – just replace the processed stuff with something natural and home cooked. stir fry chickenMost people think healthy is salad, salad and more salad but it doesn’t need to be like that at all. Try experimenting with stir fried chicken and vegetables, add more fish to your diet, look for colourful foods to brighten up your platehandmadeburgersinportobellomushroomcaps, look for alternatives to your favourite junk meal; try using portobello mushrooms on top and underneath a home-made burger instead of a bun. There are so many great recipes on line that you can try, it just takes a little imagination and effort but once you get started, it’s great fun discovering new ideas.

If you can make those changes to your diet, you will lose weight but, if you want to make the journey easier, you will also need to think about exercise. You don’t need to rush out and sign up for life-time membership of your local gym, you just need to look for opportunities to move more than you’re doing now. Park the car further from the office or, if it’s less than a mile away, walk to work. Instead of taking the kids to school in the car, get up earlier and walk with them. Go for a walk after you’ve eaten lunch rather than playing on your phone at your desk, walk up the stairs rather than taking the lift. climbing stairs

As you begin to lose weight and do a little more exercise you will find, quite naturally, that you have more energy, as you will have more energy you will have more motivation to exercise, the more muscle you build, the faster you will lose the fat etc. etc. etc. Once you get into the habit of exercise you may well find yourself wanting to join a gym or the local five a side football team but you can do that when you’re ready, there’s no pressure. The only thing you need to do is to do a little more tomorrow than you did yesterday.

standing on scaleIn this way you can lose weight slowly and easily without feeling that nice is naughty and without the pressure of weekly weigh-ins (or humiliations as they should more accurately called when people haven’t reached their prescribed target for that week.) It’s much more fun to think about what you will gain from your new healthier lifestyle than what you will be ‘giving up’. If your mind is happy about losing weight, your body will be too.

I’d really love to hear about your weight loss journeys if you have a few minutes to spare to drop me a line.

Have a great day everyone x

 

Unleash your Inner Cave Man (or Woman)

Although they risked being mauled by whatever it was they fancied to eat that day (which makes me wonder how many of them decided that vegetarianism was a good option), they didn’t risk heart disease from ingesting refined sugars, refined carbs and trans fats.

I’ve recently been reading up on the Paleo diet which seems to have captured public imagination in a big way. Whilst I have a problem with the word ‘diet’ in general because it implies:

  1. That you will have to give something up or, in other words, deprive yourself of something you enjoy
  2. That it’s something you will undertake as a ‘journey’ i.e. there will be a beginning, a middle and an end, after which you will have finished your ‘journey’ and can go back to eating as you did before

this healthy life choice is certainly one that I approve of and, without realising it, have been pretty much following for the last few years.

I won’t bore you with the details as there is bucket loads of information on the internet about it but, basically, the eating plan is ‘natural’. paleo fooThe basic premise is that you eat what would have been available to cave men – meat, fish, fruit, nuts and vegetables. Whilst cavemen had many trials and tribulations I am sure, one of them was not trying to avoid all the additives and chemicals that are responsible for many of the health problems that we have today. mammothIf they were hungry they killed something or picked something from a tree or a plant; their nutritional needs were met by what they had available at the time. Although they risked being mauled by whatever it was they fancied to eat that day (which makes me wonder how many of them decided that vegetarianism was a good option), they didn’t risk heart disease from ingesting refined sugars, refined carbs and trans fats.

I try to eat foods that have not been ‘mucked about with’ as I like to put it – nothing processed and very little junk food (although I do have a penchant for Pizza Diavola and will indulge on rare occasions). This combined with plenty of exercise has ensured that my weight has stayed the same, give or take a couple of ounces, for the last 4 years. Personally, I’m happy to live like a cave woman except for the ‘cave’ part; indoor toilets and a front door are a must for me I’m afraid ;O)

 

What is it with Women?

All of this exercise may leave me a sweaty, unkempt mess when I’ve finished but a quick shower and a bit of make-up soon sorts that out and, far from making me feel self-conscious or less feminine, knowing that my body is as healthy and in shape as it can be is nothing short of empowering. So, ladies, stop worrying about how you’ll look when you exercise and concentrate on how you’ ll feel ;O)

I’ve just come across an article in the Guardian which refers to a recent study undertaken in Australia; it concludes that fear of judgement is stopping women from exercising. Apparently they are worried about how they will look when they exercise (red in the face, sweaty and disheveled) but they are also worried about becoming overly muscular and less feminine! I really cannot understand the former as everyone gets hot and sweaty when they exercise be they male or female but the second could be, I suppose, a legitimate concern for some women if they don’t understand the forms of exercise that are available to them.

woman body builder

There is a great difference between building muscle and having good muscle definition. If you start going to the gym and gradually lift heavier and heavier weights and eat more and more to compensate then of course you will bulk up. 2b1c4b9de49c2c40bbc3301946cf06f5 I speak from experience here; when I was in my late twenties and early thirties I started going to a gym that was mainly used by people who were they to body build and to weight train. I have a massive competitive streak and so I started to train with weights in order to compete at the same level as the most experienced women there; after about 9 months I was beating them. At this point I will readily admit that it became something of an obsession and I was in the gym 4 nights a week for 2 hours at a time and, after a few more months, I was pushing myself to be able to compete with the men. As I was so dedicated (or perhaps, looking back, slightly unhinged) the owner of the gym started to train me personally as he wanted me to compete. I was more than happy to go along with that and the weights continued to go up and up and up. At my peak I was dead lifting 125kg, bench pressing 70kg and leg pressing 340kg which was more than some of the men. I was also doing cardio and was burning huge amount of calories which meant that I was eating more than I ever had. However, as I was working out so much and my diet was tailored to my work outs (lots of protein, fresh fruit and veg with controlled carbs) I had very little fat on my body and amazing muscle definition. The down side was that I had really bulked up; I weighed around 11 stone (70kg) and was wearing a size 14. That said, in no way did I feel unfeminine, not that I’ve ever been a frilly, lacy kind of girl; I felt empowered, strong and sexy. I was probably at my most healthy at this point in my life and I loved it. A series of events in my personal life meant that I had to stop going to that particular gym and so I lost my personal trainer. However, I carried on alone and, over time, I learned how to keep the muscle definition but also how not to bulk up too much.

Best-Protein-Foods-1068x566High weights and low repetitions will build muscle and strength but lower weights and higher numbers of repetitions will give you muscle definition and stamina. You will also find that the more muscle you have the more easily you will burn fat, so it’s great to work out if you want to lose weight, but that doesn’t mean that you need to end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Protein is very important so you need to be eating plenty of chicken, eggs, milk, cheese and lean red meat. Accompany these with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and not too much bread, rice or pasta. You need a certain amount of carbs to fuel your body but excessive amounts will pile on the pounds.

Before you go to the gym make sure that you eat something about an hour before; some people swear by weight training on an empty stomach but I just find that I tire more quickly and struggle to finish my workout. I find that a small handful of almonds or a banana give me plenty of energy to do what I need to do.

After I lost my husband I dropped about 2 stone in weight and I’m now a size 10; I’m happy with that and all my clothes are a size 10 so I don’t want to start bulking up again. For this reason I stick with 3 sets of each exercise with 10 repetitions per set but I will do 30 minutes on the treadmill before I start and I will keep the weights heavy enough so that I know my muscles are working but not so heavy that I have to drop down to 4 or 6 reps.

IMG_4186In addition I also do Pilates for an hour twice a week and yoga 2 or 3 times a week when I feel the need to relax or to stretch tired muscles. Both Pilates and Yoga create long lean muscles and shape the body – bum and boobs are lifted, the stomach is flatter and the waist more defined.

All of this exercise may leave me a sweaty, unkempt mess when I’ve finished but a quick shower and a bit of make-up soon sorts that out and, far from making me feel self-conscious or less feminine, knowing that my body is as healthy and in shape as it can be is nothing short of empowering. So, ladies, stop worrying about how you’ll look when you exercise and concentrate on how you’ ll feel ;O)

Good Morning World

what you look for to snack on will contain sugar and you end up in a vicious circle – sugar-energy rush-hunger-more sugar-energy rush etc.

If you want to have  really great day then it helps to start out the right way………

As soon as you wake up every morning, before you do anything else, smile. Over 150,000 people die every day; today you are not one of them so smile and thank the Universe for giving you another 24 hours to enjoy. When you have checked that your nearest and dearest are also still alive smile again!

Next we need to think about getting some fuel into that wonderful machine we call our body. Scrambled or poached eggs are a great start to the day because they are super high in protein, they contain anti-oxidants and are a good source of choline which will help to maintain the health of our livers and our brains. Vitamins D, B6, B12 and B2 can also be found in an egg along with selenium and zinc all of which will contribute to your health and well- being. Added to all of this, they will leave you feeling fuller for longer which means that you won’t be tempted to start snacking mid-morning.

If you’re not a big fan of eggs try porridge oats with blueberries or Greek yoghurt with fresh fruit. If you want to lose weight, lower blood sugar and promote heart health then oatmeal is the way forward. It is full of vitamins and nutrients but, unlike other breakfast cereals, it’s not loaded with sugar so it will slowly release energy and keep you full until lunchtime. Greek yoghurt is high in protein and, again, will keep you feeling fuller for longer. With fresh fruit it makes a wonderfully tasty and nutritious breakfast.

So what should you avoid for breakfast? Basically anything that is full of sugar or fried (or both!!) Sugar will give you a pretty much instant energy rush but it won’t last and it won’t be long before you’re looking for something to snack on and that’s when the pounds start piling on because, more than likely, what you look for to snack on will contain sugar and you end up in a vicious circle – sugar-energy rush-hunger-more sugar-energy rush etc. Don’t be fooled into thinking that breakfast cereals are the healthy option either, most of them are packed full of sugar, have a look on the packet before you buy and avoid anything with more than 5g per 100g.

If you normally have a cup of coffee or tea with breakfast that’s great but try it without sugar and green tea makes a super healthy alternative. To re-hydrate your body and flush your digestive system try squeezing the juice of a whole lemon into a glass of hot water.

Ok, so you’ve fuelled the machine so now let’s use it! Most of you will be off to work so let’s just have a look at a few exercises you can do before you set off – just 10 minutes so no need to get up at the crack of dawn! What’s more, you don’t even need to leave your house.

When you’ve finished you should be feeling energised and ready for your day. Wherever you are off to this morning see if you can fit in a 10 minute walk, park a little farther from work or walk to the bus stop after the one you’d usually use or take the stairs when you would usually use the elevator. If your job involves a lot of sitting down just give yourself a mental nudge every hour and get up and have a walk around and keep the blood flowing and your energy levels up.

If you feel a little bit peckish during the morning, firstly, think whether you are really hungry or whether it’s just the case that you would normally snack on something at this time. If it’s the latter, have a glass of water and a little walk around and see if you still feel the need to eat something. If you do then try one of these great healthy snacks rather than reaching for something sugary:

Have a really great day everyone!