Many people struggle with weight loss. There is such conflicting information and advice and many people try really hard and either don’t lose weight or put it straight back on again. If you’ve been reading my posts for a while now you’ll know that I don’t subscribe to the practice of dieting. Life is way too short to live with deprivation and as parents, there are so many pressures on our time and resilience that to ask us to suffer through food deprivation as well is all too much! But I do believe in eating the right foods for your body, listening to your body and understanding what food actually does to your body.
So here are my 5 changes that you can make today to start losing weight and keep it off.
1. Take care with what you eat – so let’s start with the obvious, you can’t eat foods that are high in trans fats (processed biscuits and cakes) or high in sugar and expect to lose weight. The human body needs carbohydrates, protein and fat and the vitamins and minerals that come along with those real foods. If you are looking to lose weight, remove all processed foods from your diet, this includes bread, biscuits and crackers. Try it, just eat real food in its whole form and as much of them as you want. Do it for a week and see the difference. Eat meat, poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts and nothing else. And while we are talking about what you are eating, eat more vegetables, particularly of the green variety. Already eat lots of veggies? Eat more! Every time you eat, about 2/3 of what you eat should be vegetables. You can incorporate vegetables into your diet through green smoothies and more salads and stirfrys. You’ll quickly notice how you start looking for more greens as your microbiome (your gut flora) changes as you get healthier.
2. Be aware of why you eat – most people have an emotional trigger around food. This is often because as children we are soothed with food or sweets when we were upset or hurt. Do you eat when you are stressed, happy, anxious, sad, worried, bored or any other emotion? Use all your senses to soothe emotion, not just your taste buds. It may also be that you are thirsty, 90% of hunger is actually thirst in disguise. Humans needs to be drinking around 2 litres of water every day. When we are aware of why we are eating, we know whether we are eating for hunger or for another reason. If we are not hungry but we eat anyway, that is excess energy that our body doesn’t need and will store for later use (as fat!).
3. Watch how you eat – does your eating take place in front of a screen, when you are distracted and not taking note as to what you are putting into your mouth? Are you eating on the run, distracted whilst driving or doing something else? Part of feeling full is our brains knowing that we have eaten. If we keep our brains occupied with other tasks while we are eating, we do not get that feeling of being finished and full and tend to over eat. Value eating and take time out from life to enjoy your food and the peace and quiet that comes with that. Being distracted robs us of moments of tranquility to recharge and fuel our body as well as our minds.
4. Remove as many toxins from your life as you can – the human body deals efficiently with toxins however when we are exposed to too much, it stores excess toxins in our fat. Fat is extremely stable and the body works hard to stop us losing fat so it is a safe place to store toxins. In addition to in our food, toxins are found in the chemicals we use to wash ourselves and our hair (the skin is the biggest organ so ensure the products you use on your skin are safe enough for you to eat) and skin care products. Toxins are also found in our cleaning products and gardens (weedkillers such as Roundup). There are many safe options for cleaning such as eucalyptus oil, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. There are also so many safe options available these days at the supermarket you don’t need to fill your home (and body) with chemicals.
5. Ensure you are getting plenty of good quality sleep – the body cannot lose weight when it does not have proper sleep. The process of sleep enables the body to heal and restore. This is really important for shift workers and night owls but we can all take better care to limit alcohol consumption close to bed time and remove sources of EMFs from our bedrooms (things such as turning off the WIFI and removing phones and screens from bedrooms). The time before we go to sleep is important too and watching screens confuses our brains and changes our circadian rhythms making it hard to fall asleep and hard to get into a good deep sleep.
I realise that this is way of thinking about weight loss is quite different to other programmes you may have tried in the past. Most diets are based on the calorie in vs calorie out scenario. This is flawed because food isn’t that simple. Most foods have a different caloric value as they pass through the body making it irrelevant what ‘number’ was consumed. It also ignores that our body treats carbohydrates, protein and fat differently. Fat for example fills us up fast and makes it really difficult to overeat.
We also need to move. I don’t advocate exercise as a way to lose weight but I do think it is an extremely important part of maintaining a healthy weight, a healthy heart and a healthy mind. If you change what you eat without changing how you move, you won’t see great results. And if you change how you move but not what you eat, you probably won’t see great results. But moving is an integral part of being human. We are not designed to be sedentary so take every opportunity to move in your day. And the more you move the more you will grow to love moving, find an exercise that brings you joy. It’s also important to know that pushing our heart to different levels achieves different results. Let me explain that. Fat burns at a much lower heart rate than increasing our fitness. So if your aim is to increase your fitness, you’ll need more high intensity exercise. If your aim is to lose weight, you’ll need more low intensity exercise. You’ll still increase your fitness and endurance but your body will burn fat faster.
Be gentle with yourself. The human body will do anything it can to stop us losing weight. Our biological ancestry has taught us that to lose weight is to be in starvation and at risk of dying. Take your time to lose weight and make changes in your life that you can sustain as healthy habits for your whole life. There’s no point in losing weight only to revert back to old habits.
Respect your body, it’s the only one you have and you want it to last the test of time so eat good food, move with joy and enjoy abundant good health.
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