A New Year’s Resolution: Weight Loss & Healthy Living

Diet & Weight Loss

Well, it’s that time of year again…yes, where everyone reflects on the previous year and contemplates changes; weight loss and creating healthier lifestyle choices normally making it into the ‘top ten’! Perhaps its your New Year’s resolution? Are you feeling hyped and positive going into 2015? … All ready with your new ‘kick-ass’ healthy-living regime to create a healthier you?! Perhaps you are now the ‘master of your temple’ and no one is going to stand in your way…not even yourself? If you answered yes, what is your plan of action?

 

Photo by: Israel Byrne_Flickr

Weight loss and living a healthier lifestyle should resonate further than a ‘New Year’s resolution’ though… because we deserve that much right? To be healthy and happy for more than 2-3 months of the year? Of course we do! But if you think it’s a simple process, think again (I’m not saying this to discourage you, I just think it’s better to be open and honest). If it was easy to lose and maintain weight loss, there wouldn’t be such an obesity epidemic!

 

Negative behaviours learnt over decades can take ages for us to convert into positive ones…but it is possible. It’s not a perfect system and we have to be able to accept the highs with the lows of this new journey that we’re about to embark on… and of course, how weight loss works. For example, I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet”…well you can’t change unhealthy habits until you can explain and accept what is causing them in the first place either!

 

Successful weight loss stems from a combination of controlling your actions & emotions…

 

The 5 Building Blocks For Successful Weight Loss

  1. Motivation: You might of have had a recent health scare or received unsolicited comments from your family or friends… but unless you are motivated for healthy changes and a better quality of life (maybe this requires you to ask for help & support?), you’re not going to change your unhealthy habits…period!
  1. Exercise regime: Firstly, do something you enjoy, your more likely to stick to it. Making time to exercise (with a realistic schedule) will aid weight loss and create a healthier body and mind; check out my previous article for fitness guidance. The more you exercise…the better you’ll feel….and eventually you’ll start seeing positive changes that will motivate you to keep it up…but you know that this is only part of the healthy living/weight loss equation.
  1. Healthy Diet: Weight loss requires a daily reduction of calories. You can’t out exercise a bad diet…. So do not treat your body like a human dust bin and expect to be the epiphany of good health! Do you know anyone that spends an hour in the gym a few times a week and still eats takeaways, sweets and drinks alcohol because they think they have created the perfect energy balance? How do they look? Are they a model for healthy living?

Calories in vs. calories burned folks! Even if you reduce your calories throughout the week and have a big ‘blow-out’ (you know, the “I allow myself to eat anything for a day”)…might be enough to undo all your hard work! To loss 1Lb a week you must burn 3500kcal through diet and exercise….so everything in moderation. Enough said!

4. Self-analysis: It’s your rational, explanation and acceptance ….why are you overweight? Why are you changing your lifestyle? If your emotions are running high they can reek havoc on your lifestyle choices… not addressing your: overeating at meals, how your emotions trigger mindless eating, secret binge habits that are possibly followed by hours of exercise to try and counteract it, or induced vomiting will not create the ideal environment for change….you are more likely to fall back into old lifestyle regimes.

You can’t expect weight loss to make you happy (thin or overweight, everyone has problems and concerns) and equally you cannot eat to try and suppress your emotions…

It’s important to address your mental health. Your mind is essential organ like everything else. If your heart or kidneys were sick, would you not seek intervention? Why not do the same in this instance?

  1. Commitment: You love the results, but do you know how to keep the momentum going? You have to plan ahead to help instil your positive lifestyle changes and commit to making these changes ‘permanent’; keep them small and practical to keep yourself motivated!

 

 

 

10 Reasons Why Weight Loss Regimes Fail

Photo by: Anitarium Nutrition Team_Flickr

 

 

1. You do not take the time to plan ahead, e.g. preparing healthy lunches, making time for  exercise, meditation etc.

2. Unrealistic goals/expectations: being too fixated on numbers or body shapes, e.g. losing a stone in one week and wanting to look like a super model is non-sense, as is assuming dieting alone will rid you of fat and cellulite.

3. Your emotions: Not trying to fix/address the underlying reason(s) why you are fat, overweight, unhappy etc and thinking weight-loss will make you instantly happy.

4. Lack of knowledge: about healthy foods/portion sizes and exercise.

5. Lack of support and/or pressure from: family, friends, work colleagues and the media (a.k.a horrible gossip magazines pushing the latest skinny celeb!)

6. Refusing to incorporate exercise.

7. Too restrictive! Not eating enough and the lack of nutrients will cause hunger and inevitably, unhealthy food cravings & binges takes over.

8. Undesirable physical side-effects, e.g. G.I problems (constipation, diarrhoea, bad breath) or mental decline (fatigue, irritability, brain fog, headaches or mood swings) due to (see number 7!).

9. You make the age-old mistake…you view it as just another fad diet or crazy ‘detox’ and not a lifestyle change.

10. Cheating in the kitchen, e.g. relying on ready meals or convenience foods (even ‘weight watcher’ ones) and do not try to learn essential cooking skills to maintain a healthy lifestyle (beyond your initial weight loss) through the acquired knowledge of ‘healthy foods and portion sizes’.

 

Ways to stay motivated, kick-butt & keep living a healthier lifestyle!

 

Weight Loss & Healthy Living Tools

Photo by: Yacine Amirl Flickr

 

  • Embrace changes and the lows and highs of your journey.
  • Ultimately we are our own worse enemies when it comes to sticking to healthy lifestyles… so stop making excuses and standing in the way of your own success!
  • Keep a weight loss diary. Record your food intakes, moods, exercise and body measurements. This can allow you to reflect on changes, possible set-backs and what stimulates your food choices.
  • Exercise! Make a plan, whether it’s using your local leisure centre, walking to work, only using stairs and not the escalator or a running app on your mobile to help motivate you….
    • Eat a healthy breakfast: set your mind, body and metabolism up for the best day possible!

      Photo by: Brent Hofacker Flickr

 

  • Knowledge of healthy foods and where to source them in your local town. Try cooking in advance, prepare your own lunches and snacks to avoid temptations at work.
  • Kitchen essentials: to prepare and  store healthy foods, e.g. tupperware, a blender, slow cooker, food processor, low-fat cookbooks etc.
  • Do not use foods at ‘treats’. Save for a holiday, new clothes, a down payment on a house….create positive choices and reinforcements (that will not cause weight gain) and reduce negative temptations and old habits.
  • Keep temptations out of the house! Its simple and the so many of us can vow for this (myself included). Its all about portion control …and sometimes that means making something very scarce!
  • No restrictive ‘diets’! Eat an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and source: lean meats, fish, nuts, legumes, pulses and whole grains. Why not even try going vegetarian or vegan for a month? Veganuary anyone?! 

    Photo by: Helga Weber Flickr

 

  • Have a ‘Stress Outlet’, e.g. meditation, dance class, a spa day with your friends…something that will distress your mind and body…balancing hormones, mood, diet & a better quality of sleep= weight loss.
  • Create a support network! Have one in place consisting of friends, family, your GP, dietitian or recognised nutritionist or even weight loss club etc. It needs to consist of the people that are going to encourage, motivate and offer you support with your new journey!
  • Bedtime routines! Eat your main meal 2-3 hours before bed, wind down 1-2 hours before bed and create the perfect temperature, lighting etc. in your bedroom that will enable an ideal night’s rest (preferably for 7-8 hours!).
  • Read daily/weekly, do puzzles! Keep your mind active and prevent mental decline!
  • Photo by: Paul Bence Flickr

  • Being mindful of existing medical conditions, e.g. diabetes, PCOS, heart disease. Learn how to support and treat them through healthy lifestyle interventions.
  • Focus on body measurements rather than what your bathroom scale says.
  • Give your old, ’fat’ clothes to a charity shop because you won’t be needing them anymore!
  • Keep hydrated! Check out my other article for quick tips on hydration. 
  • Health ‘M.O.T’s’: Try and overcome any fear of needles and get your cholesterol, blood glucose and standard blood work checked… because ignorance isn’t bliss.

    Photo by: Gemanji Flickr

  • Don’t be afraid to say ‘NO’ to people! Whether it’s to their office baked goods or meeting them after work at a pub…especially if it interferes with your new lifestyle choices, e.g. tell them you’ll meet them for a quick bite after you go for your nightly jog! If they have a problem with this, then its something that they can reflect on….maybe they will realise they should be exercising more themselves!!

 

Major life changes…whether it’s weight loss, creating healthy living habits, planning for a family or saving for a house….these major milestones/events all require planning because they face potential hurdles, hardships and problem solving ahead!

If you stumble at the first hurdle, just pick yourself up from that moment and move ahead. Do not dwell on your failures; people are always too quick (by nature) to put themselves down. Praise yourself every step along the way and remember nothing is impossible if you really desire and work hard for it….especially now that you have the tools for success!

 

If you have any questions regarding the following information, please feel free to drop us a line.

 

Thank you for all of your kind thoughts and support this year. 

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby
Feature image by: Faycel fx_Flickr

Portion Sizes: Getting It Right For Our Waistlines!

Diet & Weight Loss

Food: our friend or foe? Yes, I’m sure quite a few of us would divulge that we have a love-hate relationship with food; it’s not a secret that we have seasonal, emotional or even social tendencies to over eat! Overeating, whether its biscuits, cheese, turkey, or quinoa, can all lead to increased weight gain. Rising waistlines and obesity levels can be indicative of our portion sizes and/or general diet; as studies in many western countries have highlighted (UK , America, Canada and Australia). Hands up if you have overheard or maybe even quoted yourself expressing this phrase “I can’t seem to lose weight, even while eating healthy foods- what’s going on?”  Well I think the answer to that question is ‘how well do we know our portion sizes’?

 

Portion sizes can be very hard to visualise and the ‘portion distortion’ effect makes it even more difficult, for example, studies have shown that the size of bowls or plates used can influence the quantity of food we consume.  Public interest has also focused on how food portion sizes have increased over the last few decades, such as an increase to packaging sizes of 30-50%; we have also become the kings and queens of ‘supersizing’ and ‘BOGOF’ deals, this is very evident within fast-food chains. These bigger portion sizes are resulting in the rise of obesity, type 2 diabetes and associated chronic diseases.

As well as companies increasing portion sizes they use widely different terms, e.g. portion size, serving size, recommended amount, snack size, fun size, sharing size etc, it’s no wonder we’re getting confused.  What is the difference?

  • A ‘portion’: is based on our daily recommended calorie intake (our DRVs).
  • A ‘serving’: until recently it could be whatever size companies wanted it to be, now thanks to pressure from health organizations and the government; it is linked to portion sizes, but can vary between companies and products and is usually hidden away on the back of the package.

 

Not only is this information hidden away, the way it’s presented will vary greatly and even if the portion sizes are communicated clearly, it can be unclear what they mean in real terms. For example, a 200g crisp packet states there is 85kcal in one 45g serving …so what does 45 grams look like?!

Photo by_Maryvery1 Flickr

The reality is that we’re not going to pack a kitchen scale or measuring cup into our purse and whisk them out at dinner party; social death anyone?

These tangible instruments are a great starting point and give us an increased aptitude to visualise quantities, but this can be easily forgotten; before we know it, we’re eating ‘our normal portions’ again and purchasing larger dress sizes. After all, it’s not necessarily what we eat, but the quantity (and frequency) of which we consume it.

Subjectively speaking, the quickest way to gauge portion size is from a healthy eating regime or perhaps how we feel after finishing a meal; we can quickly distinguish the difference between volumes of rice, or what a portion of cereal looks like. I think it’s fair to say that ‘dieting’ or not, we understand that devouring an entire family-sized bar of chocolate will carry long-term consequences to our health.

 

Support is at hand though. The BDA has The eatwell plate; a food plate that addresses the quantities of the five food groups.

Photo by: Lee Baker Flickr

Photo by: Lee Baker Flickr

 

The 5 A DAY scheme similarly highlights fruit and vegetable portion sizes.  Frustratingly, some companies like to extort our indolence and time constraints by pushing their expensive 5 A DAY pots of fruit & vegetables; don’t buy them, make your own!

These guidelines supplied by healthcare professionals are all great, but are difficult to apply to individual foods, e.g. eating one 80g portion of fruit cannot be applied when eating calorific chocolate, peanut butter or cheese- well we can dream!

 

Let’s start from scratch. Here are some strategies to correct our portion size mind-set.

 

Some Simple Ways To Express Portion Sizes:

Photo courtesy of: Topsy Tasty

 

Obviously this is not an exhaustive food list, but it will help get us started. Check out my additional information below on ways to help make portion sizes relative and manageable.

 

A Handy Solution!

Photo courtesy of: Topsy Tasty

 

Recommend Reading:

So it looks like we’re going to eat a lot less with our eyes and more with our hands- bon appétit!

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: a james Flickr