Struggling to get on track this January?

I have noticed over the years that for most people, it takes a while to get on track with a good routine and healthy eating in the new year. It’s not just a matter of flicking a switch in your head on 1st January and off you go!

Why can’t I just get started?!

There might have been boxes of sweets and chocolates lurking around the house, rich cheeses in the fridge…. sometimes there are still invitations and events that get squeezed into the early days of January, get-togethers with people we wanted to see over ‘the Christmas’ and didn’t have space in the diary or the wherewithal to make happen! Also we love the foods and drinks we indulge in over Christmas and it can take a while to wean ourselves off them both physically and emotionally – your body will be sending you messages to keep going with the goodies, keep storing fat… time to get smarter than your body!!

No more fad diets – but make some real changes

I often see clients who have done well in the past with weight loss – whether they attended a slimming club, did it themselves, did a gym programme… but the weight has gone back on. I think the era of fad diets is, thankfully, coming to an end – we all know people who’ve done them, lost the weight, only to put it all – or more- back on again. Studies have shown that there are hormones at play here like the ‘hunger hormones’, leptin and ghrelin, which are complicated and affected by other hormones, how much sleep we get and what food we eat. The main thing to know is that with a faster weight loss, the change in these hormones makes us hungrier and with slower weight loss they are better balanced. So let’s set a good example to the younger generation, help them understand food better and prevent obesity happening in the first place – it’s much easier to avoid than to correct – but whatever weight we lose is a benefit so never think it’s too late!

How do I achieve success with weight loss long term?

A 2016 study in the European Journal of Endocrinology shows that the longer people with obesity can maintain a weight loss, the better their body will ‘reset’ the hormone levels to accept this as their ‘normal’ weight.  This is why when we lose weight more slowly we have a better chance of keeping it off! However, I would say that in my experience a ‘kick start’ is a big motivator and, if done correctly, can set the foundation of good eating habits. It’s then a matter of managing the diet well over time to make these habits sustainable and to be able to maintain your new weight for a while before pushing on to your next target. Eating breakfast, exercising regularly and weighing themselves regularly are three habits of people with best long-term results.

My top 3 tips to get you started

1. Make soup!

Anyone who knows me knows that my mantra is EAT MORE VEG!!! Soup is a great way to help you achieve this. Starting with a low carb one such as Courgette and cauliflower soup will help with the kick start as it’s filling and satisfying but low in calories. And even if you think you don’t like these vegetables on their own I bet you’ll love the soup – you can substitute the cauliflower for broccoli if you like! If you absolutely have to buy soup then try and get a fresh one from the chilled cabinet with a lower sugar content (less than 2.5g per 100g).

2. Get moving!

Start or improve an exercise habit. We should all be aiming for 4-5 hours moderate exercise plus two strength training sessions per week. There’s a myriad of ways to achieve this but it all depends on you! Get thinking, asking others, planning and start a routine that you can build on to achieve the recommended exercise levels for your health. Your hormones are affected by exercise, your metabolism will be increased and your overall energy and mood improved enormously. Even for the most inactive person there’s something you can do to get started ….JUST DO IT!!

3. Keep track

Don’t stick your head in the sand! Know your weight and keep track of it. Waiting for your clothes to feel too tight is leaving it too long!! Set realistic targets –  an average weight loss of 1lb a week is great. Just think, with 3 weeks ‘off’ to maintain over holidays and Christmas, you’d lose three and a half stone in a year if you averaged a pound a week!