Working a few days in my local Flannerys health food store, highlights products the average shopper is looking for, and last week was all about weight loss! Luckily, the store I work in doesn’t stock the majority of your ‘so-hot-right-now’ rubbish, but we still have plenty of people coming in searching for the next quick fix. Be they diet pill, meal replacement shake or eating plan, there are so many diets nowadays all promising a fitter, skinnier, healthier, happier you!
Every time you turn around there is a new celebrity appearing in the latest magazine swearing so-and-so’s miracle diet helped them loose 25kgs in 2 weeks! This really bugs me, because it’s just not true! And even if it is true for a select few, it is very likely they have exercised to extreme, have all the benefits of a person chef and a host of other weight loss techniques at their finger tips, no spared expense. It is just not doable for the average person.
As we head into winter our bodies naturally start wanting to store a bit more fat. Here are some tips I try to share with customers coming in searching for a way to beat the winter bulge.
Anything promising rapid weight loss with minimum effort, feel free to be suspicious! I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen the ad pop up on my Facebook feed claiming to be a real life account of how this girl lost 25kg in a few weeks, only by taking these miracle pills!
The maximum healthy weight loss per week is about 2kg for men and 1kg for women. Any weight loss program that promises more than that will likely be more harmful than beneficial, if it can actually produce the results at all. Losing more than these healthy amounts can encourage the body to slip into starvation mode, and once the dieting has stopped the weight can start piling back on plus additional kg’s.
Healthy weight loss is maintainable and steady. You didn’t put it all on overnight, so remember it will take a little while to come off too!
We are not MONOvores
Any diet which recommends ONLY eating protein, or carbohydrates, or apples, or soup, or chocolate (yes that’s right, this diet is out there!) even for a few days at a time, is best avoided. That lemon juice, maple syrup “detox” is a naturopaths nightmare! Please don’t do it to yourselves! For healthy weight loss we need a healthy balance of nutrients and vitamins from proteins, carbohydrates and fats, not to mention plenty of water!
The one exception I will make to a one food only diet is doing a juice detox. The reason being is that juice fasting is primarily for reducing inflammation and increasing detoxification, not for weight loss. Many people do notice weight loss when doing a juice fast, but it can often be the result of releasing inflammatory fluid and toxins rather than fat burning itself.
If you have seen the documentary Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, you’ll know Joe Cross lost an incredible amount of weight (fat) juice fasting for 60 days. The juice fasting I am talking about is the shorter variety, 3-12 days only. If you are wanting to juice fast for longer, it is vital you do so under the care of professionals. It is not healthy, or safe so embark on a juice fast for weight loss longer than the time above, without expert advice and supervision.
More is actually less
Eating more can help you lose weight! Starvation diets, skipping meals, using coffee, nicotine or other stimulants to keep us going and get past the hunger signal will tell the body it is starvation time, we are living in a time of lack and we will not know when our next meal is coming. As a result our body switches into survival mode, storing all the fat it can with the food you eat. Obviously eating junk often will not help you lose weight, it is about healthy eating as often as your body needs it, usually 3 meals and 2 snacks per day.
It frightens me when people say they have been really “good” today, and only eaten a protein shake and an apple… That is not good! That is starving! Eating this way also encourages binges, which can turn into a very damaging habit, encouraging weight gain.
Remember you are an individual, you may not like to eat 5 times a day, but my point here is that skipping meals is far more detrimental to your health than many people realize.
Exercise, there is no way around it
Any healthy diet plan will work better, quicker and more effectively when you include exercise. Meal replacement diets or super fat burning supplements may promise you weight loss without any exercise needed but don’t believe it! Our body needs to move, this is how we burn energy. If you are eating more energy than you are burning, your body stores it in the form of fat.
If you’re not an exercise buff, choose activities that don’t feel like exercise. Walking the dog, playing with the kids, dancing, surfing, strolling on the beach, anything you enjoy doing that will get you up and moving. You don’t need to sweat it out in the gym for hours each day. This in itself can actually hinder weight loss. You want to aim for a healthy balance of fun, exercise pleasure, 4-5 times a week. Make sure you mix in gentle exercises such as yoga, with more energetic exercises. Don’t stick to one form of exercise only, and make it fun! You’re not going to want to do it unless you love it! Especially when it gets cold! Not many people relish the thought of getting up on a freezing morning to run for an hour (some of you might, but it’s so not me!), but many more may enjoy an afternoon ride with the kids, or an energetic game of family touch footy in the back yard.
There really is no way to be healthy and fit without movement. We were made to move, love your body through movement!
Cravings not hunger
There are so many nasty addictive substances in our food nowadays. Selling food is big business, and the more you “like” or “need” the food, the more you will buy it. Scientists are hired by food companies to spend a lot of time and money investigating how to make foods more addictive. Many times people believe they are hungry, but instead it’s cravings for substances we are coming down after our last chemical food hit.
Sugar and caffeine are the two most common addictions causing us to make poor food choices. One way to test if you are addicted to sugar and caffeine is to go without these two things for 24 hours. If you feel cravings no matter how much good food you eat, headaches, irritability, tiredness, or insatiable hunger, these can be sure signs you are addicted to those chemicals.
This is something I discuss a lot with people coming in looking for the next big thing. So many say “I have tried EVERYTHING and NOTHING works!” If that s the case and you are eating healthy, exercising, avoiding the rubbish food and drinks, and you still are not losing weight, there could be a metabolic issue that is influencing your health. Thyroid problems, adrenal disorder and hormonal issues all play a big role in our ability to lose excess weight, so if you have tried everything and are still having problems, I would highly recommend investigating these areas.
It can really be as simple as that: eat whole foods in variety and moderation, move your body, avoid the junk and make sure you drink enough water. And if this doesn’t work for you, contact your naturopath to investigate any underlying reasons why you may not be losing weight. Come in and see me in Miami or let’s chat over Skype! I help make a food plan for you, test your hormones, or help you find the right balance for your body. And remember it’s winter, it’s OK to gain a couple of cuddly kilograms! Love your body, it’s only trying to keep you warm!