The hardest pillar to master is most definitely nutrition – which is why there are 5 million diet books on the market!
One of the biggest misconceptions around weight loss is that exercise is the key – unfortunately exercise is simply not enough on its own. Exercise will definitely assist with getting weight off, keeping weight off and improving your body’s resilience (strength, balance, stability, flexibility) to train or even compete, but nutrition is the key to your initial success.
The many health benefits to be gained through exercise can certainly not be discounted but for significant weight loss the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 4-7 hours of cardiovascular exercise each week, and up to 5 hours per week for prevention of weight gain after you’ve achieved your goal! The more effective way is to view nutrition as a vital pillar to correct.
Stop using food as a reward and think about nutritious food to fuel a healthy body to allow life to be more enjoyable. “Your ability to control gratification is a powerful predictor of your ability to control your weight” (Jonathan Cawte, Executive Athlete). Perhaps you could use the technique of I’ll have it on Saturday when you feel the need for instant gratification – I can guarantee that ALL the things you promise yourself on Saturday will be become unnecessary when Saturday rolls around! This of course taps into the fact that food is often an emotional need so don’t think that your relationship with food will change overnight – that’s not a reasonable expectation.
You also need to rest (secret tip) – mental, emotional and physical fatigue will not result in weight loss and more often than not you will eat something you think is going to make you feel better (and inevitably it will be laden with calories!). Stress causes hormone levels to create an environment that is conducive to holding onto those excessive calories instead of burning them so don’t burn the candle at both ends.
The November month challenge of keeping a food and exercise diary is a tool to raise your awareness around your eating and movement habits as I would like you to tie both in to your emotional state at the time. Understanding that logically we know that food fuels our body and aids ‘performance’ (whatever that may be) is great but knowing the emotional drive that craves the magic blend of sweet / salt / fat is harmful in the long term and does not suit your goal is important to recognise. It might seem tedious to keep such a detailed account of your intake but it will raise your self awareness exponentially! Keep food as consistent as possible (another secret tip), not boring and repetitive but consistent and similar.
Fun and laughter are absolute essentials -so when the craving hits, have a joy list made up of things you can enjoy when you would normally reach for a food fix. Make a personalised list of all your fun stuff (varying time frames would be great) that doesn’t include eating – GO!
Clinical Health Services Manager
Golden Door Elysia Health Retreat and Spa