Last week on the Today show, I covered yet another story of a product pitching itself as the latest weight loss revolution. Promises of weight loss being fast, easy and without deprivation are the usual key selling points of these products, with before and after pictures to capture your emotional side. They cream “this could be you” and before you rationalise it you have signed on the dotted line with your credit card details. If I could ban this kind of advertising – actually let me qualify that – if I could ban these products altogether I would.
It amazes me that pharmaceutical products have to go through rigorous testing before they can be sold or make any claims as to their effect, and food companies have strict regulations over what health claims they are allowed to make, these kind of weight loss products remain on the market. It would be wonderful if they actually worked. I’d love to be able to being you a product that I could hand-on-heart herald as the key to making your weight loss the promised quick fix. But I’m afraid that product just does not exist.
It’s time for all of us to face facts. For your future health and wellbeing, you absolutely must see weight control in a different light and learn to eschew the fads. Weight control takes effort. It takes dedication. And it takes some hard work. It is harder for some people than it is for others – at least in part because of our genes. But there are things that work. There are things that make it easier and the longer you stay committed and consistent, the greater your chance of true long term results. In my new program Get Lean I say “there is no start and no end. It’s just the way you live your life.” If you have that as your foundation for lifestyle change, and see it as an ongoing work in progress, you’re half way there.
Here are my top tips for healthy weight loss that lasts:
- Keep a food diary for a minimum of 3 days, including a weekend day. Note the times you ate, your mood, whether you overate and how hungry you were. Look back at those days and prioritise the things you could have done better. Perhaps you snack too much, eat frequently when you’re not hungry (out of boredom or when you’re upset or angry?), or go all day without eating and then overeat at night. You can seek the help of an Accredited Practising Dietitian to help you with this http://daa.asn.au/
- Aim to eat 3 square meals a day, with one or two snacks used judiciously at the longest stretches between meals and only have these when you are truly hungry.
- Eat real, wholesome, minimally processed foods most of the time. You can try using my 4 Easy Steps plate model in Get Lean to help with this.
- Limit the foods you eat that are highly refined – those based on white flour, added sugars and processed fats. That means white bread, bagels, pastries, croissants, biscuits, cakes, banana bread, white rice and most fast food. These are energy-dense, nutrient-poor and stimulate you to eat more.
- Drink water, tea, veg juices or coffee (no more than 3 and watch how you take it) as your basic everyday drinks.
- If you drink alcohol, stick to safe limits; aim for a minimum of 2 AFDs and only a couple of drinks on other nights. If you do overindulge, get in an extra long walk the next day and tighten the reins on your food intake.
- Walk for a minimum of 20 mins every day. Using an app that counts your steps, or investing in a pedometer is a great means of keeping track of your walking.
- If you can add 2-3 other exercise sessions into your week. Consider some form of resistance training that helps you to build muscle and burn fat.
- Make sure you are getting enough good quality sleep. Most of us need a minimum of 6 hours a night, and the closer we get to 8 the better.
- Think about your work-life balance and how you feel about your life. Address it if you’re not happy.
- Manage your stress levels. Some stress is good and we can all cope with different amounts and types of stress. But we do need to think about whether it is working for us or causing us to sleep badly, drink too much, be overly emotional, snap at your families or search out particular comfort foods. Meditation, yoga, walking, time out to yourself or punching a boxing bag are all valid means of working through your stress. Find what works for you, or get help from a health professional if you can’t.
For help and guidance take a look at Dr Joanna’s new program getlean.com.au