Fixating on losing weight alone is short lived and cannot be sustained long term. It most often results in many unsuccessful attempts, usually through fad dieting, yo yo dieting, starvation, scrupulous calorie counting and obsessing with the weighing scales.You need to focus on the bigger picture… aiming for whole, long term health instead of fixating on weight loss alone.
We are bombarded with promises and quick fixes every day for that perfect figure, when in reality, success can only be achieved when one understands the fundamentals of nutrition and why their current eating and lifestyle habits have led to their current weight problems.
Only through re learning, a balanced, fulfilling dietary plan, a feeling of satisfaction after eating, awareness of portion control, cravings being a thing of the past, and some form of physical activity that suits the individual’s fitness levels will success be attainable.
A support structure and emotional awareness are also fundamental to any long term health strategy as only when all these factors combined have been acted on can permanent change be made.
A long term strategy towards a healthier weight will control blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lessen your risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers as well as depression, fatigue and infertility.
In a nutshell, losing weight goes way beyond weight loss and shedding those 2 to 3 lb’s a week. Focus on the “bigger picture,” long term health and longevity.
Benefits of exercise go way beyond weight loss
Exercising as a way of dieting or as a means to an end to shed those pounds is counter-intuitive. What should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience as well as a highly stress busting activity that is about self-care and being positive around health and fitness, instead becomes another chore. So it’s no wonder the exercise plan goes off the rails so quickly at the beginning of every new weight loss attempt.
Setting yourself an achievable, realistic goal around exercise is vital. “I have to lose four stone by summer” is not a goal. “I will arrange a free fitness consultation at my local gym one day this week”, on the other hand, IS a goal.
An effective weight management programme should include specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time managed goals around exercise and nutrition.
Food and emotions
Many people self medicate with food to manage their emotions when feelings of stress or depression take hold.
Food definitely makes us feel better, even if we aren’t self-medicating when we eat. Food not only quells our hunger, it also makes us feel better emotionally. So what’s the test for using food to self-medicate?
One benchmark of self-medicating is overindulgence, where food becomes a substitute for a more adaptive way of feeling good. We don’t know how to cope when life takes over and things happen- all the D’s: divorce, death, deadlines, debt, demands. Eventually eating can appear to be ones only comfort.
Emotional eating creates a cycle of feel bad, eat, feel worse, and eat more. Be mindful of the food-emotion connection.
All week you exercise and eat the right foods, but come the weekend you want to “let your hair down.” Weekends are wonderful for relaxing, but be mindful of indulging in junk food as a way to unwind. You want to be full of motivation and feeling ready for a new week come Monday, not nursing a hangover from those empty calorie beverages.
With so many exercise regimes available, deciding which one will give the best results can be a bit overwhelming. There’s CrossFit, Zumba, boxercise, yoga, running, weights, circuit training, DVD’s, and many more. The best workout is the one you’ll do consistently and meets your personal goals and enjoyment. Find what works for You.
Healthy living requires some organization and planning. If you’re hoping to squeeze in a workout and have no idea where your meals will be, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Plan by scheduling workouts and food shopping in advance for the coming week. Preparation and managing time efficiently is key. Don’t give up. Practice makes perfect.
Although we can’t blame others for our own choices, we do need to recognize when they influence our choices. Be prepared for situations where you’ve caved to peer pressure in the past and don’t be afraid to say no. This can be a great time to have a friend who’s making the same strides as you to make positive change in their life. Friends can be a great source of support and encouragement.
Do you feel any of these are getting in the way of your fitness and health goals? What other obstacles might be the reason?
Mairead is a qualified Nutritional Therapist and weight management coach based in Dun Laoghaire Dublin.