If you live with other people going on a diet typically means eating differently to everyone else. This is time consuming, expensive, and difficult to sustain long term, especially if you're a busy mum.
A much better strategy is to eat the same food as everyone else but simply have a slightly smaller portion size. Remember the 1/2 a Mars bar analogy? A little less over a bit of time and before you know it a new slimmer trimmer you will be looking back at you from the mirror.
And this is so easy to do! Just use smaller serving containers. Instead of cereal in a bowl have a serve in a teacup, instead of eating from a dinner sized plate use a side plate. You'll still be eating the things you love but in a way that can work long term because it includes every single food you know and have grown to love.
Consider how both Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig work. They make money because you buy their food, but you lose weight because they deliver that food in small portion sizes. By all means use their products, but remember fresh home cooked food is best and you can achieve the same results for less simply by adapting their portion size model to your every day lifestyle.
If it fits your plan there is nothing that wrong with buying portion controlled meals from any of the myriad of suppliers, but remember it's the portion size that's the key, not the brand name.
If you step back and think about it, the way we eat our food during the day is crazy! Skip breakfast and/or lunch, use energy all day, have a big meal, then go to sleep. We give our bodies no choice but to store this food as fat.
In western society our energy intake is pretty much in complete opposition to our energy use. It's upside down, back to front and inside out.
I have no idea how this came about, but I do recall my grandmother telling me about "how it was in her day". Breakfast and Lunch were the big meals. What we now call dinner was a meal called "supper" - an end of day snack.
So why should you care?
In a recent ground breaking study two groups of people were put on a 12 week diet. In this diet both groups had 1400 calories a day. One group (the big breakfast group) had 700 calories for breakfast, 500 calories for lunch and a scant 200 calories for dinner. The other group did the opposite and had 200, 500, 700 calories for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
And the results? The big breakfast group lost an average of 8.7 kg. The big dinner group lost only 3.6 kg. What is remarkable about this is that most diets end up with an average 3-4 kg weight loss. To get nearly 3 times more weight loss while having the same energy intake tells us something really important - DO NOT SKIP BREAKFAST (standard dieting advice) but how you take in your energy during the day really does matter. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Getting some regular daily exercise has a lot of health benefits. Unfortunately losing large quantities of weight is not high on the list. Yes it will help, and every little bit does help, but don't let the fact you can't find 20-30 minutes a day 5 days a week stop you from doing the 5 minute a week exercise program described in the section on Muscle Mass below.
Light aerobic exercise burns a bit of energy while you are doing it but to really get the weight off you need to leverage the power of your BMR.
Ultra low calorie diets promise rapid results but come at a very high price. You inevitably lose muscle mass so you are likely to be worse off in the long term as you will have a lower BMR working for you burning energy 24/7/365.
Another issue with ultra low calorie diets is that are bodies adaptive and when faced with lower energy availability enter what is known as starvation mode. Starvation mode is where your body "voluntarily" reduces your BMR. You don't want this to happen. As we have seen we are depending on our BMR to do most of our weight loss work for us.
Ultra low calorie diets are also unpleasant to be on (and remember you should be having a life while you are on your diet) as well as putting you at risk of a variety of adverse health effects.
Consistency and time are the key to your new thinner future, not radical calorie restriction.
One of the real keys to long term sustained weight loss is not to lose muscle mass. When you lose muscle mass your BMR will go down and your diet may well see you end up fatter rather than slimmer.
As we age we all lose muscle. We all know older people are less strong. If we can stop or reverse this muscle loss we can also aid weight loss and prevent the "middle aged spread" so common in our society.
Building muscle is actually very simple and takes very little time. Here's how to do it:
You know that if you go out into the garden and start digging you will probably get blisters. If you do that a few times you will find these develop into calluses. In essence your body goes "hey, this skin is to thin, let's make some more". The same thing happens with muscles, but only if you work them to failure.
Body builders build muscle by lifting very heavy weights, not very many times (usually 10-15). They carefully set the weight so they can only lift it 10-15 times. While this number has been proven via experimentation to be optimal it's not the key part. The key part is this: the last 2 times they lift the weight are the last 2 times they could lift the weight. In other words they have worked that muscle group to failure, and as a result their body says "build me more muscle!"
If you are scientifically minded you will find a good description of how and why muscles grow here.
So what we need is a simple exercise you can do anywhere, with no equipment, that preferably targets the biggest muscle groups in your body so we get the greatest benefit in the shortest time.
That exercise is squats. To do a squat simply stand next to a table and rest your hands on it for balance. Squat down as low as you can go and then stand up. Repeat that until YOU CAN NOT GET BACK UP. Try hard. Having done that your exercise program is over for the day. It should take you less than 1 minute. How good is that?
The next day your thighs and buttocks will be sore, and probably the day after that too. Wait until they are not sore then repeat the exercise. Not only will this build shapely muscle on your thighs and buttocks it will cause your body to build new muscle and increase your BMR with the result that if you did nothing else I have suggested but ate exactly the same amount of food you will lose weight.
If you can do more than about 30 two legged squats we need to make it harder. If you put one foot on a book/brick/step then that leg will not be able to contribute as much - you will feel the extra load in the leg on the floor. Do your squats, have a break, then change legs. As your strength builds you may well end up being able to do squats one legged. Did you know that one of the best predictors of longevity in old age is thigh muscle strength?
While doing these remember to breathe. Holding your breath is a no no.
There are a range of other exercises you could add in - push ups and chin ups being the ones that target other large muscle groups.
Now this advice may well fly in the face of everything you have been told, but trust me, 5 minutes a week of exercise to muscle failure is all it takes to change your muscle mass and get your BMR working for you 24/7/365. The fact that it will probably see you living longer is a free bonus.
You should always check with your health professional before embarking on any program of strenuous exercise.
Did you know that the simple act of paying attention while eating and taking the time to enjoy your food will help you lose weight? You will eat less if you are not doing something else while eating, so don't eat in front of the TV or while doing other things.
The thought is that when you're distracted you fail to recognise when you're full. On a similar note - as a child you were probably told to finish your plate, as an adult on a quest to look your best you should stop eating when you're full, even if that means throwing a bit of food out. Let's just repeat that: if you are not hungry stop eating.
Food is one of life's pleasures. Even on a diet you are allowed to enjoy it, so give yourself the opportunity of mindful eating. If you're giving yourself a treat enjoy the indulgence and really savour it. Your treat is part of the plan, so ditch the guilt.
Have you ever wondered why fat people don't keep getting fatter until they are the size of Jabba the Hut? Me too!
It seems obvious that we regulate our weight around a set point, just as we do our blood pressure. While we have medications to turn down our blood pressure set point science has yet to find a convenient tablet that does the same to weight.
That said, there are a variety of prescribed medications that may help certain people in certain cases. All medications have both effects and side effects so if you are contemplating trying them working with a health practitioner who can monitor things should be considered mandatory. In certain circumstances Duromine (Phenteramine), Xenical (Orlistat), Glucophage (Metformin), Byetta (Exenatide) may be helpful. Hormones like Thyroxine, HCG and Testosterone may be helpful in specific cases.
If you are undertaking any sort of very low calorie diet (not a great long term idea) a multivitamin supplement should be considered a must.
For personalised tailored advice to suit you simply book an online appointment with one of our friendly GPs.
Oh, and if you have found this advice to be useful please tell your friends using the social media links below.
You can get the complete program as an eBook by going to Seven Secrets of Weight Loss Success eBook.
So now let's finish off with 8 reasons for losing weight.
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.
- Abraham Lincoln