‘How can I lose my weight?’ or ‘How can I lose this ring around my tummy?’ or ‘How can I lose my postnatal weight?’
These have to be the questions I am asked on a weekly basis!! I am the 1st to admit – I am NOT an expert on weight loss, but I do know that it is not just about calories in and calories out. I also know that crash diets are the worst thing for you in the long term.
It’s often about weight that has been creeping up over time or it came with the last baby and never left. Sometimes someone feels uncomfortable in jeans or can’t get into their favourite clothes anymore.
Often, they feel like they are doing everything they can to reach their goal, whether it’s to lose 1 stone or 4 stone. But no matter what they do, they are stuck.
I regularly hear people comparing themselves to others – who eat loads of chocolate or cake and are still skinny. Whereas they gym it or do classes or a run most days and watches what she is eating and how many calories she is putting into her body and yet her weight is still going up!
These people may be intelligent & educated, but the myths she believes about weight are exactly why she can’t lose the weight she feels she needs to lose!
So, lets have a look at the main things we tend to get wrong about weight loss & see how we can help with our weight management. I do want to say though – if you can change your mindset a bit – to focusing more on feeling STRONG & HEALTHY – that can be so much better for you than just focusing on your weight & size!!
Myth 1: Weight loss is about calories.
“Calories in = calories out” is not completely true. NOT all calories are created equal.
Eating 500 calories of nuts is not the same as eating a 500 calorie chocolate bar.
Calories measure the energy in the chemical bonds from the food – so yes you are eating the same number of calories, however HOW YOUR BODY digests that food is totally different. Not only that – EVERY body is different and EVERY body will digest & metabolise it differently.
500 calories of nuts – may not seem that much, but they are full of protein, fiber, complex carbs, essential fatty acids, Vitamin C, Vitamin A and other phytonutrients. They are metabolized slowly and provide the brain and the body with essential nutrients to be healthy.
Whereas, the equivalent, 500 calories of chocolate will be coming from sugar & the saturated / trans fats. Those calories are easily absorbed, and when consumed, lead to an inflammatory hormonal imbalance, often insulin spikes and then steep drops which mean the body thinks it has to save fat to survive.
To anyone trying to lose weight I generally say, forget counting calories – it’s about WHAT you are eating. It’s my good old saying – about quality, not quantity.
Myth 2: To lose weight, you have to starve.
OK, yes, if you eat almost nothing, you’ll lose weight, of course. But most people can’t sustain that and they yo-yo, eventually becoming so tired from relying on adrenal hormones like cortisol for energy, that the fatigue becomes too much and they over-eat to compensate.
Often healthy-thin people eat real food in real quantities – they can and often do eat a lot. The thing is they are eating nutritious foods like whole fruits and veggies, oilve oils, healthy fats in nuts and lean protein. Perhaps they are also eating less of the processed sugar and chemical crap that’s available everywhere or certainly in moderation.
Yes of course, we are only human and of course you want to enjoy eating puddings or sweet things – but weigh up how much you are actually eating & can you swap an afternoon of a few biscuits to a spoonful of a nut butter?? It may not sound so exciting but with a bit of banana with it – it is really yummy and will fill you up for much longer and prevent more cravings for more.
I wrote this blog on Muscle vs fat – it is about calories.
Myth 3: I have to do cardio to lose weight
Actually, for some people, when they start running again or if they are regular runners, their body does react to running/cardio and they can sustain a decent weight. Also, most of us will lose some weight to begin with then plateau very quickly.
Weights or resistance training has a different effect. For the majority of us, the metabolic boost you get after a short session of weight-lifting can last up to 24-hours. The body is burning energy to repair the big muscles and then build them up stronger.
In contrast, the boost from a long run lasts only a couple of hours. Spending hours on the bike might feel great and be an important balance in a sedentary lifestyle, but cardio doesn’t equal weight loss. You might also find you feel a lot more fatigued after cardio than weights.
This is where you have to weigh up your mood and if it makes you feel better or gives you more energy, then yes of course – keep doing it. But just accept it is not necessarily the answer to weight loss. Feel good and enjoyment IS really important and you shouldn’t forego something you really enjoy just because you feel it isn’t helping you lose weight!!
In fact, for people who are stressed all the time, too much cardio might be perpetuating that state and pushing their bodies to hold on to every calorie.
Stress is a whole other discussion – it is one question I will always ask my clients when they talk about their weight!!
So, while cardio is great and if enjoyed they keep doing it. However, mix your training up – do weights, do relaxation exercises, do core work & do something you enjoy rather just for weight loss. You are then more likely to stay healthier as you enjoy it and keep it going.
Women are often scared of lifting weights. However, it builds muscle, bone, and boosts your metabolism. For many people, adding in yoga and strength-training instead of just running or cardio can be so beneficial.
Myth 4: Fat makes you fat.
Wrong! Fat doesn’t make you fat – well the right fat doesn’t.
Mono- and poly-unsaturated fats are critical for your body to function. These fats are the building blocks of your brain and all of your cell membranes, and certain kinds of fat, like Omega-3 fatty acids, helps to keep inflammation down.
It’s actually the processed foods filled with refined sugars and grains that are absorbed quickly and stored quickly, which lead to inflammation and ultimately to more fat storage.
You do need to know the difference between FAT thought when we talk about it. The trans-fats are highly inflammable – like in cakes, pastry, chocolate, processed meats. Whereas the fats in olive oil, nuts & lean protein are the healthy fats,
Myth 5: Weight loss is about sticking to a strict diet plan.
I used to do this when I was younger and didn’t know anything about nutrition. The guilt from binging on sweet foods. Its that guilt and self loathing that is so damaging.
I see it in my old self and I see it in ladies who come to see me. The constant stress of keeping to a plan. Or the constant feeling that they can’t eat something they really enjoy because it isn’t in their diet plan or has ‘too many calories’.
However, when they finally let go and stop stressing over it and begin to learn more about food or accept they need to eat more for health and feeling stronger and more energetic, they begin to feel better about themselves.
I’m not sure when I stopped being obsessed about what I ate. I think it was in my rowing days when I HAD to eat for energy and health/ I began to feel better about me, appreciating what my body was able to do.
What can you do
It isn’t easy to change your mental relationship with food & exercise.
My advise is to read up on the energy giving, healthy but tasty foods. Start changing your mindset – to nourishing and feeding your body with goodness so you don’t feel the need to restrict or binge. Obviously, this takes time and we can’t all do this. But maybe its time to get some help – see a nutritionist.
Start exercising to feel good & healthy & strong, rather than to exhaust yourself. It is so important to find movement/exercise that you enjoy, want to do and can do it around your lifestyle. The older we get, the more important it is to get the rest and recovery days. If you take note of that, your body actually begins to de-stress, has time to recover and build up muscle rather and hence you will begin to lose fat.
It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s a much freer way to live life.
Look at my other blogs on weight loss, https://www.vickihill.co.uk/how-can-i-lose-my-tummy/, https://www.vickihill.co.uk/are-you-exercising-right-for-your-body/, https://www.vickihill.co.uk/body-image-and-how-we-see-ourselves/