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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

So You Want to Lose Weight and Be Slim?

Many people struggle with weight related issues. They regularly diet but cannot seem to permanently lose weight. They have many reasons and excuses for their problem. They may lead busy lives, work long hours and cannot find the time or inclination to cook healthy meals. They may eat late at night, which is often regarded as the worst time of the day to eat a main meal. Their evening meal is looked upon as time to relax, eat and maybe have a glass or two of wine.

Many of my slimming clients know a great deal about diets, having usually tried them all to no avail. When I ask if they would lose weight if they ate three healthy meals a day they usually say 'yes'. The problem is that food often equates to relaxation and comfort.

Here are some thoughts to help you in your determination to lose weight:

- Find ways to give yourself treats and rewards that contain no calories. Have a relaxing, scented bath, play music, buy a lovely bunch of fresh flowers or that book you keep meaning to read. Relax and enjoy calorie free treats.

- Plan nutritious meals in advance so that food is readily available. Have a cooking session where you prepare and freeze several portions of each meal so that dinner simply needs heating when required. Set the slow cooker in the morning so that a meal is ready for you upon arrival home.

- Use smaller plates. Many people hate wasting food. I ask clients 'would you rather waist it or waste it?' One could say that food is already finished with when it's been cooked, but using smaller plates avoids feeling guilty at not eating a massive portion because it's been served.

- Sit and focus on each mouthful as you eat. Savour the smell, taste and texture of the food. Put your cutlery down until you've swallowed each mouthful. There is a twenty minute delay between swallowing and the brain registering how much food has been eaten so eating until you're full means that there is a further twenty minutes worth of food to be added. That's the reason why people who eat really quickly are often over full after a meal.

- Alcohol contains calories which we often forget to take into account. Try to have a day or two each week, preferably together, where you consume no alcohol. This has the advantage of also giving your liver a break.

- Eat without distractions. Many people eat and read or watch television. Often they are oblivious to what they've eaten, how much, even whether they have finished their meal or not. Sit at a table and quietly focus on enjoying your food.

- Identify triggers for eating. Stress and comfort eating often go together. Notice what your triggers are. Try to avoid food shopping at these vulnerable times. Learn to treat yourself with kindness when you're feeling tired or jaded.

- Recycle unwanted, inappropriate gifts. My mother and I laugh that there is a single box of gift-wrapped chocolates going around our family. The minute one person receives them they are passed quickly on to the next person, like red-hot coals. No one wants to open them because they know that there are always chocolates left in an opened box. Finishing the box would be too tempting.

- Display a photograph of how you want to look, put motivational stickers on the fridge door, maybe buy clothing in a smaller size and hang it in sight, outside the wardrobe. All these can be ways to maintain the commitment to eat healthily.

- Some people enjoy losing weight with friends. They enjoy the encouragement and motivation, maybe even the challenge of losing weight as part of a group. They may exercise together, go for walks, use the gym together. This is good if everyone remains motivated. It can prove fatal if someone loses heart.

- Reward yourself when targets are reached along the way. Acknowledging achievements is an important way of maintaining the enthusiasm to continue.

Instead of going on a diet and doing without, why not look at ways to treat yourself better, more gently. A little forethought can help you become less stressed, more organised and lose weight, all at the same time.

Susan Leigh is a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who works with stressed individuals to promote confidence and self belief, with couples in crisis to improve communications and understanding and with business clients to support the health and motivation levels of individuals and teams.

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