Losing weight is a lot more complex than simply calories in and calories out. For starters, not all calories are created equal. Having lost more than 100lbs myself — after the age of 40 and perimenopausal, I might add — it is completely possible to do it naturally without surgery, pills or counting calories.
In my experience, by following the five steps set out below, you’ll align yourself to achieve the healthy, sustainable and life-long weight loss you so deserve.
1 Scrap the scales
Controversial, I know, but there’s so much misinformation available about weight loss, and most people fail to understand the difference between losing fat and water weight. Our bodies are made up of about 65% water, and when you first start losing weight when following a calorie-restricted diet, you’re simply flushing out large amounts of water, which causes ‘weight’ loss.
So, if you continue to lose water for, say, a month, you’ll definitely look less bloated, but you’ll also lose any muscle tone, which will make you feel and look very flabby. When the time comes for you do finish your diet, your body will regain all the water back at the earliest opportunity. So, any weight loss you may have achieved through starving yourself of proper nutrition will reverse itself eventually. A consequence of this will be a lowered metabolism, and any extra calories you then eat will become stored as fat, and before you know it, you’ll have piled all the weight back on. And probably then some.
If you concentrate on building muscle, which weighs more than fat and helps you to burn it more efficiently, and on how you ‘feel’ each day, you won’t get obsessive about what the scales are reading.
2 Trash the toxins
Processed. Packaged. Prepared. These foods, which are high in hydrogenated fats, carbohydrates and sugars, are all too often perceived by consumers to taste great. And because processed foods are readily available, cheap to buy and are made to taste ‘good’ in manufacturers’ laboratories, people are more likely to buy and eat them. Processed foods combine ingredients such as chemical sweeteners, irradiated spices, hydrogenated fats/oils, and artificial flavours, colours and preservatives to ‘improve’ their taste and visual appeal.
The brain chemicals that are turned on by recreational drugs and alcohol are the same ones that go into overdrive when they encounter processed foods. And as each day we are constantly bombarded with images of processed foods — on the TV, on radio, on billboards, in print, on public transport, on the internet — anyone who’s ‘addicted’ to has that trigger confronted many times on a daily basis.
Anything called ‘natural’ that is packaged should also be avoided — for instance, most non-organic ‘pre-washed’ salad leaves are washed in chlorine, a powerful bleaching and disinfecting agent. And even organic processed foods should be given a wide berth, especially if they contain organic brown rice syrup or evaporated cane juice, which is just another name for sugar. They offer little in nutritional value and are basically just organic junk food.
3 Strike the sugar
Sugar itself is as addictive as cocaine. This is because eating sugar, which stimulates the same area of your brain as taking cocaine, produces dopamine — a neurotransmitter that regulates your pleasure response. When your dopamine levels drop, you ‘crash’ and begin to feel low. This in turn makes you reach for more sugar so that you’ll feel good again — just like a cocaine addict will do with their drug. Does this sound familiar to you?
In addition, processed foods contain high amounts of sugar in the form of fructose, which unlike glucose, is metabolised to fat in your liver. Too much fructose also causes insulin resistance — the precursor to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes — impaired glucose tolerance, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Food manufacturers also ‘hide’ sugar in many forms to fool you. For instance, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which has been linked to obesity, brain damage, low IQ, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and even mercury poisoning, should be avoided at all costs. However, manufacturers in Europe and the UK, seeing that consumers were catching on to its evil, changed the name to glucose-fructose syrup to deceive shoppers.
Artificial sugars such as aspartame and saccharin are even more toxic and should be banned from your shopping basket.
4 Grow your mindset
If you haven’t got your mindset in the right place, there’s no way you’ll achieve your weight loss goal. You must convince yourself that weight loss is possible and consistently see yourself in a healthier and happier state. Willpower alone won’t work for more than a week or two because it is a function of your conscious brain. Your subconscious brain, which includes all your beliefs, experiences and learned programming, will soon take over unless you teach it new beliefs and experiences. Your subconscious brain will try to tempt you into making excuses — how many times have you self-sabotaged your dieting efforts by reaching for a sweet treat because you told yourself that you “needed the sugar”?
You’ve got to understand that to become the better version of yourself you so desperately want, you must realise that it takes a conscious mind to make your own decisions, which include your food choices. So, now’s the time to ditch the excuses. Doing the things you have been doing are obviously not working, so now is the time to establish the healthy habits that you will incorporate into your daily routine in order to live the life you want to lead. It’s time to abolish the ifs, ands or buts. If you want to achieve what you say you want, then you have to do the work. It’s that simple.
A great tool to use to help with changing your mindset is EFT, also known as Emotional Freedom Technique or tapping. You can find a tapping video for weight loss here.
5 Move your feet
Yes, exercise is important, but that doesn’t mean you need to put on Lycra and power it out at the gym. When I started my health journey eight years ago, I couldn’t climb a flight of stairs without getting out of breathe. So, I bought a pedometer and started walking.
A good daily aim for walking is 10,000 steps. On my first day I managed just under 3,000, so every day I added another 250-500 steps until I could comfortably walk 10,000. Now most days I average about 12,000 on top of my other activity. Every step is one away from the sofa.
Former big girl Theresa Fowler is author of Feel Like Sh*t? How to Stop BEING Fat, in which she reveals the mistruths and propaganda you think you know about weight loss. She is also a broadcaster, public speaker and staunch advocate of real food.