How can I make it easier?
Why do I find it so hard to lose weight? According to a quick search on an search engine, over 50% of the global population are trying to lose weight. I will take children and young people under 18 out of the equation. That’s a significant proportion of the adult population who are not happy with their body shape, size and weight.
Now, just to be clear, I hate seeing people put under pressure to look a certain way. The media pressure to ‘fit’ a certain image is appalling, extremely unhealthy and can have a significant negative effect on many people’s mental and physical health. I hate discrimination in any form and have no time for anyone who makes other people feel that they are ‘not good enough’, makes them feel bad, or guilty. I also dislike ‘fad diets’ as these can lack essential nutrients, can be damaging to your health and do not help support a healthy relationship with food and a healthy eating pattern for the long term.
Whatever your size, shape or weight, you are amazing, and you are allowed to be content, comfortable and happy at that size, shape and weight. I make no judgement whatsoever. Life would be incredibly dull if we were all the same.
However, if, like many others, you are not entirely comfortable with your body size and weight, this blog is for you. If you have tried over and over again to lose weight and either lose no weight, gain weight or lose weight then put it back on, this blog is for you. If you feel that you are constantly battling with your weight and food is constantly on your mind, this blog is for you. It does not matter whether you are trying to lose a lot of weight, or just a few pounds, if you find it hard to do so, this blog is for you.
Here are three key reasons why you may find it hard to lose weight. One, two or all of them may apply to you.
Please note, the following are just general, widely accepted, tips. I am not medically trained or qualified in nutrition. If you are doing all the right things and are still gaining weight or unable to lose weight, it could be worth speaking to your GP as certain health conditions, hormone imbalances and medications can cause weight gain or make it hard to lose weight. Please seek advice from your GP before starting to exercise if you are unaccustomed to doing so and please seek advice from your GP or a nutrition adviser if you are considering making significant changes to your diet.
We are hard-wired to enjoy sweet foods, as bitter foods could be poisonous, and our bodies are designed to gain weight at times of plenty.
This goes back to the days of our ancestors, when we lived in harmony with nature without supermarkets, fridges or take-aways. The taste of our food was how we judged whether it was safe to eat and during summer and autumn, food was abundant and humans will have eaten well, and preserved all they could to prepare them for the winter. Like animals who prepare for hibernation, the human body is designed to store unused energy as fat when we eat more energy than we use. The purpose of this was to store vital energy for the winter months when food was scarce. During the winter months, when humans consumed less energy than they needed, those fat stores were broken down to keep essential functions going.
Our bodies still do this. If we eat more energy than we need, it is stored as fat.
Fortunately, most of the world’s population does not face periods of scarcity any more. In fact, many of us are, unfortunately, constantly faced with far more food than we need.
This is why, to lose weight, it is essential to eat less and move more in order to trigger the body to use the energy it has stored as fat. There is no way around this. But understanding why our bodies work the way they do can help to make it easier to make the necessary changes to our eating habits and lifestyle.
Simple tricks to help with this are:
* Keep a sleep/exercise and food diary, writing down everything you eat every day.
*Have a look at the calories in the foods and drinks you consume regularly. A few simple swaps could save you a lot of calories. Do you really need a packet of crisps every lunch time? Could you swap the chocolate bar for a banana (and a square of dark chocolate if you really want the chocolate)? Sugary drinks really are empty calories so swap them for water and you’ll save calories straight away.
*Increase your physical activity. This does not mean that you have to slog away in the gym for hours on end. Find activities you enjoy and can fit into your lifestyle. Try to get a mix of aerobic activities (ones which make you a bit out of breath e.g. running, cycling, swimming or simply dancing in your kitchen) and weight-bearing exercises to increase your muscle mass e.g. squats, lunges, lifting weights (or tins of beans). Doing a few squats or dancing to an awesome tune while the kettle boils will help. Increasing your muscle mass will increase your metabolism so that your body burns more calories.
Since early childhood (even as a baby) we have developed a strong association between food (or milk) and comfort, pleasure, reward, nurturing, socialising, and relaxation. These associations are reinforced in our minds every single time we reach for food to heal our emotions, to reward ourselves, as a treat, for comfort, when we are bored, when we are stressed, as a celebration, as we relax and unwind or as a social occasion.
These associations can be hard to break, but we can break them.
It can help to start by drawing up a list (the internet can help with ideas) of alternative things you could do to acknowledge the emotions you are experiencing or to enjoy celebrations and socialising without eating foods you do not need.
Examples could include:
*For comfort or nurturing: Reach out to chat to a friend or family member, curl up under a blanket with a good book, hug a family member or stroke a pet.
*For pleasure or reward: Do something you enjoy whether it is dancing in your kitchen to fantastic music, drawing, reading, playing an instrument or going for a walk.
*For relaxation, especially if you are feeling stressed: Try a short breathing exercise or a meditation (there are plenty available on the internet and on apps like Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer), read, craft, play an instrument, listen to music, dance, go outside and take a few deep breaths in nature or go for a walk
*For socialising: Instead of meeting your friend for coffee and cake, try meeting them for a walk instead; Maybe instead of crisps and ice cream with a movie you could try plain popcorn or some nuts and vegetable sticks; If you are going out for a meal, choose the healthier options on the menu e.g. instead of a curry in a thick sauce you could go for a tasty tandoori chicken with salad.
The next step is to recognise and acknowledge which emotion is making you want to reach for the cake/biscuits/chocolate/chips and make a conscious decision to meet the needs of that emotion in a different way.
3. Lack of Sleep
There are 3 ways in which insufficient sleep makes it easier to gain weight and harder to lose weight.
- Ghrelin is the hormone which tells us to eat. If we are sleep deprived, we have more ghrelin in our bodies.
- Leptin is the hormone which tells us to stop eating. If we are sleep deprived, we have less Leptin.
- More ghrelin combined with less leptin results in weight gain.
In addition, when we are sleep deprived our metabolism slows down, reducing the rate at which we burn the calories we consume. This further exacerbates the problem and increases the likelihood of gaining weight.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that healthy adults need 7-9 hours sleep per night. If you get significantly less sleep that this on a regular basis you are likely to be sleep deprived, in which case, improving your sleep pattern is likely to result in significant health benefits and make it easier for you to control your weight.
Other reasons why you might find it hard to lose weight include:
Temptation. This is why it helps to clear out all the junk food from your freezer/fridge/cupboard
The cost of healthy v unhealthy foods. This is not easy to solve. Shopping at yellow ticket times can help and simple substitutions of e.g. a tin of lentils instead of mince can help save money
You may be eating more than you realise. The food diary can help you to recognise this.
Not exercising enough. The exercise diary can help you monitor this.
Your food and exercise regime may have plateaued and need to be changed to keep you on track. Take a look at your food and exercise diary. If it is a bit same-y, can you make a few changes?
Whatever the reason(s) why you are struggling to lose weight, don’t give up. Seek help from e.g. a GP, nutrition adviser, personal trainer to get you back on track. Know that, if you fall off the ‘healthy food and exercise’ wagon, you haven’t failed, you can simply get back on it again. The next moment is a new moment and the perfect time to start again.
If you need a little more support to help make your weight loss journey easier, I can help. Hypnotherapy is not a magic wand. You will still need to eat less and exercise more, but hypnotherapy can help. Hypnotherapy helps by increasing your motivation to succeed, your confidence in your ability to succeed, your self-esteem and by reducing stress, habits or emotional conflict.
For more information about how I can help you achieve your weight loss goals email me today on firstname.lastname@example.org