There’s a secret to losing weight that most people don’t really know, and believe it or not, it’s tied up with maths. Let’s start with some basic assumptions:
Let’s put some numbers to this and let’s also assume that your weight has gradually increased over the years.
You join a gym and do a good 30-minute workout 3 times per week. At best, you’ll burn 300 calories each time, or 900 calories per week. Divide this by 7 days, and that means that you are burning an extra 129 calories a day on average.
Now, remember that you’re consuming 2,500 calories a day.
You’ll continue to put on weight, but at a slower rate. “So,” you say, “I’ll just do some more exercise until I start losing weight.”
Let’s go back to the maths.
Brisk walking burns around 7 calories a minute.
This still wouldn’t mean losing weight, just that you’d stop gaining and stay at your current weight. “I might as well give up!” you say. Not so fast.
Reset your weight
Weight loss is easier if you have a clear and doable plan to reduce your calories and to manage your hunger, cravings, your body’s responses to the foods you eat.
If losing weight is one of your goals, you have two choices:
A free weight loss assessment takes just 35 minutes. Call your nearest Healthy Inspirations centre to talk to a Health Coach about how it might work for you.
Sleep and exercise tips
Here’s the third in our series on low-carb tips. What’s sleep go to do with low-carb tips? A lot, it turns out.
Poor sleep has negative consequences for the hormones that control hunger, appetite and weight:
Any of these effects, alone or in combination, can slow your metabolic rate and make you eat, on average, an extra 500 calories per day. Your body is in survival mode and so does everything possible to maintain or build energy stores. Eating well is more difficult.
When you think about making dietary change, feeling positive and in control are important psychological components of sticking to good intentions, so sleeping well is perhaps the unrecognised success factor in adopting a low-carb eating pattern.
It’s clear that sleeping well is essential, but if you’re not a good sleeper, how can you improve?
Caffeine has a “half-life” of 5 to 6 hours in the average person. The half-life means that if you ingest 200mg caffeine, 5 to 6 hours later you’ll still have 100mg in your body. As it’s a stimulant, this means that the caffeine is keeping you more alert and less likely to sleep.
The half-life is variable. For some it’s shorter, for others longer; depending on age, gender, size, and genetics, as well as liver function and hormones.
A small espresso coffee (or cappuccino or café latte) contains around 200mg caffeine, which is the suggested healthy daily amount. A 100g serve of dark chocolate contains around 50mg caffeine – though if weight loss is a goal this serving size is not desirable.
Most alcohol adds carbs, but it also disturbs sleep. Sure, you might be able to drift off more quickly if you’ve had a drink or two, but it disturbs sleep later in a few ways:
It raises your blood glucose levels, which raises insulin and makes you hot. The extra heat wakes you, or at the least disturbs your sleep. Insulin is a hormone that works by delivering blood glucose to the cells for storage, and for most people this means storage in the fat cells.
Alcohol decreases the amount of time you spend in REM sleep – the restorative sleep that you need to maximise.
Instead of alcohol, there’s something almost magical about drinking sparkling water with a slice of citrus that makes you feel a bit special. Nutritionally, it’s not much different to a glass of tap water, but psychologically it makes a big difference.
Give it a try. Select a lovely glass, or even a cut crystal hi-ball tumbler. Fill it with sparkling water, add the lemon or lime slice or even a squeeze of fresh juice, and enjoy.
Ribbons of cucumber in water is a surprising delight, too, so why not give that a try.
To get around 8 hours of sleep, it’s important to work out the time you need to get up in the morning and then work backwards to determine your bed time. If you need to be up and about by 6am, for example, then sleep time needs to be 8 hours earlier – 10pm. Then, if it takes you say 30 minutes after getting into bed before you get to sleep, then bed time needs to be 9.30pm.
If you’ve been habitually burning the candle at both ends, you’ll probably need to gradually bring your sleep time back. It won’t work if you’ve been going to bed at midnight and then today decide that 9.30pm is more appropriate. You’ll probably lie awake for hours! Instead, go to bed at 11.45pm for a week, then 11.30pm for another week, then 11.15pm for a week, and so on.
Ah, the dreaded curse of being permanently connected. The ‘ping’ of a notification, the red stand-by light of the TV, and the invisible wi-fi signals can all interfere with sleep quantity and quality. Focusing on what you’re missing out on in the wider world means you miss out on sleep.
The bedroom should have limited functions: sleep, dressing, and time with your partner.
Like training children to sleep well, we also need to train ourselves to sleep well. Going to sleep and waking at (more or less) the same time every day makes it easier, as do things like having a shower before bed, turning off the TV an hour before bed, and ensuring that we don’t have a huge meal right before bed time. You might like to read a chapter of a light novel before settling down, just to help your body relax.
Starting the day right makes it easier to continue the day right. Exercising before breakfast is great for waking you up, making you hungry for breakfast, and setting your mind into the right space to continue well. Feeling good carries over and helps you make better food choices for the rest of the day.
Getting to the gym has many benefits, especially when you’re losing weight. Maintaining muscle while losing body fat keeps your metabolism firing higher. This means that you lose primarily body fat and not your valuable lean muscle. As with exercising early in the morning, a gym workout makes you feel your body working, sometimes feel glad that it’s over, but you feel food. Feeling good carries over to help you eat better and sleep better, so it’s a winning move to get to the gym regularly.
We’re all ageing and there’s nothing we can do about that, but our day-to-day choices can influence how we age.
Think about a time where a person’s age has genuinely surprised you. This can go both ways: the 50-year old who looks more like 35, or the 60-year old who you would have sworn was at least 80. What makes the difference?
There’s a genetic influence, of course, and we can’t do anything about our genetic make-up, but we can influence the expression of our genes.
Sitting around every weekend eating chips and drinking beer is going to have a different effect than being active and eating healthy foods. Gene expression is influenced by lifestyle choices and environmental factors, so making the best choices will give the best results.
So, what lifestyle choices can you make?
Getting older is going to happen, but we can make choices that allow it to happen gracefully and healthily.
Getting older is inevitable, but it’s no reason to sit back and allow the ageing process to occur more quickly than necessary. It’s not uncommon to hear women say things like “I hate exercise”, especially as they get older, but what they mean is that their past experiences of exercise have not been positive. Exercise can take all manner of form, so the key is to start gradually and find the type of exercise that works best for you.
Why is it so important?
A recent study into telomeres and ageing found that low physical activity seemed to account for an 8-year biological age gap between those who exercised and those who did not.
A sedentary lifestyle accelerates ageing, reduces the body’s ability to manage daily activities, and can increase the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. We’re all getting older, but let’s not make it happen more quickly, and let’s not think “It’s too late, I’m too old.” There’s no shortage of stories about older people participating in exercise, like this lady.
The great thing about exercise is that it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. If the only exercise you currently get is walking from room to room in your house, you can start with a walk to the letterbox. Gradually increase that to a walk to the corner of your street and back. Then around the block. See how easy that can be?
You might want to improve your strength and balance. The Healthy Inspirations circuit is perfect as the equipment is easily adjusted and supports your body. Our coaches will help get you started, and it may be that you only do two or three exercises at first, gradually building up as your fitness improves.
Enid is an active participant at the Healthy Inspirations centre in Blackwood, SA. In her words:
“I am 89 years old. About 15 years ago, I had a hysterectomy and repair to a prolapse, and had limited health and mobility since. I had a spinal operation to reduce pressure on the spinal cord, followed by two hip replacements, and one knee replacement. Prolapse has been a constant problem with several repairs.
Meanwhile my husband’s health declined. Her suffered from depression, which made him angry and abusive. Gradually he was losing sight, hearing, balance, memory and reason. He needed a lot of care and attention. I consoled myself with food, and was unfit and overweight.
After I was widowed, 4 years ago, I enrolled in a Strength for Life programme at Blackwood Gym. That was crowded, noisy, some classes were upstairs – difficult for me – and parking was often difficult.
So I came to Healthy Inspirations. I can cope with the exercises available. I have been welcomed and encouraged by staff and members. I really appreciate the encouragement I receive. It is noted if I behave unwisely, but not condemned. There are suggestions as to how I might cope better.
There has been some interruption and hospital treatment, but I’ve been welcomed back. I’ve lost weight, improved fitness, and my own sense of worth. I find other younger members friendly and supportive.”
Choose better. Sounds easy, but is it? We have a guest blogger this week – Lisa Marchesi. Lisa owns the Healthy Inspirations centre in Sale, Victoria, and has been helping her members not only lose weight and improve fitness, but also helps them changing their mindset. Over to you, Lisa:
Our habits shape our life! The key to successfully changing your daily habits to healthier ones is to substitute alternative behaviours that also satisfy your needs. Once the new habit is ingrained, the new behaviour pattern becomes easy and automatic.
Be realistic and clear on what your needs are and your WHY. Remember your mind is the control room of your life. Then go ahead and set your goals and take action; small daily actions to achieve your goals throughout 2017.
Imagine how you would feel if you sat down at the end of December 2017 and could tick off your goals that you had achieved and set in early 2017. I bet you’d be proud! Maybe even feeling gorgeous and possibly have made new friendships through your new community that supports you.
Now suppose you decided today, right now, that you are finally making a REAL commitment to turn your dramas into actions….whatever they may be. Maybe it’s to lose those extra kilos?
If you want to lose weight and get into shape in the New Year, you must develop the habits of a fit and healthy person. Eating the right foods, getting regular exercise and making the right lifestyle choices are the key ingredients for staying lean, fit and at a healthy weight. In addition to lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure, keeping your weight in check and nourishing your body can also lower the risk of some cancers.
Go find a notepad and consider these questions.
Knowing what you want is the first step to getting it. Knowing what’s holding you back is the second step to making sure you get to keep it.
Write down your answers so you can see your progress later.
If you are really stuck coming up with a goal, start by asking yourself, if I could be, do or have anything in life, what would it be?
This might include time, money, not having the right opportunities, lack of motivation, procrastination, lack of self-belief, not knowing how to achieve it, or maybe you just don’t know.
For example, do you often put in lots of energy at the start, then within a couple of weeks find you’ve lost motivation? Do you put off getting started for so long you just give up? Do you start too many projects at once and end up overwhelmed and under motivated? Identifying your unique patterns is key to changing them.
What you tell yourself can stop you from achieving your most prized goals and visions. For example, if you have decided that this is the year you find the right relationship, believing that you are not worthy of love will sabotage your plans. If you told yourself that this year is the year you finally get the body shape you want or start the business you’re passionate about, but you have an underlying belief that “I’m not worth it” or “It’s impossible to find work in this market,” how motivated will you be? How effective? Listen to what you tell yourself about what you believe limits you.
They might be to have more confidence in yourself? Break patterns of self-sabotage? Not be concerned with what others think? Most of these can be resolved at Healthy Inspirations.
This could be a mentor, additional skills, a ‘how to’ guide, a clear action plan, a sounding board or someone to brainstorm with. At Healthy Inspirations, we have lots of resources along with our trained staff who are here to develop your plan so you can achieve your weight loss and healthy goals.
Enlist the help of a friend, partner or coach. To establish your own accountability, tell them what you intend to do. This puts the power squarely in your hands to determine your results.
Once you have these questions answered, it’s time to take action daily and review your goals weekly.
Keep the top 3 goals written on a card in your desk drawer or in your wallet and look at them once a day. Ask yourself, why do I want to achieve these goals? What will that give me or do for me? The “why” is your grander purpose and will motivate you to persist in taking action until it’s complete.
When you achieve a goal, celebrate! This is a great way to reward yourself for a job well done. It will anchor that wonderful sense of achievement within your psychology and physiology. This will only lead to building more and more success!
Remember there are no limitations, except those that are self-created and you can change those at Healthy Inspirations. We’d love to support you on your journey. Give your nearest centre a call today or simply pop in for a chat.
Like him or loathe him, it must be an incredible feat managing each day as president of the world’s most powerful nation.
Have you noticed that Barack Obama stays trim and apparently fit? How does one of the busiest people in the world make time for exercise?
Isn’t time our biggest excuse for not exercising? Things just get in the way.
“You have to exercise,” he told Vanity Fair . “Or at some point you’ll just break down.”
It’s the same with his suits. He only wears blue or black suits, and no doubt the suit, shirt, tie and shoes are laid out the night before.
So what’s the lesson for us? The #1 lesson is to create a weekly plan pre-deciding exactly what exercise you will be doing and when. To do this, consider creating a default diary. This is where you enter a recurring session in your diary at the same time, same day each and every week. It’s like making an appointment with yourself.
At the barest minimum plan on attending two exercise sessions per week. It might be a circuit or your favourite class, and it might even be as simple as going for a walk before breakfast.
You may wish to go one step further. Make a habit of getting your exercise gear ready beforehand, so it are ready as soon as you need it.
Your success, and achieving great results comes not just from the program but from you being consistent showing up.
“Eighty percent of life is showing up” Woody Allen
Let’s face one thing that you may need to deal with in order to make this idea work. You may have family obligations. These have a habit of jumping up at the worst time. You may need to have a family meeting: “I want to pre-schedule my exercise spot every Monday and Wednesday at 6:00 pm, and so I won’t be here to help. In return, I’m happy to commit to being home at other times to help, to enable others to do their thing or for us to do things together.”
What gets scheduled gets done.
I’ve just read what is quite possibly one of the best articles ever about first time exercise. It hits the nail on the head for how many people feel: the fear, the trepidation, the bad memories, the lack of confidence, the poor coordination, low strength and a host of other factors that made exercise too hard. I encourage everyone – fit or unfit – to read it: “What It’s Really Like to Work Out for the First Time Ever as An Adult“, by Jenni Maier.
Too often, people go to a gym and are met with the average trainer and other gym-goers who look perfect, who have always loved sport, who have never been unfit or overweight. Of course, this may not be completely true but it’s usually how it appears.
Worse than how they look, though, is that some trainers have no empathy for those who are different to themselves. They honestly have no idea that others don’t (can’t?) view exercise in the same way as they do. The first thing they want to do is to show the new exerciser how hard they’ll have to work. They want to flog you. They want you to talk about how hard they made you work.
Imagine going to a gym for the first time, being frightened and unfit but rallying every ounce of bravery possible, and being told – not asked – to do 20 push-ups. Or sit-ups or lift those weights or run for 5 minutes to “warm up” when two minutes in you feel ill.
It’s no wonder first timers have a hard time becoming second-timers.
A good trainer, of course, has a different mindset. A good trainer understands the emotions a first-timer might be having. They know that the hardest part of starting an exercise program is actually turning up. Most importantly, they listen and gradually develop an exercise program that doesn’t aim to leave the first-timer exhausted for days. They work with you.
There are good trainers everywhere. There are not-so-good trainers, too. The key is to find a gym where you feel comfortable, with the guidance and support of trainers or staff that help you gradually introduce and build upon your exercise.
Quite seriously, if your body enables you to get to the gym, you can start. And in time your body will thank you for it.
What are the major factors long-term exercise participation? In order of importance:
Despite the bravery that’s sometimes needed to start exercise alone, most people find that if they continue to exercise alone they – put simply – don’t continue.
For most, connecting with others is necessary for long-term engagement.
Obviously a team sport has automatic ‘friends’ built into the game, but even activities that can be done alone are more satisfying and done more consistently when friends or acquaintances are involved. This is especially true when you arrange to meet someone for exercise: you might be willing to let yourself down, but most of us are unwilling to let others down. You turn up whether you feel like it or not.
Seeing familiar faces helps increase your sense of belonging. If names are known and conversations initiated, so much the better. This reduces self-consciousness and increases connection, community, and camaraderie.
When the people you connect with during exercise have similar goals to yours, the connection is a supportive one. Encouragement, praise, high-5s and the like create bonds that carry each other through the ups and downs that life throws.
Without progress it can be harder to maintain motivation. Always having something to strive for is essential, and it doesn’t have to be hard. This might be doing two extra exercises at the gym, or jogging between two light poles on your morning walk. It might be mastering a full push-up, or learning how to keep a hula hoop turning for one minute.
Find an area in which you’d like to improve, and then work towards it.
This is, surprisingly, perhaps the least important aspect of maintaining an exercise regime. Make no mistake: if you enjoy your exercise it’s easier to keep going, but if the other factors are in place, enjoyment of the actual exercise is less important. The friendship, support and challenge of the exercise will keep you going through times when enjoyment is lacking, and this happens to everyone at different times.
Exercise is something that easy to incorporate into your life long-term, you just need to make it a priority and then develop friend and support networks, focus on small challenges, and enjoy the time you spend exercising.
The old dogma of ‘eat less and exercise more’ has finally been laid to rest, but will anyone be listening? Exercise for weight loss is simply not a good strategy. It helps, of course, but by itself it’s not enough.
This video summarises how we burn calories: through resting metabolism, the thermic effect of food, and exercise. Our resting metabolism takes care of the bulk of our caloric burn each day, so adding a bit of exercise doesn’t really do much to help weight loss.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t exercise. Not at all. The health, wellness and feel-good effects of exercise are extremely valuable and everyone should live an active lifestyle – through work, leisure, exercise and daily movement patterns.
Over 60 studies show that exercise is “pretty useless when it comes to weight loss”. According to researcher Kevin Hall, PhD, “Exercise isn’t a weight loss tool, per se. It’s excellent for health, it’s probably the best single thing you can do other than stopping smoking to improve your health, but don’t look at it as a weight loss tool.”
Exercise, for most people, counts for between 10% to 30% of energy use. Think of it this way: 100% of the calories you consume come from the choices you make, while only 10%-30% of the calories you burn come from your choices.
Exercise then contributes to a range of compensatory behaviours, both physiological and conscious.
All over the world, governments and health groups promote exercise as a way to lose weight, but the evidence simply doesn’t support this advice. It’s easier to recommend exercise than it is to adjust the food supply or official dietary guidelines. It’s easier to recommend an increase of exercise than it is to change people’s shopping and eating habits.
Many food manufacturers align their advertising with sports and activities, perhaps in an attempt to give their products the ‘health halo’ that exercise provides. The implicit idea is that you enjoy all the sugary drinks, biscuits or burgers you like, as long as you stay active. We know that marketing has the goal of selling products, not helping the health of the population, so let’s ignore the ads.
Many nutritionists and dietitians have the mantra of “everything in moderation”. This is often because they feel that making permanent change to eating habits is too hard for most people. If these experts think you can’t do it, chances are that you’ll believe it. If we’re being perfectly honest, it can be easy to justify eating (or drinking) just about anything we like if we live by this mantra: it just usually doesn’t help our weight or our health.
So while exercise will help you live a long and healthy life, don’t expect miracles for your weight loss efforts. You need to exercise, for sure, but unless you take control over what you eat and drink, weight loss will be an elusive goal.
We’ve been told that sugars make us fat, but that’s too simplistic. There’s more to the story…
For years we believed the simple concept that weight loss is a calories in – calories out equation and that to lose weight we needed to eat less than we burn up, or burn up more than we eat, or a combination. And for many, despite all their efforts to eat less and exercise more, their bodies keep hanging on to that stubborn weight. We were told it was all about calories, and as fat has more calories per gram (9 to be exact) than carbohydrates and proteins (4 each), we were told that eating fat was fattening and that we should all be choosing low-fat or fat-free foods and drinks. And so we avoided those ‘fattening fats’ but still didn’t lose weight, and then felt guilty for not losing weight or worried that other people might think us gluttons or sloths.
New research has flipped everything we thought we knew about weight loss on its ear. Instead, the new research looks at what triggers fat storage and what can facilitate fat release. It shows that while we may have energy stored in our fat cells (as fat), our hormonal responses to our food choices are not allowing us to access that energy.
Think about this. Say you’re carrying 10 kilos more than you would like. That’s 10,000 grams of fat, and at 9 calories a gram, that’s 90,000 calories of energy that you have stored. That’s enough to walk 1,650 km without eating! If you’ve got excess weight, ask yourself if you ever get low on energy. If the answer is YES, then your body may be having difficulty accessing the energy stored in your fat cells and this makes losing weight very difficult. If you’ve been consciously avoiding ‘fattening fats’ by eating a low-fat diet for years and years, it means that you’ve probably been eating a high ‘sugar-yielding’ diet. “But”, you say, “I don’t eat sugar, sweet foods or drinks!”
Here’s the truth: many otherwise healthy foods elevate our blood sugar just the same as if we were eating sugar. These can include foods that are not sweet such as breads, pasta, cereals, fruits and some vegetables. A high blood-sugar-elevating diet may stimulate the hormones which cause your body to store fat and not release it.
Some people would say “There would be nothing left to eat”. The challenge is that one diet does not fit all (and by ‘diet’ we mean lifelong eating pattern). What foods and drinks might be absolutely fine for one member of the family might not suit another. Although they might both like the same foods, one stays slim and the other struggles with their weight.
Now there’s a program to help you discover the ideal diet for your body at your stage of life. Yes, what was ideal for you 10 or 20 years ago, may not be ideal for you now.
Our bodies have taken many years to adapt and grow to our current shape. It’s a huge mistake to think that “I can quickly lose weight and then once it’s gone, I can go back to what I was eating.” Once you learn what foods and drinks your body can tolerate (from a weight and health perspective), it is very liberating. You can tap into all that stored energy and enjoy having the body you were meant to have. Give it a go!