Obesity is one of the biggest and most serious health issues in Australia today. It contributes to at least three of the biggest killers in our society - cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
The weight loss and dieting industry is one of this country’s largest. In spite of tough economic times, it is estimated that Australian’s spend approximately $730 million trying to lose weight each year.
It is very common for those of us trying to lose weight to want quick results and this is very often not possible or the right solution. Optimal weight loss requires dedication and patience and all too often, we seem to lose motivation before we have reached our goals. The best way to stay motivated is to create a plan.
This can be a goal for weight, body fat percentage, clothes size – anything. It just needs to be specific and measurable (if you can see your progress, you’ll know that what you’re doing is working and you’ll be more likely to stick to it).
Also, small goals are more achievable and will keep you more motivated and interested in your progress. So instead of making your weight loss goal 30kgs, make it 5kgs. When you have reached your 5 kg goal, set another one for another 5kgs. Before you know it, you 5kg goals will have added up to 15 or 20kgs!
30 minutes of moderate exercise 3-4 times per week is usually enough to get your metabolic rate up. You can do more if you like but try not to do less. Check with your healthcare professional before embarking on an exercise plan and have a chat with a qualified exercise physiologist or personal trainer to make sure you are exercising correctly to minimise the risk of injury.
This is where speaking to a qualified nutritionist can be one of the most important steps. Together, you and your nutritionist can create a diet specifically for you based on the foods that you like eating and don’t necessarily want to give up, and those foods that you can live without. A good diet that is easy for you to learn, follow and control will mean that you are better placed for successful weight loss in the short term, and will also make it easier for you to maintain that weight loss in the long term. Dieting can often be the most difficult part of the weight loss journey to stick to and understanding your diet and how and why it is working can help to keep you motivated.
When looking to lose weight, our main focus should be on energy: energy coming in (from our food) and energy going out (exercise/activity).
The foods that provide us with energy are carbohydrates (sugars) and fats. Our bodies prefer to use protein for structure rather than energy (eg: building muscle, skin, hair, nails, wound healing etc). When we consume more energy than we are burning, our body will usually store the excess as fat. Therefore, in order to lose weight we need to make sure that generally, the energy going in is less than the energy going out. This way, your body will have the opportunity to burn through stored fat. However, there are many different types of weight loss diets out there, and it is often not just a matter of eating less calories and exercising more. The types of foods that we are consuming are also an extremely important factor to look at when wanting to lose weight. It is highly recommended that you speak to a qualified Nutritionist or other Healthcare Professional before embarking on a diet, to see which one is right for you.
A good nutritionist will be able to tailor a diet plan to your specific needs, calculating total calorie intake (based on your weight and activity levels) and then breaking those calories down into percentages of carbs, proteins and fats. As time goes on you can see how that feels – you might like to increase it a little or decrease it depending on energy levels and how quickly you want to lose the weight. Your nutritionist can also help you out here.
Also, get into the habit of reading the labels on foods that you buy in the supermarket. Look at the Nutrition Panel (pay attention to the serving size) and also the ingredients list. It is important to eat as “cleanly” as you can. This means eating foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Try to avoid processed or packaged foods, make your own meals from scratch and keep an eye on your intake of additives (preservatives, sweeteners, flavours and colours) and keep these to a bare minimum.
Your weight loss journey can be extremely successful and enjoyable with a little bit of dedication. The more you learn about yourself and your diet, the more it will become a long term lifestyle change rather than a short term fix and the benefits will extend far beyond just weight loss. Energy gains, better sleep, better gut function and disease prevention will be your end point so keep the big picture in mind and don’t give up!
Ad. Dip. Nat