In a world where we are constantly bombarded by media, ‘expert ‘opinions and all things marketing, it’s no wonder that people have become confused when it comes to weight loss or health choices. So what approach should we take, and what should we be looking for in our quest for longevity, fitness and quality of life? A holistic approch to weight loss is the logical way to go if we desire a sustainable healthy lifestyle.
Fitness & Weight loss
Losing weight and getting fit can provide confidence within a person and contribute to a healthy life. But often, our obsession and worries around weight can distract us from our real problems. We fixate on the weight problem, but not what caused us to gain the weight in the first instance. Weight is not always about being lazy or non-committed. Usually there are underlying issues which have caused the problem in the first place. We tend to unconsciously self-sabotage whenever we approach changes in our diet choices or committing to regular physical activity. Having the tools to discover these underlying causes of our behaviours, choices and lifestyle patterns is the true key to regaining our power and control to recreating a positive lifestyle. By getting to the core of the problem and eliminating these unconscious patterns of behaviour, we can gain the freedom to make those positive changes.
Set behavior-based goals around improving your health. The wrong habits and behaviour is what got you to your present weight. It seems logical to get an action plan to combat these to enable a shift in the right direction. A Neuro Linguistic Programming coach has the skills to delve deep into your thought patterns and extract the root of the problem. Processes can then be applied to clear negative mental blocks before setting up a goal plan.
These goals should be Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time bound.
Specific: The less specific a goal the harder it is to determine how long it should take to complete or how to measure success. For example, consider the goals below:
- To get fit
- To lose weight
- To lose 10 kilos
Goal three is specific as it gives you a number to aim for compared to goal one. Getting fit can mean a variety of things. It can mean getting an increase in lung capacity to enable more aerobic activity and endurance; or getting through an hours exercise session easier. It can mean losing a couple of kilos or getting leaner muscle. Get the idea?
Measurable: We need to know how a goal is measured. How do we know we’re on the path to success? The relevant way to achieve this with weight loss is usually by recording the number on the scales. But I am against using scales as the fluctuation with body weight (especially female bodies) is constant and does not isolate fat loss in itself. Yes, there are scales out there that measure body fat, water content etc. but they have been proven to be inaccurate many times over. This especially applies to those who are prone to be more muscular.
The best way to measure is ‘girth measurements’. The humble measuring tape can help you record the disappearing centimetres around the main areas prone to carrying excess fat. That is the chest, waist, hips, thighs and upper arms. Being aware of how your clothes fit during the duration of the program and photos can also be forms of measure.
However, if we were to measure how many kilos we’ve dropped; using the scales would be the only way to accomplish that. Just don’t become obsessive with weighing yourself constantly.
Actionable: What is your action plan? Do you have the resources and capabilities of achieving your goal? If not, what are you lacking?
Resources can be: a gym membership, access to a personal trainer, a friend to train with, exercise equipment at home.
Capabilities: Done fitness classes before so are familiar with them. You can ride a bike, go for a jog or swim laps.
A well designed step by step action plan is important for success. If there are many actions to be taken, break down the larger goals into smaller ones to make them easier to achieve. No matter how small the goals are, achieving each one is a sign of progress and should be celebrated.
Relevant: We need to make sure we are pursuing our most relevant goals at any given time. What is the goal going to get you? What will you gain from these goals and what will you lose by achieving these goals? These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself as it plays an important part in committing yourself completely to your action plan. If your goals have no relevance or meaning to you or your life, chances are you will get unmotivated at some point and stop the process altogether.
For example, if high blood pressure and heart disease is part of your family history, it’s relevant to lose weight to decrease the risk of contracting these conditions; or you can gain more energy so you can keep up with your kids.
Time bound: By pinpointing a specific date to reach the goal, it helps us measure our progress and gives us an incentive to keep to the plan. For example, consider the goal to:
- Lose 10 kilos
- Lose 10 kilos in 10 weeks.
By including the element of time we can calculate how much we should be losing each week. This helps us to revisit our action plan and make the necessary changes if we’re not reaching our weekly or half way targets.
On average weight loss should be 1 – 1.5 kilos per week. This is realistic and anything more than this will trigger feelings of guilt or failure when not achieved.
Remember goals are dynamic and should be reflected upon, adjusted and evaluated continually.
There is a great emphasis on lifestyle to maintain balance throughout life – Where exercise, fitness and weight loss are part of it, another component is nutrition.
Nutrition: There has been a long and constant battle with nutritional choices both within and out of the fitness industry. Rule of thumb to alleviate overwhelm of information is, keep to natural food choices as much as possible. A longer shelf life of a food product, the more additives and preservatives it contains. Keep your food choices fresh with a majority of your portions containing vegetables and salads. Lean protein in all its forms should be consumed (chicken, lentils, yoghurt, tuna) as should complex carbohydrates in the form of grains, seeds and nuts. The less processed foods you consume the better you will feel and weight loss becomes more effortless. If you’re still confused and need a meal plan of sorts, seek out a professional like a nutritionist or dietician to provide credible advice.
Any fad diets should be ignored and avoided; they’re not sustainable over long periods and are still being heavily researched for long term consequences. Supplements, vitamins and diet shakes should also be avoided unless prescribed by a dietician.
The 80/20 rule is best. Choose healthy foods 80% of the time and enjoy the occasional treat 20% of the time. This is known as balance.
Sleep: Getting your required amount of sleep every night lowers cortisol levels that can be secreted during bouts of stress brought on by tiredness and low energy. Cortisol is one hormone that contributes to visceral fat which can lead to hypertension, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Hydration: Enjoy nature’s juice of up to eight glasses of water per day. Water is also provided in the form of vegetables and fruit, so if you’ve increased these foods, you’re hydrating without realising it.
Connect with yourself: What we mean by this is having your alone time where you get to connect to the true essence of who you are. This can be done through meditation, prayer, listening to relaxation music, having a massage or doing something creative you enjoy. This brings about a sense of grounding and helps you centre, in a world of constant rushing and thinking. Create your very own sacred space where you can immerse yourself into a tranquil state of mind to help rejuvenate and re-energise.
All in all we must be aware the mind and body are not discrete, separate entities. To be physically well, fit and functioning optimally, our mind and spirit should be part of the mix in our health/wellness action plans.
We tend to focus on weight loss when it comes to health, but developing a plan that takes care of us holistically will provide us not just with a healthier weight, but the means of getting there with a healthy mind and spirit too.