Healthy Lifestyle Tips

Prepare yourself mentally and physically for everything life throws at you, with Nikki's top ideas and tips.


Top Tips For Losing Weight *

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People constantly ask me …what do I need to do to lose weight?

Well, apart from work with me of course 😊  I believe that it really boils down to 5 simple things. 

 

1. DON'T JUDGE YOURSELF BY NORMAL SCALES

Normal scales only measure "weight" and not "fat" loss. If you do need to lose weight, then your focus should be "fat" loss. When you embark on a restrictive diet or do lots and lots of moderate intensity cardio, you may well see the weight drop off quickly BUT you are probably losing "muscle" not "fat". 

The more muscle you lose the less sustainable your weight loss in the long  Why? Because muscle will burn up calories at an intense rate even when you are chilling on the sofa. You don’t need to turn into a body builder just focus on becoming leaner. 

Also how reliable are your scales exactly? How many times have you jumped off the scales, ecstatic because you have lost a couple of pounds, only to see those pounds and more back on the next day or maybe even on that same day? 

Your body weight is subject to so many changes throughout the day. For example how much water you drink, how much you have sweated, even your toilet habits! and yes that is a fact 

So DITCH THE SCALES use a tape measure instead AND INCREASE YOUR MUSCLE MASS.  

 

2. NOT EATING ENOUGH WILL NOT HELP YOU TO LOSE WEIGHT 

Focus on QUALITY and not QUANTITY ....and eat REAL food rather than heavily processed foods even if they are labelled "light" or "healthy". If you starve your body, it doesn't know you are on a temporary diet it just goes into starvation mode and starts to store fat so FILL YOUR BOOTS with GOOD food.

All food is good food in moderation but the best foods for weight loss are lean proteins, healthy fats and low GI starchy carbs. 

 

3. EAT WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY

If you eat when you are angry, sad, bored or stressed that's a lot of extra food that your body does not need which could end up as unwanted body weight. 

I am an emotional eater as are a number of my clients and we have come up with ways to control it. If you are an emotional eater, you really should try and address it and I promise you, you will be amazed at the difference it will make. 

 

4. DRINK WATER 

Keep hydrated. How much? It really depends on so many things such as your level of physical activity, the temperature of the environment, humidity, your respiration rate etc ...but I'd try and aim for at least 1.5 litres a day ....

 

5. KEEP ACTIVE 

But remember not all exercise is the same. If you want to lose "fat" specifically then you need to do muscle fitness training not just cardio. Body weight exercises, squats, pressups, lunges are all great examples and of course if you have dumbbells, kettlebells or access to a gym then all the better ... 

Cardio is, of course, good for you too and necessary BUT if you are trying to lose weight then you should do muscle building exercises.

 

So those are my 5 top tips….

I hope you found the article interesting and helpful and please do contact me if you need any more information 

 

Take care

Nikki 

 

Can Stress Make You Fat? *

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For most of us “stress” is a fact of life but unfortunately it can also influence our weight …

“Even if you usually eat well and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight or even add pounds.

Pamela Peeke - Body For Life For Women 

When you are stressed, your body releases adrenaline which gives you instant energy so that you can fight or flee the threat; and cortisol, which helps to replenish that energy once the threat has passed. 

This can make you hungry and you may crave sweet, salty and high fat foods because these foods stimulate the brain to release pleasure chemicals that reduce tensions. This soothing effect can become addictive. Also the fuel that your body needs during fight or flee is sugar, which is why we crave carbs when we are stressed. 

This process is brilliant when, as in back in Paleolithic times for example,  our stress came in the form of physical danger, when we really did need to fight or flee. Stress was acute but short lived.  But it’s not so great when we look at todays typical stress inducing situations such as early morning traffic jams, tight deadlines in our sedentary jobs and financial worries. 

Unlike fleeing from a grizzly bear, modern day typical stresses do not expend any energy. We don’t fight or flee, rather we sit and stew in frustration. Also, stresses today tend to be unrelenting and chronic as opposed to acute but short lived. Unfortunately our neuroendocrine system hasn't caught on to this so we still get the cortisol, along with the associated signal to replenish our energy, in other words we feel hungry and we eat. 

Stress can also dictate where your fat is stored. Again, back when we were fighting off bears and tigers, our bodies adapted to store fat supplies for the long haul. Today this fat, which is stored in our bellies and is also known as visceral or abdominal fat, is particularly dangerous because it surrounds vital organs and releases fatty acids into the blood, raising cholesterol and insulin levels and paving the way for heart disease and diabetes.

Another consequence of cortisol is the effect it has on testosterone. Whilst our adrenal glands are releasing cortisol, production of the muscle building hormone, testosterone, slows down. Over time this leads to a decrease in muscle mass which means you burn less calories.  

Stress can also trigger emotional eating. When we have a surge of adrenaline, as part of our flight or flee response, we get fidgety, activated and anxious and some people become orally fidgety. This can lead to nail biting or teeth grinding or mindless snacking, just to give our mouths something to do.

 

So how do we break the cycle?

Unfortunately we cannot avoid stress but these tips may help:

Exercise - But not too much as remember exercise is a stressor on the body too 

Sleep - Cortisol levels rise when we don’t get enough rest. Your body perceives sleep deprivation as a major stressor

Eat - Don’t go on a strict diet. Eat breakfast. Curtail caffeine as when you combine stress with caffeine it raises cortisol levels more than stress alone. 

Relax - Devote time to relaxation. Relaxing stimulates the brain to produce chemicals that counter the effects of stress. 

Are you a mindless eater? *

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Have you ever polished off a family bag of crisps or Maltesers without even realising it? You only intended to have a handful but minutes later the bag was empty.

Do you stop eating when you are comfortably full or when your plate is empty?

Can you describe the smell, taste and texture of the last thing you ate? 

Could you actually list everything you have eaten today?

Could you be a mindless eater and if so, so what? 

 

Well, mindless eating can actually lead to consuming excess calories which will eventually lead to unwanted weight gain.

If you eat when you're hungry that is a good thing, you are responding to the needs of your body. However, if you find yourself eating, not when you are hungry but when you are bored, or stressed or just eating because you always eat at that time or because everybody else is eating, then you are possibly eating mindlessly, which is not good, especially if you are trying to lose weight.

 

So what does it mean to eat mindfully and why is it important ? 

Eating mindfully means paying attention to when, why and what you eat? It means understanding if you are eating because you are hungry or because you are bored? 

It means being aware of how you feel whilst eating and noticing when you are full, which might be before you actually clear your plate. 

It means being more aware of what you are eating and whether it is good for you.

If you eat mindfully then you will eat when you are hungry and you will stop eating when you are full. 

You will curb emotional eating because you will recognise that it is your emotion rather than your appetite that is triggering this desire to eat.

You will care more about what you actually eat because you want to feel good after you've eaten. 

Ultimately eating mindfully means that you take care about what you are putting into your body.

 

A few tips on how to eat mindfully.

Eat when you are hungry

Do you always eat a big meal at 6pm because that’s the routine? Do you always grab a large box of popcorn at the cinema because , well just because…? 

Check yourself. Are you responding to hunger or something else? Before you eat, ask yourself if you are hungry? Would an apple or a bowl of healthy salad with mixed beans, suffice? If not, then possibly you are not hungry just bored.

Slow down

Sip water as you eat.

Pause and put your cutlery down between each bite. Some experts suggest switching your fork to your non dominant hand, or using chopsticks so that you really have to slow down and think about what you are eating. 

If you slow down you also get the opportunity to check whether you are full or not. It has been suggested that when we eat we all experience an “eating pause”, a moment when we will put our cutlery down and stop eating. This pause is our bodies way of telling us that we are now comfortably full, but more often than not, after a quick break, we look down at our plates, see that they are not clear and resume eating. This is now mindless eating,

Don’t multitask

Research shows that eating in front of the TV increases food intake by 14%, talking to a friend whilst you eat can increase consumption by 18%. Doing two things at once inhibits concentration and awareness so sit at the table, switch off the TV, put down the paper and ignore the phone.

Mix it up

Eat when you are hungry rather than when you normally eat. Also vary your diet. If every morning you are on automatic pilot, reaching for the breakfast cereal and coffee pot then this is mindless eating. Try something new. It will force you to think about what you are eating.

Also, research shows that the bigger the plate or serving, the more you will eat without thinking, so revisit your portion sizes.

And Fnally and most importantly ...

Eat what you want and Enjoy your food 

Mindful eating is not about restricting foods, counting calories or worrying about the “ideal” body size. It is about listening and responding to your appetite. If you really want to eat a calorie dense food, go ahead but be aware and mindful of your portion size. If you eat mindfully then ultimately you will really care about the quality and quantity of what you put into your body 

 

I hope you found the article interesting and useful. Please do contact me if you have any comments or questions.

 

Nikki 

The same new year resolutions as last year? How to actually keep them this time? *

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It's that time of year when most people are thinking about their New Year resolutions and promising themselves that this time they will lose weight, be happier, stop smoking, exercise more. But according to a study by psychologist Richard Wiseman, 78% of all New Year resolutions fail. We break them and then feel more dispirited and despondent than before. We fail to keep because often the resolutions are set at the last minute, without any real forethought or planning.

So, how can do we become one of the 22%ers that keep our resolutions?

Make them SMART goals rather than vague resolutions. Make sure your goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound. So for example, rather than resolving to lose weight, set yourself a goal to lose a specific amount of weight by a certain date.

A goal without a plan is just a wish so plan, plan, plan. Have you got the resources and knowledge you need to attain this goal? Ask for help?

Keep your list short and simple. It is so much easier to set and attain a small series of goals rather than one extreme one.

Set the bar low. Be kind to yourself. Richard Wiseman says " Failing to achieve your ambitions is often psychologically harmful because it can rob people of a sense of self control" Surely it is better to achieve a small goal, pat yourself on the back and then move onto the next one.

So good luck with 2015.

 

Disclaimer:

* The material on this website is provided for educational purposes only. We cannot guarantee any weight loss or fitness results.