Maintaining an ideal weight relies on a range of factors. Most people only consider the first two – Diet and Exercise. Whilst these are very important there are other factors in play that, if ignored, will impede your chances of success.
The key factors involved in maintaining an ideal weight are:
- emotional factors
- AND the body’s own balancing system
What we eat has a major impact on our weight and our health generally. However, there is not one perfect diet that suits all people. This is not a new idea. Many ancient systems of medicine have been prescribing diet depending on body type for hundreds of years, Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese medicine consider seasonal variation too. With so many diet options around we can often feel bombarded with information about diets that seem unworkable for us. It’s not just what we eat or how much, but even factors such as when we eat and how often can all have an impact. Add to that cravings and it is no wonder so many people struggle to maintain their ideal weight. I can help you figure out the best foods for you and turn off those cravings.
Exercise is great for a whole host of reasons, most importantly it keeps us healthy and mobile. In terms of weight loss, we need to move a lot more than we realise if we are to burn up the calories. However, certain forms of exercise will, for some people, make them feel hungrier and need to eat more. There are lots of options when it comes to exercise but some people find it hard to stay motivated. The key is to find things you enjoy and do it often enough to make a difference.
Cortisol is an hormone that regulates a wide range of processes in the body, including metabolism, our immune response and helping the body respond to stress. It is naturally high in the morning when we wake and low at night before we sleep. When we are stressed our body releases cortisol. When the stress passes the relaxation response takes over. However, if we remain stressed and our body is full of cortisol in the evening it can prevent us from sleeping and also interfere with metabolism. In addition, it’s believed that sleep-deprived people have reduced levels of leptin (the chemical that makes you feel full) and increased levels of ghrelin (the hunger-stimulating hormone). This means that not only do we feel exhausted, but it is also very difficult to lose weight.
Relaxation and Play
Taking time out each day is important. We all need to turn off our stress response and relaxation can be a great way to do that. Whether you choose to laugh, dance, meditate, garden, walk in nature or play is up to you but there are serious health benefits to be gained from doing so. It doesn’t have to be for long, a short meditation can be enough.
Many of us have an emotional relationship with certain foods (or drinks). Perhaps we crave them in certain conditions? Perhaps we overeat them when upset? Understanding your triggers is very helpful but there are ways to turn off those cravings and diffuse those emotions that trigger overeating. Just imagine how good it would feel to walk past those crisps or biscuits with a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude rather than feeling deprived (or a failure because you ate some).
The body has its own balance – everything in the body is homeostatic, with hormones giving chemical signals that keep everything finely balanced. The hormones leptin and ghrelin are designed to keep our fat stores in balance and do it by influencing appetite. Just like a cooker thermostat keeps the oven at the temperature we’ve chosen, these hormones maintain our fat stores and therefore our weight. When we restrict calories, the hormone ghrelin can make us feel hungry – which is why low calorie diets can be so hard to maintain for any length of time and why we can lose a certain amount of weight and then get stuck, unable to shift those last few pounds. Ghrelin is the appetite stimulating hormone and unfortunately, many factors can increase ghrelin – such as the wrong kind of exercise, insufficient sleep and even stress. The good news is that there are ways to reduce ghrelin naturally, using appropriate diet, the right kind of exercise, good sleep and stress reduction. So if you want to lose weight, don’t just focus on diet alone, try improving some of these other areas too.
Successful Weight Management
I believe it is important to consider each of these factors and how they relate to you individually. I offer six session programme that addresses each of these areas. It is tailored to you personally and available as weekly or fortnightly sessions to suit your individual requirements. For more details or to discuss whether this is suitable for you, please contact me.