4 Key Areas Of Focus For Weight Loss Success

Whatever your usual trigger foods are for your weight gain - sugar, booze, cakes, pasta, pastries - losing weight is about being honest with yourself and finding out what you personally need to do to get your body into fat burning mode. Often in our busy lifestyles, simply becoming mindful of this is a huge achievement.

Getting to the root cause

There may be many reasons why you might have gained weight. Maybe you just don't move enough in your life, for example your job has changed and you've become more sedentary during the day. Maybe you have a reasonably good diet without sugars, processed foods and alcohol, yet you are a person who finds it hard to relax properly, resulting in excess abdominal fat due to prolonged stress and a challenging work/life balance. Maybe you’ve got into the habit of comfort eating, or drinking too much, as a way of suppressing difficult emotions. There might be a particular food that you’ve become addicted to, or maybe you eat too late at night.

4 key areas of focus for weight loss:

1. Avoid sugar in all its forms whether that be sugary foods, white refined carbohydrates - like white bread and pasta, natural sweeteners, dried fruits, fruit juice, high sugar fruits and alcohol. These foods spike insulin, your fat-storing hormone. Excess sugar gets turned into fat. Even savoury foods like white pasta are nothing but glucose molecules strung together and easily broken down to flood your system with sugar. Always opt for wholemeal versions. Blood sugar fluctuations also create cravings, excessive appetite, energy dips and addiction to quick-fix foods.

2. Eat only foods that keep insulin levels steady, which means basing your diet around fresh, natural ingredients from vegetables, grass-fed meats, wild fish, seeds, nuts, healthy fats and low sugar fruits. These types of foods are anti-inflammatory and won’t promote fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which result in cravings and weight gain. It’s a fact that our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t have sugary and starchy foods available to them and we are simply not designed to eat them on a regular basis. Autumn time was the time for eating glucose-rich ripe fruits which allowed our ancestors to go into a state of insulin-resistance, pile on a fat store around the middle, ready to be quickly used for fuel during the lean winter months. Insulin resistance is a survival mechanism in times of stress and famine. In today’s world full of sugar, starchy foods, cakes, bread and pasta we now have a worldwide pandemic of insulin resistance, obesity and the degenerative diseases that follow, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

3. Get more active during your day and include weight baring exercises for increased lean muscle mass. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat and helps us burn more calories, even when we are sleeping. A healthy body composition is more important than how much you weigh. Getting more active means moving more. Get off the bus a few stops earlier, do some vigorous housework, dance to your favourite music. Just move!

4. Enjoy quality relaxation. Our bodies simply cannot heal and repair themselves without quality relaxation and deep sleep. Detoxification processes cannot occur without proper relaxation, and excess stress causes abdominal weight gain due to the effects of cortisol. Being stressed also contributes to unhealthy eating and drinking patterns. Building in proper relaxation into your life is crucial on your weight loss journey. Learn meditation, join a relaxing yoga class, try out a relaxation CD at bedtime or enjoy a candlelight lavender bath. Do whatever makes you relax deeply.

Getting mindful and asking questions of yourself

How many of the areas of focus listed above are you comfortable with in your life? Are any of them more challenging than others? Where do you think you need to focus your attention first? If you eat too much sugar, why do you eat it? If you are always feeling stressed and anxious, what do you need to do to address that? As you begin to make changes in each area, what can you do to stop yourself falling back into old habits?

Get a piece of paper out, or start a journal, and write the answers to these questions down. Brainstorm. Think about these things. Reflect on your daily habits and how well they serve you. We all have troublesome areas in our lives. Let’s be really honest with ourselves. If our behaviours are linked to something emotional, maybe we can address that and look at the underlying issues, or else it's likely we'll fall straight back into our old ways again. Checking in with a qualified practitioner, such as a psychologist, may help you uncover the drivers behind your actions. Specialist supplements

Alongside dietary and lifestyle changes, it may be necessary to support your fat burning efforts with specialist supplements, which work on the metabolic processes involved in weight regulation and fat burning. You may need to take supplements to support your adrenal function, to lower cravings and help you balance your blood sugar levels, or to help you get a better night’s sleep. Consulting with a nutritional therapist is advised to help you uncover and address the root causes of your reasons for weight gain.

Supplements to support weight loss:

  • Formulas containing thermogenic ingredients like black pepper and green coffee extract can help to stoke the metabolic fire.
  • Chromium and cinnamon based formulas increase insulin sensitivity and reduce carbohydrate cravings.
  • Omega 3 fish oil supplements lower inflammation, support fat burning, improve insulin sensitivity and help hormonal balance. Great for hair, nails and skin too.
  • Quality protein powders can be used for promoting healthy body composition. When used as a meal or snack replacement they can prevent you from reaching for unhealthy options. Adding berries, non-dairy milk and superfoods to the mix for a meal-in-a-glass smoothie is the way to go.
  • Superfood powders like spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass or maca pack a nutritional punch.
  • Cravings can be the result of nutrient deficiencies, so adding a spoonful of superfood powder into your smoothie or onto breakfast is a quick and easy way to help you reach optimum health.

It’s worth noting that if you're going to take supplements you need to invest in decent ones that are actually going to have an effect in the body. Quality supplement formulas are very effective at correcting certain pathologies in the body, such as thyroid, adrenal, digestive and mood formulas, alongside dietary and lifestyle interventions.*

Creating habits that stick and finding your own balance

Just changing one aspect of your lifestyle is hard enough, as we are all creatures of habit, but to change many is very challenging. Ideally, you’ll start on one aspect of your wellness, such as managing stress, before moving onto another area like cutting out sugar or drinking less alcohol. Become aware of the areas in your life that are associated with your weight gain and the areas in your life that hinder your weight loss success.

Wherever you currently are on your life journey, self reflection is the best tool for uncovering exactly what you need right now. By honest, mindful reflection you can begin to uncover your own personal reasons why your body may be holding onto fat stores. Thirty days is just enough time to begin implementing healthier eating patterns and new habits, yet those patterns need to continue beyond thirty days in order for them to stick. If you’re holding on to body fat and it’s making you uncomfortable, take a journey of self-discovery, be kind to yourself and commit to listening deeply to yourself. Transformation through mindfulness is just around the corner, as long as you’re willing to be honest with yourself.

*N.B: Do not stop any medication you are currently taking without consulting your health care provider.

Article by Jo Rowkins, Nutritional Therapist.