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  • Practical Tips for Losing Weight & Dieting

    If you are seeking to lose weight, you will undoubtedly know that what goes in your mouth will, to a great degree, determine your weight loss results.

    The food that you consume accounts for your energy intake - the calories (or kilojoules) that provide the energy necessary for your body to function. Any additional calories that are consumed (on top of what is expended) contribute to weight gain. Thus, you must ensure that your calorie intake is less than what is expended in order to facilitate weight loss.

    Although we have discussed exercise extensively within this blog, and the many benefits that exercise can bring to your weight loss results, weight loss can be accomplished through diet alone. This is not to say that diet in isolation is the most effective way to lose weight; far from it, but you can certainly lose a substantial amount of weight by improving your nutritional intake.

    In prior articles, we have looked at how to manipulate your calorie balance in order to create the necessary calorie deficit required for weight loss. So within this discussion, let's get into some more practical methods that you can employ in order to improve your diet.

    Objectivity with Weight Loss and Diet

    From my experience, one of the most vital aspects to dietary improvement is being objective. You must know exactly what you are consuming in order to improve your results. This means facing the ugly truth and identifying exactly what you are currently doing presently that results in your current physique.

    For most, this is a confronting exercise. While many of us like to think that we eat in a healthy manner with the occasional treat, I have found that this is often challenged once objective measures are put into place. Our westernised diets, are, as a society, atrocious; accounting for 60% of our population being termed "overweight" according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Seeing as though the term "healthy diet" is highly subjective, this conclusion is often drawn relative to societies eating habits. To eat in a healthy manner relative to the typical Australian diet is, unfortunately, not very healthy at all.

    What you must do is commence a food diary, immediately. Assess your eating habits over the course of an entire week. Identify which meals contribute to your weight loss efforts and which do not.

    More often than not, Monday through Friday are likely to be the healthiest. We are in a work routine and it's easy to adhere to a regular eating pattern, maybe with the occasional treat. From my experience, I have found that most clients struggle over the weekend when ones routine is highly variable. In particular, events such as social gatherings or trips away can really throw a spanner in the works, so to speak.

    Once you have confronted your eating patterns in an objective manner, you can then take steps to improve your diet.

    Planning your Diet for Weight Loss

    In almost any endeavour, the most effective people have a plan of action. Your diet is no exception. If you wish to permanently modify your eating habits, it is important to begin with a plan of attack. You can only do this effectively once you are acutely aware of your current eating habits.

    Previously we have discussed the importance of taking a "lifestyle" approach to your diet. This ensures that you maintain a healthy balance between your weight loss goals and your lifestyle. So to attempt to adhere to a strict diet all week long is, for most, unrealistic.

    At the beginning of each week, determine what events are planned and how you will implement these into your week of eating. For example, if you are going out on Saturday night for drinks, commit to maintaining a healthy approach throughout the remainder of the week. If you have multiple outings planned, determine at which one you will have a drink, have a dessert, or have a slightly more "calorie rich" meal.

    You may choose to avoid "treats" altogether and opt for an overall healthy approach. A healthy eating approach does not necessarily entail eating undesirable and unsatisfying foods all week long. There are many healthy meal choices that are tasty and filling.

    Ultimately it's all about balance. If you can structure your week so your average daily energy intake results in a calorie deficit, you'll experience weight loss.

    Accountability with your Diet

    Most people know exactly what to do to be successful. Just as though many of us know that investing our money long-term will provide a great chance of financial freedom, so too do many of understand what is required in order to lose weight. The problem is that not many people put the theory into practice.

    Of course, you require commitment, determination and motivation to make permanent changes to your lifestyle. Something else that will increase your chances of success is having someone (or some people) to hold your feet to the fire.

    What I passionately believe to be the most effective approach is to acquire the services of an experienced professional personal trainer. Friends and family cannot hold you accountable to your weight loss goals effectively, simply because there is a personal relationship that gets in the way. Hiring a professional removes the emotion involved, and he or she can thus help you more effectively.

    A very effective approach is to announce your goals to the world. Tell your friends and family that you will accomplish your weight loss goal of (so many) kilograms. Proclaim this with desire and enthusiasm. A half-hearted "mention" simply will not do. By advising others, you are placing some positive pressure on yourself, because no one wants to be perceived as a failure.

    Further, announce this to yourself with emotion. Repeat this on a daily basis that you "will" lose (so many) kilo's. That you will accomplish this goal. By performing self affirmations often enough, you will drive this desire right down into your subconscious, so your internal thoughts and feelings begin to influence your behaviours in a positive manner.

    Measuring your Weight Loss Progress

    Finally, be sure to measure your weight loss progress. Just as it is important to be objective with your diet, it is also important to be objective with your results. Nothing is worse than living in denial and "hoping" that your efforts are being successful.

    I concede that it can be a scary thought to jump on the scales. But try to realise that your weight is going to be exactly what it is, whether or not you do decide to be confronted with your current bodyweight. Ask yourself, what is worse - identifying your current weight now, or continuing to be unhappy with your bodyshape indefinitely?

    Your chance of accomplishing your weight loss goals will be significantly increased if you understand how your current efforts are affecting your bodyweight. You can then take the necessary steps to adjust your eating habits and accomplish your goals.

  • Diet Has Little Effect on Prolonged Low-Intensity Exercise

    A British study on moderately trained male hill walkers was conducted to evaluate metabolic and appetite responses to low-intensity exercise, such as prolonged walking, under different dietary conditions.
  • How Your “Mental Stage” Affects your Diet

    Have you ever heard the expression “You can bring a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink”? This is what a lot of coaches and athletic trainers confront when trying to change athletes’ behaviours when it comes to nutrition.
  • Fallen off the Wagon? How to Get Back On

    When you're trying to change your lifestyle for the better, chances are that you're going to slip up every now and then. It's quite common with weight loss in particular to "fall off the wagon", by reverting back to poor eating habits while trying to follow an improved nutritional regime.

    Consistently falling off the wagon is a sure sign that your approach is unsustainable. This is commonplace with diets, where the focus is on short-term and fast weight loss, rather than on sustained weight loss indefinitely.

    Though, even if you are trying to approach weight loss with a long-term perspective in mind, it is quite possible that you will succumb to a binge, no matter how minor it may be. So when you do fall off the wagon, how do you get straight back on it?

    The important aspect to focus on is the long-term effect of your slip-up. The problem with dieting is that the focus is on short-term, so eating even a minute amount of junk food is sure to make you feel guilt ridden, because you would have affected your progress in the short-term.

    But here's the thing, a piece of cake is going to have a near negligible effect on your weight loss in the long-term. Let's say a piece of cake is 500 calories…over the course of a month, that's less than 20 calories per day if we were to spread out those calories contained within.

    Ultimately it's not the food that you consume that causes you to fall off the wagon and thus jeopardising your long-term efforts. Rather, it's the negative emotions Rather, the negative emotions associated with eating a food "off the plan" is what will cause you to fall off the wagon.

    Guilt and discouragement in particular are two very common symptoms of a binge. If you want to lose a notable amount of weight, you'll find that one binge on one day is not going to affect your progress in the long-term. What is going to affect your weight loss progress is the guilt and discouragement associated with this binge which leads you to cease trying to lose weight altogether.

    How to get around these emotions? Well, it's not easy - but if you can, then you're on the path to success. Always put things into perspective relative to the long-term, because after all, weight loss is a long-term endeavour. Focusing on the short-term will set you up for failure.

    Remember, that extra food that you ate will have very little bearing on your long-term progress. The decision that you make right now to pursue your weight loss goals will determine your results in the future - not your actions in the past.

  • Is fish oil and coconut oil healthy? Should I eliminate all fats from my diet for weight loss?

    Fish oil has many benefits including safeguarding joints, so it's always been my preference. And a lot of research on coconut oil was done quite a while ago, proving that it has a lot of benefits.

    You actually need a certain amount of saturated fat in your diet. Balancing saturated, poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats is important for overall health, and they won't hurt your weight-loss efforts in the right amounts.

    The biggest misconception I come across surrounds fats in general. Most people are absolutely terrified of the stuff and believe that they can't possibly lose weight if they eat more than a teensy amount. Diets that are extremely low in fat leave you with dry skin, limp hair and lacking in the essential fatty acids that our bodies need to function. A lot of illnesses are related to not enough essential fatty acids (EFA's) in your diet. 20-30% of your calories may need to come from fats to achieve good health, and you certainly CAN lose weight consuming those levels.

    Unfortunately, you still see weight-loss diets promoting extremely low levels of dietary fat, and the supermarket shelves are filled with "90-something % fat-free" products - most of which have little nutritional value and no taste. I mean, reduced fat cheese? Ugh. I'd rather keep it for an occasional free meal and have the real, chock-full of saturated fat stuff, that actually TASTES like cheese.

    Oh and this is what my friend Sara says about fish oil: "What’s great about it is that Fish Oil is one of the most expertly studied nutrients available today and the research just keeps on giving it the two thumbs up for … cardiovascular health, mental health and memory, sharp and healthy eyes, non-creaky joints, glowy skin, allergies and asthma and fat loss."

    So the upshot? Eat a little fat every day, and take your fish oil.

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