Tag Archives: weight loss coach

Do you struggle with consistency?

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Most of the women I speak to who have a weight (fat) loss goal tell me their biggest struggle is staying consistent.

The biggest reason I see for not being able to stay consistent comes down to the motivation behind wanting to lose weight.

I talked about the different motivations in a previous blog; being either intrinsic or extrinsic. It’s the extrinsic motivations that will likely have us ‘fall off a wagon’ and lack consistency.

If your motivations are extrinsic, for example, you want to lose weight to look good to other people as a certain size (purely about external and physical factors) then you’re likely want to follow a set of rules, grin and bear some not so pleasant things you need to do/eat or not eat, rush the process, and only care about the final result. You’ll believe that you’ll only be happy once you reach your goal weight.

So when life gets busy or stressful this woman will jack it all in ‘for now’ and ‘get back on track’ another time. She won’t see the point in carrying on with the nutrition and lifestyle habits she’s learning about unless she can stick to them 100% of the time.

BUT, if your motivations are intrinsic, for example, you want to lose weight for YOU, because you want a better life for yourself and you want to FEEL good in health and energy. You’re FAR more likely to continue with the positive habits when stress hits. You want this to be a long-term change, a lifestyle transformation that comes with the natural side effects of fat loss and looking amazing.

This woman will continue with the nutrition and lifestyle habits EVEN when life throws her curve balls (which WILL happen). She will still see every point in continuing with the habits, and even more point when life is a little more challenging as she knows she needs to support her health even more. She will WANT to carry on doing these things even if she can’t be as on point as usual.

Let’s talk about me for a second..

I go to the gym 4-5 per week to lift weights.

I prioritise sleep.

I manage my stress.

I make the most optimal food choices as much as I can all the time.

Sometimes I can’t get to the gym 4 times but I still go that week even if it’s just the once, because it’ s better than not going at all.

Sometimes my nutrition is top notch, other times its not so. But as long as I know I’m doing the best I can that’s all that matters.

Sometimes my sleep is compromised if stuff is going on, sometimes I can’t do the yoga, meditation or Epsom salt baths I use to manage stress as often as usual but it doesn’t make me stop completely.

If I was to scrap my good nutrition and lifestyle habits every time life got stressful then I’d be stopping and starting for the rest of my life; and that’s just madness.

If I told you that I wouldn’t bother going to the gym at all this week because I can only go once would you tell me to just go anyway because that one session will still hold some value– yes, you would!

If I was eating really well for a few weeks and then one day I had some cake at a party and then said “ah well now I may as well eat rubbish for the rest of the week and get back to healthy food next week”does that sound logical to you? No!! It’s madness!

I hope you get the point I’m trying to make.

If you stop seeing your fat loss journey has a short term event to get you to a final destination (your goal weight) and instead see it as an ongoing practice and progression for the rest of your life you might start to change your behaviour. It’s not a 4 or 6 week plan, its not a 6 month plan, it’s for life. The side effect is more energy, better health, increased fitness, healthier ageing, and fat loss.

If you’re constantly thinking about the weight you want to get to you’re just grinning and bearing a set of rules and once you reach the goal weight then what?? You won’t want to carry on with those rules that you haven’t learned to enjoy and instill as part of your new behaviour will you? Nope.

If YOU keep stopping and starting then STOP re-starting and hoping that this time it’ll work. You need to take a good look and your motivations for the weight loss, dig deep and really figure out what you want and why.

I mainly work with my clients over a 3 and 6 month period only because I find it really de-motivating to see a client just once or twice. There really isn’t much we can do in such a short time and this is exactly why.

Stop the madness ONCE AND FOR ALL!

If you’d like to read more and learn my 4 steps  to Sustainable Fat Loss, Health + Happiness then you can grab my free pdf guide which I’ve put together especially for women like you. Click here to get your copy.

With love

Francesca

 

Slow Cooker Turkey Chilli

Turkey Chilli

Turkey breast mince is very affordable and a great lean source of protein. Turkey contains good amounts of the essential amino acid tryptophan which is needed to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter dubbed the “happy molecule”. You can add any other veg into this recipe that you like, such as green peas or courgette, and more peppers. This is simple to prepare, like all my recipes as I don’t like to spend too long in the kitchen! It takes 4-8 hours in a slow cooker but if you don’t have a slow cooker you can of also do this in a crock pot on the stove for a an hour or so. This is great to batch cook every so often and freeze in portions.

What you’ll need (4-5 servings):

  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Tin red kidney beans
  • Tin chopped tomatoes
  • Dessertspoon tomato purée
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp pink salt
  • 200mls of vegetable stock (I use Kallo or Marigold)
  • 1 dessertspoon Worcester sauce (I use Chippa Gluten Free)
  • 500g turkey breast mince

What to do:

  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Place the spices, salt, stock, turkey, onion, garlic, pepper (and or other veg of choice), puree, kidney beans, tin of tomatoes and Worcester sauce (basically everything!) into the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  • Serve with a portion of brown rice and sautéed kale or spinach

The Calorie Myth

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It’s long been drummed into us that ‘dieting’ is the way to lose weight. By ‘dieting’ I mean restricting calories and or food groups. So it’s no wonder that Britain’s dieting industry is worth an estimated £2billion.

I speak to so many women, friends included, that are struggling to lose weight and whenever they set out to finally make it happen they embark on some sort of fad or restrictive regime, like some kind of weight loss shake for breakfast and lunch and then a ‘normal’ dinner for example. I wonder how these women get through the day!

But I used to be just like that.

Throughout my 20’s (from 19 to 27) I did all the fad diets that were available to me. In fact I spent 8 years being constantly hungry! I don’t think a day went by when I didn’t hear my stomach growl in dissatisfaction from being so empty. I just couldn’t understand why I wasn’t losing weight. Similar to how the women I speak to today are feeling.

The trouble is it’s worse once you get into your 30’s and beyond. What MIGHT have worked in your 20’s will likely never work again past 30, and that’s mainly due to hormonal changes in the female body and also the years spent yo-yo dieting having damaged your metabolism and almost grinded it to a halt.

A lot of people see food simply as calories, and they believe that to lose weight we need to reduce/restrict calories and the weight will drop off. If only it were that simple, and if it were, would Britain’s diet industry be worth an estimated £2billion??

Some people WILL lose ‘weight’ if they restrict calories for a few weeks, BUT the ‘weight’ lost is mostly made up of water and muscle tissue – NOT body fat. Then once you start to eat ‘normally’ again you re-gain that weight plus some extra fat that probably wasn’t even there in the first place!

Why? Because your body thinks you were in a state of famine whilst you were restricting food and now that you are eating more food again it slows your metabolism and stores the now incoming food as body fat for when you next restrict food (think insulation for your precious bones).

We have what’s called a ‘set point’ weight, which is the weight at which your body likes to be at and keep you at. Calories restriction, which works against your metabolism, will eventually cause your body’s set point to rise and then it becomes difficult to lose weight on a deprivational diet, and once food is inevitably increased the weight comes back again, and so on, until you are left pulling your hair out years later wondering what went so wrong!

The answer? Don’t restrict your body of the food/energy it needs everyday in order to support metabolism and to function properly! Instead eat the right types of and combinations of foods that will keep your blood sugar levels balanced, support hormonal balance, gut health and metabolism.

Here is an example using myself. When I was trying to lose weight for the 3rd or 4th time in my later 20’s I restricted my calorie intake to no more than 1,200 calories per day. I was cranky, exhausted, hungry, and miserable every single day. When I had initially done this same regime earlier on in my 20’s it had worked for me and within a month I was looking and feeling slimmer (I now know that was water and muscle weight lost not body fat.) I then read about ‘BMR’, this is our Basal Metabolic Rate which basically means the amount of calories our body needs each day just to rest, or just to be able to ‘keep the lights on’ – it doesn’t include the energy needed to go out to work, walk around, think, make decisions, or do exercise. My own BMR at that time was about 1,480 calories.

So, if I needed an absolute minimum of 1,480 calories per day and I was having a maximum of 1,200 a day then is it any wonder I was feeling so awful; hungry, miserable, overcome with cravings and going on inevitable binges a couple times a week?! I was far from ‘at rest’ every day. I was walking to and from work, doing a 9 hour day in the office where I had to think all day long and make decisions, I was going to the gym after work and walking home again.

The point I am making here is that if my BMR was around 1,480 calories I should have been having about another 300-500 per day (depending on activity levels) to be able to support my metabolism and keep it ticking over nicely.

The result? Loss of water and muscle tissue and gain of body fat.

And that’s when I turned things around, and then took things a step further by studying and training to become a nutritional therapist and health coach so I could change my career and help other women just like me!

I used to be so fixated with the calorie number of foods that I became obsessed with that rather than the type of food the calories were coming from. This is an extremely unhealthy obsession as you’re not interested in the nutrition the food will provide for you but simply the number of calories it provides (we can eat plenty of fat-storing carbs all day and still be within our 1200 calorie allowance).

We need to look at food in terms of how our body will break it down – will it be used for energy, will it provide vitamins and minerals needed to optimise our health, or will it be stored as fat? THAT’S what matters. 

Let’s say someone’s BMR number is around 1400-1500 calories (the amount of calories they need at complete rest only) and they’re eating 2,500 calories per day, plus not exercising or moving much at all, then yes they are likely eating too many calories and will be gaining some weight. So they would need to be in some sort of calorie deficit to be able to start losing fat, but that deficit should likely be around 1800 calories per day NOT the common 1200 we are lead to believe is necessary for weight loss. Plus the source of those calories is all-important. Then once they reach their goal body size they can slowly start to increase calories slightly to a maintenance amount to maintain that ideal weight.

Calorie counting is outdated and it’s an ignorant way to view weight loss. It focuses on quantity and not quality of food, and this is absurd, seeing as certain foods cause the release of our fat storing hormones and others do not – regardless of calories.

calorie-countingDepriving our bodies of calories only leads to an eventual slowed metabolism which causes us to gain the weight back and then some, over and over, unless you get the right advice and finally change the way you eat for good.

Our bodies do not work like a maths equation. There is a LOT of other stuff going on within our bodies that must be taken into account when trying to lose weight.

The dieting industry views food simply as calories, and to lose weight we need to reduce our daily calories (to an alarmingly low number usually anything fro 800-1200 a day) and the weight will drop off. If only it were that simple, and if it were, would Britain’s diet industry be worth an estimated £2billion??

There is calorie counting, which looks only at the number of calories a food provides in relation to the restrictive number of calories allowed in one day, and there is what I call ‘smart eating’ which provides the body with the right amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as other nutrients, needed for optimum health – which in turn leads to ideal weight.

Counting calories fights against your body’s ‘set point’ weight whereas ‘smart eating’ lowers your set point weight. 

The quality of our calories is what matters for LONG TERM FAT loss. Improving the QUALITY not reducing the QUANTITY of our food results in reducing inflammation within the body (critical for fat loss), re-sensitizing our cells, and re-regulting our hormones and therefore lowering our set point (that ideal weight your body will want to keep you at).

Yo-yo dieting is something I want to see the back off for everyone. Losing weight shouldn’t be something that happens multiple times a year. Someone said to be the other day that “calorie counting works for me whenever I need to lose weight”, but this person is totally missing the point. If it really did work then they wouldn’t repeatedly need to lose weight. I am all about fat loss that is sustainable, and done in a healthy way that doesn’t damage your health and metabolism long term. If someone is overweight they should first try to identify the root cause(s) of their weight gain, address that, and embark on a way of eating that supports blood sugar balance, hormones, and gut health, and then metabolism and ideal weight is also supported. This is called sustainable FAT loss, no longer calling for yo-yo dieting throughout the year as the weight fluctuates due to calorie restriction and hormonal imbalances (insulin and cortisol) that leads to fat storage over and over again. Once the body’s systems and metabolism are supported through PERMANENT diet and lifestyle changes your ideal weight is maintained.

If you’re looking for a quick fix to lose excess weight then calorie restriction might work but for the short term ONLY and studies show that up to 70% of the non water weight lost from restricting calories comes from muscle. Calories counting slows down metabolism and takes away our muscle tissue – no thank you.  

Eating less and exercise more does not cause long term FAT loss. 

Eating in a way that provides your body with real, whole-food meals that nourish your body and do not cause blood sugar spikes (let’s call this ‘smart eating’) leverages the quality of your calories, which in turn takes care of the quantity of your calories (without the counting!).

Calorie counting doesn’t take a LOT of things into account that are KEY for weight/fat loss, ESPEICALLY for women, such as:

  • Insulin’s activity
  • Cortisol’s activity
  • Estrogen and progesterone levels
  • Grehlin and leptin’s activity – 2 other important hormones for fat storage/fat burning
  • Stress levels
  • Sleep quality
  • Adrenal health
  • Digestive health
  • Macronutrient ratios per meals/snacks (protein fat and carbs)
  • Activity levels and type of training
  • Food quality, nutrition provided by the food, and alcohol intake

Counting calories is not the way to go, what a woman really needs for sustainable weight loss isn’t calorie counting; it’s a diet that:

  • Addresses hormonal and metabolic problems (very likely for most women over the age of 35), thus making sure food is used for energy rather than being stored as fat.
  • Does not make you hungry, stressed, or miserable.
  • Encourages a holistic view of health, rather than nudging you towards unhealthy food choices just because they’re low in one “bad” category (e.g. carbs, fat, calories, etc.).
  • You can see yourself following for the long term.

For example, if you’re calorie counting but still consuming a diet that’s high in carbs not only will your weight loss be less efficient than it would on a low carb diet, but you will also find yourself going hungry. This is due to the decreased effect on satiety that is brought about by the consumption of carbohydrates (when compared to protein or fat).

Calories aren’t created equally. Your body will recognize and treat them differently. Your body doesn’t just digest calories…it digests the minerals, proteins, fats and vitamins in what you’re eating. And if you’re eating a 350 calorie diet dinner v’s a 600 calorie dinner of grilled chicken, sautéed veg, avocado, and brown rice…the second option is the better one for weight loss and management.

It’s exactly why you can eat a big plate of chips and a tub of ice cream with little trouble but can’t so easily eat a decent sized steak – because carbohydrates lead to a spike in blood sugar that makes the body want more of the same, whereas protein (steak) is satiating and stabalises blood sugar, keeping you fuller for longer.

In my opinion, it’s far better to reduce the amount of carbohydrate foods you eat at each meal and snack and focus on getting protein with every meal and snack and some healthy fats plus plenty of vegetables including dark green leafy ones and starchy ones like sweet potato, squash and beetroot for your carb sources over things like pasta, wraps, bread, big white potatoes and white rice, without too much concern for calories. If that doesn’t result in weight loss then you try taking another look at the amount of carbohydrates you’re eating e.g. are you having carb based snacks like lots of high sugar fruits, rice cakes, crisps or toast, rather than protein based snacks like nuts and seeds, boiled eggs, nut butter, plain full fat yogurt and berries? Then also look at your sleep, alcohol intake, stress levels, activity levels and type of exercise (too much cardio and not enough resistance/weights), thyroid health, and gut health. Book a Fat Loss Strategy Call with me today and let’s talk through your key struggles when it comes to your weight and health, and I can get you moving forward in the right direction, we’ll have 40 minutes together and its free. Click here to book your call slot in!

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So, switch the ratio on your plate, for example I love a curry as much as the next person but I am more than happy to swap half a plate of rice for more of the meat and plenty of vegetables and a handful of rice instead. Also pass on the naan bread for example, its just not necessary. The average British person would have the rice, the naan and the potato that’s mixed into their main or side dish, now that’s a LOT of unnecessary carbohydrate and the same goes for meals cooked at home, question the amount of carbs you’re having at meal times and as snacks. That is likely to be your downfall, NOT calories. I’m in no way telling anyone to cut out carbs or follow a super low-carb plan, that isn’t helpful either. I’m simply saying to focus more on the protein, healthy fats, vegetables and lower more nutritious fruit like berries. Then for your starchier carbs opt for root vegetables mainly and some whole grains like oats, buckwheat, quinoa (not actually a grain) and brown or wild rice. Start your day with the protein-rich breakfast such as eggs with bacon or smoked salmon, or a protein and ‘good’ fats smoothie with berries, which is really satisfying and keeps me going all the way through to lunch.

Understanding the effect of different nutrients (protein, carbs and fats and the smaller nutrients within them) on your body is the key, NOT calories.

In a nutshell, the more educated you are on what happens to the food you eat, the more likely you are to eat right. Forget about calories and instead be educated on what happens to the food you eat within your body, stored as fat or burned off. Counting calories does not take this into account and in my opinion anyone that tells someone to just cut calories and exercise more to lose weight needs to do their own research before dishing out advice.

The takeaway point here is that restricting calories is just dangerous, silly and unnecessary. Ideal weight is a natural side effect of being healthy, and this includes having a healthy functioning gut, balanced hormones, quality sleep, and a handle on stress. When we increase the quality of our food and exercise, we can heal our hormones, “unclog” our systems, lower our set points, and get our bodies to burn fat instead of storing it.

It’s the creation of new habits and making changes to your eating style and lifestyle that has the biggest impact and results in long-lasting success.

Before I go here are some quotes from some of the academic research into the effect of calorie restriction on the body in relation to weight.

“The researchers note that animals respond to food shortages by storing energy and gaining weight. Their model demonstrates that when food is in short supply – much like during a phase of dieting – an efficient animal will gain excess weight between periods of food shortage. Surprisingly,” says Prof. Higginson, “our model predicts that the average weight gain for dieters will actually be greater than those who never diet. This happens because non-dieters learn that the food supply is reliable so there is less need for the insurance of fat stores”.

“The best thing for weight loss is to take it steady. Our work suggests that eating only slightly less than you should, all the time, and doing physical exercise is much more likely to help you reach a healthy weight than going on low-calorie diets.” Prof. Andrew Higginson, University of Exeter

 

P.S. Book a Fat Loss Strategy Call with me today and let’s talk through your key struggles when it comes to your weight and health, and I can get you moving forward in the right direction, we’ll have 40 minutes together and its free. Click here to book your call slot in!

10 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight

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Most of my clients come to me when feel like they’ve exhausted a lot of different avenues for finding weight loss only to be unsuccessful at either getting results and/or sustaining them. I like to think of myself as their health detective who is there to try and figure out what is the underlying reason/cause of their weight gain and their trouble losing weight. This is when it is not as simple as eat less and exercise more (if it ever is that simple?!)

Time and time again you’ve been told that to lose weight you must count your calories in My Fitness Pal and make sure you burn more than you take in and if this doesn’t work then there’s something wrong with you or you’re sneaking in more food without noting it down or not doing enough exercise. It breaks my heart when I hear people recommending this simplistic and in some way ignorant concept. I was standing in the queue in Starbucks the other day and two girls behind were choosing some lunch based on which one had the lowest number of calories – there was no mention of the ingredients i.e. did it have adequate protein, any healthy fats, any veg, was it lower on carbs, etc. The calorie thing really has been engrained into us.

In this blog we’re going to look at 10 reasons why you might not be losing weight, and I hope this helps to give you a better insight into the world of weight loss and show you that calorie counting is actually quite irrelevant. I am yet to meet one female weight loss client who needs to reduce her calories, so far they have all needed to INCREASE their food intake in order to see results.

Once you’ve read through these points you should also be able to see that quick fix one size fits all diet plans just cant cut it when it comes to long term sustainable weight (fat) loss – simply because they overlook all of these points. For some people it may be as simple as exercising more and eating more sensibly. But for most if not all of the women I see it’s just not that simple.

SO HERE ARE 10 POSSIBLE REASONS! 

1) YOUR HORMONES MIGHT BE OUT OF WHACK

We have some truly wonderful hormones at play: Insulin, Glucagon, Cortisol, Ghrelin, Leptin, Oestrogen, Testosterone, Progesterone. Balanced hormones = balanced and happy life! When your hormones are in harmony you feel amazing, you look amazing, you’re energised, in control of your moods and cravings and ready to take on the world! However when they’re out of whack you feel exhausted, your moods can be out of control, and you gain weight and have trouble losing it.

Glucagon and insulin are your fat burning and fat storing hormones. Cortisol regulates your “fight or flight” response and is in charge of deciding whether your body should use/burn or store fat.

Leptin and Ghrelin play a big role in regulating your appetite.

Oestrogen and Testosterone are our sex hormones, oestrogen is thought of as being the female sex hormone whilst the big T is generally the male sex hormone, although both men and women have levels of both. Oestrogen dominance can happen in both men and women. Testosterone is often thought of as the big ‘manly’ hormone but it’s actually needed in women also, just in a different amount. We need to have the right hormonal balance for all our systems to be working properly. Getting stress under control is HUGE when it comes to hormonal balance, amongst other food and lifestyle related factors and I recommend you work with a qualified health practitioner (perhaps me ;-)) to see how you could ensure your hormones are in optimal balance and not holding you back from losing weight.

 

2) YOUR GUT HEALTH MIGHT BE SUFFERING

There’s definitely a misconception that gut health is fine as long as you don’t need to run to the loo urgently, or have terrible gas or bloating. There’s much more to gut health than that! I hear people say they have a great functioning digestive system and then in the next sentence they’ll tell me they have a bowel movement every few days but apart from that it’s fine. This isn’t fine! So much is linked to the health of your gut – your mood, your cravings, your sleep, and of course your ability to lose weight and improve your body composition. Hippocrates once said over 2000 years ago that “all disease begins in the gut,” and it’s truer today than ever. This is so often overlooked when it comes to evaluating your health and nutrition. Digestion, absorption and elimination, and even the production of brain chemicals all takes place in the gut. So if these steps aren’t able to happen because your gut isn’t functioning how it should then you can imagine the array of health issues that could arise. We can eat all of the right foods, but if we aren’t digesting them properly, we’re not going to see results! Eating healthy food is only half of the nutrition story; the other, and most important half is being in the ideal state to digest the food.

The truth is that most people have impaired gut health unless they’ve done some work to improve it. This is due to our stressful and hectic lifestyles, use of antibiotics, lack of and poor quality sleep, poor quality supplements and following a standard Western diet that’s high in sugar, refined carbs, nutrient-void convenience and processed foods. A lot of my clients see improvements in their digestion and significantly reduced cravings for sugar and carbohydrates within days of starting a gut health programme, not to mention…WEIGHT LOSS!

Looking after your digestion needs to be an ongoing thing, and not taken for granted, as it’s easy to let things slip and before you know it you’ve started letting in all those inflammatory foods again and on a regular basis. Gut health mustn’t be taken for granted. A good general starting point is to use a high quality probiotic, L-glutamine powder and fish oil supplement.

 

3) YOUR THYROID GLAND MAY BE STRUGGLING

Your thyroid gland is the governor of your metabolism. For such a tiny little gland it plays a mighty role. It’s your body’s thermostat, it controls the metabolic functions in your body and so for everything to be ticking over nicely we need an optimal functioning thyroid. Low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) is common. I see a lot of women with low thyroid function but they didn’t even know it because their GP tested it for them and said all their levels were ‘within range’ and so all should be well. Unfortunately though these ranges are just based on a statistical average, which is created using people who go to the doctor, not healthy people. We want optimal health not just borderline. For example your GP may tell you your thyroid is fine when your results are JUST within the ‘normal range’. To a functional medicine practitioner though this is not ok and we do not use conventional reference ranges. Being just outside of a ‘normal range’ that isn’t even applicable to a healthy person is not my idea of a well functioning thyroid gland. You will likely have all the symptoms of an underactive thyroid and the health of your thyroid DOES need to be addressed, not necessarily with thyroid medication but through addressing your diet and lifestyle.

The cause of hypothyroidism can be due to things like following a low-fat diet, stress and adrenal health issues, and decreased sodium recommendations (where many people get their iodine). Whatever the cause is, your thyroid regulates metabolism, so getting it checked (preferably privately) and nourished back to health will do wonders both for your energy and weight loss efforts.

 

4) THERE MAY BE SOME (OR A LOT OF) INFLAMMATION IN YOUR BODY

Inflammation can be the root cause of weight gain and is certainly the root cause of most chronic diseases. But what causes inflammation? Its things like stress (this is a big one), a diet high in sugar and refined carbs, artificial sweeteners, over-exercising, lack of sleep, and other things. A little bit of inflammation here and there is fine, for example, after we cut ourselves or when we have the flu – this is the body’s way of fighting an infection and this is a good thing. But it’s chronic inflammation that causes problems for us. Chronic inflammation is low grade and systemic (all over the body), and it’s silently damaging our tissues and increasing our risk of disease, and contributing to all sorts of health issues. Your body sees this inflammation as a fire and all it wants to do is put the fire out, and its trying to do this all the time behind the scenes (and little do we know!). Every person’s symptoms of inflammation may be different but just know that whilst there is inflammation in the body your body will prioritise fighting the fire over anything else, including weight loss – no matter how hard you’re trying. So if you’re struggling with lack of energy, trouble losing weight, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances it’s going to be nearly impossible for your body to fix these without reducing the inflammation first. Whether we want to lose weight, or simply be healthier and reduce our risk of disease, we need to first get a handle on the chronic inflammation.

 

5) YOU’RE TOO STRESSED!

Today’s lifestyles are pretty demanding, and unless we’re all “so busy” we feel like we’re not good enough almost. It’s a sad stat of affairs! Today we put our bodies through more stress than they were meant for. Our ‘fight or flight’ stress response was designed to help us deal with physical and life threatening situations that occurred few and far between. But today we’re facing stressful situations everyday and for some people its all day long. The types of stress we face today are non-physical, and chronic, such as being late for work, disagreements with loved ones, being stuck in traffic, worrying about a work deadline, worrying in general, over-exercising, calorie restriction, etc. When the brain perceives any type of stress it instructs our adrenal glands to release the stress hormones adrenaline and then cortisol. Cortisol is essentially a fat storing hormone and because much of today’s stressors are not the physical kind, i.e. we don’t need extra energy to run away from saber-toothed tigers, our bodies will store the extra energy we are given as fat. So you can imagine the impact this will have on our weight over time, day in day out.

When we start to see excess fat accumulating around our mid sections, hips and thighs, we start looking for the latest fad diet in a bid to slim down. But if stress is your issue then all that will do it exacerbate the fat gain even more.

A lot of people are oblivious to the negative effects of stress and the impact it can have on our health and weight. Simply put, stress can sabotage all the hard work and effort we put in to staying or getting healthy and or losing weight. Stress has a direct impact on how we digest food, it depletes our body of important nutrients, it reduces our immune function, affects our mood, gives us ‘foggy brain’ and lack of clarity because it interferes with the production of our feel-good brain chemicals that are made in our gut. Stress lays the foundations for inflammation, which we’ve already talked about above.

A lot of us need to get out of the mindset that if we’re not rushing around and mad busy we’re not doing enough. That’s just not the truth. Quality over quantity, that’s what matters. Be the best that you can be for the things you need to do but NOT at the cost of your health. We tend to rush from one thing to the next without giving ourselves time to just sit and process things, focus, and then prepare for the next thing. If we just gave ourselves a few minutes to transition when we get home from work, or on our way home. Maybe take a detour through a pretty open space and listen to your favourite music. Do 3-5 minutes of journaling each day to write down the things you’re grateful for and also write down anything that’s bothering you or decisions you’re having trouble making, this can be so effective and such a small thing. Sit quietly from time to time, read good books, go for walks, have baths, listen to inspiring and uplifting podcasts; all these small things can pack a powerful punch for fighting stress.

 

6) YOU’RE NOT SLEEPING WELL OR ENOUGH

Again going back to what I said above about thinking it’s a good thing to be ‘so busy’, a lot of us have the same mindset around sleep. I hear people almost in competition with each other about how many hours sleep they survive on each night. We really do need to look after our z’s and make it a priority to get 7-9 hours each night. I myself can’t manage 9 every night but 7 is my absolute minimum. Sleep shouldn’t be seen as a luxury. Inadequate sleep is now becoming the norm due to our busy and demanding schedules.

You can be eating all the right foods at the right times and exercising well, but if you’re sleep is lacking then it can all be in vain. A lot of my clients will say they get up at 5am after 5 hours of sleep to get to the gym before week and they believe this is the right thing to do. But once I explain the importance of sleep for our waistlines they soon realise its not the way to go, and they make the time to put exercise into their lunch hours or ensure they get to bed much earlier on the days they want to exercise in the morning. This messes up your hormonal balance which is critical for weight loss, and since we now know that weight loss isn’t all about burning calories, it’s counterproductive to lose sleep just so you can get to the gym or pound the pavements before work.

All systems need to be working properly for your body to lose weight, if one system is off, fat burning will be put on hold, and sleep is one of these systems. It’s not just about being moody or feeling tired and fatigued, sleep controls those hormones I mentioned above that control your appetite and your metabolism, and also play a key role in immune health, which needs to be optimal for overall health AND weight loss.

 

7) YOU MAY HAVE FOOD SENSITIVITIES

Food sensitivities are usually more rife when gut health isn’t optimal, so in some cases its not actually the food as such that’s the problem but more an indication that the gut isn’t strong enough. But in some cases it is indeed a true intolerance, for example dairy could be at the root of a person’s struggle to lose weight or their skin issue for example. Through the process of elimination you could find that you have a food sensitivity that was standing in the way of you losing weight so its definitely worth doing. The most common culprits are gluten, dairy, soy, nuts and eggs (I’d be devastated if eggs were a problem!).

Remember, a food ‘allergy’ and ‘intolerance’ are 2 very different things and so you can be intolerant to a food without having any allergic symptoms. Your symptoms could manifest as anything from bloating, cramps, spots, eczema, weight gain, to depression. If you are eating foods you are sensitive to, an inflammatory reaction takes place in your body and you WILL have trouble losing weight, because your body will be spending its time fighting the inflammatory fires and healing, rather than burning fat. The best way to find out if you have a food sensitivity is to completely eliminate the suspected food for 4-6 weeks, and pay attention to how your body reacts both when you remove this food from your daily diet, and if/when you add it back in (allow up to 72 hours for symptoms to manifest once you re-introduce the food).

 

8) YOU MIGHT NEED TO REIGN IN THE ALCOHOL

Now, I love to have a glass of red wine with a meal here and there and share a bottle (or a few cocktails) with friends from time to time, but the truth is if you’re struggling to lose your excess weight and you haven’t cut down on your alcohol intake then this could be something that’s holding you back.

Alcohol affects your blood sugar levels significantly. Your blood sugar levels need to be kept stable for weight loss to happen. For some people their blood sugar takes a sharp drip as soon as they take a sip of their tipple whilst for other people it will spike high and then drop very low immediately afterwards. Either way, fat storage will be happening in your body. Alcohol also interferes with our ability to sleep well. You might think that you sleep better after a few glasses of wine but in actual fact your liver is struggling through the night and your sleep is disrupted, whether you realize it or not, and we know how important sleep is for weight loss too (see above). The likelihood is that you’ll wake up and you won’t feel rested, and that’s because your blood sugar probably crashed in the night and your liver was chugging away. The liver does some amazing work for us and one of those jobs is to metabolise our fat stores and move them out of our body but if its too busy processing alcohol then that fat burning takes a back seat.

So you now know the importance of reducing or even eliminating alcohol if you’re trying to lose weight and so now it’s up to you. Just know that if you do keep alcohol in the weight loss process will be a lot slower. My advice would be that you could include one glass of wine once or twice per week, WITH a meal that includes protein and not BEFORE the meal, and stop there.

 

9) YOUR VITAMIN D LEVELS MIGHT BE LOW

The importance of vitamin D has been massively underestimated over the years, but more and more studies are coming out of late to put vitamin D up there with some other critical nutrients for health.me Vitamin D is really important for the function of our metabolism, as well as our mood health, immune function, bone health and a lot more.

If your vitamin D level is below the optimal range (which I consider to be 75-150 nmol/litre or 30-60 ng/ml) you’re more likely to have a slower metabolism. Most people I see have very low vitamin D levels even though their GP may have said the results are fine. So its important to get your levels checked and if they are well below these ranges then supplement daily with a good quality vitamin D3 product, most people in the UK could benefit from supplementing with at least 4,000 IU of Vitamin D3 every day. Yes you can get some vitamin D from exposing uncovered skin to the sun, and there are some foods that contain (small amounts of) vitamin D (mostly processed fortified ones, wild caught salmon and dairy products), but the amounts are not enough to keep your stores of vitamin D at optimum levels all year round unfortunately.

 

10) YOU MIGHT BE HAVING TOO MANY ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

It’s easy to think that calorie free equals guilt free. But this way of thinking goes hand in hand with the belief that it’s all about calories in v’s calories out. It’s an old fashioned and detrimental way of thinking. I speak to a lot of women that believe they’re doing great because they use artificial sweeteners in their tea and drink ‘diet’ drinks instead of having the real thing. It’s just not the case.

Artificial sweeteners have been linked with weight gain in research. They can confuse your metabolism, which will then make it slow down. This confusion comes from their ability to raise your blood sugar (yes, even though there is no actual sugar) because the brain perceives the sweet taste and may alert insulin to be released the same way as if you had actual sugar, and as we know from the above, insulin stores fat. Also, artificial sweeteners negatively impact our gut health by killing the good bacteria we have. I’ve mentioned the importance of looking after our gut health for overall health and weight loss; so artificial sweeteners are definitely not something we want to be having.

So in a nutshell, artificial sweeteners contribute to weight gain, even though they’re calorie free. They raise our blood sugar level and negatively affect our gut health. They can perpetuate the cycle of wanting more and more sugar as they just replace the same sweetness we were getting from actual sugar, this doesn’t help to train our taste buds away from sweet stuff.

Book a Weight Loss Strategy Call with me today and we can talk about your key struggles and how you can move forward once and for all. Click here to book yourself in. 

Do you ‘fall off the wagon’ at weekends?

Copy of Copy of Email header Day 1 Lemon water

How many times have you heard someone say “I’m really ‘good’ during the week and then I have what I want at the weekend’.

Note: the weekend is 40% of your week.

That used to be me. I spent Monday to Friday (or Thursday) restricing, depriving, being ‘good’, then come Friday I blew out, but that was ok because I’d been so ‘good’ the other 60% of the week, wasn’t it?

I got nowhere. Nothing changed, no results on the outside and I wasn’t feeling any better on the inside.

Why?

I simply wasn’t being consistent, my body never got a chance to benefit from the array of different vegetables and lean proteins etc I was having roughly 50-60% of the week because for the remaining 40% of the week it pretty much took a battering! Late nights, alcohol in larger amounts, plenty of sugar and undesirable fats, not enough water, near to no veg…etc.

Does this sound like you?

The reason I went so buck wild at the weekend with my food and drink was largely due to the fact that I restricted so much during the week that I was left craving by Friday and more than ready for a blow out. Then by Sunday night I was ready to ‘get back on track’ on Monday so I made my little salad to take to work for my lunch and had my bowl of Weetabix or Special K ready for the morning.

I was making huge errors, for years!

What I now know is that consistency is KEY to successful and sustainable weight loss and health.

The 80/20 rule is far more effective not to mention realistic. But what I like even more is concistency 365 days a year.

No, this doesn’t mean the restriction and deprivation 100% of the time, it simply means that 80% of the time across 7 days a week you nourish your body with the fuel that it needs CONSISTENTLY, and 20% of the time across 7 days a week you have a little of what you fancy.

The result? A happier metabolism, a nourished body 365 days a year, a happier you, banished cravings and binge like behaviour.

STAY CONSISTENT AND ENJOY 100% OF YOUR WEEK.

Start each day with a protein based breakfast, even on a hangover, weekend away, holiday, boozy break, etc. My favourites are a power smoothie filled with healthy fats from flaxseed, nuts and seeds, avocado, a good quality clean protein powder and nourishing berries, or scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and avocado. It’s easy to be all or nothing, I get that mentality because I was once there myself. But it doesn’t make sense when you think about it. If you’re having a boozy weekend your body needs a nourishing protein based breakfast ALL THE MORE so why would you scrap it on that day/s? If you have a green juice or smoothie during the week why wouldn’t you have one on the weekend too? If you’re out drinking that night you can still nourish yourself before you go out, and in fact you will need it all the more then. Doesn’t it make so much more sense to stay consistent yet still carry on with your life?

Let’s say you’re on holiday staying in an all-inclusive resort: You can easily have a great breakfast, protein and salad based lunch with plenty of veggies and even some rice or potatoes, plenty of water, nuts (bring them with you!) etc, a healthy dinner choice plus a couple of glasses of wine and dessert. That’s still 80/20!

Let’s say during the week you fancy your favourite chocolate bar, some ice cream, or a glass of wine – HAVE IT!

Just continue with the nourishing foods as well, go home and have a nourishing dinner filled with dark green leafy vegetables and broccoli etc.

Instead of being angry with yourself because you ate something “off plan” when actually all you need to do is draw a line, move on and if anything maybe reduce or skip the starchy carb option with dinner and load up on the veggies.

Celebrate your consistency, don’t live on the 60/40 yo-yo treadmill that gets you no where other than spinning your wheels.

Feel powerful knowing that you’re in control of your appetite, cravings and health because you don’t restrict or deprive, you stay consistent 365 days a year and have a little of what you fancy along the way.

With love

Francesca

Book a FREE Weight Loss Strategy call session with me with me and let’s chat! I would love to hear what your struggles are and where you’re trying to get to, use this time to help me help you start mapping out your road to reaching your goals. Click here to book your slot.

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