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Getting Into Shape

Weight loss is for life and not just for after Christmas.

The trouble with most diets is that too much organisation, time, concentration and effort is required to count calories or portion sizes. Diets mean that we're thinking about food the whole time, so naturally we eat more or crack under the pressure of it all and have fifty chocolate bars in one hit. In my opinion, the main outmoded theory is calorie counting. Of course, if you eat a tub of lard, which is pure fat, or a deep-fried peanut butter sandwich on white bread with lashings of butter every day then you might put on weight (I had a client who ate this every day before he came to see me!). Part of the equation of weight gain is calories in versus calories expended, but this is only part of the jigsaw. Think of all those horrible people who eat exactly what and when they want and never put on an ounce. Don't you just hate them? This proves that something else must be at work.

This something else isn't just one factor, but many. Gut health (including elimination), the level of yeast in your system, how your immune system is functioning and your hormonal health (including that of your thyroid) can all have an effect on your metabolism and how you'll process the food you're eating. Of course, it may be that you're eating all the wrong foods and too much of them, but it might be something else as well and this is best determined by your doctor and with the help of a qualified nutritionist.

Ok, enough chat. The bad news is that change is often hard work because it requires you to do something differently. It's that old-fashioned word 'discipline' that freaks people out, but it simply means sticking to a healthy eating plan most of the time, and occasionally when the mood strikes you, going mad.

The trick is to eat foods that will burn slowly and give you sustained energy throughout the day. Ones that burn quickly will rapidly increase your blood sugar levels causing insulin - a hormone that lowers sugar in the blood - to be pumped rapidly into the system. The resulting drop in blood sugar will make you feel drowsy. Things that are white and processed burn quickly (white bread, white rice, potatoes, etc.) - sticks of French bread are like rocket fuel because they turn into sugar very quickly.

Besides lowering the blood sugar, insulin also stores fat, so you may put on weight if your blood sugar is rising and falling like a yo-yo. You need to be eating foods with plenty of fibre in them (such as vegetables), unprocessed grains (brown things), lean protein, essential fats (the clue's in the title) and slow-burning complex carbohydrates. Cutting out stimulants such as tea and coffee in the diet will also help to control the peaks and troughs of blood sugar management. Put simply, don't eat processed foods with highly processed ingredients, which means pretty much anything that comes in a box. Now I think you're ready for the Secret of Life: healthy, unprocessed food tends also to be low-calorie food! There, I said it.

Nearly forgot. Best to get some exercise in too! Apart from the obvious thermodynamic reasons, exercise helps the metabolic functions - breathing, digestion and circulation - to work better. It's like having a powerful car - don't let it rust up in the garage, you need to take it for a spin. Give your body the right fuel and it will run beautifully.

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