Weight Management: Tracking Wellness and Not Weight Loss
Australia is a nation obsessed with weight loss. Not at all surprising, if you consider the fact that our country is one of the worst in the world in terms of weight management: More than one-fourth of our children and half of our adult population are overweight, and most of us are trying to shed those kilos. So, what are we doing wrong?
The answer is, while we are looking to lose weight, we are not looking for wellness. We just want to look good. Not an easy thing to do if our body is full of toxins and our mind is loaded with stress.
Throw Away That Weighing Machine!
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see a healthy and mindful individual? Or, do you see the number of kilograms reflected back? Truth is, no one knows how much you weigh, not until you tell them. Getting on the weighing scale the first thing in the morning will only stress you out, especially if it shows a number that you are not happy with. You should aim for health and not just weight loss.
The weight loss industry is thriving. Look at the millions that we spend every year on diet books, low-calorie foods, exercise machines and tapes, liposuction, and lap bands!
When you make a difference to your health, you may not shed a whole lot of weight. But that is what is needed. You could lose around 10% with a healthy weight reduction – only about 6 to 7 kilos if you weigh around 70 kg. That healthy weight reduction is enough to bring down your blood pressure, control diabetes, and make you overall healthy and happy. Not what you are looking for? Would you rather watch the scales and obsess daily? Or, would you turn to health and longevity?
If we, each of us, shed those few kilos, in the pursuit of health (rather than weight loss per se), we will see a substantial change in the national wellness statistics too.
So, throw away that weighing machine… and throw away that old attitude towards weight loss as well.
Don’t Count the Calories!
Counting calories is just a tremendous waste of time. A lot of diet programs out there make you count calories, measure servings, or specify points to each food, while not really concentrating on the type of food. Naturally, people infer that it is okay to eat any kind of food, so long as they get the calorie count right. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way! All calories are not equal. Just consider, is eating 1000 calories of ice cream equal to getting the same 1000 calories from veggies or whole grains?
Besides, so many factors affect the rate at which a person burns calories, starting from: age, sex, fitness, lifestyle, sleep, weather, endocrine function, stress levels, exercise, motivation… the list goes on.
So, no one can really tell you how much calories you could actually burn. Counting is a huge waste of time!
Weight Management: What We Can Do Instead
– Stop consuming processed food – these are full of chemicals and these foods actually make you want them more. When people have less time to prepare a good wholesome meal, they tend to use processed items. We see more people who are overweight in a developed country such as ours because of the ease of use and addictive nature of processed food.
– Steer clear of junk food, alcohol, caffeine, sugary and savoury snacks. Instead, go for a wholesome balanced array of food with plenty of fruits and vegetables. (This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an occasional treat). Fruit juices are okay, but not fizzy drinks loaded with sugar.
– Find out if there are any foods that you are intolerant to – this could help you remove the toxic items in your daily food intake and get your digestion right. You may feel fine, but you could actually be intolerant to certain common food items, such as wheat (yes, quite a lot of people are intolerant to a protein called gluten present in this staple food), milk, or yeast.
– Find out if you are having any hormonal imbalances. A client of mine complained, “I have always been overweight. I have tried all sorts of diets and exercises, but nothing works!” We did some blood tests and found that she was hypothyroid. After she started thyroid supplements, her weight has come down to a healthy level.
– If you are always stressed out, you tend to produce a lot of cortisol. This hormone breaks down protein and brings down your muscle mass. This in turn will slow down metabolism, leading to an increase in weight. A high cortisol level will also bring down testosterone, DHEA, and growth hormones, with a simultaneous increase in oestrogen, all contributing towards fat storage. Again, testing for these hormones can reveal the cause for all those stubborn kilos that you are unable to shed. Many people these days complain about stress at work. If stress is the root cause, then you have to look out for ways to de-stress. A psychologist specialized in stress management can help you out there.
– Another common issue these days is people complaining that they are fat, when they actually are at a healthy weight. It is likely that they could be suffering from an eating disorder such as anorexia. Others may have bulimia or a binge eating disorder. These are problems that have to be treated psychologically as well as medically. At the Centre for Emotion Focused Practice, we use PEEFT to treat eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and over-eating. We also have support groups to help check recurrence. Our psychologists also provide counselling for self-esteem or body image issues which could be the root cause behind these disorders.
– Eat when you are hungry. Eat only up to the point that you start feeling full (and not fully satiated). Go for small meals at regular intervals – this will regulate your metabolism. Incorporate mindful eating techniques such as eating slowly, savouring the texture, flavour, and taste, and enjoying each mouthful. This is because it takes your body at least 20 minutes to register that you are feeling full, and eating quickly means you could end up overeating.
– Never skip breakfast. A mistake that many people make is that they tend to skip this most important meal of the day. (No time? Or, simply dieting?) What happens is, when people feel hungry, they tend to snack on junk food instead. Besides, we all need the energy and the proteins from a healthy breakfast to function at our best.
– Drink plenty of water. This prevents untimely hunger pangs and also flushes away toxins.
– Exercise regularly. A healthy weight management should involve physical activity.
– Be motivated. A healthy weight management means that you won’t be on any crash diets. Consequently, you may not see a tremendous or instantaneous weight loss. Keep in mind that only a healthy weight management with lifestyle changes will work in the long term. Also, as previously mentioned, you may not shed a whole lot of weight, but you could end up with a trim figure – not a bad thing! So, continue the healthy weight management and keep yourself motivated. If you need help with motivation, you could join a support group of like-minded people, or you could compare notes with a friend who is on the same path to healthy eating. You can also get support from a weight management counsellor.
– Get enough sleep. Sleep helps to keep stress at bay; sleep keeps you at your cheerful best all day!
In short, for weight management to work, eat foods from the right sources, eat fresh, eat natural, eat mindfully, sleep well, be motivated, and you will soon be on track to a healthy way of life.
Dr. Geoff Newbegin is an experienced counsellor and psychologist with a wide range of clinical experience in anxiety, depression, stress management, anger management, men’s issues, self-esteem, life transitions, grief & loss, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and personality disorders. He has over 30 years of work experience and he came to the psychological profession after many years as an engineer, project manager and policy planner. He says that all his working experience has enabled him to be more focused in understanding processes and people.
To get an appointment or to make enquiries, please call (03) 9820-5577.
- Eating Disorders: How to Get Your Life Back
- Eating Disorders in Adolescence
- Body Image
- Fed Up? A Mindful Eating Group