Lucy Looby’s Top Tips for weight loss

A healthy sustainable diet is the key to a healthy sustainable weight!!

No-one should feel hungry in their efforts to lose weight. If your weight loss efforts are leaving you unsatisfied & cravings set in, I believe, you are setting yourself up to fail.  Sticking to a meal plan is going to be extremely difficult if your tummy is rumbling unless you have a willpower that goes above and beyond the average person.

A healthy and sustainable diet will lead to a healthy sustainable weight. In order to stop your weight yo-yoing for the rest of your life you need your new regime to be long-term. Making small weekly changes in order to set up habits that work for you & that can are implemented 80-90% of the time will allow you the odd indulgence here and there.

If Christmas, holidays, weekends, weddings & parties didn’t exist we’d never be overweight!! These occasions are very often the reason why we gain weight. We need to focus on managing them rather than avoiding them. How often do we hear, ‘I’m starting back on my diet on Monday so I won’t be drinking or going out until I lose the weight’? Separating your weight loss goals from your social life is a mistake. Life is about balance.

When looking at weight loss very often we look at weight alone. What that figure says to us on the screen between our toes can very often define us & cause all sorts of self loathing!! It is better to look at your overall body composition & general health. Losing weight is every bit a mental battle as a physical one if not more so for some individuals.

Reaching a ‘healthy weight’ is a message we need to feed our brain. Prioritise your health. Getting your body into a normal body fat category & feeling better mentally & physically is the key to long term success. That’s step 1. The basic principles of a healthy, balanced diet are lost on many of us today & we are grasping at straws looking for answers to an ever growing problem.

We are all told to exercise, but lots of people find it hard to disciple themselves into a training regime. This in itself can have long-term health implications. Sustaining a healthy weight is 80% what you eat and 20% what you do. Increasing your activity plays a key role in the speed at which we reach our goals. If running, going to the gym or taking up a sport is not for you, explore other ways to increase your activity. For example, walk to work if you can, take the stairs instead of the lift, park in the furthest part of the car park. Spend more time moving rather than sitting still. If you have children or grandchildren kick a ball about with them, whack a tennis ball back and forth, play catch or turn on your favourite music and dance!! Make a plan to be active and stick to it. Do it with friends or family & keep it realistic. This way you will be more likely to succeed.

Where do you start? Master the basics of nutrition before you progress onto anything too disciplined or rigid. Take a long hard look at what you currently eat. Start here and aim to improve your diet by making changes that work for you. Find what’s lacking in your diet, for e.g. Oily fish/ vegetables and find a palatable way to start including these foods. For example lots of my clients don’t like vegetables but love soup. Homemade vegetables soups are so easy to make with an abundance of recipes out there for you to try.

When you have set up healthy eating habits & a regular exercise regime you can then take your body fat/ fitness goals to the next level but getting the basics right first will increase your chances of success.

My top tips to a healthy weight;

  1. Ask yourself ‘why’? – ‘Why am I overweight’? ‘Why do I want to lose weight’? If the reason is strong enough this will motivate you to commit.
  2. Ask yourself ‘How’? Make an overall plan on how you can achieve your goal– your plan should include lifestyle changes relating to nutrition and activity – it has got to be realistic, for example, ‘Training for a marathon is a great way to shed the pounds but it’s not for everyone. Don’t put it on the plan if it’s not going to happen’. Find an activity you like, something that gives you a buzz. Do this with a friend or with the family. Refer to websites or programmes like operation transformation, or Doctor in the House for ideas on where to start. Get help with this if you are struggling.
  3. Food Plan; Make a food plan for the week – what you will eat for breakfast, lunch and tea. Include healthy snacks. This avoids what I call ‘reactive eating’!! i.e. when hunger takes hold we will eat the most convenient option available to us & very often the wrong choice is made. This is a major weight gain trap. Your plan needs to take into account your work and life commitments. What you are going to eat and when you are going to eat it?
  4. Shop to your Food Plan; Shop to your plan & never on an empty stomach; Separate your shop. I recommend buying quality meat/fish from a local butcher or fish monger. Buy your fruit and vegetables from a good fruit and vegetable shop if one is available / convenient. This way you always have fresh ingredients in to throw together a basic meal. You don’t have to buy organic but you can be sure you are getting access to more local & seasonal produce, quite possibly of superior nutritional quality. This tip cuts down on my trips to the supermarket & saves me money as not only am I able to buy the quantity I need I’m also avoiding sweet temptations which are always strategically placed around every supermarket. A supermarket shop can then be done for store cupboard items maybe fortnightly or monthly. A healthy weight starts with your shopping trolley and what you put into it. Shop to a list as much as possible. Shop online if you find you give in too easily to temptations or completely skip the aisle containing the fizzy drinks, crisps, biscuits and chocolate.
  5. Don’t have junk food in the house. If it’s there you will nibble.
  6. Portion size; Look at your portion size. Are you eating the same quantity as everyone else at the table? Think Daddy Bear, Mammy Bear and Baby Bear portions. Our portion size should be determined by whether we are male or female, child or adult combined with our level of activity. Are your portion sizes for weight gain, maintenance or weight loss?
  7. Balance your plate – half your plate should be a variety of colour from fruit and vegetables, (green, red, yellow, oranges, purple and white). The other half should give you a proportionate share of protein, good fats & quality carbohydrates. If you don’t like vegetables and fruit look for recipes online where you can disguise them in ways that make them more palatable for you, for example, soups, sauces & smoothies.
  8. Calorie awareness; be calorie aware not calorie obsessed. Know what your normal calorie intake should be to maintain your weight or to lose weight. Determine the percentage of calories you are getting from junk food or empty calories. Here lies the problem for most people. Not all calories are equal. There are so many free apps out there to help you track your calorific intake.
  9. Bread & processed foods; if you do nothing else look at the ingredients in your bread, if it contains sugar, replace it. Make your own or buy one with the basic ingredients, flour, wheaten, salt, bread soda and buttermilk. It’s not that difficult. Start with bread & then start to examine the processed/convenience & frozen foods in your diet.

*‘Sugar – it is in everything, if it’s added to a food disguised or otherwise you need to make it an occasional food. The more sugar we ingest the more hungry we will feel. Educate yourself on your sugar intake. The World Health Organisation recommends no more than 6 teaspoons per day. The WHO guideline does not refer to the sugars in fresh fruits and vegetables, and sugars naturally present in milk, because there is no reported evidence of adverse effects of consuming these sugars. Much of the sugars consumed today are “hidden” in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets. For example, 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains around 4 grams (around 1 teaspoon) of free sugars. A single can of sugar-sweetened soda contains up to 40 grams (around 10 teaspoons) of free sugars.’

Reference*; https://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/sugar-guideline/en/

  1. Social life; If you have a social event coming up plan to enjoy it without over doing it and get back on plan the next day. A bad day does not have to turn into a bad week. Learn how to find a balance between your healthy weight goals & having a bit of fun.
  2. Eating out; I despair at times when I see the poor options available to those of us trying to eat a balanced nutritious meal when out to lunch or an evening meal. This is a shout out to all restaurants, coffee shops & deli counters. Put a healthy choice on your menu for those people that are trying really hard to get their plate proportions right. If food proprietors could make one change that could help the nation in the battle against obesity it would be to include half a plate of vegetables, salads or soups with their meals or lunch deals. We are overly reliant on breads and chips; it’s time for them to swap places with the token side salad & discreetly take a backseat on a small quarter of the plate!! I not saying omit them, but please cut back. The average kids menu is even worse – nuggets and chips or sausage and chips – not a vegetable in sight!!

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