Happy New Year! May this year be the one when your weight-loss, fitness and improved health dreams are realised.
In the UK, New Year’s Resolutions For Weight Loss and improved fitness is at the top of most people’s list. So I’d like to share with you how I help people reach their goals with proven Life Coaching techniques. Here are my 7 top tips.
Most people associate the term ‘blood sugar levels’ with diabetes—but your blood sugar (more accurately, blood glucose, but as most people refer to it as ‘blood sugar’ I too will use this term) rise and fall naturally according to what you have eaten or drunk, or how stressed you are, and how long it is since you last ate. Most people only have a vague idea of what is meant by blood sugar: it’s a term that sounds scary, so firstly know that it’s a natural part of your digestive process. However, because its role is not widely understood, you may unwittingly be creating a blood sugar levels roller-coaster which can lead to energy lows, weight gain (especially around our middle) and, if the roller-coaster goes on for too long, an increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Let me then share with you what happens in the body when we eat food and how you can learn to keep your blood sugar levels more steady.
As human beings, we have eaten bread as a staple food for around 10,000 years. So surely we should be able to eat it without any problem? Mmm… possibly not. Over the last 50 years, a lot has changed in the way we cultivate grains and how we (commercially) bake bread. Let’s look at how eating bread may may cause digestive issues and hinder weight loss.
You may already think that the culprit in bread is gluten – the protein found in wheat – and you are partly right, but it’s not the whole story. In the UK, 80% of our bread is baked in plant bakeries (bread making factories). The Supermarket’s own bread accounts for a further 17% of sales, but much of this is a pre-mix or part-baked dough also supplied by the plant bakeries too. The lovely freshly-baked bread smell literally wafted around the supermarket, is therefore a bit of a con. Only about 3% of bread sold in the UK is made by artisan or independent bakers.
We are so indoctrinated with the concept that weight loss requires eating less calories, that in the supermarket we often compare brands and choose the one with lowest calorie content. Yet this habit could so easily lead to weight gain—instead of the desired weight loss. Today I’d like to help you look at calories in more depth.
How many calories do I need to become slimmer?
The short answer to this question is, ‘No-on can give you an exact number’. But the longer answer is that there is some truth in the philosophy of losing weight requires a lower calorie intake, but the over simplified message used by the food manufacturers to promote food sales, is very misleading.
As I write this, it’s January 5th, traditionally the last day of Christmas and time to take down the decorations. It’s also a great time to do a clean sweep of any leftovers such as Christmas cake, puddings, mince-pies, crisps, biscuits, roasted nuts, chocolate and sweets. Take a look in your fridge—what’s still lingering there? What’s still in your cupboards that’s not ‘clean’ and will continually tempt you? Are there chocolates starring at your from the lounge? What else needs to go?
My first Christmas party this year was on December 5th. After a month of parties, a big family get-together, more meals-out than usual, and a big, delicious, wonderful Christmas Dinner cooked by my daughter, it wasn’t a surprise to find I had gained weight. And it’s OK. It’s just what happens at Christmas. It’s just temporary: not weight I need to carry for life—or even for very long. I have learnt to accept this is how it is at the beginning of January and I would like for you to learn how to do this too.
I am a great fan of smoothies—but not all smoothies are created equal. It depends on the ingredients. Today I would like to help you understand the differences between those that are nutritionally good for you, and can aid in healthy weight loss and those that could actually lead to weight gain.
To understand the differences, we need to have a quick look at what happens in our body when we drink a smoothie.
Have you come across the mantra: “Drink 8 Glasses Of Water A Day”? Have you wondered if drinking this amount of water can help you lose weight? Many people don’t understand the 8-glasses-a-day message and, by the way, what size are these glasses? It’s also banded around that drinking water can help with weight loss—but does that work? It’s all quite confusing. And so today, I’d like to explore this topic of drinking enough water with you.
One day, someone showed me a glass of water that was half full. And he said, “Is it half full or half empty?” So I drank the water. No more problem—Alexander Jodorowsky 🙂
Lose weight—gain weight – it is so depressing! It’s time to find a new way
Click here to watch the video.
Before 2009, I was always yo-yoing with my weight. There would be the day when I decided I just HAD to lose weight. So, it would be the latest diet—and often I would lose weight, then slowly—sometimes not so slowly—I would put it all back on again. It was so utterly depressing. Even though a healthier message about food and weight loss is beginning to emerge, pick up any womens’ magazine and you will find a Lose 7 lbs in 7-days or Lose a dress-size in just 10 days diet. And these diets may help you lose weight—but at what cost to you? Do these diets help you STAY SLIM afterwards? Are they healthy? Or are they just focused on the short-term win as eluded to in the title? If you follow such a diet, will you put the weight back on shortly afterwards? Then, will you try the next new diet when it comes out?
I adore strawberries. Their sweet juices popping in my mouth as I bite into them brings me the happiness of summer. Perhaps I love them even more because the season is short. Oh, I know you can get those pumped up strawberries from far-away climes all year round, but they are simply not the same. So whilst they are in season, I eat quite a lot of them 🙂 And my favourite way to eat them is to create my own strawberry yoghurt.
Recently whilst enjoying my strawberries with a dollop of rich, creamy natural yoghurt, it made me wonder. How did my favourite summer dessert compare with the commercially bought yoghurts in terms of nutrition and calories? And what is really in these yoghurts that are ‘sold’ to us as being healthy? Let’s take a peek under the bonnet, so to speak, at some of the added ingredients and discover why they are in your yoghurt.
Ever since the days of the Atkins Diet there have been myths, truths, half-truths about protein and weight loss. Does eating more protein help with weight loss? How much protein do you need to be healthy? And which sources of protein are the best for you?
What is Protein?
Proteins are large molecules made up of strings of amino-acids. There are 25 different amino acids and 8 of them considered ‘essential’ as our body has to get them from the food we eat.Proteins help build and repair our body tissues – cells, organs, muscles, bone, skin, hair and fingernails. Protein is also required for making blood, enzymes and hormones.
Bums, tums and thighs—especially tums—are problems areas for women that can occur at any time in life but in particular after having a baby, when stressed out and during the menopause. No-one likes the thought (or reality) of wriggling into jeans and having a muffin top of bulging belly fat. We’d all love to have a slim firm tummy so today let’s look at why fat accumulates around the abdomen and discover how to reduce belly fat.
Belly fat is made up of subcutaneous and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat just under the skin: it is what you grab when you “pinch-an-inch” around your waist or what a personal trainer grabs with those embarrassing fat measuring clamps. Visceral fat by contrast is hidden, stored around the organs in your abdomen. Even slim women can have high levels of visceral fat hidden inside if they are inactive and have a poor diet.
Is carrying excess weight around your middle is simply down to eating too much, eating the wrong foods and not doing enough exercise? Perhaps yes, but also no for there is more to it than just this.
Do you, like the infamous Bridgette Jones, jump on your bathroom scales daily? Do you despair if they say anything other than a loss? Or are you so terrified of your bathroom scales that they are collecting dust from not being used? It’s time to understand a little more about weight loss and to see that your scales are just a tool —nothing more and nothing else. A tool though that can help you…
On average 55% of a woman’s body is made up of fluids. Daily this fluctuates slightly according to hydration and your menstrual cycle. The frequency of your bowel movements will also impact on your weight so very easily your weight may up or down by as much as 2lbs (about a kilo) which has nothing to do with the amount of body fat that you are storing. Jumping on your bathroom scales daily may therefore give you a false reading. If you need to wean yourself off daily weighing, choose 2-days a week and then eventually once a week where you weigh and record your weight. Weighing yourself at the same time of day also helps even out natural fluctuations.
Are you cutting back on what you eat and even now feeling the hunger pains, feeling grumpy? Why is losing weight so much easier yet so hard to lose them?
Losing weight requires your body has to convert stored energy (your body fat) into usable energy. From this comes the concept of calories in vs calories out – but the way your body processes food (and drink) is far more complex than this simple idea. How much energy you need each day depends on your unique body structure, energy needs, body type and many other factors. I never advocate counting calories, however as a concept there is some truth in the essence of it.
Do you love your body—just as it is right now? Or do you hate the way your body looks back at you in the mirror?
Bring into your mind someone you don’t like so much – or maybe even hate. Are you inclined to be kind to this person? Do you treat them with respect? Or spend time really getting to know them? Are you gentle when they are stressed, sad or overwhelmed? Probably not. Rather I’m guessing the person you dislike (hate) gets short shrift and you move away from them as fast as possible because you don’t wish to be associated with them. What though if this ‘person’ is actually your body?
If you dislike/hate your body – are you going to be kind, respectful and gentle? Do you look at your body in a full length mirror and hate your reflection? Or perhaps hate it so much you rarely, if ever, truly look at your body? Yet your body is part of you and your body doesn’t want to be as big as it is either. Your body is not the enemy: if you begin to work with your body instead of fighting and hating it – it will change as you want it to. And as Jason Vale (The Juice Master) so eloquently put it: If you don’t look after your body—you’ll have no where to live.
Have you being yo-yoing with your weight? Going on a diet, losing weight, then putting it all back on again and so-on. How long may I ask do you wish to keep doing this? Diets in the long run simply don’t work. More than likely though you will give-up before you reach your goal because you’re hungry, frustrated and/or bored with your food choices and/or feel deprived. And even you succeed in reaching your goal, do you know what to eat afterwards? Or will you more-or-less go back to your old eating habits—the very same ones that lead to you piling on the pounds in the first place? Then what? Diet again? How long are you willing to keep yo-yoing with your weight like this?
Albert Einstein defined insanity as: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Dieting, losing weight, going back to old habits, put weight back on, dieting again is a form of madness and makes you unhappy too. It’s time to adopt a new, healthier approach to food and your body as well as making some changes to what and how you eat. This new way ensures you’re never hungry, for being hungry is counter-productive for weight loss. Instead eating delicious, fresh food without a set regime—means you can choose what you wish to eat: not what someone else tells you have to eat. It also allows for you to enjoy a little of all the foods you have probably eaten over the Christmas period without it sending you into melt-down.
What is your healthy weight? There are many ways of defining your health weight: BMI (Body Mass Index: calculator on my Live Classes page), H2W (Height to Waist Ratio should be less that than 0.5) and also the weight you feel is right for you. Although the calculations help, begin this exercise by choose what feels right for you – you can fine tune it later on. The important part of this exercise is to write down the weight you wish to achieve and then work out how much in pounds or kilos you need to lose to get there. If this is a large amount – please don’t be scared: it is just what it is. This is the new you and a new approach that is about being gentle and kind to yourself.
What is the relationship between alcohol and weight loss? Can you enjoy a glass or two of wine (or your tipple) and still lose weight? Or do you need to acquire a taste for sparkling water?
Perhaps you loathe to even look at how alcohol may be getting in the way of your weight loss because after a long, hard day at work, you ‘need’ a glass or two of wine to unwind and relax? Or would weekends without your favourite drink be so dismal?
Although I ask everyone who does a Body Cleanse as part of one of my EatWell.BeWell programs to give up alcohol for 2–5 weeks, I know that most people enjoy alcohol and would not wish to give it up permanently. So that brings up the question: ‘Can you STILL drink and lose weight?’ Hmm… sadly it’s not straightforward as it is dependent on so many things including your age, health and current weight and your body’s ability to process alcohol: for you the answer might be; yes, no, or just a little! Let’s begin by looking at what happens when you drink alcohol.
In the milk aisle today there is a growing choice of different milks—but which milk is best? Cows, goats, sheep, rice, soya or one of the many different grain and nut milks? Many alternative milks are touted as being a healthier than cows milk—but which milk is best for you?
Whole, Semi or Skimmed? The most popular milk in the UK is semi-skimmed which has had half the natural fat, in the form of cream, skimmed off the milk. Nutritionally though, whole milk may be a better choice. Why? When the cream goes so does half of the vitamins A and D found in the fat. With less fat content, proportionally semi-skimmed milk has a higher sugar content too. Skimmed milk has an even higher sugar content and is so watery that dried skimmed milk powder is sometimes added to give it more substance making this milk far from natural. If you currently use skimmed because you believe it’s a better health and weight-loss choice, consider switching as it really isn’t the best choice for you.
The message of ‘Low Fat’ has been drummed into people wanting to lose weight so much that when I tell people they need to add fat into their diet, they are quite aghast! Not all fat is good for you—but some is not only good, but essential. AND having good fats in your diet can actually help you lose weight. So how do you know which is which? Today I wish to help you discover which to include or add to your diet and which to avoid.
What happens to foods labelled ‘Low Fat’?
When food manufacturers take fat out of a food (apart from when it’s skimmed off as in milk or trimmed off as in meat) it loses much of it structure. To ‘fix’ this food manufacturers add starches, gums and thickening agents to make it look as it did before the removal of the fat. Without its natural fat, food also tastes bland so sugar, and/or artificial sweeteners and flavourings are added. As the fat content is reduced, the carbohydrate content has been increases – in particular the quick-energy-release carbohydrates. Why is this important? It means your body will digest the food more quickly so you will feel hungry again more quickly – therefore ultimately eat more than if you had eaten the full-fat version. Worse still Low Fat foods with more sugar may increase your blood sugar levels which can so easily lead to your body laying down body fat. So apart from trimmed or skimmed off fat, please don’t be conned into buying “Low Fat” foods as a form of weight loss—they really don’t help you!
Fresh corn-on-the-cob cooked and smeared with a little butter is utterly divine for there is nothing quite like the experience of biting into a cob and the sweet juices exploding into your mouth. Yummy! Corn-on-the-cob is not typically considered a healthy food option for it has a naturally high sugar content, but by adding a little butter, this stops your blood sugar levels from spiking and nutritionally, it has good amounts of vitamin C, niacin and folic acid. So whilst corn-on-the-cob is not the best choice for an everyday vegetable, enjoy it whilst it’s in season—as it now is. Today though it’s not about the corn itself, but I’d like to share with you how the Vietnam War and an invention by a Japanese Scientist have all had an impact on your waist-line in a way that’s hard to believe.
Carbs are often thought of as the ‘bad guys’ in terms of weight loss. This idea came to the fore in the days of the Atkins Diet which promoted eating as much protein and fat as you wanted as long as you ate no carbs. Although the Atkins Diet was and is now widely recognised as an unhealthy way to eat and lose weight, many people are still confused about carbs. What exactly is meant by ‘carbs’ and are there good carbs and bad ones? Let’s delve deeper.
It may seem a strange idea, but it’s been shown that we eat with our eyes in terms of how much food we put on our plate. Although many of you will have realized that habit dictates portion sizes too, what you may not realize is that your eyes and brain subconsciously assess how much food will be enough to satisfy your hunger by considering the volume of food (or drink) that is in front of you.
Perhaps unknowingly, your family influence eating habits. I have a memory from early childhood of being told to eat every thing on my plate. I was told to be both grateful and not wasteful for children in Biafra were starving. At the time I didn’t understand where these children lived or even how my eating helped them (to be honest the logic still eludes me) but none-the-less I obediently ate everything on my plate. Children who experienced war-time rations and those of my generation will have had similar messages drummed into them, and so even today I feel somewhat uncomfortable when I leave uneaten food on my plate. What messages did your family give you that still influence your eating habits today?
We don’t like to admit that advertising influences food choice—but I think both consciously and subconsciously it does. Food manufacturers also determine, to a large extent, our portion sizes by providing food in set sizes – which may be too big for what we need. And I know for sure that the brands pay a lot of attention to the aspirational lifestyle that is attached to their product. For example, the Diet Coke ads typically show a slim, flirtatious, funny, attractive women easily attracting the attention of a hunky man. Today I’d like to show you how advertising influences food choices and how we can become more in control of what we choose.
Everyday you are bombarded with literally dozens and dozens of different food choices. Walk down your high street, watch TV for just half-an-hour, pop into your local supermarket – and you will see just how pervasive and persuasive food advertising is. No wonder we are so easily drawn into making choices based on the advertising messages so cleverly put across to us.
It all began a week before Christmas when a client gave me a big box of chocolates. At other times of the year, I would thanked them kindly for their gift but later given them to someone else as that much sugar would blow my system—but I thought, ‘It’s Christmas, these are yummy chocolates, it won’t hurt me if I only have 1 or 2 chocolates a day’. And so in the days leading up to the big HoHoHo the chocolate box was slowly demolished. And my sugar addiction, like other addictions, cascaded into desiring more and more sweet treats. Insidiously my usual 80:20 Clean Eating went out of the window. I was also eating more wheat – again because I was out with friends and was tempted by the delicious seasonal fayre and the false conviction that it would be OK.
Christmas Day here on Portland was a quiet yet delightful day, and food of course played a big role. My daughter Tabs and I enjoyed our morning cooking together and preparing food for the day. The turkey was a triumph – our best ever attempt, succulent and tasty and the large selection of vegetables some with special toppings were nothing short of perfect. And we had all the trimmings including bread sauce and my special recipe stuffing. Pudding was a ginger, pineapple and cream log and I drank a sparkling fruit drink instead of wine. In the afternoon and evening we ate more chocolates, sampled the exotic sweet dried fruits I been given and yet later still more nibbles, pickles and Christmas ham.
If you have adopted Clean Eating and are losing weight, what do you do when facing the biggest eating and drinking event of the year? With so much tempting food and drink around is both possible to enjoy Christmas without gaining weight?
Christmas is not the time to be a martyr over weight loss – it’s time to enjoy the wonderful foods of the season. What you eat over one or two days will not seriously impact on your weight. And yet therein lies the problem for most people. Christmas celebrations now begin on December 1st and go all the way through to the New Year. There are more than the usual social get-togethers with office do’s, mock-Christmases, sports and club parties and parties because it’s good to celebrate Christmas! Eating and drinking more than usual on ALL of these occasions as well as on the Christmas Day and Boxing Day – will most likely lead to gaining weight. As with many things then, there needs to be a balance of enjoying the season’s rich food and drink combined with a modicum of restraint.
With Christmas just 2 weeks away (eek STILL so much to do!) party season is in full swing and many an alcoholic drink will be drunk. But what if you don’t want to drink alcohol – or not drink as much as usual? Are you doomed to celebrate with just a sparkling mineral water? No! Mocktails and non-alcoholic drinks are increasingly popular and can help (if you need it) feel more like part of the party.
Due to persuasive advertising, most people believe that margarine, or the ‘Healthy Spreads’ as they are now often called, is a better choice than butter. But is it? Which is best for you – butter or margarine? I believe butter is better. Please don’t misunderstand: I’m not saying lashings of butter is good for you: it isn’t! Often there is a much better choice of an oil or fat, particularly in cooking. However, if you are going to choose one over the other, my recommendation would be butter. I know this is controversial, so let me explain a little more.
Note from Jennie: This blog was written in May 2013. The ads mentioned about burning off calories after drinking a Regular Coke have been dropped, but the persuasiveness of the their current ads and what’s really in these drinks is still important – so I’ve decided to publish it on this website
Stop! Don’t drink that can of Coke…
Forgive me: I’m about to have a rant, but before I do, let me breathe and give you some information so you know where I’m coming from. Also I need to say up-front, that there was a time when I was hooked on Diet Coke, so I know how addictive it is.
Coca Cola is, as I’m sure you know, the world’s largest soft-drink producer. Globally, 1.7 billion servings of their drinks are drunk every day. Only 2 countries in the world do not (legally) sell Coca Cola: North Korea and Cuba. Their yearly revenue in 2011 was over $35 billion which makes them equivalent to the 84th largest economy in the world.