Keep the ki­los off: fit­ness guru Michelle Bridges re­veals how

Fit­ness guru Michelle Bridges re­veals her es­sen­tial ad­vice for long-term weight man­age­ment, plus three de­li­cious recipes.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

There is no magic bul­let when it comes to main­tain­ing weight loss over the long term. Sure, we can all lose weight by tidy­ing up our di­ets and ramp­ing up our ex­er­cise, but the un­com­fort­able truth is that, for most of us, the weight even­tu­ally creeps back on. For most peo­ple, keep­ing the weight off is re­ally hard, some say even harder than los­ing the weight in the first place. In­deed, long-term stud­ies are show­ing that within two years, more than 80 per cent of peo­ple who lose weight will have re­gained some, if not all, of it.

The first thing to un­der­stand is that you and I can eat ex­actly the same meals, but our bodies metabolise the en­ergy and nu­tri­ents very dif­fer­ently, de­pend­ing on our age, ge­netic make-up, how well our thy­roids func­tion, our lean mus­cle mass, how stressed we are and how of­ten we’ve di­eted in the past.

Los­ing weight is a sci­ence and keep­ing it off is a psy­chol­ogy, and as our knowl­edge in these ar­eas grows, we re­alise that the im­pact of both these fac­tors on weight loss is greater than we thought. Com­plex fac­tors in our bi­ol­ogy and en­vi­ron­ment also ex­ert pow­er­ful in­flu­ences on whether we can sus­tain weight loss in the long term.

But this doesn’t mean we should de­spair and give up. On the con­trary, we can now move for­ward armed with a good dose of re­al­ity. Rather than pin­ning our hopes on empty prom­ises, we can fo­cus on real so­lu­tions. When we know bet­ter, we can do bet­ter. And do­ing bet­ter means shift­ing our ob­ses­sion with the out­sides of our bodies to the in­sides. It means eat­ing min­i­mally pro­cessed, nu­tri­ent-dense foods and ex­er­cis­ing, be­cause this makes us feel bet­ter and helps us to think bet­ter.

1 Re­frame your think­ing

Main­tain­ing a healthy weight is go­ing to take a sus­tained and mea­sured ap­proach, grad­u­ally re­plac­ing old habits with new ones. Re­frame the way you think about health and ex­er­cise.

Start with spe­cific, mea­sur­able, achiev­able, re­al­is­tic and time-based (S.M.A.R.T.) goals, ie, I want to be able to jog for 5km with­out stop­ping, by the end of three months.

List all the ex­cuses you might come up with for not ex­er­cis­ing or for eat­ing crap food. This men­tal prepa­ra­tion is su­per im­por­tant and, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, the key to stay­ing on track while you learn help­ful new habits.

Find other ways to deal with stress and recog­nise your trig­gers. When you feel the urge to do some­thing that you know is un­healthy, vi­su­alise a big stop sign and just pause for a sec­ond. What are you feel­ing? It’s these thoughts that are the trig­gers for your old habits and recog­nis­ing them is the first step to mak­ing last­ing changes to your self-care.

2 Ex­er­cise ev­ery sin­gle day

The hu­man body is de­signed to move – we ac­tu­ally have 206 bones and around 700 skele­tal mus­cles –

and ex­er­cis­ing our large mus­cle groups is im­por­tant for a long list of rea­sons.

Ex­er­cise im­proves bone strength and pos­ture, helps us bal­ance our en­ergy in­take, en­hances mood and cog­ni­tive func­tion, and im­proves heart and lung func­tion. Ex­er­cise also builds mus­cle, and it’s the amount of mus­cle we carry that has the most pro­found ef­fect on our meta­bolic rate, and there­fore our abil­ity to burn the calo­ries we in­gest.

3 Get sup­port

There is a lot of re­search to show that so­cial net­works are pow­er­ful tools in en­cour­ag­ing pos­i­tive health be­hav­iour. Hav­ing an ex­er­cise part­ner can be a pow­er­ful mo­ti­va­tor to get you out of bed in the morn­ings to go walk­ing or jog­ging. Join­ing an ex­er­cise class is great, too, as most of us don’t like to waste money, so we’re more likely to turn up.

Some of us will con­tinue to rely on food or al­co­hol to com­fort us and we will overindulge to the point that it af­fects our daily life. Re­mem­ber there’s a dif­fer­ence between habits and ad­dic­tions. Habits we can work on our­selves, while the deeper emo­tional and men­tal health is­sues that can lead to ad­dic­tions of­ten re­quire spe­cial­ist in­ter­ven­tion.

4 Al­ways choose fresh whole­foods

One mis­take many peo­ple make when they reach their goal weight is to treat them­selves to un­healthy foods.

They think be­cause they’ve lost a lot of weight, it won’t hurt to eat the odd sug­ary, fatty meal. But a burger here, a slice of cheese­cake

“Slow­ing down your eat­ing can help you feel fuller.”

with cream there and soon they’re back to the same old eat­ing pat­terns that saw them gain so much weight in the first place.

Choos­ing healthy food ev­ery sin­gle day is non-ne­go­tiable when it comes to long-term weight man­age­ment. Re­search shows that peo­ple who do keep the weight off stick to a diet high in fi­bre and nu­tri­ents from veg­eta­bles, fruits, legumes and whole­grains and with a good amount of healthy fats from olive oil, nuts and seeds.

5 Eat mind­fully

Mind­ful eat­ing is about slow­ing things right down: pay­ing at­ten­tion to our own hunger sig­nals; en­joy­ing food in a quiet, screen-free en­vi­ron­ment; notic­ing the colour, tex­ture and flavour of the food; chew­ing slowly; and putting down our uten­sils between mouth­fuls. De­lib­er­ately slow­ing down your eat­ing can help you feel fuller and it def­i­nitely as­sists di­ges­tion. But mind­ful­ness is also im­por­tant when we’re de­cid­ing what and when to eat.

Skip­ping break­fast is the num­berone habit shared by all of my obese clients, closely fol­lowed at num­ber two by lack of ex­er­cise. En­joy­ing a good break­fast with whole­grain carbs, greens such as spinach, and pro­teins such as eggs or beans will kick-start your me­tab­o­lism and keep you feel­ing full un­til lunchtime.

Keep an eye on serv­ing sizes. Never have sec­onds and don’t eat in front of the TV, com­puter or at your desk. When you are dis­tracted, it’s harder to pay at­ten­tion to what you are eat­ing.

6 Keep track

We can only change be­hav­iours that we’re aware of. Keep­ing track of what we eat, how much we ex­er­cise and our weight helps us to un­der­stand the re­la­tion­ship between these be­hav­iours and re­in­forces pos­i­tive change. Peo­ple who mon­i­tor their food in­take and reg­u­larly weigh them­selves are far more likely to main­tain a healthy weight over the long term.

7 Make sleep a pri­or­ity

Lack of sleep in­creases your ap­petite for sweet food, as your brain thinks it’s go­ing to need more fuel to cope with the ex­tra hours you’re awake. Be­ing sleep de­prived also makes you more sen­si­tive to stress, which can trig­ger the stress hor­mones that en­cour­age belly fat. To give your­self the best chance of stay­ing on track with healthy eat­ing, it is su­per im­por­tant to get seven to eight hours of sleep ev­ery night.

The hu­man body is de­signed to move, so get­ting some ex­er­cise ev­ery day is vi­tal to keep­ing ex­cess weight off.

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