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  • Writer's pictureJane Webber Nutrition

Summertime – exposing all!

Being overweight in the summer heat is no fun.

For some the thought of exposing a less than flat stomach or larger than wanted thighs isn't exactly pleasant when everyone else around you is wearing gnat-sized beachwear and drizzling oil onto wasp-like abdomens. Frankly if you did look around you, then in reality most people aren’t interested in you and aren’t all slim, toned or tanned!

In fact, for people carrying excess weight, summer can be an unpleasant trial involving countless opportunities for embarrassment and discomfort. Their clothes are tight, they feel hot and uncomfortable, and they look in the mirror and realise they need and want to do something, but just don’t know where to start.

However, beware of the Summer Weight Loss Trap.

That’s where you go on a restrictive diet, cut down eating calories and skip meals. You do it for a few weeks just in time for the holiday. You don’t necessarily lose lots of weight, but you think it’s the only way to drop the pounds in time for the summer holiday.

I work with clients on a minimum of 8 weeks, and many continue with me for another 4 weeks. This means they have a plan for 3 months and in that time, they learn how to form new eating habits and often they lose about 26 pounds, so about 2lb a week.

Yes, it is gradual, but your body learns that you are cutting down in calories and you learn new habits.

Remember you need to learn and continue with good habits, so you continue with healthy eating way when the Summer holiday tan has faded and the Autumn leaves are falling around you.

You Need A Motive

No one likes to change their habits. So, if you want to change your eating and exercise habits, you need a strong motive - something to keep you dieting and exercising when boredom sets in. Whatever motive you choose, it must be something more powerful than the urge to eat tasty high calorie foods in front of the TV!

A Good Motive for Weight Loss

Anything that commits you in advance to achieving your weight loss goal, makes a great motive. So be bold. Have goals that will stretch you but go beyond wanting to look good on the beach. These goals require you to succeed, and therefore provide constant motivation along the way.

Be Positive About Short Term Sacrifices

Whether you're trying to lose weight for the summer, save money or pass exams, an important piece of the motivational jigsaw is your ability to be positive about making short term sacrifices. The choice is fairly simple: you can focus on the "deprivation" involved in giving up certain foods, or you can focus on the benefits you will get by not eating these foods. Sadly, many dieters focus on feeling deprived. After a while they see their diet as a burden, a bore, an evil necessity. This is why so many of them quit. They can't "see" the benefits that weight loss will bring them.

That’s why I don’t use the word diet. It’s not about going on a diet, but healthy eating that lasts a lifetime.

If you want to improve your body shape for the summer, you must avoid this trap and appreciate the longer term benefits you will receive by making short-term adjustments to your lifestyle.

The Good News About Improving Your Diet

Many of our tastes, food cravings, and general attitudes to food are strongly influenced by what we eat and drink. I know countless mothers with families who have reported astonishing changes in their personal and family eating habits after less than three weeks of improved eating. Point is, the average modern diet is loaded with sugar, fat and sodium, all of which condition us to want more of these items. But if you can break out of this dependence on junk-ingredients for even 2-3 weeks, you'll notice a huge difference in your tastes. Which brings me to healthy eating.

Think Healthy Eating Not Weight Loss

In my experience, one of the most effective weight loss strategies is to focus on healthy eating. I'm not saying you shouldn't stand on your weighing scales, just don't measure progress exclusively by what the scales say. Be aware that it's just as important to enjoy your food and feel good about your change of eating habits. And any diet you hate is guaranteed to fail, no matter how much weight you lose, because as soon as you achieve your goal, you will revert to your old eating habits and regain every pound lost.

Exercise Provides Wonderful Indirect Benefits

Exercise does burn extra calories and therefore does help to widen your calorie deficit. But it's direct effect on weight loss is typically quite small. In fact, it's not uncommon to gain weight when you start exercising. The real weight reduction benefits of exercise are indirect ones. It raises our metabolic rate, helping us to burn calories at a slightly faster rate, and improves our mood, which typically reduces our need for comfort-eating. However, don't overdo your exercise workouts. I've lost count of the number of dieters who started exercising too vigorously and burnt out within 3 weeks. Ideally, start with 45 minutes/day of any physical activity you can easily manage, and very gradually increase the duration and intensity. Listen to your body at all times, and be sure to loosen up beforehand and wind down afterwards.

See Yourself As You Want To Be

I often ask my clients to describe where they want to be in 3 months time. Many of them create a “mood” board so they can see it each day. Whether it’s pinned on the fridge door, on a mirror in their bedroom or next to their laptop, they can see it each day.

Feeling Discouraged? Just Visualize The Benefits!

If you have a lot of weight to lose (100 pounds+), you may not think that losing 26 pounds in three months is particularly worthwhile. If so, ask yourself this question. What's the alternative?

No matter what method you choose, you won't lose weight any faster, so it's only a question of when you start and how long it's going to take. I can answer the last question right now. Losing 100 pounds takes about a year - typically a little longer to allow for disasters along the way.

Just visualize yourself walking down the street 100 pounds lighter, and tell me that eating healthily for 15 months is too high a price to pay for such a wonderful prospect.

Your First Priority - Get Support

If you really want to lose weight for the summer or at any other time, your first priority is to find support. Losing weight on your own is perfectly possible, providing things go well and your scales keep saying nice things. But when difficulties arise, as they surely will, having the support of real people can make all the difference between success and failure.

That’s why clients come to me. I am their accountability buddy, their support chum and a shoulder to cry on. I am their cheerleader for the good time and someone who knows what they are going through. Why , because I went through it myself.

If you experience difficulty finding support, try my own Facebook group.

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