After the great success that was #Kickstart16 we thought we’d put our take on the lifestyle adjustments necessary for anyone who wants to lose some weight and feel more vital into a blogpost so, if that’s you or someone you know, read on!Be aware however that the excess weight we carry impacts on a deeper level than how we look and this in itself can be a great motivator if we give it some thought. We Irish live in a country where obesity is on the increase and I was shocked recently to hear that, if current trends continue, we’re bound for the dubious honor of being Europe’s fattest nation. The health implications of this are serious. We’ll see more cardiac disease, more diabetes and more joint ailments just for starters. Here are some points to consider before embarking on a program. Some are pure common sense and some you’ll have heard stressed before.

real_foodLook at what you’re eating. Avoid processed food as much as possible, make meals from scratch. If you don’t already do so, learn to love your kitchen! As well as moving away from processed foods learn to avoid or eat far less of those which can negatively impact on blood sugars. Regarding what you eat there certainly are some foods to encourage and some to avoid. Broadly speaking you should bear in mind the Glycemic Load (GL) of any given food and limit your intake of high GL foods.  The GL is an indication of a food’s potential to quickly turn into simple sugars which are released into the blood stream. High GL foods include refined carbohydrates such as white rice, white pasta, white bread and products baked with white flour. Low GL foods include oatcakes, wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta, all vegetables except potatoes and parsnips, fish, white meat, eggs and soya products.
The effect of keeping to a low GL diet is that the blood sugar is maintained at a stable level which is the key to steady, long term weight loss. Keeping it steady prevents the energy slumps which trigger cravings and your body is able to use the sugars released from food at the same rate or faster than it is released and so has none left over to store as fat. It’s really up to you whether you choose to make drastic changes from the start or introduce a new food plan in stages. You know which is more likely to be sustainable longer term for you. Also try where possible to eat carbohydrate/protein combination meals (baked beans on wholemeal toast, chicken with brown rice) rather than carbs alone, the combination slows the release of sugars into the blood further.
Many online resources are available if you’re looking for more inspiration. Check out Darron’s recipes on #Kickstart16 or Patrick Holford’s books or online recipes. Also Susan Jane White’s books and blog are full of great recipes to bring your nutrition to the next level while minimizing intake of refined sugars, wheat and dairy, an approach that can do wonders for weight loss, mood and general vitality.Consider upping your exercise levels. Apart from helping you shed a few pounds you’ll be amazed at how your mood can be improved by exercise. Walk, cycle, play football, swim, do pilates or dance but do what you’ll enjoy doing, you’ll be far more likely to make it a regular part of your life. Eat breakfast (preferably a combination of unrefined carbohydrates and some protein, think nut butter on toast or porridge with milled seeds). The earlier you eat, the earlier you kick start your metabolism for the day.

Replace some of your dietary fat intake with coconut oil. One important property of coconut oil is that it is “thermogenic” – eating it tends to increase energy expenditure (fat burning) compared to the same amount of calories from other fats.In one study, 15-30 grams (1 to 2 tablespoons) of medium chain fats per day increased energy expenditure by 5%, totaling about 120 calories per day.

Try replacing regular tea and coffee with green tea, especially ‘matcha’ or powdered green tea. This is a powerful stimulant for a sluggish metabolism. It can also be taken as a supplement and is a great way of boosting energy levels while staying cool, calm and collected.

If you feel like it use high protein bars or shakes to replace one or, at a push and only for a short period,  two meals a day. They’ll keep you feeling full and satisfied without sending your blood sugars soaring and subsequently crashing.

Consider a detox to start your program. The theory here is that the body stores toxins in fat cells which it’s unwilling to let go of until it feels ready to deal with the toxic load so encourage this by doing a gentle detox (we love Renew Life’s ‘First Cleanse’), upping your intake of fresh fruit and green vegetables and perhaps introducing some superfoods like Chlorella or Spirulina to nourish the body and encourage elimination. This often benefits these for whom diet and exercise alone have gotten them a certain level of weight loss success but who subsequently can’t get beyond that ‘plateau’.

Here also are some of the supplements which have been found to be helpful.

Apple cider vinegar tablets with artichoke and dandelion, can help to break down fats in the intestine and improve digestion. The tablets content of dandelion helps maintain a healthy fluid output.

CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid if you want to impress at a dinner party!), a supplement which encourages the body to use fats either dietary or stored in the body as an energy source, an effective ‘fat burner’ especially when used in conjunction with an exercise regime.

Garcinia Cambogia, a fruit which is a natural source of hydroxycitric acid (HCA) reputed to help with appetite control and blocking carbohydrate absorption.

Vitachrome tablets, a long established Irish made supplement formulated to stimulate metabolism, balance blood sugars, and improve both digestion and mood.

Drive, a unique formulation from Higher Nature to help provide energy, balanced brain chemistry and get-up-and-go. Includes tyrosine which is needed by the brain’s neurotransmitters and is associated with happiness and motivation, the latter often being in short supply as we start the ‘dreaded diet’.

And for those who eat to excess for emotional reasons, as well as the mood balancers like Saffron (Saffron has been studied as a potential treatment for stress related over-eating. In a group of overweight women it was found that saffron treatment for 8 weeks resulted in a significant decreased body weight and snacking frequency compared to placebo. “Our results indicate that saffron consumption produces a reduction of snacking and creates a satiating effect that could contribute to body weight loss,” concluded the study investigators.) and Rhodiola and the stress relievers like Ashwaghanda and High B5 B Vitamins, there are flower essences to deal directly with the emotional states that can promote bad eating patterns. These include :

Crab Apple: Helps you when you feel that there is something not quite clean about yourself. You may need to wash hands often, find things dirty without any reason. You may find yourself ugly although others find you very attractive.
Chestnut Bud: Helps you when you keep repeating the same mistake.
Cherry Plum: Helps you when you’re in danger of loosing self-control.
Gentian: Easily get discouraged by small set backs.
Olive: When you eat as a way to get more energy.

Flower Essence IMage

So if 2016 is the year for you or a loved one to lose those excess kilos why not take the bull by the horns? Yes it does require effort to prepare that more balanced meal when it would be so much easier to pop that frozen pizza in the oven or to get off the couch and go for that walk when the telly is beckoning so strongly but ultimately the choice is yours and the rewards which include feeling more vital and alive and avoiding long term illness aren’t small things either.