I see many women in my clinic that have a bad relationship with their bodies. When listening to their stories it usually starts in their teenage years, when, for whatever reason, maybe our media or just our society they start to have poor body image. From this point begin cycles of weight loss achieved by under eating, commonly know as “dieting” sometimes along side over-exercising, followed by burnouts and weight gain. These burnouts can be characterised by either overeating or under nourishing (poor nutrient dense foods) e.g. binging or illness and/or injury due to depleted systems. The cycle length can be matter of days to months or years at a time, but overtime it leaves the body in worse shape both from an aesthetic and optimal wellbeing point of view.
In the bid to achieve the ‘perfect bikini’ body we become enemies with our bodies. We resent them and are constantly in a battle with them. But the tactics we are using are all wrong! We will always lose because no matter your ‘will power‘ your underlying biochemistry is set for survival. It will crave calories or it will give up. So stop the battle, stop the diets and stop the over-exercising, learn to respect and nourish your body. Once you learn how to do this effectively from a nutritional perspective you will be amazed at the results eat more, exercise less and have a fitter leaner body! Alongside making nutritional changes to nourish your body effectively, it is important to let go of old negative thoughts and patterns. Here are my best ways to start create a positive healthy lifestyle and relationship with your body:
Dump the diets – way back in 1950s science discovered that diets were actually counterproductive. Low calorie diets cause the body to slow it’s metabolism, reduce muscle mass rather than burn fat stores.
Crowd out – to lose weight and manage a healthy one, we actually have to eat more food, but the right foods. Changing our diet so it is packed full of nutrient dense health foods means a move to a balanced nourishing state that supports health as well as weight loss.
Ditch the scales – cyclical dieters often develop an unhealthy relationship with scales. Daily weighing sessions, magic ‘goal’ numbers, one pound on one pound off…. at the end of the day scales are just numbers and numbers don’t mean anything. It is much more important to feel good in your body and in your clothes.
Learn to take compliments and believe them. Body dysmorphia is a common part of the negative psychological pattern. Create new positive patterns by
consciously overriding any negative self-depreciating responses with a ‘Yes and Thank you’
Create a sustainable way of living, be realistic – this is most prevalent in January, the ‘zero to hero’ mentality. If you haven’t exercised in a year it is unlikely that you will be able to do the same workout that you did a year ago. Build up slowly to avoid burnout. Equally with food, make small changes one at a time to build a sustainable change e.g. month one, week by week, aim to increase your vegetable intake to 7-10 portions a day, month two brings a new change etc.
Balance blood sugar – high sugar/carbohydrate diets along side poorly functioning blood sugar control mechanisms lead to cravings, lack of energy and weight gain. Always eat balanced meals with adequate protein, healthy fats and fibre along side complex carbs.
Exercise – is a key part to a healthy and fit body. Find exercise that works for you that is fun, sociable and effective. This will be different for everyone and shouldn’t mean hours upon hours of intense exercise. Exercise smart, include some HIIT (high-intensity interval training) – getting your heart rate high for short bursts, and some resistance – building lean muscle mass via either weights or your own body weight. Plus, add lots of incidental – keeping it moving in your daily routine.
Libby Limon, BSc Nutritional Therapy, mBANT