CBHS members holding Hospital or Package cover have access to programs that can help them lose weight – get started on your weight loss journey.
It’s a new year, and like millions of other Australians, you’ve decided it’s time for a new (slightly thinner) version of you. Reaching a healthy weight has a host of benefits – it can help you sleep better, reduce your cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce your risk of cancer, and help manage diabetes*.
*Check out our article Why belly fat is dangerous and how to get rid of it
Before we begin, here’s a few interesting things you might want to know about your goal:
Your holiday weight gain is small but tends to stick
There are plenty of studies looking at holiday weight gain (from everywhere but Australia, apparently) – however, if we use this as a guideline, it seems that while we think we gain around 2+kg over the holiday season, the average gain is actually around .37kg.
Unfortunately, this weight has a habit of not going away. Some is lost as the furore of the silly season fades away and the chances to eat into a comatose state become rarer, but for the most part it becomes a part of you. Half a kilogram doesn’t sound like much, but 20 Christmases later you’re probably going to start feeling it around your waist.
Shame is a surprisingly good motivator
Should you feel comfortable in your desire to achieve a healthy weight? Absolutely! Is it good to have a positive attitude when facing a challenge? Unequivocally!
Is your Christmas pudding guilt and leftovers binging shame a gift in disguise? The science says yes, indeed it is!
According to our study, shame was a highly correlative factor in the lead to self-change. Recollection of shameful events involved both guilt and regret, and were therefore more likely to lead to an attempt to change an individual’s behaviour.
While these terms might seem synonymous, it makes sense once you break down their definitions. This handy article from Psychology Today defines guilt as external – feeling bad or uncomfortable about a wrong you’ve done to someone else – and shame as internal – feeling bad or uncomfortable about your identity, or you as a person.
So think of any shame you have as sweet fuel for the fire of motivation!
Let’s get you started on your one-on-one, tailored weight-loss program.
How to lose weight
There are many effective methods to lose weight, but the philosophy of every exercise, diet, and mental health approach comes down to the same philosophy – losing weight requires a lifestyle change that involves making time to eat better, work out, and check in with yourself.
Energy and weight loss
Food is energy. We measure this energy in calories. Excess calories not spent are stored in the body as fat.
Pretty simple, right?
On the face of it, sure – if we want to lose weight, or fat, we can consume less calories than we’re spending. However, not all calories are created equal. You could, for instance, eat one peanut butter sandwich at around 500 calories, or have around 750g of vegetables for 500 calories.
In fact, by significantly increasing our fruit and vegetable intake, we can significantly reduce the risks of preventable deaths.
But this doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice taste for health – the Mediterranean diet, the world’s healthiest diet, is made up of delicious ingredients that can be made into great meals.
Simple steps for eating right
How is your grocery list shaping up? Can you substitute anything on it for something healthier? Thanks to huge diversity of groceries available, there’s nearly always something healthier waiting in the next aisle. You could try brown rice instead of white, switch to wholemeal bread or dump the confectionary for the natural sweetness of seasonal fruit.
But that’s going to break the bank, right? Not necessarily – you can eat healthy and still save money. It’s all about understanding how much time you have, the ingredients you can work with, and how it can all come together. For the busier of us, slow-cooking is a great way to prepare a lot of food with minimal interaction. If you’re time poor and know you’re going to have to hit a take-away once or twice a week, consider these healthier alternatives.
Any and all actions you take costs energy, or calories. The more energy you use, the more calories you spend.
How much exercise should I be doing?
The Australian government suggests 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75-150 minutes of intense exercise per week, with two of those days dedicated to strength exercises.
Exercise isn’t just helping you now by reducing your waistline – it’s protecting future you from developing cancer, diabetes, or much later on, helping prevent osteoporosis and protecting you from falls.
What exercise should I do?
Primarily, you want to be able to maintain the exercise you do, meaning you want to find something that you enjoy. If you’re no fan of the water, you’ll find every excuse you can to go swimming, but if you love hiking, chances are you’ll be using your working hours to find great places in Australia to hike.
Let’s say you’ve found something you love (congratulations if you have!), your second step is considering supplementary exercises. If you’re performing strength exercises, taking up some cardio could help, or if you’ve taken on running, spending a session or two lifting weights can be useful.
There’s a correlation between depression, anxiety and eating badly or being overweight. The consumption of food, especially high sugar or carb foods, releases dopamine, and is commonly sought after as a comfort in times of stress.
Issues of mental health can be hugely complex, and in some cases, fixes might not be possible.
However, by recognising when we’re more likely to eat badly, we can come up with methods to change habits:
Eating to prevent stress – unhealthy eating patterns and poor mental health might seem like a chicken and egg scenario, but in this case, we suggest grabbing the egg and making a healthy omelette before the chicken can be born.
Your key food groups for alleviating stress are those high in omega-3, magnesium and Folate/B vitamins.
Having healthy substitutes ready – it’s almost too easy to find a packet of chips after a hard day’s work, but if you get yourself prepared, you can have fresh veg with cottage cheese and salt and pepper nearby. Not only will this force a small amount of food prep, giving you something to focus on outside of stress, it’s going to be far more beneficial in the long run.
Set achievable goals – failing isn’t fun, and it can be detrimental to progress. Making small goals that can be reached creates feelings of accomplishment, meaning you won’t drain your mental energy trying to reach an unobtainable goal. It’s also beneficial to be optimistic about your goals – even if you fail, you’ve made a good step forward, and you can keep making them!
We’d like to reiterate that last point – keep optimistic, and don’t go alone. We can help you achieve your ideal, healthy weight.
Stanford University – Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
NCBI – A Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain
New England Journal of Medicine – Weight Gain over the Holidays in Three Countries
Psychology Today – The Surprising Upside of Guilt and Shame
PubMed.gov - Shame and Motivation to Change the Self
Harvard University – Losing Weight and Belly Fat Improves Sleep
Stanford University – Energy Consumption of the Human Body
NCBI - Mechanisms of Nutritional and Hormonal Regulation of Lipogenesis All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified medical practitioner. CBHS endeavours to provide independent and complete information, and content may include information regarding services, products and procedures not covered by CBHS Health Cover policies. For full terms, click here.