We’ve all heard the stories of failed fad diets, yoyoing weight loss and cheating or giving up. These stories often overtake the tales of successful weight reduction and make it seem like achieving your goals is impossible.
And yet, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight has never been more important. In fact, this summer the Government has declared a war on obesity, with plans to ban junk food advertisements and to offer prescriptions for Weight Watchers. Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, explained: “Being overweight or obese puts people at risk of many diseases, including 13 different types of cancer, and disproportionately affects people from poorer backgrounds. The [government] plan will hugely help to level up the country and build a healthier population.”
Maintaining a healthy weight has never been more important, particularly due to the relationship between obesity and COVID-19. According to a new PHE study, UK and international evidence suggests that being severely overweight puts people at greater risk of hospitalisation, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admission and death from COVID-19, with risk growing substantially as body mass index (BMI) increases. Weight does not impact your likelihood of contracting the virus, but it can impact how ill you become as a result of getting it.
So how do you make a lasting change? The answer is through a total body approach – combining together the right diet, exercise and mental health support.
Getting your diet right
Making changes to eating habits is often the first thing people think about when they want to lose weight. But how do you know which are the right changes to make? What works for one person may be a total failure for another.
What many people fail to understand is that “diet” is actually a three-fold topic: the food you eat, what and how you digest, and how much rest and repair time you get. If you focus only on the first category, you may be missing underlying conditions which are responsible for your weight gain or struggles to lose. By looking at the system as a whole, a dietician looks at how everything works together (or doesn’t work together), developing a bespoke plan to address your specific needs. You may be surprised to find that counting calories might not be the quick fix solution that it seems.
Our experienced dietician conducts in-depth interviews with incoming patients to identify and understand how these three elements are working together to impact your weight and health. The resulting recommended plan will ensure you get the right nutrients, your body processes and absorbs them and you manage your stress.
Recognising the relationship between weight and mental health
Reviews of historic data have shown a strong correlation between depression and obesity, a connection which goes both ways. Obese individuals had a 55% increased likelihood of being diagnosed with depression, and people with depression had a 58% increased risk of becoming obese. Additionally, some of the common medications used to treat mental health conditions like depression can have an impact on weight.
For this reason, it is important to take a comprehensive review of the situation, identifying any existing mental health conditions which might be impacting on wellbeing, as well as keeping an eye out for future risks. Combining together the support of an experienced dietician with a trained counsellor can help.
Movement is critical for maintaining joints and muscles, taking care of your cardiac, circulatory and lung functions and, as a last benefit, for managing your weight. However, this doesn’t mean you need to jump up and run a 5K every morning if your current activity level is minimal.
Often the key to getting and staying active is accountability. This is why we work with our clients to set SMART goals which we track through diet and exercise logs. In this way, you can find an exercise and activity plan which is right for you, and we can support you as you work towards your objectives.
If you are looking for ideas on how to start getting more movement in your day, the NHS offers a number of “Fit for Free” tips on their website, including basics such as walking and cycling instead of driving, and longer-term plans like the couch to 5K. The important thing to note is that even gradual changes can make a difference, slowly building up your strength and stamina.
Getting rid of the mental blocks
When it comes to weight loss, we can be our own worst enemies if we don’t address the mental roadblocks which stand in our way. By working with a trained counsellor, you can identify the cognitive blocks and behaviours which have a negative impact on your diet and exercise. Our counsellors use a variety of recognised therapies to help you address any underlying mental health conditions which drive poor eating habits.
For example, if you are using food and/or alcohol as a coping mechanism, simply changing your diet or exercising more is unlikely to result in lasting weight loss. Instead, spending time with a therapist understanding the cause of the behaviour and setting out new strategies for coping with stress and setbacks can be key to your success.
One of the tools we use is CBT, or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. It has been proved to help treat a wide range of emotional and physical health conditions in adults, young people and children. CBT looks at how we think about a situation and how this affects the way we act. In turn, our actions can affect how we think and feel. The therapist and client work together in changing the client’s behaviours, or their thinking patterns, or both.
Enjoying the benefits of a healthy weight
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight brings along a host of benefits – both physical and mental. You can reduce your risk for a number of medical conditions, stay stronger, rest better and potentially live longer. When you look at it through that lens, it makes sense to take a holistic approach towards achieving your end objective.
Ian Stockbridge is the owner and lead counsellor of Hope Therapy and draws upon various approaches including CBT and Mindfulness.
If you would like to know more about Ian, take a look at his profile: https://www.hopefulminds.co.uk/biography If you would like to make an appointment with Ian or any of the Hope Therapy Team, simply click here: https://www.hopefulminds.co.uk/contact
Carin is an experienced and highly sought after Dietician who supports Hope Therapy's clients.
If you would like to know more about Carin, take a look at her profile: https://www.hopefulminds.co.uk/biographycarin If you would like to make an appointment with Carin or any of the Hope Therapy Team, simply click here: https://www.hopefulminds.co.uk/contact