NUTRITIONIST WENDY SHILLAM TALKS ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS:
A recent UK study showed that losing weight, at any time of life, can make significant improvements in our health. For every kilo of excess weight, life expectancy goes down. If you’re obese and over 40 now, slimming down can, on average, gain you three or four extra years of life.
Some people might calculate that three or four years, on average, doesn’t matter that much. But it’s not death, but a limiting old-age that obesity can precipitate. Being overweight is now unequivocally connected to diabetes type 2, cardio-pulmonary diseases, cancer and dementia. These are the diseases that limit us in old age, gradually eroding our ability to get about, to enjoy life, even to realise that we are still alive. Some people will suffer that stage of life for twenty or more years. The very best thing that non-smokers can do to improve their health is to lose a bit of weight. Some studies show that even losing 5% of weight can help.
Fortunately, we know much more these days about how to lose weight safely. There is no reason for women of any age to give up. There have been hundreds of studies observing people for eight or twelve weeks on low calorie, low carb, and low fat or high protein diets. All these diets work, after a fashion. My job is to find the right one for you.
What the studies don’t tell us is that about 80% of people who lose weight pile it all back on after a year or two. Those statistics can be even higher for older women. That is the reason why I’ve established a new clinic, especially to help women of a certain age. There’s no doubt that during and after the menopause things can get difficult. That’s because at menopause a woman’s metabolism changes, often quite suddenly. The foods that used to sustain us don’t do the trick any more. The tendency is to put on weight and sink our heads into the sand. But the good news, not often mentioned by stick-thin twenty-something journalists, is that diets work really well as we get older – and wiser.
But there are nutritionists who can help. For example, the diet my clients follow changes as they lose weight. It transmutes from a very efficient system (informed by the most rigorously scientific studies) into a far gentler regimen that brings a woman gliding confidently towards her target weight, not hurtling. This strategy reduces the metabolic jolt at the end of a diet that can result in weight gain. They call it yo-yo dieting.
The biggest struggles often occur a few weeks or months after completing a successful diet, when temptation or stress gets in the way of careful eating. I believe that the secret of long term healthy weight lies in the integration of a new healthy diet with learned maintenance strategies.
One of the most influential studies of maintenance comes from the USA. The National Weight Control Registry has been tracking 10,000 individuals who have managed to maintain their weight loss for at least a year. They’ve even listed the four key habits of successful weight loss:
- 78% eat breakfast every day
- 75% weigh themselves at least once a week
- 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week
- 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day
What links these things is that they are all motivators. Perhaps eating regularly (ie breakfast every day) will do the trick. Perhaps monitoring your weight, or doing regular exercise will work. Perhaps finding something more satisfying than telly will help? I work with a client to help them find their key motivators. Things that will keep them going long-term. I believe that within all of us lies a healthy individual, just waiting to leap out and start living. My job is to find that person.
If you’d like to lose weight with me then phone or email me and let’s talk about the options. I’d love to help you.
Bhaskaran, K et al. (2018) Association of BMI with overall and cause-specific mortality: a population-based cohort study of 3·6 million adults in the UK. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol Published Online October 30, 2018.