What Needs to be Told – Tough Love and the Hard Truth
I hate to break it to you, but if you’re waiting for a weight loss white knight to come and save you from your expanding gut, it’s not going to happen. Even with an onslaught of government campaigns that have consumers and the food industry on high alert, help probably isn’t coming soon enough, and the person most responsible for the current state of your body is, well, YOU.
While there are plenty of external factors that contribute to your weight – the availability and cost of fresh foods, how your parents fed you as a child, confusing food labels and misleading advertisements – it’s time to own up to your role in creating that weight gain. In order to take control of the number on the scale, you need to acknowledge how the pounds piled on in the first place. There will be some medical factors that are beyond our control that can cause increase in weight but this blog is targeted at the majority of people who suffer from food related weight gain.
Tough Love No. 1: No One Is Coming to Save You
Don’t play the victim or rely on a government intervention to help you make healthier eating choices. The one thing we can control is what we put into our bodies and our mouths; no one is doing it but us; It’s harsh, but it’s up to YOU. Plain and simple.
While some government efforts have proven effective at helping people make better decisions, they still require you to take heed. A new study on the effect of posting calorie counts on menus shows that it worked for about one in six customers—specifically the ones who paid attention to them. Customers who looked at the counts generally ordered about 100 fewer calories than those who didn’t, whereas the majority of restaurant patrons ignored the numbers or didn’t see them and ordered whatever they wanted, according to the results of the study published in the British Medical Journal.
Make smarter choices every single time you eat
Tough Love No. 2: Blame Yourself, Not the Diet
It’s not the healthy diet that’s faulty – it’s your follow-through. We have been brainwashed to believe that diets don’t work. Diets work perfectly. The real problem is our mental toughness—or lack of. We have also been brainwashed by the power of advertising – Example: “Taking one tablet a day for 2 weeks and you’ll drop a dress size”, and suddenly we flock to buy the product but what we don’t notice is the small print at the bottom of the screen which says, “Only as part of a healthy diet and exercise regime” – The truth is that if you were following a healthy diet and an exercise regime for 2 weeks you will probably drop a size anyway and it wouldn’t have cost you a cent. Before protein shakes and other processed “health” foods were around, what did we do? We ate normal food and we exercised and believe it or not, the obesity level was lower.
If you’re following a healthy, calorie-controlled eating plan, you should lose weight. If you’re not, it’s probably because you’re not adhering to the program as strictly as you might think. The only person you are cheating is YOURSELF.
Correct your cheating ways with reminders about your goal. Whether it’s a note on your computer screen or a photo on your fridge, these little cues will help you stay on track. You have to remember what it is you want. Without a solid reason to eat healthier or lose weight, you’ll come up with every single excuse to break your diet.
Tough Love No. 3: You Can’t Start Over Next Week
It’s okay to fall off the diet bandwagon and start over on Monday, right? If you hear yourself saying that every week, you probably were never truly on board in the first place and you are only conning yourself.
We’re all allowed mini splurges once in a while – but that isn’t permission to go wild on your diet whenever you feel like it. As it is, people eat an extra 400 calories on the weekend without realising it. Add to that Wednesday night splurge on chocolate chip cookies and you’re set back an additional 990 calories.
Tough Love No. 4: You’re Not Actually Too Busy to Exercise
Between traveling to work, picking up the kids, and making the dinners, you have a lot on your plate. But that doesn’t give you an excuse to skip exercise.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic found that overweight/obese people tend to sit and be inactive for 2.5 hours more than their fitter peers and burn 350 fewer calories a day. It all adds up, too. Habitually sitting for long periods of time increases your risk for blood clots, cardiovascular disease, and more.
You don’t have to do extreme things like bodybuilding or run a marathon. Simply walking more will do. You just have to stick to the exercise and make it part of your daily routine. Thirty minutes of walking a day has been shown to fend off age-related weight gain, and even cut the risk of heart disease in women by 40%. If you can’t book a half-hour at the gym, that’s no excuse: You can reap the same benefit by walking for 10-minute sessions throughout the day or working on a fitness DVD while the kids are playing or asleep – there is always time if you make time.
Another idea which I find great myself is “double jobbing” – so fitting in smaller chunks of exercise whilst you are already doing something else so you don’t really need to find any extra time! Once you have popped the food in the oven to cook, add in 20 squats. Put the washing in the washing machine and run up and down the stairs 5 times. Whatever that little extra is – add it in! All of these small bits of extra exertion really can add up and really take no extra time, so instead of wasting time making up excuses – use that time (no matter how short) to give that heart rate a little boost and get that body moving!
Some Facts on Diet and Obesity in Ireland
One in five Irish children aged 4-12 is now overweight or obese and the same figure is true for 13-17 year olds. Irish children and young people have low intakes of essential nutrients: calcium, iron, vitamins A, C, D and folate. Reference IUNA National Children’s Food Survey. IUNA National Teens’ Food Survey
Who purchases food for children and teenagers? As parents, we do. I have so many people contact me worrying about their children’s weight problem. In a lot of the cases, the children had their own foods in the house i.e. children’s treats, children’s yoghurts, special children’s dinners etc., while the adults had their own selection of foods. Most of the food and drink marketed to young people is high in fat, sugar and salt – the so called ‘junk foods’ – sugary fizzy drinks, confectionary, sugary cereals, salty snacks and fast food.
We are the adults and it is our responsibility to feed our children food that is suitable. I for one was very guilty of this. When I was at my heaviest I used to feed my eldest child biscuits as treats and used them as ways to keep him quiet! By the time our children are teenagers they will already have habits of eating certain foods and although we will probably still be purchasing their food and making their meals, it will be harder to wean them off the bad food and get them to change their old habits so try making the changes NOW before it becomes too late. Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.
Remember, losing weight isn’t just about looking better or trying to fit into a new dress – What about your health, protecting your organs and living longer? Heart disease has become the No. 1 killer in Ireland and the percentage is only increasing. Heart disease and strokes account for nearly 40% of Irish deaths each year. In 2013 alone some 10,000 people died from heart disease and stroke. However, the risk of developing heart disease and stroke can be reduced or even prevented by lifestyle measures. Healthy eating and regular exercise are important. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight, and smoking are the main risk factors for heart disease.
When you look at your child, you automatically love and want to protect them from everything and make sure they live a long, happy and healthy life – If a doctor told you that the food you are feeding your children are shortening their life or possibly causing them health issues, would you think twice and change their food and leisure routines?
The same goes for you – if a doctor told you that you will have heart issues in five, ten or twenty years time, would you change the way you live your life? If it’s not too late already!
Look at the successful anti-smoking ads on TV and the addition of the health and picture warnings on packets. They tell you that ‘Smoking Kills’. In fact, today, thanks to positive messages and tough love, there are more former smokers than current smokers. You’ll have heard and seen all the messages about fatal road incidents – ‘Speeding Kills’ and because of promoting better driving, sticker rules etc., Ireland reduced road deaths by 12% in 2012 compared to an EU average rate of 9%.
Excess Food Can Kill You – Just Like Smoking Can
This blog is based on my own personal opinion, unless referenced to a 3rd party. It was not written to shock or frighten you but to tell the truth and facts without dressing them up. Sometimes we need to hear the hard truth about things and for some, tough love is exactly what they need.
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