There's a reason I don't talk about weight loss until Week 3 of the StealthHealth programme and that's because before we even start thinking about limiting calories we have to be eating a nutrient dense diet. If you are not already including plenty of good fats, healthy carbs, protein, fibre etc. then when you start to restrict your calories (which I'm afraid you do have to do to lose weight!) then you could be impacting your health.
As I'm guessing many of you on here are midlife women like me (I'm 50 this year!) this is even more important as we age - our metabolisms slow and our calorie requirements diminish - so to actually achieve a calorie deficit is no mean feat, that's one of the reasons it's harder to lose weight as you get older. Your hormones are also working against you - the average woman will put on 4-5 kg over the course of the menopause even if everything else stays the same (depressing, but stick with me!). I will elaborate more on this next week, this post is just to introduce the 3 StealthHealth Key Concepts for Week 3 that are related directly to weight loss: Calorie Awareness, Volume Control and Light Days.
Before I get into those I'd just like to recap the 4 Key Concepts we have been working on for the last two weeks, it's important to keep one eye on them this week because they are the foundation of healthy eating we need to have in place:
Breakfast is Best - make sure to have a nutritious first meal of the day, eggs, oats etc.
Eating with Awareness - make conscious food choices and take time to enjoy what you eat
Nutri Foods - try and eat predominantly nutrient dense foods, see my Day 8 Diary post
Carb Sense - eat a moderate amount of healthy carbs: fruit, veg, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, beans, tubers
The Key Concepts for this week are designed to help you shift weight slowly (1-2 lbs a week is good!) and sustainably:
Calorie Awareness: Let's all agree that rigorous calorie-counting is a total bore! Who can honestly be doing with that day in, day out? However, we can't ignore the fact that to lose weight we need to achieve a calorie deficit (the good old less calories in than out!). There are some other medical and hormonal factors that can make it harder to lose weight but for the vast majority of us a calorie deficit is the only way. The logical conclusion here is that you need to be somewhat aware of the calories you are consuming in order to manage your weight. So what to do? Well the solution I've come up with is to be Calorie Aware. I have educated myself on what foods pack a disproportionately heavy calorie load. Most of these are obvious but some are really healthy, like nuts. Now I'm not saying don't eat nuts because they are brilliant, they just need to be eaten in smaller quantities when you are in weight loss mode. Conversely, there are lots of really lovely things to eat that are light in calories and eating more of them can help you in your quest to shed a few pounds. I'm going to post about Calorie Awareness in more detail tomorrow so look out for that.
Volume Control: You may be more familiar with the term 'portion control' but I think Volume Control is a better description because it makes sense to think of the overall volume of food you are eating rather than individual portion sizes. When dishing up your food actively put a bit less on your plate than you usually would, see if this is enough and aim for the following ratios of food groups:
⅔rds of the plate = salad or vegetables
⅙th of the plate = lean protein such as meat, chicken, fish, tofu or tempeh, eggs
⅙th of the plate = healthy carbs such as whole grains or beans/legumes
Eating too much is not the preserve of the junk food junkie, you can eat healthily and still be overweight! To lose weight you need to consider how much you eat overall. Eat more slowly, with awareness and you will experience satiety with less food.
Light Days: The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that I co-wrote The Midlife Kitchen with my good buddy Mimi Spencer who co-wrote the bestselling book ‘The Fast Diet’with Dr. Michael Mosley. This was the first book to introduce the concept of 5:2 to the world and many, many people swear by intermittent fasting. Whilst I don't strictly 'fast' I have found that when I am trying to accelerate weight loss it is a good tactic to have 2-3 days a week where I focus on calorie restriction. It can really wear you down having to be in a restrictive mindset all the time, I think this is why most diets fail, but I find there are a few days in the week when I can achieve it - either when I'm really busy so not thinking about food, or on days when I just don't feel as hungry. On those days I'll double down and be particularly calorie aware.
So there's a little intro to the 3 weight loss Key Concepts for Week 3. I will be doing a detailed blog post on each of them as the week progress to give you more help and hints on how to incorporate them into your daily life. And remember, weight loss isn't and cannot be a race, as long as you are eating good stuff most of the time the odd glass of wine or slice of cake does not need to derail you!
Have a lovely day.
PS. If you have any friends who are in a rut with their diet or struggling to lose weight please do recommend my blog, I plan to turn StealthHealth into a book and have lots of ideas for other resources to help people develop a better relationship with food, but I need to grow it on here first. Thank you xx