People generally start a health journey ready and determined. They plan, do the food prep, and are full steam ahead for the first few weeks.
Then, for some, motivation starts to wane, and it’s a challenge to stay on track.
At this point it helps to remember why you wanted to lose weight, and be realistic about your progress.
The reality is that even when you set goals, keep a journal, show yourself kindness and remind yourself how much you’ve achieved … roadblocks crop up.
They’re like potholes on your wellness journey. And over the years, while the list is long and varied, there are common hurdles we need to face.
Some you can prepare for, like grazing when bored, reaching for food when you’re stressed or getting caught out in restaurants.
Others, like those I detail here, can be harder to spot. But once you’re aware of them, they can be solved.
1. Getting in your own way
Self-sabotage is thought patterns or behaviours that prevent you achieving goals, and it’s common.
In a weight-loss setting, I see self-sabotage when my patients are fearful of not getting to their goal weight or getting there and not maintaining it. So, they unconsciously pack it all in and sabotage themselves.
The first step is to feel comfortable with failure and see it as something to learn from.
The next step is to recognise your triggers. Is it a result of comments others have made? Or perhaps work pressures? Once you recognise the triggers you can move on from them.
Finally, write down goals or write a letter to yourself outlining what you want, and when you feel like giving up, make yourself a cup of tea, read the letter and remind yourself why you’re on this journey.
2. The change
WATCH ABOVE: The truth about menopause. Story continues below.
There’s a preconceived notion, particularly among peri-menopausal women, that once they reach menopause, they’ll put on 10 kilograms without making any changes to lifestyle or diet.
When I see women who gain weight in menopause I can tell you a lot of the weight gain is from liquid calories. These are things such as an extra cappuccino, a sugary afternoon treat for a pick-me-up, or an extra glass of wine because they’re fed up with the hot flushes and sleep deprivation.
These liquid calories can add 600-800 calories per day. On top of food, this will be putting their daily caloric intake at around 2500 calories, which is way too many for a female in her late forties or early fifties.
My tips for keeping healthy during menopause are to increase your activity, focus on sleep, eat mindfully, control food portions, keep track of your food and weight, meal prep, overhaul your diet and embark on a new health and weight-loss program, such as this one!
3. A vitamin deficiency
When embarking on a weight-loss journey, such as the one detailed in my book, and weight loss is slow, I suggest getting a blood test. Correcting things, such as a vitamin D or iron deficiency, will make a difference.
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to many things, such as low energy levels, insomnia, cramps, depression and poor bone health, to name a few. It is the low energy levels that lead to poor compliance and often people with low vitamin D will look for pick-me-up foods, especially around the 4pm slump.
When vitamin D is read on a pathology form, I always recommend you make sure your readings are at the top end of the range. I personally make sure mine are close to the upper limit.
Great vitamin D-rich foods include egg yolks, wild salmon and mushrooms that have been dried. Simply place the mushroom’s gills in the sun – they become a vitamin D powerhouse. Dry them out, chop them up and add to your meals and salads.
4. Ignoring your gut
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Poor gut health is a major roadblock. Our gut contains trillions of bacteria that play an important role in overall health. They not only communicate with our immune system, but also have an impact on how different foods are digested as well as producing chemicals that help make us feel full.
Think of it like this: because our gut bacteria line the intestinal walls, they are in direct contact with the food we eat. This affects the nutrients we absorb and how energy is stored in our bodies.
When the gut lining is inflamed from alcohol or a poor diet, this leads to poor gut health and, in turn, weight gain. Getting on top of your gut health is essential for a healthy weight.
Try eating lots of fresh vegetables, kimchi, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, pickles, yoghurt and grains. I also recommend a good-quality probiotic.
5. Hitting the wall
There are a few reasons for an afternoon slump. A big one is that our body naturally responds to our circadian rhythms that make us feel lower in energy around 2-4pm. The Europeans have it right when they take an afternoon siesta!
Eating high-glycemic foods all day, such as refined carbohydrates, can also cause you to hit the wall, as can dehydration and simply not getting enough sleep at night.
And of course, many of us understand these causes … but how do we beat it? Make sure you are eating well throughout the day and choosing low-glycemic foods with a slow release of energy.
Include protein with each meal, drink lots of water, tackle your sleep patterns, get on top of stress and think about taking a quick nap, even at your desk. Look at it logically – if the body is fatigued it needs rest, not a sugary hit of energy.
6. Stepping on the scales
Believe it or not, weighing yourself can become a roadblock for two reasons.
Firstly, when the scales show a weight loss some people relax and reward themselves with a treat. For others, not seeing the weight loss they anticipated can make them drop out of the program in frustration.
Of course, it’s not a hard and fast rule because research also shows those who weigh themselves regularly throughout their life generally keep near or within a few kilos of their goal weight. However, I’ve also seen people over the years weighing themselves up to five times a day, which is unhealthy behaviour.
There are many things that affect weight, such as hormones, fluid retention, menstrual cycle, elevated cortisol, constipation and dehydration.
To identify your true weight, weigh yourself every Wednesday. I pick this day because the weekend can include extras such as saltier foods or alcohol, and these cause fluid retention, so you give your body time to resolve that. Friday is usually the lightest day of the week because people generally eat in a strict routine from Monday to Thursday.
Ultimately, this comes down to personal preference. For some, a daily weigh-in is what keeps them on track. So, do what works for you and have realistic expectations.
7. I’ll do it tomorrow
This is a big one. People procrastinate mainly because of a fear of failure, self-doubt, anxiety or they’re not in the right headspace.
It’s common to hear people say, “I’ll start next week”, or “I’ll start after Christmas”. But there’s never a right time to start, so start right now! Don’t overthink it. It’s a waste of energy.
This is an edited extract from The 10:10 Diet by Sarah Di Lorenzo.
You can read this story and many more in the March issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly – on sale now.