Starting tonight (18th May) is a new four part BBC 1 programme called ‘Lose Weight for Love’ – helping couples change their lifestyles and achieve weight loss. Alas I was deemed too gorgeous for front of camera but beavered away behind the scenes assessing the couples, supporting the production team, giving dietary advice and designing meal plans.

For once I think we have a programme that isn’t glamorising the quick fix, but rather looks at the complexities of weight management from all angles.

You will see Clinical Psychologist, Professor Tanya Byron, medical physiologist and fitness expert Rick Shakes-Brathwaite, and behavioural science expert, Professor Paul Dolan supporting the couples taking part. This series has the experts sticking to their strengths, working together for successful outcomes. Nutrition weaves amongst all of these specialities and unlike much of the nutrition information or ‘nutribabble’ shared via social media these days, it was evidence based and tailored to the individual.

The show demonstrates the use of well balanced, proportioned meal plans to support daily exercise routines and protection of lean muscle mass; behavioural techniques such as rewiring the brain to ‘like’ vegetables or avoid fizzy drinks and psychological therapy to understand and tackle issues such as low self –esteem or self- sabotage of previous weight loss efforts.

However, without a Tanya as our next door neighbour popping in for a chat, or a Rick banging on our door every morning or even a Paul talking to us from behind the fridge door is all lost? Hopefully not with these top tips:

Get the right fix, not the quick fix

Like flat pack furniture assembly, it’s not going to be straight forward, but the results you get when you’ve persevered are well worth it! Probably even tougher now in today’s society where everything is so automatic and accessible, we yearn for our weight loss to be the same. Balanced, proportioned eating doesn’t make a catchy media headline but neither do plenty of other statements we know to be true – the grass is green, for example!

Protect and build

A bit like dipping into your savings, following unbalanced and ‘faddy’ diets that promise quick results only serve to dip into your body’s lean tissue stores and force your metabolic rate to drop. If we had access to CT scanners in Sainsbury’s it would be great to actually see the changes in body composition that occur with faddy approaches. Without this self -checkout option though, we are often motivated by numbers going down on the scale which whilst rewarding, can often be misleading and alas short lived.

Exercise (especially for those that don’t find it fun) doesn’t have to involve hours slogging away at the gym but it does have to be muscle strengthening and built in to life – we all have to pay rent to our body – otherwise our lease may run out sooner than we anticipated.

Take a bird’s eye view

No I don’t mean the secret is in fish finger consumption – but instead what does the holistic picture look like? Quite often I feel people fall into one of two camps – either an exercise loather keen to throw all they have at attaining the right diet because that feels more doable or those that have complex eating habits they simply can’t face, preferring to work up a sweat frequently in an attempt to counteract what’s being consumed.

In truth, who are the real winners? In my opinion, those that take time to look at all influencers… how many hours sleep you clock up per night; how you manage stress in day to day life; how much you prioritise writing a meal plan for the week; what ultimately plays a part in how much and what type of food you put in your mouth? Respecting your physiology and understanding your psychology gives you a head start in your weight loss journey.

Make it easy

It is crazy how contradictory today’s world has become. We have public health messages saying eat less, move more alongside planning applications for another fast food outlet. We’re seeking out naturally functional foods but are too busy examining a packet for its gluten content to notice its calorie value. We’re presented with the opportunity for a free coffee upgrade at the start of the day and bombarded with buy one get one free offers at the end of a busy shift when all we popped in for was a pint of milk. We’re not very mindful either – desperate to read the latest LEC Nutrition blog whilst shovelling our lunch in simultaneously and at high speed!

As a coping strategy our brains filter out the things that don’t require active thinking – food choices often being an example. We make over a hundred food related decisions a day and 95% of those are subconscious – and with marketers doing a fantastic job, the chances are they might not be the right choices for our weight or health. The more we plan, and place healthier options within our reach, alongside small steps to limit exposure to higher calorie alternatives – the easier the right choice becomes.

And so here are my dos:

  • Do look at who is giving advice – ‘this worked for my next door neighbour’s cat’ is not the same as bespoke, evidence based advice from an appropriately qualified professional.
  • Do seek advice for your head if you feel you may need it – behaviour is a complex thing, and sometimes we all need an expert to unravel the instruction manual.
  • Do make your environment a healthy one, focusing on what you can control rather than dwelling on what you can’t.
  • Do raise your awareness of what you eat – if diaries and apps are too time consuming just capture images with your phone. Anything that creates a pause point before eating.
  • Do ask for support from those around you but tell them how they can help you… they may genuinely think that that thing they said that made you want to punch them… was in fact helpful.
  • Do plan as much as you can. Just like you wouldn’t pitch up at an airport with an empty suitcase and no flight booked, do plan ahead with your meals and snacks as much as possible. You will eat better as a result.
  • Do explore ways to be more active in day to day life and for maintenance of any weight loss accept that activity has to be a permanent daily fixture.
  • Do accept you’re in a marathon not a sprint. It takes time, it’ll be challenging but you’ll get there. And the great news is you don’t actually have to run a marathon to lose weight and keep it off!

Lastly, do of course tune into BBC1 at 8pm for the next 4 weeks and contact me if you’d like any nutrition support!

Image courtesy of BBC/ Renegade Pictures