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Dr Duncan

Ideas on how to lose weight

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In the 21st century, religious belief may be on the wane in the West, but “fasting” has become an issue of major health, political and economic importance, because with our higher standards of living has come increased levels of obesity and all the medical problems that come with it: diabetes, heart disease and certain forms of cancers. We need to take these health issues seriously, and what better time to “focus” on them than Lent, which in the northern hemisphere is linked with the end of winter, the beginning of spring and new life; whilst here in Perth we are thinking more about cooler mornings and evenings which can allow us to get out and exercise more.

For many people fasting conjures up the image of eating only bread and water, which may be true for the very few, but fasting more commonly means choosing something to give up, something that you would miss but which you will replace with “something else” - and for the person of faith that will often mean doing good deeds for another, like volunteering to help an elderly person with their shopping or babysitting for an overwhelmed young Mum. I suggest that we can learn from this type of thinking and apply it to the obesity problem, because if you’re thinking of taking something away from someone -in this case food - you have to offer them an alternative. One of the big challenges that an alcoholic faces in trying to give up alcohol is that for them, drinking is the focus of their lives and when that is removed from their daily activities, suddenly there is an enormous void that they find very difficult to fill.

Today we don’t talk about fasting but about dieting and every few months a new diet will appear that promises fantastic results over a few weeks to those who follow it - usually attracting widespread publicity and providing the authors with their moment of fame and a massive surge to their bank account! But losing weight rapidly is not always a good thing: most rapid weight losers will “bounce” back to their previous weight within 12 months and they also can put themselves at risk of suffering from other medical conditions such as gout due to loss of muscle and not fat.


I always tell my patients that planing to lose weight is like preparing for battle: rush headlong into the fray and you’re bound to get into trouble quickly. But if you plan carefully and give yourselves 12 months to get to your goal, then you’re much more likely to succeed. So here are a few of Dr DJ’s tips for not only losing weight, but hopefully to keep it off.

Do it for the right reasons: and by that I mean do it for you, because you are important. And don’t just do it for your own health, but also for those in your family and your “community”. You do have an influence on those around you even if you’re not aware of it, so make it a good influence.

Take your time: aim for just half a kilo or one kilo per week. In six months that equates to up to 13 kilos and over a year - if you’re seriously overweight- then it’s 26 kilos. By taking it slowly, what you are doing is to develop a healthy eating habit which will last for life, something that rapid weight loss can never do.

Choose something small and simple: if you put two teaspoons of sugar in your coffee then start just having one, don’t put butter/spread on both slices of bread in a sandwich, just let the tomato or salad provide the moisture - over time this will amount to a huge number of calories NOT eaten and not stored as fat. Look for low fat alternatives for foods that you eat and try the diabetic “sweet stuff” to replace snacks. Drink water and not sugar-enhanced-flavoured water because it’s cheaper and just as refreshing.

Increase your physical activity: The aim of any weight loss program is to lose body fat and not body muscle! Again, develop an activity habit by just starting with 5 minutes a day - walking being the easiest and the cheapest! After a couple of weeks walk for 10 minutes a day, and after another couple of weeks walk for 15 minutes a day and so on. By developing a routine that you can fit into your lifestyle, you will want to keep it up because you have actually started to enjoy it. But remember, physical activity won’t help you lose weight: what it will do is maintain your muscles, make you “feel” good and it’s seriously good for your health too.

Think of helping others: Some people might like to make a contribution to an organization of their choice for each kilo of weight that they lose - Breast cancer foundations, Heart Foundation, Asthma Foundation etc - as this gives them a reason to keep on trying when times get tough, because then they know that it may be hard for them, but it’s even harder for those whom they are trying to support.

Article written by Dr. Duncan Jefferson. More articles here. For more information on health care and private health cover, visit HBF Insurance at www.hbf.com.au.

The content of these articles is not tailored for any particular individual's circumstances. The author does not take into account your physical condition, medical history or any medication you may be taking. Any advice or information provided by the author cannot replace the advice of your health care professional. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent those of HBF unless clearly indicated.

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