"Losing weight isn't about depriving yourself of food," says dietary therapiest Dr Martin Hum. "It's about getting your body in balance so it naturally reverts to the weight it's meant to be. It's a very simple approach and often appears too simple to people who are used to very complex diets but it does work." Here's what he and our panel members like Anne Marie Colbin recommend (Make sure to consult with a qualified instructor and therapist before embarking on any diet or exercise programme).
Take regular exercise.
Exercise speeds up your metabolic rate and can help you lose weight. It encourages the body to lose fat and gain lean tissue. You may find your weight increases as muscle is heavier than fat, but you will look and feel leaner, fitter and trimmer. When you exercise regularly you will find you're able, and indeed need to, eat more without gaining any extra body fat (providing you are eating nutritionally).
Aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, swimming, dancing and
cycling for 40-45 minutes three times a week is the most beneficial. If you're overweight and unfit you must start with very light exercise, building up gradually.
Be wary of specialized exercise equipment designed for home use. In the US a 30-year-old woman bought equipment which had been advertised on TV and in magazines as a means of achieving thin thighs in 30 days or less. The padded, spring-like device was held between the knees, providing resistance for repeated hip-adduction exercises. After six weeks, she was admitted to hospital with worsening pain and swelling in her right thigh. Eventually, she was diagnosed as having acute tenosynovitis (inflammation of the membrane surrounding a joint), affecting the right hip and adductor muscles, probably caused by the exercise device (New England Journal of Medicine, April 9, 1992).
Recognize your ideal weight.
Most people instinctively know their ideal weight, ie, the weight at
which they feel most comfortable and healthy. The key is recognizing and accepting this despite what outside sources such as the media and slimming industry tell you.
Know your body type. Ectomorphs are typically tall and lean, mesomorphs have a muscular build and endomorphs, a soft, rounded physique. A mesomorph may weigh more than an endomorph of the same height yet have less excess weight to lose and vice versa. There is little you can do to alter your basic body shape, and certainly no need to from a health point of view.
Cut down on sugar, salt, fat and on stimulants like caffeine and alcohol.
Eat a quality, wholefood diet. The problem for most people is not the quantity of food they eat, but the quality. "A fat body tends to be a toxic body," Dr Hum explains. "Processed foods, pesticide residues, food additives and excessive amounts of salt, sugar, meat, fat and dairy produce can all cause very acidic conditions in the body. This causes the body to produce a lot of toxic metabolic by-products which the liver and colon are unable to cope with, so the body wraps up the toxic material in fat and tucks it away in places such as the thighs and hips."
Concentrate on complex carbohydrates such as potatoes, wholemeal bread, pasta, cereals and rice, sprouted seeds, pulses and fresh, organic fruit and vegetables. Oily fish are an important source of essential fatty acids. Lean meat can be eaten in moderation.
Drink two litres of filtered or bottled water each day.
Include an individualized programme of supplements.
Sort out any food allergies. Dr Harald Gaier finds with many of his patients that bloating disappears and their weight returns to normal once an allergy has been found and eliminated from the diet.