lose weight fast
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How to lose weight fast

Psychologist Susannah Healy explains how her training in mental health has helped her to lose weight fast – and crucially keep it off.

In her book Fabulous Jelly, author and psychologist Susannah Healy describes the ups and downs of her own dieting battles before she finally decided to apply her training in psychology to her weight loss goals and succeeded in losing over three stone.

According to Susannah, the book is written to support the reader rather than preach at them. She explains her weight-loss approach to Easy Parenting.

In theory we should only need one diet book. We all know what we should be eating. The problem is that so many books on the market require ‘a whole new you’, a ‘complete change of lifestyle’ and ‘giving up ‘X’ forever’. This is what I call ‘the great big humdinger of an ask’.

While there may be times when this kind of self makeover might appeal to us, like on a Sunday evening after an over-indulgent weekend, on January 1st or maybe when we notice a new found fondness for elasticated waistbands. The problem is these extreme changes rarely last. In fact you can be fairly sure that any diet that requires you to be ‘revved up’ will fail.”

It all starts in the brain

Susannah believes if you want to achieve your weight loss goals, you need to inform yourself about how change happens in your brain, understand how and when willpower fails and how to work with, not against, your brain’s unconscious instincts to protect you.

Hopefully, you don’t want a ‘whole new you’; you just want to lose weight and get on with your life. You need a diet that sticks to you – you should not have to stick to it.

Remember that we eat several times a day, so our eating habits are physical realities in our brains. Fabulous Jelly is about learning to identify all the parts that make up each of our eating habits so that we can break each habit of a lifetime piece by piece.

Our unconscious mind is the part of the brain that we share with the animal kingdom – it is all about survival and self protection. To convince it that we don’t need to scoff as much food as possible in case of upcoming famine, you need to coax it to change in much the same way you might coax a five year old – little by little with immediate rewards. In this case, the reward is fairly rapid weight loss.

All or nothing

If you have ever started a new eating plan on a Monday and dumped it by Tuesday and told yourself that you will start again next week, then you probably need to know about ‘All or Nothing’ style thinking – just one of the thinking styles I discuss in Fabulous Jelly. It’s one of the most common of all negative thinking habits. Getting to know and understand how to change these ‘mental mud baths’ is an act of kindness to yourself or to someone you know who is trying to lose weight. Learning about how your brain works and how it changes will help you to achieve your weight loss goals and will stop that feeling of knocking your head off the proverbial brick wall.

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ASK LOUISE

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.