Do you want to lose weight and transform your lifestyle and lose weight but hate dieting? Best-selling author Louise Parker shares her top tips for getting in shape while ditching the diet.
There’s the sun-eating diet, the werewolf diet and the paintball diet — these weird and wacky fad diets are everywhere. Whether they involve cutting out whole food groups, drastically restricting calorie intake or eating at a specific time and following strict rituals, all fad diets seem to promise the same thing — radical weight loss in incredibly short periods of time. These well-packaged and expertly marketed schemes are seductive to many — after all, who wouldn’t want to get their dream body in five days? But before you swear off carbohydrates or commit to a period of fasting, you should know that extreme dieting doesn’t work and can even prevent you from reaching your goals.
Restrictive diets that exclude whole food groups or severely cut calories force your body into starvation mode. You may notice you drop a few pounds at first, but this is just water weight. That’s why you may notice that after the first week of weight loss, you plateau, the pounds don’t shift and the weight soon comes back on. By eliminating critical nutrients like protein and creating imbalances in necessary electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, in starvation mode, you not only deny your body the fuel it needs to function optimally, but you also slow your metabolism, which can lead to further weight gain. Then, there are more serious negative effects, including the toll of food guilt and deprivation (typically encouraged in yo-yo dieting) on our mental health.
Results take time. Meaningful and sustainable body transformation takes commitment and lifestyle change. So ditch the diet. Say goodbye to endless cycles of fad diets that don’t work. The Louise Parker Method is a habit-changing, wellbeing-boosting body-transformation process that provides positive and achievable steps for achieving the body you’ve always dreamed of — without a trace of a dangerous, and frankly boring, diet. Our unique four-pillar method — eat beautifully, work out intelligently, think successfully and live well — takes a holistic look at your health to encourage meaningful lifestyle changes.
Here are our top tips for getting in shape without undertaking a dreaded diet.
Focus on What You Can Have, Not What You Can’t
Diets are often structured around what you can’t have, whether that’s sugar, carbohydrates, fruit or meat. In dieting, we’re continually forced to deny ourselves what we want and encouraged to judge ourselves when we fall off the wagon and indulge in something not permitted on the diet. But this form of denial and guilt is a counterproductive game to play with your mental health, as it encourages you to develop negative attitudes to the food you eat. In these kinds of diets, you unintentionally set out on a rollercoaster ride of hormonal imbalance, periods of lethargy and mood swings, and unhealthy feelings of guilt and shame around what you eat.
The first rule to changing the way you eat is to stop focusing on what can’t have and to start thinking about all the foods that you can — start thinking successfully. No food group should ever be cut out of a balanced diet, but if you’re cutting down on refined carbohydrates, rather than thinking about all those bowls of pasta you’ll be missing out on, think about the heaps of rainbow-coloured vegetables you’re going to tuck in to.
Establish a Morning Routine
Sustainable body transformations are built on strong foundations of new and positive habits, and what better time to start than in the morning? Set up your day for success with a positive morning routine. We love to start the day with a juice of hot lemon water to kickstart our metabolisms and digestion processes in the body. It’s easy to do. All you need is:
- The juice of half a lemon
- 150ml of cold water
- 150ml boiling water.
Switching your first coffee with hot lemon is an easy and manageable step to take first thing in the morning to get everything moving in the right way.
Eat 3 Full Meals
Eating beautifully doesn’t mean not eating at all; in fact, the opposite is true. Eating nutritious foods regularly throughout the day helps to stabilise your blood sugar levels, balance your hormones, speed up your metabolism and keep hunger pangs at bay. With our method, you should never feel hungry or worn down because of a lack of food. Food is fuel and the optimum diet is a balanced diet.
Aim to eat enough by eating three delicious full meals every day. These meals should be balanced, so no cutting out your favourite food groups. Try to include:
- Lean protein: White fish, chicken thighs or breasts, tofu or yoghurt.
- Low GI carbs: High fibre grain-based foods like oat bran and wholemeal bread.
- Fruits and seasonal vegetables: Try to mix it up and fill your plate with colour — each different-coloured fruit and vegetable contains a unique mix of health-boosting nutrients and minerals.
- A small amount of healthy fat: Add a little olive oil, half an avocado or a few nuts to your plate.
Need some inspiration? The Louise Parker Method books contain hundreds of great and easy-to-cook recipes to get you on the right track.
Don’t Be Afraid to Snack
Snacking is often considered to be the cardinal sin when dieting, but with our method, you learn to be snack smart. Snacking, far from a bad thing, actually helps to keep your metabolism elevated and your appetite regulated so that you make positive food choices throughout the day.
We recommend eating roughly two snacks daily — one mid-morning and another mid-afternoon, but don’t go grabbing a doughnut or chocolate bar just yet. Your snacks should contain a little bit of protein, some healthy fats and some carbohydrates. Try an apple with a small handful of almonds or some carrots with hummus. Both are delicious and metabolism-boosting, nutrient-rich snacks that will keep you on track and away from the biscuit jar.
Don’t Drink Your Calories
You may be eating beautifully and living well, but have you thought about what you’re drinking? Alcohol, fruit juices and even smoothies are packed full of calories that can add inches to your waistline without you even realising.
Although there’s nothing wrong with an occasional glass of wine or a little juice with your Sunday brunch,both are packed with hidden sugars and will slow or stop your weight loss. For a delicious alternative, why not try adding some herbs and fruits to create a delicious infused water? Alternatively, drink herbal teas throughout the day for a little pick-me-up. And yes, I realise a herbal tea isn’t quite the same as a glass of rose, but focus on reaching your goal first and then you can sensibly re-introduce some alcohol if it’s an important ‘worth-it’ for you.
To maintain your weight loss goals and fire up your fat-busting metabolism, try to exercise every day. This doesn’t mean you need to hit the gym for three-hour long sweat fests in beast mode; it could be as simple as a 15-20-minute full body workout daily that targets your main muscle groups and your accessory muscles. Focus on foundational movements like squats, planks and lunges and keep engaged throughout by strengthening the mind-muscle connection. Exercising intelligently is all about becoming aware of your body in movement, so the more you focus on what you’re doing, the greater your results will be.
Lasting weight loss is based on consistency, so don’t just plough through a quick workout and then resign yourself to your desk or bed. Instead, keep active throughout the day. Take the stairs, do some gardening or go for a walking meeting — anything that keeps your body mobile and moving will help to keep your body in fat-burning mode.
Another dangerous trend in fad diets is the celebration of exhaustion: the idea that the more worn out and burnt out you are, the better your results will be. This notion couldn’t be further from the truth. A lack of sleep causes anxiety, mood swings, decreased concentration and heightened appetite. When you’re tired, you’re more likely to grab a sugary treat and less likely to work out. We find that clients who get a consistent 7-8 hours’ sleep a night tend to see the best transformation, while those with erratic sleeping patterns experience a staggering 30% drop in results. You should always prioritise sleep.
If you find it difficult to nod off, develop a good night-time ritual to prepare yourself for rest and relaxation. You could have a warm shower or bath, disconnect your phone and have a 30-minute digital detox, or indulge in some light reading — whatever helps you to let go of the day and rest.
Author bio: Louise Parker is a sustainable weight loss expert and best-selling author of the “Louise Parker Method” and “Lean For Life”. Her company, Louise Parker, runs wellness and weight loss programs globally and from its London clinics in South Kensington and The Wellness Clinic at Harrods. Designed to transform both your body and overall lifestyle, all programmes are supported by a team of fitness professionals and registered dieticians.