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How to Lose Weight Safely and For Good 

By Sarah Isaacs
from Natural Health Focus

Despite the wide range of diets available, one in three Australians is overweight or obese. Research shows that a different, healthier approach to weight management works better in the long term than restrictive dieting. This focuses on wellness rather than weight loss.

The holistic wellness programme that I recommend to my clients includes:

· Self-compassion.

· Tools to ease yourself into habit change.

· Nourishing food.

· Jump-starting your metabolism.


Many people have an unkind inner critic who drains them of motivation and stops them believing that change is possible. They berate themselves, get stressed and eat to self -soothe. However self compassion is not the same as being soft on yourself.

Kristin Neff, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, defines self-compassion as taking good care of yourself, taking the longer view about what would be nurturing for your mind, body and soul rather than looking for short term gratification.

So while one day we might feel down and remember that eating a large bar of chocolate made us feel better in the past, a more self-compassionate approach would be to do something else that also lifts the mood and is healthy.

Habit Change Tools

We often know what would be a healthier option for us but fail to follow through. Changing ingrained habits can be tough – perhaps possible with strong willpower but, in the long term, we tend to revert back to our old ways.

Dr Judson Brewer, an addiction psychiatrist in the USA (fondly known as Dr Jud), has spent much of his working life looking at how our brains work. What he has found is, when we really experience the full effects of our habits on a deep level in our body, if these habits are harmful to us, our brains will reprogramme themselves so that these habits become less attractive.

Dr Jud uses three steps to support habit change.

Habit Change Step One

He encourages his clients to map out a habit that they would like to change. This involves breaking the habit into three steps:

1. The trigger that causes us to act.

2. The behaviour.

3. The reward/result.

For example, you might come home after a hard day’s work, tired and hungry, then mindlessly over indulge in a sugary snack and afterwards feel bloated and disappointed in yourself. The trigger would be being tired and hungry. The behaviour overeating and the reward/result feeling bloated and disappointed in yourself -not such a reward really.

Habit Change Step Two

This is exploring all the results of this habit – the physical sensations in your body, emotional responses and any thoughts.. How do you feel after finishing the packet of chips?

Habit Change Step Three

Then, only when you have taken time to become fully aware of all the effects of this habit would you start changing your behaviour by replacing it with what Dr Jud called a bigger, better option. You might choose to do a short breathing exercise to get past the craving or to go for a short walk – anything that helps you feel better and healthier.

This is just a short summary of this method . For more information, please see the resources at the end of this article.

Nourishing Food

One important element to regaining your health and managing your weight is eating nourishing wholefoods, organic if possible. While everyone has different dietary needs, these are the main principles apply, whether you are vegan, vegetarian or eat meat:

· Avoid foods to which you have an intolerance or are allergy.

· Eat a varied, plant based diet to ensure you have enough fibre and phytonutrients to help your body work optimally.

· Avoid or at least minimise foods and drink rich in sugar, salt and fat such as fizzy drinks takeaway, chocolate, cakes, lollies and cookies.

· Eat protein rich food with every meal and snack to keep your blood sugar levels steady and avoid energy slumps. Think meat, fish, lentils, dried beans, nuts and seeds.

· Keep hydrated and filter your water, if possible, to avoid toxins.

Jump start your metabolism

If you have been eating junk food and living a sedentary lifestyle, it’s time to be kind to your liver and get your metabolism and digestion working well again by:

· moving more – this can be as simple as getting up every half an hour to stretch and take a short walk.

· giving your body the rest it needs both by having a good night’s sleep and taking mini breaks during the day to de-stress.

· reducing/cutting out alcohol.

· drinking plenty of water – often we think we are hungry and, in fact, we are thirsty. Drinking enough water helps our brains and bodies feel better and work optimally.

You are enough now

While we are bombarded with images of slim, athletic people on screen, if you look around you’ll notice that is not what the average Australian looks like. People come in all shapes and sizes and that makes life interesting.

Think about someone you find attractive and you might notice it’s much more than what they look like. It’s often their sense of humour and the way they make us laugh – or common interests and values that we share. So be gentle with yourself. Life is short and enjoy where you are now while you celebrate gradually easing yourself into a healthier lifestyle to feel better and more energised.


Dr Kristin Neff: Exploring the Meaning of Self-Compassion and its Importance
Dr Jud: Habit Change Made Simple

A Week of Mindful Eating Changing the Habits of a Lifetime by Sarah Isaacs
Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Dr Kristin Neff
The Hunger Habit: Why We Eat When We’re Not Hungry and How to Stop by Dr Judson Brewer

More about the author

Sarah Isaacs
– Natural Health Focus

Sarah Isaacs is a naturopath, nutritionist and writer based in Far North Queensland where she runs a holistic wellness clinic, Natural Health Focus. She is the author of A Week of Mindful Eating about changing habits. Sarah has a special interest in mindfulness, nutrition, autoimmune diseases, healthy ageing and environmental issues. For more information, please see