31 Oct Weight Loss And Conscious Awareness
What actually is conscious awareness? And could is be the missing part of the weight loss puzzle?
Over the past decade I have worked extensively with the national press in the UK. I’ve written for a wide range of publications, from The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Sun to peer reviewed medical journals. I regularly get interviewed by journalists and editors and asked for my expert advice and opinions.
One question that has come up time and again over the years is this: “If you could encourage people to do one thing in the interests of promoting health / weight loss / longevity, what would it be?”
This is not an easy question to answer because the answer is different for everyone. If I’m working with a client who exercises regularly and eats well, but they stay up late and don’t get the sleep their body needs to recover, getting more sleep would be the priority for them. On the other hand, if someone sleeps well but they’re inactive, I’d be encouraging them to increase their activity. My work is about creating tailored solutions for individuals, so giving blanket recommendations can sometimes be challenging.
This question came up yet again this week in an interview for Vogue, so how did I answer?
CULTIVATING CONSCIOUS AWARENESS
Here’s what I told Vogue…
Work on cultivating conscious awareness. Take consistent action towards evolving your understanding of what supports your health and happiness and what doesn’t. Then take action based on your observations.
Meditation helps to cultivate mindfulness and conscious awareness, as can journaling. Wearables like a WHOOP or Oura ring can also help you to gain more clarity on how your habits and behaviours impact your health.
For example, often when people start wearing a WHOOP strap or Oura ring they become aware of just how detrimental even a small amount of alcohol is to sleep and recovery. Once aware of this, they are often much more conscious of their drinking habits. I regularly see people cut down their alcohol intake having gained this newfound awareness.
Self-observation leads to self-correction.
Many of us lead busy lives and don’t regularly take time to reflect on our habits and behaviours and how they help or hinder our health. In the past, this has been the case for me personally.
I qualified as a nutritionist 15 years ago now, yet despite possessing a nutrition degree, I still struggled with my relationship with food and eating. There were days that my appetite and cravings were overwhelming. I knew what I should be eating to be healthy, but I was constantly batting cravings for sugar and starchy carbohydrates. I had no idea why some days I had no problem sticking to a healthy nutritious diet and other days my car seemed to drive itself to the local bakery that sold giant sultana, oat and honey cookies.
Frustrated at going around in circles, I booked in for a consultation with a psychotherapist who specialised in eating disorders and disordered eating. I didn’t have an eating disorder, but my eating felt out of my control and certainly disordered. After our first appointment, the therapist advised me to keep a food and mood journal. This meant noting down everything I ate and how I felt at the time.
It took all of three days for me to notice a clear correlation between tiredness and cookie consumption. Despite years of studying, I wasn’t aware that lack of sleep disrupts the hormones that regulate our appetite and satiety. The result? We feel hungrier and less satisfied by the food we do eat.
With this newfound awareness, the solution was obvious. If I wanted to regain control of my eating, I simply needed to make sure I consistently got enough sleep. It was so simple and yet (a little embarrassingly, I must say) I hadn’t made the connection until I sought expert help.
HOW TO CULTIVATE CONSCIOUS AWARENESS FOR WEIGHT LOSS
There are a number of things that you can do to become more consciously aware of the habits and behaviours that impact your weight. As I mentioned above, meditation and journaling can be powerful tools.
Meditation helps us become more mindful, aware and grounded. It’s only when you begin to meditate regularly that you can fully appreciate the extent of its benefits. One of my clients is a monk who has spent many days in meditation. His level of awareness is something I am regularly in awe of.
Journaling can also be very helpful. Some people prefer to write freely, allowing their thoughts to flow out onto paper. Others prefer to use a journal that gives prompts. There are many health and wellness journals available to purchase online.
Working with a practitioner, whether that’s a good therapist, coach or nutritionist, is another highly effective way of helping us to better understand ourselves. I am a big advocate for therapy. You don’t have to be going through a particularly challenging time in your life to benefit.
Health tech wearables are another practical tool for helping us develop a deeper understanding of how our daily actions affect our health and wellbeing. I have a WHOOP strap and despite having worn it for years now, it still provides me with valuable insights.
Cultivating conscious awareness doesn’t happen overnight. It takes sustained commitment to getting to know ourselves. The better we know ourselves and our bodies, the more we are empowered with the knowledge of how to best take care of ourselves.
If you’d like professional support and guidance in evolving your understanding of your body’s needs, we are here to help. Contact our team today to find out how we can help you overcome your weight challenges, achieve your desired weight and maintain it long term.