One of the most popular New Year resolutions, especially for women, is to lose weight. But by February many people have wandered away from the diet they began on 1 January and the resolution they made seems even further away than ever. Diets are notoriously hard to stick to, so what other strategies could be used to lose that unwanted weight, other than taking more exercise?
Weight loss pills
Weight loss pills are the latest weapon in the flab fighter’s armoury. The over-the-counter, drug-free choice is mindboggling with products using everything from seaweed extract and numerous herbs to plain, old coffee beans. Essentially, there are two varieties of non-prescription slimming pills – fat burners and fat trappers.
Fat burners generally work by giving you more energy and stimulating your body’s metabolism to run faster. They contain herbal stimulants, such as caffeine or ma huang, together with fatty acids and often blood thinners like aspirin or willow bark extract. Although these tablets do work when combined with exercise, they are not risk-free.
Some of the ingredients cause raised blood pressure, which, when combined with strenuous exercise, could cause heart attack or stroke in vulnerable individuals.
Fat trappers contain chitosan, a substance derived from shellfish carapace. Chitosan binds to fat, stopping it from being absorbed by your body. Although these products do work to some extent when combined with a healthy diet and exercise, long-term use can compromise the body’s ability to absorb vitamins A and D, as well as many beneficial phytochemicals contained in vegetables and fruits.
Acupuncture and acupressure
Acupuncture is proven to be effective as part of a weight loss regimen in a number of ways including:
- causing a reduction in appetite and food cravings
- increasing metabolism
- increasing production of endorphins to reduce stress-induced comfort eating
- reducing levels of cholesterol and regulating insulin
- helping to promote a healthy digestive system
The acupuncture points that the therapist will use to bring about these effects are found in your ears, stomach, hands, and legs. The treatment is painless and takes about half an hour. You’ll need to attend ‘top-up’ treatments until you reach your weight loss goal.
Acupressure works in a similar way to acupuncture in that various pressure points on your body are used to stimulate responses in your brain that will help to control food cravings. The main difference between the two therapies is that acupressure is not invasive, which is great news if you’re needle-phobic!
Hypnotherapy can be used to help with weight loss, typically by eliminating food cravings and breaking the habitual overeating cycle.
Hypnotherapy sessions usually take place in relaxing, spa-like surroundings with scented candles, subdued lighting, and calming background music. The therapist will use their preferred technique to help you achieve a deeply relaxed, trance state. Regardless of the method used and the depth of your trance, you will be totally aware of everything that’s happening during the session, and you will always be totally in control. Sessions generally last for about an hour, and you may need a course of half a dozen until you reach your weight loss goal.
Your therapist may teach you self-hypnosis, so that you can continue the therapy in your own home between sessions.
Meditation can be a helpful weight loss tool, especially if you find that stress causes you to comfort eat. You can teach yourself to meditate by using one of the many free online courses out there, or you could go to a practitioner for lessons.
The first technique you’ll learn is simple breathing meditation. This will enable you to achieve a state of total calmness and relaxation where no outside influences or thoughts can disturb you. Meditation is simple and effective once you’ve mastered it; it just takes practice. Once you’ve grasped the basics, you could try meditation for weight loss.
There are many different options for weight loss counseling. You could attend individual psychotherapy sessions at a private clinic, go to group therapy meetings where you have the empathic support of others, or you could even try on-line counseling.
Counseling focuses on helping people with eating disorders and those who find it impossible to stick to dieting regimes. The therapist seeks to identify the cause of the person’s eating issues; very often it’s some emotional trigger that sets off the comfort or binge eating cycle. Once the trigger has been identified, it’s a matter of finding ways to overcome it so that you can take control of your eating habits.
If you go down this route, you’ll need a course of therapy sessions, which can work out expensive in the long run.
Although it’s true to say that there’s no substitute for healthy eating and plenty of regular exercise, a little helping hand can only be a good thing. So if you’re struggling to stick to your New Year diet, you might like to try one or more of these ideas to help you in your quest to lose weight this year.