Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Dare to believe like Sammie and you really can achieve anything

INSPIRING can be a very over-used word but there’s no other way to describe what Sammie Axton has achieved and the way she has turned her life around. Six years ago, in her own words, Sammie was “a rather large lady” who’d tried every diet under the sun and had convinced herself that as nothing had worked she was condemned to a middle age of unhappiness. Boy was she wrong!

After losing 70 lbs and keeping it off ever since, she suddenly discovered she had a real taste for life. She took up karate to get herself fit enough to keep up with her young son Bobby – and as the weight stayed off, Sammie’s strength and ability went through the roof.

Last week she won a bronze medal in her class at the world karate championships. That’s her above in her white karate gear.

That’s an amazing achievement for a 50-year-old mum who once thought her greatest physical achievement was trying to chase her son round the park.

Sammie, from Denton in Manchester, is such an amazing lady that I asked her to describe how she felt about winning her medal.

“When we went to the trials I really was going as support for Bobby but joined in and worked hard as always. At the end when they were calling out the names for the ones who were chosen, I sat down with the parents not even thinking my name would be called.

Bobby shows off mum’s medal

“I was waiting to hear Bobby’s name called and when it was I was so proud. Then my name was called but I just sat there and thought they were calling someone else. They had to call me twice before I realised it really was me.

“I was shocked, amazed and proud. I couldn’t believe it. I got up and collected my badges and sat with my squad and my son – it was an amazing feeling.

“While we had our pictures taken all sorts of stuff was running through my head – how, why can I do this? And yes I can, I’ve trained hard I love my sport, yes I can do this.

“Never in a million years did I expect a medal – I was there to support Bobs. When I stood on that podium and accepted my medal I felt like all my hard work had paid off.

“I’m here at the world championships and this woman I’ve become is amazing and worthy. I realised my journey to completely re-invent myself wasn’t over, it’s just beginning.

“The pride for my country, for my squad, for my child, for my club and for myself was overwhelming. The opening ceremony was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

“I could never in my wildest dreams see myself at the age of 50 – a once rather large lady – walking through with all these different countries. And yet I was there, right in the middle of it all. Wow! Just wow.”

Aren’t those just the most emotional and wonderful words you’ve ever read?

 

Sammie before…

…and after

Sammie never dared to believe she could achieve this. Like so many overweight people, she couldn’t see past the limitations of the scales and her waistline.

But it IS possible to turn your life around. Sammie is living proof of what can be achieved.

What could YOU do if you saw past your self-doubt and dared to dream?  Let me know below!

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Why that ‘healthy’ baked potato is actually a sugar timebomb!

I HAVE to admit that sometimes the research papers I read really surprise me. Recently I discovered that it’s now been proved that type 2 diabetes can be reversed in as little as three weeks. Not by some new wonderdrug but by something much, much more simple: healthy eating and a little bit of exercise.

For those people who are on the verge of diabetes, the findings are even more exciting. Professor James Barnard at UCLA, who has written more than 200 studies on the relationship between lifestyle habits and chronic disease, recently wrote: “There is much we can do with a healthy lifestyle alone, no medications needed, to prevent diabetes.”

In fact, a healthy lifestyle where you consistently eat good food has proven more effective than medication in staving off diabetes.

So at the start of Diabetes Week, I delved into the research into what kinds of foods are healthiest for us. You won’t be surprised to know the answer is whole foods that are naturally rich in fibre and low in fats and sugars and haven’t been refined in a factory.

That means vegetables, whole fruits (not juices), whole grains, legumes such as peas and beans, non-fat dairy products, and lean meat such as fish and skinless chicken breast.

What will surprise you though is research I discovered that shows the amazing way common carbohydrate foods that we think are healthy contain a lot of glucose which seriously affects our blood sugar levels.

For example, how many people trying to lose weight eat a white baked potato? In fact, a baked potato is converted by the body into the equivalent of eight teaspoons of sugar!

The biggest offender is boiled basmati rice – a 150 gram serving converts into 10 teaspoons of sugar. Boiled sweetcorn converts to seven teaspoons, spaghetti converts to just under seven and a banana converts to almost six.

So what foods convert to the smallest amounts of sugar? According to Dr Aseem Malhotra in his ground-breaking book The Pioppi Diet, a raw apple converts to just over two teaspoons, a helping of frozen peas to just over one teaspoon and boiled broccoli to 0.2 teaspoons. Best of all are eggs – which don’t convert to sugar at all.

The conclusion, backed by worldwide medical research, is that eating hardly any processed carbs produces important health benefits – and also helps you to lose weight very effectively. Remember, the key to positive wellbeing is consistent healthy eating.

By the way, if you’re wondering what Pioppi means, it’s a village in Italy where the healthy lifestyle of natural, unprocessed food means people live active, disease-free lives well into their nineties. The oldest inhabitant is 107 and the community is called The Village Where People Forget To Die!

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Friday, June 8, 2018

Fish curry in coconut milk – healthy home-made ‘takeaway’

FRIDAY night is takeaway night for many of us – but unless you’re really careful, what you order can be a bit of a threat to your waistline! So this week Simon Smith, our NHS hospital superchef, has come up with a delicious alternative which is wonderfully healthy. “You can cook it in about 20 minutes and you’ll find that not only is it healthy, it leaves you feeling good, too,” he says.

“Cooking in coconut milk adds a whole new dimension to a curry and brings out the full flavour of the fish. By the way, you don’t have to have rice with a curry – there’s plenty of fresh veg in this dish and the protein in the fish will leave you feeling satisfied. Try a curry with a side salad like they do in Thailand!”

Simon is head chef at Tameside hospital in Manchester, where the staff love his Slimpod Specials.

 

Fish curry in coconut milk

Ingredients

2 tablespoons sesame seed oil

1 red onion, sliced

2 red peppers, sliced

50g mangetout

50g sugar snap peas

1 courgette, cut into batons

4 fillets of white fish

600 ml coconut milk (tinned)

3 teaspoons fish sauce

juice and rind of 2 limes

4 tbsp massaman curry paste (found in most supermarkets)

Large handful coriander leaves

Basmati rice to serve four (small helpings!)

Method

Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan.

Once hot, fry the onions for 2 minutes and then add the red pepper and cook until onions have gone slightly brown.

Add the curry paste and stir to coat the pepper and onions. Season to taste.

Add the coconut milk and stir. Add the lime juice, and fish sauce, stir well.

Place the fish fillets into the sauce flesh side down, and scatter the rest of the vegetables around the pan.

Poach the fish for 5 minutes and then turn over so that the skin is facing the pan.

Cook for a further 5 minutes or until the flesh is fully cooked – flesh becomes flaky and glistens.

Serve with fresh coriander leaves and small helpings of basmati rice – leave out the rice if you’re into no-carbs or low-carbs. Try a side salad instead.

Please let Simon know what you think of this super dish by leaving a comment below. He loves reading them all!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Another hospital changes over to healthier Slimpod Special meals!

IT’S really well documented how our NHS hospitals need to clean up their act over the food and drink they provide to patients and staff.  NHS Chief Exec Simon Stevens has issued directives to his managers to reduce sugar and focus on the health of the staff. Last year, with our help, Tameside hospital in Manchester did something radically different and started a programme to change the eating behaviour of the staff.

They had magical results and now Fairfield Hospital in Bury has become the second hospital to start the Slimpod programme.

I’m thrilled that 100 nurses and staff have joined the Slimpod family in the past week as part of my mission to make the nation healthier and happier! So a big welcome to everyone.

Many of you will know it’s long been my dream to put the Slimpod programme to work in the NHS, where its potential for helping people transform their lives is enormous.

Now, hospital by hospital, that dream is coming true.

What’s most exciting is that Fairfield is going to follow the lead set by Tameside and change the food served in its restaurant, cutting down (possibly cutting out one day) sugary snacks and desserts and providing super-healthy Slimpod Specials for lunch.

This is the real key to tackling the obesity crisis. Change the food environment and the behavioural change needed to make healthy eating a permanent habit becomes so much easier.

One thing that alarmed me when I met the lovely people at Fairfield was how many of them had been on more than one diet and had lost the same two stone over and over again. They were bigger than they’d ever been.

Coincidentally, weight loss and the NHS  was also the subject of a  fascinating debate in Slimpod Club last week which raised some crucial points.

It was prompted by a post from Stephen D, who’d watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s TV programme Britain’s Fat Fight and wrote: “It was great to see what he is doing to tackle obesity, but one thing stood out for me; it was when he was working with GPs and putting scales in the surgery to help initiate the discussions about weight.

“Firstly I’m not sure this is the answer as per the advice from Slimpod (ditch the scales), but the main thing I took issue with was GPs saying a commercial weight loss programme like Weightwatchers or Slimming World is proven to be the best way to lose weight.

“I totally disagree and don’t think this should have been stated as fact on TV. We all know these don’t work in the long term. Anyone else agree?”

Wow! The comments flooded in, almost all backing Stephen’s point of view. Here’s just a tiny selection:

Lana wrote: “Totally agree! I also think people need to recognise that being overweight is more complex then just ‘you are a stupid person who doesn’t know what to eat.’ This is where Slimpod is great, it tackles self-esteem and emphasises health rather than a number on a scale.”

Karen wrote: “The problem we have in the Western world is grazing … breakfast, snack, lunch, snack etc . Our insulin levels never have the chance to lower. I am not just doing Slimpod. I am combining it with intermittent fasting and low carb.”

Tony wrote: “My close friend has lost 2.5 stone with SW and kept it off for 3 years. She’s a success story. But for everyone like her, I know dozens more who (including myself in the past) lose, gain, return, lose, gain, return…for years.

“That’s not good, unless you work for SW or WW! So much money spent on these organisations, chasing a dream. The other objection I have to SW, is that the friend still talks about milk, for example, as healthy A and cereal as healthy B.

“For goodness sakes, they’re cereal and milk! Food!!! And as for syns…that makes me so angry. How can anyone actually have a normal healthy attitude towards food if they don’t call it by it’s real name!

“And worse, labelling stuff as full of syns. Who can fail to see negative connotations in that??? And the altered spelling is no excuse! Makes my blood boil!!”

Carol wrote: “Some doctor’s surgeries actually give free Slimming World to overweight patients. Unfortunately it doesn’t help people to change their lifestyle.”

That last point sums up the work I’m doing with the NHS. Losing weight and keeping it off is all about lifestyle change.

The lovely staff at Fairfield and Tameside are really lucky that their employers recognise the important role management has to play by creating a healthier food environment.

Do please leave a comment below as I’d love to know what everyone thinks about the great debate that Stephen has sparked off.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

How a Slimpod and exercise help lift the dark cloud over Darin

MENTAL health problems and obesity are very much linked . Depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder are common among people with obesity although it must be said that not all overweight people suffer from these issues.

However, doctors warn that the stress of being obese in a size-obsessed society can undermine the wellbeing of even the most psychologically-sound minds.

But the important thing for sufferers is that there is hope – and to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, here’s one of the most inspiring stories you’ll ever read of triumph over adversity.

In January 2010 Darin McCloud was in despair. At close on 20 stone (280lbs) he was obese and had diabetes.   He was in such a terrible place mentally and thought his only hope of losing weight and having any sort of life was to have gastric surgery.

But incredibly, he didn’t qualify for the surgery because the rules said he wasn’t fat enough.  Darin decided he would take on the health authority and that’s when his life changed. Here’s Darin’s story in his own words – and a picture of us together when he won Slimpodder of the Year to show there’s a really happy ending!

“Because of the depression I was never making any choices that could be described as right or anything other than totally selfish.

“The depression just slowly engulfed me. My life was full of self-loathing and self-pity. For decades I hated myself, I hated being me.

“I just existed, I had no life to speak of. I would just feed the depression by eating rubbish and doing no exercise. My life was get up, go to work, come home, sit in front of the telly, eat rubbish and drink a litre bottle at least of Coke Zero (like the zero made a difference).

“That was my life for many years. At some stage I realised I was suffering from depression and went to see my GP (what a disappointment that was). I was put on anti-depressants and told I could have six sessions with a counsellor.

“That was it. I just kept going back month after month and was given more tablets and no other help or advice. I felt deflated, useless, a burden to all. There was no help. I was living under a big black heavy cloud.

“When I started to try and do something to get help – whether or not it was right or wrong – whatever my thought process was then the me today does not understand it. But I didn’t know any better back then.”

Darin trying to put on weight

Darin decided to eat junk food so he could pile on even more weight and force the health authority to give him gastric surgery.

“I don’t know what the trigger was to want to get help. I investigated a lot about bariatric surgery and I pinned all my hopes of help on this, bearing in mind the help I didn’t get with my mental health issues.

“This process gave me a purpose and helped lift the depression a little. I remember speaking to my GP to reduce the tablets as I had realised they were making me worse, not better. Whilst the year I spent challenging the health authority was hard work I believed that this was a route that could save me.

“This is the crux of the matter: I wanted help to break the cycle I was in, that was why I did what I did. I just wanted help and support. As I’ve said many times I do not regret anything that happened because I found and got the help I needed through Thinking Slimmer.”

Happy Darin’s before and after pictures

Darin took part in our Slimpod programme and gradually found his eating habits improved, he started to lose weight and to his amazement he discovered he had a passion for exercise.

At first it was brisk walks, then jogging, then running – and finally he ran a 10K race before building up to the London Marathon, triathlons and a cycle ride across the island of Cuba.

Darin runs the London Marathon

He went down to 14 stone (168lbs) and his waist shrunk from 48 inches to 36 inches. Eventually he was able to come off all medication and now lives a happy and contented life which he never dreamed would be possible.

Learn more about the Slimpod Darin used

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Please join the Jamie Oliver kids junk food campaign and save lives

Jamie Oliver kids junk food Slimpod tweet

SO why did my favourite celebrity chef send me this tweet about the Jamie Oliver kids junk food campaign the other day? Because he’d like me to ask you for your support with something we’re both passionate about – unhealthy food being marketed to children.

Children are heavily influenced by what they see on TV, in advertising and on social media. Like Jamie, I believe if we can stop the junk food companies from marketing directly to impressionable young people, it will go some way to helping them change their behaviour.

That’s how we can start reversing the obesity crisis among kids, which really concerns me. The latest figures I’ve seen from the House Commons Library are that in the UK one in 10 children is obese by the age of five and one in five by the age of 11.

We’ve all got work together for their sakes to change this horrible situation. It makes me weep.

More shocking figures are contained in this report.

Here’s Jamie’s tweet to me:

 

This is not a political issue. Successive governments have failed to tackle childhood obesity and prevent millions of children from suffering what experts say are “appalling life-long consequences” from being brought up on junk food.

Jamie has launched a brilliant campaign on social media called We’ve #AdEnough Of Junk Food Marketing. He says: “Kids are bombarded day-in, day-out with adverts for food and drink products that are high in unhealthy fats, sugar and salt. They’re online, on TV, on the streets and all over public transport.

“If they are constantly being targeted with cheap, easily accessible, unhealthy junk food, just think how hard it must be to make better, healthier choices. We have to make it easier for children to make good decisions.

“It’s time we put child health first. I’m calling for the Government to introduce a 9pm watershed on junk food advertising on TV and for proper controls on what ads kids see online, in the street and on public transport.

Here’s what you can do: Show your support for the Jamie Oliver kids junk food campaign by posting an image of yourself hiding your eyes on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #AdEnough.

Make sure I see your pics by copying me in : @ThinkingSlimmer

Here’s the picture I posted of myself which led to Jamie tweeting me.

You can find out more about the great work Jamie is doing here: We #AdEnough

Please leave a comment below when you’ve posted your pic on social media. Thanks for supporting the truly worthwhile Jamie Oliver kids junk food campaign.

Let’s hope it is as successful as his sugar tax campaign.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

If you were a baby, would you feed yourself the way you do now?

healthy food relationship

MOST people dream of a healthy food relationship. So here’s something that will stop and make you think. I want you imagine yourself as a baby that needs nourishing and love. Would you feed that baby the same way you feed yourself as an adult – sweets, sugary snacks, fizzy drinks, massive meals? I don’t think so.

The key thing if you want to develop a healthy food relationship is to love and care about your body and your health as if you’re feeding a new born baby.

So you must ask yourself: what exactly does food mean to me? Do I see it as nourishment and fuel because I care about your body and health? Or do I use food to make myself feel better or as a form of reward? Just reflect on your answer for a moment and ask yourself if you really have a healthy food relationship.

After 10 years of working with overweight people it’s become clear to me they have a different relationship with food compared to those who are slim.

Most slim people regard food as a source of nutrients to fuel and nourish their bodies. Their pleasure comes from the feeling that they’re caring for their bodies by doing healthy things. Of course, slim people have times when they enjoy food and drink as a reward, but it’s not a constant emotional thing. They’re in control of their food choices.

Sadly, so many of overweight people I have a relationship with food which is far more emotionally driven by pleasure, reward, stress, comfort or boredom. Occasionally, something that happened as far back as childhood has altered the meaning of food.

Healthy food relationship – how to achieve it

Many of us associate food with love and warmth because it reminds us of family dinners with everyone around the table.  I was rewarded with chocolate and sweets if I was a good girl and did my homework.

When you’re used to having a food reward as a child, in adulthood it then becomes the thing that makes you feel better about yourself.  This can often get out of control because you’ve triggered dopamine, the pleasure hormone, and the more you get the more you want.

The great thing is that you can change and influence this. If you make poor food choices based on immediate gratification and immediate reward, you can do something about it.

One of the ladies on my Slimpod Gold programme recently told me it has really helped her to change her focus so she now looks at food only as nourishment and fuel. She says she’s no longer “mindlessly eating for Britain!” I’m so excited for her!

It’s life and bad habits that have changed things for YOU. Your brain has taken you down the road to being overweight and your brain can just as easily do a U-turn and take you down the road to being slim and a healthy food relationship.

It’s the same brain after all. To make this change of direction you only need to be in tune with your body and be able to eat in a way that gives it the nourishment it needs.

Do let me know by leaving a comment below if you identify with any of the food reward stuff or if you want a healthy food relationship.

 

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