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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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Fat around the middle – the surprising cause and the simple cures

How stress causes fat around the middle

HAVE you got fat around the middle that’s been there for years and just won’t shift?

Maybe you’ve been on countless diets and lost weight in various other parts of the body but the tummy fat won’t go. Here’s what you need to know: Getting rid of the fat around your middle is not simply about your diet or lack of exercise. It’s much more to do with the stress hormones in your body, especially cortisol.

So as it’s Stress Awareness Week in the UK I thought I’d explain why this is. Because once you understand the cause of fat around the middle, it’s much easier to do something about it.

When your brain thinks your life’s under threat it becomes stressed and releases the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. This fight or flight survival mechanism dates back to caveman days.

The hormones released instantly create a number of physical changes. Your heart beats faster, you breathe faster, and your entire body becomes tense and ready to take action. Fight or flight is clever and very, very efficient and it provides everything your body needs to react to the stress of dangerous situations.

Once the danger’s out of the way the adrenal glands stop pumping out hormones and your body returns to normal. The problem with modern life is that many of us live under constant stress – it comes from deadlines, traffic jams, managing homes, children and elderly parents.

The effects of stress on the body

The body can’t distinguish between day-to-day stress and exceptional life-threatening stress so it reacts in exactly the same way it’s always done, which is fight or flight.

Let’s look at what happens when you’re stressed. The adrenaline helps you to be alert and focused while cortisol increases the levels of fat and sugar in the blood stream to form glucose, which provides instant energy.

However unless you do something physical, which is what your body is programmed to expect, then all that extra glucose has nowhere to go. It simply becomes fat which is stored round your middle so it’s close to your vital organs, such as the liver, for the next time it’s needed.

Fat around the middle – the refuelling problem

After a stressful event adrenaline levels return to normal and the body becomes calm. But the level of cortisol often remains higher, maybe for a few days, because your brain thinks you should refuel your body. So cortisol increases your appetite.

Now you can see why people who are under constant stress often feel hungry all the time. The body is getting them to stock up on the fuel it thinks could be needed again.

What’s most useful to it is carbohydrate and fat.  And those are the last things you need to consume if you’re trying to lose weight. In the modern world, when we spend so much time sitting at desks, in cars or in front of the TV, refuelling just isn’t necessary.

Now you know what’s going on, the question is: what can you do about it?

Find time each day to relax. Just 10 minutes of “me time” can make a big difference. If you’re on my Slimpod Gold programme, make full use of the Chillpod download which has undergone clinical trials and is unlike any other relaxation download.

The other thing you can do is exercise. This is proven to release feelgood hormones that counter stress.

Get moving to manage stress

Leave a comment below and tell me how stress affects you and what you’re going to do to relax more.

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

How you lose body fat – the answer is C55H104O6+78O2→55CO2+52H2O

ONE of the trickiest questions I’m asked is this: “When somebody loses weight, where does all the fat go?” You know what – I wasn’t too sure myself the first time this cropped up. Luckily, I spend a lot of time studying research papers from around the world so thanks to an article in the British Medical Journal I was able to give a definitive answer. And you might be very surprised when you discover what that answer is.

Almost all the fat we lose is breathed out through our lungs as carbon dioxide. The rest is lost through sweat and urine.

I’m indebted to Dr Ruben Meerman and Dr Andrew Brown from the University of New South Wales in Australia for solving this important mystery – even if they did have to come up with this as their answer C55H104O6+78O2→55CO2+52H2O+energy 🙂

Once you understand the link between breathing and losing weight, you see life in a very different light.

How you lose body fat

Here’s the simple science: Every carb you eat, most of the protein and nearly all the fats are converted into carbon dioxide and water. If you don’t get rid of it all, you put on weight.

Now for the maths: The average person consumes almost 8lbs of food and drink a day (3.5kg) and breathes in about 21 ounces (600g) of oxygen.

So if less than 9lbs comes out (that’s 4kg) you’re going to put on weight.

How can you make sure that more comes out than goes in? Sadly, it’s not as simple as eat less and breathe out more. And no pills and potions will help either.

Of course, you’ve got to make sure you eat good, healthy food. That’s a given.

But just as important you need to increase the amount of carbon dioxide you’re breathing out – and the only effective way you can do that is to raise your metabolism by moving your muscles more.

Going for a walk triples your metabolic rate, and (sadly) so will Hoovering and sweeping. Even standing up can double your metabolic rate.

Read the BMJ research findings in full

How you lose body fat

Eating less obviously helps but consider these basic facts: We have to eat to survive and our daily intake has to be burned up. Metabolising 3.5 ounces (3.5oz) of fat intake uses 10 ounces (290g) of oxygen and produces 9.8 ounces (280g) of carbon dioxide plus 3.8 ounces (110g) of water.

Now let’s look at weight loss: To lose 3.5 ounces (100g) of fat a day, you have to exhale 9.8 ounces (280g) of carbon dioxide IN ADDITION to what you’ll breathe out while metabolising your daily food intake.

So you can see you’ve got to double your output of carbon dioxide every day to lose weight. One bit of good news is that we breathe out 7 ounces (200g) of carbon dioxide while we’re asleep at night, so that’s a quarter of your daily target gone before you get up.

But during the day, you’ve got to make sure you make healthier food choices (which is what a Slimpod is designed to do) and then be more active to lose weight. It’s why I swim, work out, play tennis or walk my dogs every morning and it’s why I’m a size 10 after having three children.

I’m luckier than most, I suppose – I’m my own boss so I can decide when I want to exercise and when I want to sit at my desk. But everyone can decide to stand up and walk around the office for a few minutes every hour.

Everyone can decide to talk a walk in their lunch break. Everyone can decide to walk up stairs and not take the lift. And everyone can decide to get moving more before or after work and at weekends.

What can YOU do to move more every day? Let me know by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading them all – and I know they will inspire others.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Are your beliefs about yourself sabotaging your weight loss?

THERE are many reasons why people find it hard to stick with healthy eating and good lifestyle habits – and more often than not the biggest problem is what’s going on inside their mind. We all know how powerful the mind is and the stories you tell yourself and the things you believe about yourself can really have a massive impact on your life, both positive and negative.

There is a direct link between our beliefs and our behaviour and of course this includes the way we behave towards food too. If you believe you CAN lose weight your actions every day will reflect those beliefs.

And likewise if you’ve given up believing losing weight is possible, you’ll behave very differently.  This can mean you don’t care any more because you’re resigned to being fat all your life and there’s no motivation.

It can also mean you do care but you are full of fear and anxiety about yet another failure, so your heart isn’t in it.  I come across a lot of people who are full of fear and find it much easier to believe they can’t lose weight and this then becomes a subconscious protection tool so that they don’t get disappointed.

Dr Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University in America, is famous for her research on two different types of mindset, the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.

Here’s a really cute video that explains her research in nice simple terms:

The big thing about Carol’s research is that it talks about the connection between what you believe and how that then translates to what you do.

For example, if you believe things about yourself like “I can’t lose weight” or “It’s hard for me to lose weight because I’ve got a disability” or “I’ve got no willpower” – that’s the fixed mindset.

It means you’ll avoid doing things where you might feel like a failure and as a result you prefer to stop the healthy eating regime, and this will inevitably mean you self sabotage.  On the other hand, someone with a growth mindset tends to overcome challenges rather than avoid them and learn from comments and criticism, seeing them as inspirational and even motivational.

One of the limiting things about having a fixed mindset is it causes you to avoid experiences where you might feel like a failure. As a result you have a reluctance to learn and you avoid personal development because it’s too much of a risk.

I notice fixed mindsets nearly every day with people I serve. In so many cases they’ve come to Slimpod when everything else has failed.  They’ve been on 20 or 30 diets and have just given up believing it’s possible to change. They may not even have been that type of person before they started dieting.

So what can be done about this?  How can you change the things you believe about yourself?  How can you kick out the fixed mindset and achieve your goals?

How small daily actions can change your beliefs

Once you’ve identified that you have a fixed mindset and you would like to change the things you believe about yourself, the most important thing is to do something about it and take some action.

You can change your self-limiting beliefs by thinking of yourself as the person you’d like to become and getting there with small actions repeated every day.

When you enjoy the process of getting to the goal, this begins to change the way you think of yourself and will also start the process of changing your perception of yourself at an  identity level.

This is crucial because it’s at the identity level that real change happens.  If you want to lose three dress sizes and become a UK size 12, you MUST believe you can do it and then start becoming the person who IS the size 12.

This will help you to not only believe it’s possible but behave like a size 12 person.  It totally shifts your mindset.

The way of achieving this is to start with small steps.  You definitely need the goal in mind but that big hairy goal is not going to be achieved tomorrow so you can put it to the back of your mind right now.

The important thing is to start with the small steps and enjoy the process.  The process will then become a habit and you’ll gain loads of confidence along the way because you’ll start seeing results and begin to believe you CAN DO IT!

You’ll start to think of yourself as someone who CAN lose weight. So let’s break this down into small chunks, too:

  1. Set the big goal/intention.
  2. Set yourself a small action each day – this can be to eat protein three times a day, or reduce your full fat sugary lattes from three cups to one cup. Or plan your lunch and dinner in advance so you’re not grabbing the processed convenience junk. Or do a Hiit session three times a week.  Then DO THIS EVERY DAY!
  3. The thing that will make a difference is your dedication to the daily practice of your small action.  This will change everything because the process will help you form different beliefs about who you are. It will help you become a person who believes they CAN DO.

Too many people think that the result will define who they are. “If I’m a size 12 it will transform my life and make me happy.” But this is not the case.

It’s your daily behaviour and actions that will change what you believe about yourself and the size 12 person you become. It’s all about focusing on the everyday process of eating healthily rather than constantly worrying about the number on the scale.

Are you a person with a fixed mindset and if so, what small daily actions can you perform to start changing your beliefs?  Do let me know in the comments below –  I look forward to hearing from you!

There are quite a few videos of Carol Dweck on YouTube, by the way. Take a look for yourself:

If you want to delve deeper into Carol’s work, she has a fascinating book which I often dip into called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. You’ll find it on Amazon.


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