Summer is here and demand for body-contouring treatments is on the rise. But while many of our clients are concerned about the aesthetic consequences of carrying excess weight, they sometimes forget the associated health risks, which can include heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
More than 60% of British adults are overweight or obese and the numbers are rising. However, recent research revealed that while more people than ever are overweight, the number of individuals attempting to lose weight has fallen.
It’s easy to find excuses to avoid losing weight. Therapists are in a unique position to be able to encourage individuals to change their diet and lifestyle and improve their health – especially if they come to us seeking treatment for excess body fat. We all know that machines and wraps can only do so much.
Here are five common reasons why people put off losing weight and some advice on how to help clients overcome them.
1. I’ve tried to lose weight before but I can’t
It’s not uncommon for people who struggle with their weight to feel as though they’ve tried everything. It’s worth asking which approaches your client has attempted in the past to identify whether they really have committed to a sensible diet strategy for a significant period of time.
If you feel they might not have been as committed as they believe then encourage them to keep a food diary using an app such as MyFitnessPal, as this can be an eyeopening experience.
If you believe the client has really committed to a nutritionally sound dietary approach but has failed to lose weight successfully, it’s worth recommending tests to rule out health conditions that could be preventing them from losing weight, such as an underactive thyroid, for example.
2. I’m too tired
Tiredness can make it more challenging to lose weight. Lack of sleep increases levels of ghrelin, our “hunger hormone”, and decreases levels of leptin, our “satiety hormone”. Practical advice on getting a better night’s sleep can be helpful for clients who struggle to control their eating habits due to tiredness. I recommend:
• Avoiding screens such as phones, laptops and TVs for at least one hour before bedtime. Exposure to the blue light they emit has been shown to suppress melatonin.
• Making an effort to go to bed earlier. It sounds obvious but many people overlook it; it’s easy to roll into the next Netflix episode without realising the time. Setting an alarm as a reminder that it’s time to switch off can be helpful.
• Avoiding sleep-disrupting drinks is important. While most people are well aware that drinking caffeinated drinks after a certain time can affect sleep, alcohol can also have an impact. That glass of red wine may make us feel sleepy, but ironically it can actually disrupt healthy sleep.
• Guided meditation recordings can be effective at helping to induce sleep. There are many free apps available to download and they can be played through headphones to calm the mind before sleep and help the listener drift off.
3. I don’t have time
There’s a misconception that healthy eating means spending hours slaving over a hot stove. Thankfully, due to an ever-increasing availability of healthy, ready-to-eat foods, this doesn’t have to be the case.
High-street chains offer quick and easy options for a healthy lunch. Ready-made salads, protein pots, small bags of nuts and pots of fruit are just a few examples.
Supermarkets offer a wide variety of pre-prepared vegetable options such as ready-to-roast selections and stir-fry packs. Remind clients that a piece of fish will bake in the oven in the same amount of time as a frozen pizza. Identifying healthy foods that fit into busy lifestyles can make a huge difference to the likelihood of a client sticking to a new, healthier way of life.
4. I lack willpower
Anyone would struggle to stick to a diet or lifestyle change long term if they felt deprived of everything they love. Encourage your client to be creative with food – to experiment with new healthy recipes and find ways to make old favorites that bit healthier.
When I work with clients for weight loss I often build a once-a-week treat meal into their plan. It’s important to get away from the “all or nothing” mentality of dieting. Daily enjoyment of healthier meals and the occasional treat makes losing weight a much less depressing experience and can result in greater compliance.
5. I’ll start next week
It’s easy to put off losing weight but the fact is there is rarely a perfect time to get started. Sometimes a gentle nudge from a caring practitioner can be the motivation an individual needs to take action.
Of course, it’s important to address this issue with sensitivity and in the right circumstances, and only you will know when it’s appropriate to do so. We often avoid discussing the topic of weight with patients and clients for fear of upsetting them but there are situations when offering encouragement and direction can truly change someone’s life.
If health tests and nutritional advice don’t form part of your salon or spa offer, consider referring your client to a qualified nutrition expert. A British Association of Nutritional Therapists (BANT)-registered nutritionist can provide a programme tailored to the individual’s needs, and support with integrating it into their lives to ensure long-term results.