W8less

W8less Week 6: Stay Connected

The final week of the W8less 40-Day Challenge is here and the focus now changes to get connected to those around and keeping those connections going in order to help you on your journey going forward. Kate Troup, founder of W8less, has answered some questions around why connections are so important in maintaining your general health and wellbeing.

Connection isn’t something you normally associate with weight loss or wellbeing programs. Why is this a W8less ‘brick’?

How connected you are to other people might not be something to which you give much thought but it’s every bit as important as every other Foundation Brick in the W8less Challenge. Even if you eat well, stay active and get great sleep, if you’re disconnected from other people or socially isolated, your health will suffer. In fact, loneliness is as risky to your health as smoking and twice as bad as obesity!

Loneliness literally breaks your heart. It causes the production of inflammatory chemicals and stress hormones which cause damage and lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression. Connecting with someone makes your heart sing and floods your body with chemicals that encourage health. Without it, cells get old faster and your health suffers.

What exactly does connection mean?

A lack of connection, or loneliness, occurs when there are unfulfilled intimate and social needs. An example of this is an elderly person in a retirement home. They will be surrounded by people, so not experiencing social isolation, but if they haven’t made friends and aren’t visited by family, they are likely to be very lonely.

Loneliness can affect you at any age or at any time. The naturally introverted won’t need as much connection as the naturally extroverted will, but we all need to feel connected to someone. This doesn’t necessarily mean knowing lots of people or having hundreds of connections on social media. Connection is feeling that you are a part of someone’s being, or perhaps that their happiness and wellbeing is connected to yours. This means that it’s possible to feel lonely or disconnected even when you’re surrounded by people.

What can you do to feel more connected?

  1. Nurture real life relationships: It’s much more difficult to have a real connection with our online and social media friends. Making time for face to face meetings allows us to communicate completely with another human being.
  2. Be more physically intimate: Physical intimacy stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin which makes us feel connected to the recipient of our embrace. Oxytocin influences the production of our reward driving neurotransmitter dopamine, so it’s possible that when you crave chocolate or chips, what your brain is really asking for is physical touch. This hormonal response is triggered in our pets too, so don’t forget to hug them and make both of you feel good.
  3. Be present: Turn off the TV or stop reading the paper when you’re with other people. Engaging with someone either through touch or conversation, connects you to them. This opportunity is lost if your mind is elsewhere.
  4. Feel loving: Fascinating research is being conducted on the subject of heart rates and how we influence people around us. Studies have shown that people in close proximity, such as couples sleeping, a mother and her infant, or individuals in the same mood, develop the same heart rate. Focusing on feeling calm and loving towards the people around you, helps them to feel calm and loving towards you.
  5. Don’t give up: It’s easy to become disconnected with our hectic lives and the ever increasing number of electronic ways to shut ourselves off. Ask yourself how connected you feel and if the answer isn’t very positive then start working on it now.
July 8, 2014

W8less Week 5: Get More Sleep

Leading up to the end of the W8less 40-Day Challenge, the focus is now firmly on getting enough sleep for your body. Kate Troup, founder of W8less, has answered why the amount of restful sleep you get is so important in maintaining your general health and wellbeing.

How is sleep linked to weight loss and wellbeing?

Sleep is so commonly overlooked but it’s critical for long term weight loss success. If you’re constantly tired, you will find it much harder to lose weight and stay healthy. Sleep is the time for the human brain and body to regulate and recharge itself. This is the time during which certain chemicals are released (some are only released while sleeping) and others are suppressed, working to keep the body in a state of balance or “homeostasis”. Inadequate sleep leads to chemical and hormonal imbalances which can cause a myriad of problems, including working against your efforts to lose weight.

In fact, a lack of sleep can be the cause of weight gain. German research showed that after just 4 nights of sleep deprivation, due to the effect on appetite hormones, otherwise healthy women ate 20% more food than when they slept for 8 hours and as a result gained an average of 0.4kg.

How do I know if I have sleep problems?

The occasional period of insomnia is pretty normal and should be interpreted as your body’s way of telling you that it’s stressed. But if you regularly struggle to fall asleep, wake during the night or feel like you could do with another 8 hours when you wake up in the morning, then your sleep is not good enough and you are probably in a state of constant sleep deprivation.

What effect does sleep deprivation have on you?

Poor sleep will:

  • Make you hungry
  • Less satisfied by the food that you eat
  • Much more likely to store food as fat

Why do you think sleep problems are becoming so common?

Stress and poor food choices do play role but I think believe that main cause of the effect of light on our brain’s hormonal response. Your brain has evolved to use the cue of light during the day and darkness at night to regulate your sleep – or circadian – patterns. In the same way that feeling hungry is the cue to eat something, the absence of light is the cue that it is time to sleep.

The screens of laptops, televisions, tablets and smart phones all emit a frequency of light which is blue. This is particularly disruptive to your brain because the sky also emits blue light (which is of course why we see it as blue).

At night-time, when the light is meant to have disappeared so that your body knows that it’s time to go to sleep, the blue light from screens convinces your brain that it is still in fact daytime and it should stay awake. This reduces both the quality and duration of sleep. In fact, many people suffer from something which is akin to chronic jetlag where the body’s diurnal pattern is constantly out of balance.

This effect is so significant that researchers are trialling blue light in cars to reduce driver fatigue at night time. One study found that having a bright blue light inside a car at night was as effective as taking caffeine tablets which were the equivalent of 4 espresso coffees.

How can we minimise the effect of light on our sleep?

  1. Turn off all screens at night time especially after 9pm.
  2. Dim the lights around you at night time
  3. Never check your phone or turn on lights if you wake during the night
  4. Use a non-backlit reading device
  5. Get adequate sunlight during the day
June 30, 2014

W8less Week 3: Control Stress Levels

In the third week of the W8less 40-Day Challenge, the focus has now switched to stress. Why? so many of us live with high levels and stress as though it’s normal, but Kate Troup, founder of W8less, has answered why it’s not and how it could be affecting your health and wellbeing.

What is the ‘brick’ this week?

It’s a big one this week: stress management! Stress is a normal and beneficial reaction to the world around you and you do need some to motivate and protect you. Problems arise though when stress levels become too high for too long. Over time, your stress response can become “locked” on and it becomes so chronic, you stop noticing the effects of it.

How does stress affect your weight?

Stress triggers the release of a hormone called cortisol which, over time, leads to problems with blood sugar levels and insulin response. This eventually leads to the deposition of weight around your belly. In the industry we call it a “cortisol roll”. Repeated dieting, or yo-yo dieting, is very stressful to your body and it can have a permanent effect on your cortisol levels, making it harder and harder to lose weight each time you try. This is why it’s so important to work with your body to lose weight and not force it through drastic measures. Also stress often makes you want to eat comfort foods like chocolate or crunchy, salty foods like chips, which aren’t ideal for weight control.

What can people do to reduce their stress?

I think it’s important to realise that even though you might think that you can’t reduce the stress in your life, after all there will always be bills to pay and traffic jams, you can completely change how you respond to it. This week on W8less, there’s an exercise where you write down every single thing that makes you feel stressed over a couple of days. That list is then split into two: things you can change and things that you can’t. You need to change the things that are within your power but those that aren’t, you need to change your response to. It sounds simple but it is incredibly powerful. Most people find that they are wasting a lot of energy on things which they can’t change instead of focusing on those which they can do something about.

Meditation really helps slow down your stress response which is why it’s an integral part of W8less. Starting your day as calmly as possible has a flow through effect on the rest of it.

June 19, 2014

Coconut Crusted Chicken With Almond Satay Sauce

Here at the SHE‘SAID’ headquarters, we are taking part in the W8less 40-Day Challenge and feeling the amazing results – thanks to the unveiling of the ‘bricks’ and delicious meal plans. So we thought we’d share just one of the many fabulous, quick and easy dinner recipes for everyone to enjoy.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 medium chicken breasts

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1 tsp Chinese five spice

1 egg, beaten

Coconut oil

1 tbs red curry sauce

3 tbs almond butter

1/2 cup of coconut cream

Method

  1. Lightly pound chicken breasts with a rolling pin until they are a uniform thickness and then cut into strips.
  2. Stir together the dry ingredients. Dip each chicken strip in the beaten egg and then coat in the coconut mix.
  3. Place coated chicken strips in fridge for 10 minutes (this helps the coating stick to the chicken).
  4. Heat pan and coconut oil. Cook chicken strips for 5-6 minutes on each side.
  5. Satay sauce: Stir together almond butter, red curry paste and coconut cream over a low heat until completely mixed.
  6. Serve with mixed green salad.

Recipe and image via W8less

June 13, 2014

W8less Week 2: Activity Before Exercise

In the second week of the W8less 40-Day Challenge, the focus has now switched to getting moving. Why? Because the majority of us just do not do enough of it! Kate Troup, founder of W8less, has answered the questions as to why this ‘brick’ is so important.

Why does the second week focus on activity over exercise?

Three-quarters of Australians don’t do the recommended amount of exercise as it is, despite everyone knowing that they should do more. Even those people who do exercise regularly are often guilty of being “active couch potatoes” which means that they are largely sedentary apart from the few hours that they hit the gym or Pilates studio. Sitting down all day or being a “professional sitter” as we call them, carries significant health risks, which are independent of how much structured exercise someone does. This means that you can’t undo the damage done from a day sitting in front of your computer by running home, for example.

What do you mean by activity?

Activity includes pretty much anything which means you’re not sitting down so even standing is fantastic. Walking, taking the stairs, doing some yoga, stretching, skipping, jumping up and down, whatever gets you up and out of your chair. You should aim to be active for a few minutes every 30 minutes.

When should we start to introduce more vigorous exercise?

You’ll know when it’s time to up your exercise because you will feel as if you have to! Forcing your body to exercise before you have got your foundation in place will often just lead to fatigue, hunger or injury. Your body turns food into energy and once your metabolism is working efficiently, this energy will no longer get stored on your body as fat, so you will literally have “energy to burn”.  When someone tells me that they want to exercise, instead of having to force themselves, I know that we’re on the right track.

June 12, 2014

Why Being W8less Works

On the launch day of this session’s W8less 40-Day Challenge, Kate Troup lets us in on the what W8less is and why achieving optimum wellbeing is really at the core of weight loss and maintaining your ideal size.

What exactly is the W8less 40-Day Challenge and how does it work?

The underlying principle of W8less is that there are 6 essential requirements – or “Bricks” that need to be in place to create the foundation on which optimum health and weight loss can be achieved. Each week, you focus on one of the W8less Bricks, challenging yourself to introduce it and gradually building your foundation.

Can anyone participate?

Yes, they can but the meal plan does contain meat so it isn’t suitable for vegetarians or vegans. Many people join W8less just to lose weight but discover that they resolve many other health problems as well.

Why is it different to other programs?

W8less is wholistic which means that the focus is on you as a whole person and bringing you back into balance to naturally achieve results rather than forcing them through over exercise or semi-starvation. W8less doesn’t just focus on single elements such as giving up sugar or joining a boot camp, but instead gives equal footing to elements such as sleep, stress management and connection. Diet and exercise are important but they are only a part of the puzzle. Chronic stress, poor sleep, social isolation and being sedentary are all significant contributors to weight and health issues.

How do participants benefit from having a new focus each week?

We introduce a new Brick each week so that participants have time to integrate it into their lives. Trying to make too many changes at once usually means that you don’t make any at all! It’s also a good way to get a feel for what works best for your body. If you do everything at once, you can’t tell what’s having the biggest impact and where to concentrate your efforts.

What is your hope for the participants at the end of the challenge?

By the end of the challenge, I hope that participants have a new appreciation for just how amazing they can feel and that weight loss needn’t be difficult.

Where can readers find more information?

You can read more about the W8less program here.

June 2, 2014