‘Speaking from my own experience, being overweight sucks. From my mid-teens, the image I saw in the mirror every day did not represent the person I felt myself to be, undermining my self-esteem and holding me back from my full potential. I finally achieved my ideal weight four years ago and can report that it feels every bit as good as I had imagined and aged 51 I have more body confidence than I had at 21! My experience demonstrates that sustainable weight loss is possible and I’d like to help you achieve this too’, writes Dr Julia Sen.
The size of the problem
Over a third of adults in the UK are overweight and a quarter of us are obese. Whilst the body positive movement has, thankfully made body shaming socially unacceptable and encouraged us to love the skin we’re in, whatever our size, there’s no arguing with the science; being overweight is not healthy in the longterm due to the increased risks of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke. The incidence of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety also increases with BMI.
The problem with dieting
But losing weight is difficult and maintaining it even more so. It’s a grim fact that 80-95% of people who lose weight regain it. Why? Well, for many years we have been led to believe that we can throw ourselves into a period of significant calorie restriction, drop a few dress sizes and then return to our previous lifestyle, somehow effortlessly retaining our new svelte proportions. This is clearly flawed thinking but great news for the weight loss industry- currently worth roughly £2 billion in the UK alone and no wonder with so many returning customers! But perhaps the most important factor, that few people realise is that dieting actually cranks up our weight in the long term. Really.
How can dieting make us fat?
Fat releases the hormone, leptin. The part of the brain known as the hypothalamus is able to keep tabs on our fat stores by the levels of leptin in our blood. It also decides how much fat we should store in order to survive, based on genetics (so, yes, being overweight does run in families) and our environment and health. If we go on a calorie restricted diet, the hypothalamus assumes there must be a famine (why else would anyone starve themselves?). It nudges up our fat store target, mercilessly driving our appetite to regain the weight we have lost plus a bit extra for good measure.… in case of another “famine”. This is why yo-yo dieting fails to achieve lasting weight loss whilst making us hungry, miserable, irritable and ultimately fatter in the process.
Finally, some good news
Now that we have a better understanding of the the science of appetite and weight control, revolutionary new treatments in the fight against obesity are available. Liraglutide is a NICE approved treatment already being used successfully to help obese diabetic and pre-diabetic people better manage their diabetes. Mimicking the actions of Glucagon-like Peptide 1 (GLP-1) an appetite suppressing hormone produced by the small intestine and part of the brain after food is consumed, it takes the misery out of weight management. But what about long term success? This comes down to wider lifestyle modifications. Attitudes and behaviours surrounding food are often rooted in early life, for example, our habit of skipping breakfast, indulging in snacking or being a 3 square meals-a-day person may all have originated from childhood. Turning to food for comfort or as a reward can also exacerbate weight problems and it’s important to examine all of these behaviours and rebuild a healthier relationship with food. Finally but perhaps most importantly, with so much contradictory information about nutrition out there, it’s really hard to know what to believe and what you, as an individual, should eat to give your body the nourishment it needs, in a delicious way that fits in with your lifestyle and unique requirements. With this holistic approach in mind, the SEN Weight Management Programme has been developed.
The SEN Weight Management Programme
In the three decades since I qualified as a doctor, I have witnessed obesity with all of its associated morbidities grow to epidemic proportions. Public health initiatives are failing to make an impact, so it’s down to us as individuals to take control of our own health and wellbeing. That’s why, myself and three highly qualified experts, who feel similarly passionate about this issue have developed the SEN Weight Management Programme, where over a period of 12 weeks you will receive two medical consultations, 3 coaching sessions and 3 nutritional/lifestyle consultations in addition to a series of online resources to keep you motivated and supported throughout.
Support – Medical consultation with a doctor and NICE approved medication to manage your appetite, delivered to your door.
Emotional – One on one coaching sessions each month with our coaching psychologist to promote healthy behaviours around food.
Nutrition – Our Nutritionist will consult with you each month to examine how to best ensure you get all the nourishment your body needs as you lose weight, in a way that fits your appetite and lifestyle to maintain good nutrition and a healthy weight in the longterm.
Weight loss is best achieved in a controlled and steady fashion so as not to trigger the starvation response detailed above. Depending on the amount of weight you wish to lose this may require continuing Liraglutide for a longer period and we can continue to support your journey to a healthy weight beyond the 12 week programme, however, the dietary and lifestyle changes you develop will help you to maintain the results after Liraglutide has been discontinued. The SEN Weight Management Programme is not a quick fix, fad or “diet” in the conventional sense. By deciding to enrol, you are taking a decisive step to control your weight and improve your health for the rest of your life.