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Weight Loss for Health

Since the start of January, the media has been full of weight loss plans and exercise regimes. My gym, which was quiet over Christmas, was full to the brim on Monday and I struggled to park the car at 6.30am so knew I’d struggle to find a treadmill!

So are you contemplating a weight loss or new exercise plan for 2018, and if so what is your motivation?

My motivation is simple. I’m in my 50s and well aware that things can start to go wrong from now on – heart disease, stroke, diabetes are all there lurking in the background. In the Spring of last year, my brother-in-law was diagnosed with bladder cancer. It was a shock and whilst he doesn’t fit the standard profile of a bladder cancer patient as he’s healthy and fit in every way, cancer touched him. It made me question my health and well-being and I decided I wasn’t doing myself any favours by being both overweight and not doing any regular exercise. In fact, when I look back I’d become not only unhealthy but quite miserable too. Clothes didn’t fit me properly, I felt lethargic, I was drinking too much and felt generally low.

Two photos taken in Gran Canaria – the one on the left in November 2016 & the one on the right November 2017

So I decided to do something about it. I didn’t make a big deal about it as I was concerned that if I shouted from the rooftops about what I was doing I might just fail and that would be embarrassing. I met with a personal trainer at my gym and told him I wanted to lose at least 2 stone, and I wanted to get back to my running, something I’d put on hold due to constant injury and excruciating pain in my knees. He told me that this was all possible, but that I needed to make a minimum commitment of 3 months, follow his advice and guidance, which meant recording EVERYTHING I ate and drank, and do some exercise at least 3 times a week. Oh yes, and the important weigh-in every Monday morning at 7am on his scales! Knowing it wasn’t going to be easy but wanting to make changes, I committed to the plan and my journey started on 18 July 2017.

I have completed my food and drink intake every day from the beginning in my app (even on days when I’ve eaten way too much and eaten the wrong things as there’s no point in kidding yourself you’ve not had a bad day). To be honest it’s now part of what I do everyday and isn’t onerous at all. I’m used to it. In fact I quite enjoy doing it. It also allows me to plan my day, particularly if I know, for example, I’m going out for a meal.

I’ve also exercised regularly – perhaps a little too much at times. But I’ve discovered a Core class at my gym which I love, and a Glute class which has helped my running no end! I go to gym classes 3 mornings a week and run 3 days a week. I’m running faster than ever before and I have loads of energy, despite having been on a calorie deficit for 171 days! And I truly believe it’s because I’m eating the right foods. A high protein diet rich in fresh vet, low carbs and some fat. I’ve pretty much cut out refined sugar and whilst I had been drinking a little, I’m now not drinking at all. Oh and I drink lots of water too (with the occasional latte which is always noted in my app).

The one thing I’ve struggled with is sleep! So, ‘New Year New Me’ is attempting to get into bed at 9pm, read and then lights out no later than 9.45pm so I’m able to get up at 5.30am more easily. Better sleep is also know to help stress levels – see below!

I also recently did a blood test to assess the effect of what’s going on inside my body since I’ve taken control of my food and exercise. The results came back yesterday and I am delighted that my body is in pretty good shape on the inside – controlled cholesterol, low risk of heart disease and no sign of diabetes. I have a bit of work to do on my cortisol (stress) but overall healthy for my age.

I’ve lost 2 stone and 2lbs in total and would like to lose another 6-7lbs. I can honestly say I’ve never felt better and only wish I’d taken control sooner.

We all owe it to ourselves to stay as fit and healthy as we can not only for ourselves, but for our nearest and dearest. There are so many health issues associated with being overweight that are mostly preventable from heart disease, to diabetes and high cholesterol to some cancers.

So if you’re thinking you’d like to lose weight and improve your health, remember it’s only you that’s stopping that from happening. Good luck in whatever way you decide to improve your health.

If you’ve lost weight, for whatever reason, tell us about it below. The more positive stories we share the better.

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Is porridge better for health than statins?

A study conducted by Chris Seal, Professor of Food and Human Nutrition at Newcastle University, has stated that the incredible health benefits of porridge outweigh those gained by taking daily cholesterol-lowering medication.

“Porridge is known to have many health benefits; it’s low in fat, high in fibre, low in sugar, and contains minerals and B vitamins. But the thing that gives porridge’s benefits the edge is its high beta glucan content. Beta glucan is a soluble fibre that forms a thick gel in the stomach, reducing appetite after eating, while lowering the absorption of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol. Prof. Seal says that, according to studies, eating 3g of beta glucan a day, roughly equivalent to the amount found in a 70g bowl of porridge, can reduce levels of LDL cholesterol by approximately 7%.”

To read the full myth busting story, please find the article here.

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Health Benefits of Walking

Greek physician, Hippocrates said: “Walking is a man’s best medicine,” and over 2000 years of medical and scientific research later his statement still holds pretty strong! Even celebrities like Brooke Shields, Katherine Heigl and Bethanny Frankel enjoy a good stroll and there are some amazing health benefits to stretching our legs.

According to researchers at the University of Cambridge, just two and a half hours of walking each week cuts your risk of premature death by a third! Sounds easy, right?! Shockingly, however, the Public Health England (PHE) has found that four out of ten middle-aged adults don’t manage a single ten-minute walk in a MONTH!

As it’s Walk to School month, why not ditch the car and enjoy an Autumnal stroll on the school run? Here are just some of the reasons you might feel better for it:

1. Improves your mood

Yep, that’s right, aside from providing a literal breath of fresh air a quick walk can help you feel happier! It may take a strong coffee in the morning to get you in the right mindset for the day, however, walking provides a zero-calorie way to boost your mood. Research suggests that regular walking modifies your nervous system so that you’ll experience a decrease in anger and anxiety. What’s more, when you make your walks social and go with a friend or family member. The interaction makes you feel connected to another person, which boosts your mood even further (we recommend leaving your phone at home!). Finally, walking outdoors exposes you to natural sunlight, which staves off Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression affecting people during winter time!

2. Walking fights dementia

Researchers in Canada monitored the lifestyles of a few adults who were at a higher risk of developing dementia for six months. Those who regularly took brisk strolls outside for 2-3 hours per week displayed heightened levels of brain function after the study was finished. This suggests that walking can improve your brain function!

3. It cuts cancer

A recent study of individuals who suffered from breast or bowel cancer suggested that walking can reduce the symptoms. Participants who regularly went on brisk walks were half as likely to pass away from their illness as those who didn’t exercise at all. Those who regularly walked were also less likely to see their disease progress to the next stage – we like those odds, don’t you?

4. Your clothes fit better

This one may seem obvious, but it’s of huge benefit to your overall health, so it’s well worth mentioning. Regular walking tones your muscles and improves your body’s response to insulin, which can help reduce belly fat. And, daily walking increases metabolism by burning extra calories and preventing muscle loss, particularly important as we get older.

5. It helps your heart

Walking is great for your heart, particularly due to it getting blood pumping around the body without putting undue strain on your cardiovascular system. Regular walking reduces the likelihood of nasty cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, heart failure, and heart disease, and the Stroke Association tell us that a 30-minute stroll can keep your blood pressure under control, reducing the risk of suffering a stroke by up to 27%.

6. You’ll feel less ‘backed up’

Regular walks can help the digestive process and reduce the symptoms of constipation! Not the most glamorous of benefits, but something worth noting! If you suffer from constipation, you are probably all too familiar with that heavy, “backed up” feeling that leaves you feeling bloated and sluggish. If this is the case, get ready to start thanking your morning walk for putting you back on the straight and narrow! A regular walking routine greatly improves gastric mobility and gets your digestive system moving along nicely.

These are just a few of the many benefits of taking regular walks, so put those shoes on, open the door and start the journey to your new healthy habit! You can thank us later!

Dr Seth Rankin is founder of London Doctors Clinic

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