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Diet and Fitness

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Dr Hilary Jones on losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle midlife

Interview by Ceri Wheeldon

There has been a lot of negative press recently about dieting, culminating in a ‘Ditching Dieting’ campaign and a protest outside the Houses of Parliament.

While I agree that there should be no pressure on women to diet from the perspective of how they look, I think women of any shape or size can look and feel great, but I am worried about the concept of ditching all diets. Why? Because I think it doesn’t emphasise sufficiently healthy, balanced eating for healthy lifestyles.

Dr Hilary Jones on achieving and maintaining a healthy weight:

I asked Dr Hilary Jones to share his thoughts on the subject , and this is what he had to say:

Personally I don’t like the word diet as it has negative connotations. I think it’s important for women not to be influenced by fashion and glamour and unrealistic images of stick thin models. I think women can look  stunning at a normal weight maintained by healthy eating.

Having said that, they shouldn’t ditch the idea of losing weight if they are obese, chronically obese or even morbidly obese.  Women falling outside of a healthy BMI range of 20-25 should address their weight. Research tells us that obesity can cause problems with confidence, self esteem, and even social stigma. Worryingly from a health perspective obesity can lead to diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and skin problems.

Of course weight is only one factor – smoking can cause more damage than weight gain, other factors include genetics and cholesterol levels.

Obesity can reduce life expectancy by 10 years

People who are chronically obese can have their life expectancy reduced by 10 years in duration, to say nothing of the quality of life and how this is affected by being overweight. If you maintain a natural, healthy weight you benefit by having more energy, sleeping better,  have a better social life and are free of the constraints of worrying about weight, diet books, TV programmes. Later in life you don’t want to have to spend more time in doctors surgeries dealing with problems obesity can cause!

Don’t use food as a prop

The key thing is to have a healthy attitude towards food and exercise. You need to understand what causes you to overeat – are you comfort eating because you’re bored or in an unhealthy relationship?  Perhaps you have work issues. If you resolve the reason for over-eating then you can start to see food as fuel rather than a prop.

There are lots of delicious low GI , high fibre foods which will provide the nutrition you need – you just need the right mindset. It’s not easy to switch mindsets and change the habits of a lifetime, but to make a difference you have to want to change. The first thing to do is seek help- some family doctors are sympathetic especially if you have tried to diet and failed to lose weight.

If you feel your GP doesn’t have the time to counsel you through your weight loss, then look to the weight loss industry. Some companies are more reputable than others. I believe you can achieve more success with companies who offer diet, exercise and psychological support, for both losing the weight and maintaining your weight loss afterwards. For instance, people participating in the Lighter Life programme (which I often recommend)  lost 55,000 stone last year,  its one option for those with a stone or more to lose.

For those who do maintain a healthy weight, they enjoy the benefits of more energy and a sense of wellbeing and a better quality of life now and in later years.

Tackling obesity should be about health and quality of life, not appearance.


Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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  1. Caitlin Haley/FolkHeart Press

    January 25, 2012

    This was a great article. There are so many women out there who literally “give up” on losing weight because they already weigh “too much” or are wary of the word “diet”. However I thought that you made a good point that it’s not about being at an ideal weight or being on a diet, it’s about being healthy and feeling good about yourself.

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