LighterLife hands the reins to Dr Jones for a live Twitter Q&A.
The LighterLife Twitter profile played host to health expert Dr Hilary Jones last Wednesday so he could answer your general questions around leading a lighter life.
Please bear in mind that some of the questions received relate to the LighterLife programme, and the answers Dr Hilary has given are his opinion as a GP and not necessarily reflective of the LighterLife programme.
Where relevant we have included additional advice applicable to when you are asking about the programme.
Why do I constantly feel tired all the time and have no energy?
Weight loss is draining on the body as you’re cutting your energy intake and forcing your body to start mobilising stored fat. Aerobic exercise will energise you by producing hormones like adrenaline and you’re weight loss should accelerate.
Once you have finished using shakes, what are the dietary principles you must follow to sustain weight loss?
To balance the calories you consume with the calories you burn. To restrict carbohydrates and to get used to smaller portions. To address any psychological issues which have sabotaged your weight-loss ambitions in the past.
I’m a lacto vegan and really struggle with balancing my diet so end up eating too many carbs! I do use soya products but get bored, any suggestions?
A lacto vegan diet is restrictive but just take a look at the variety of vegetables and fruits in any of the major supermarkets. Exploring different dressings and additives such as spices, seeds, dried fruits and sultanas can really sex up the salad or a bowl of fruit and some of the soya creams you can buy these days can make a fruit cocktail a little more special.
I suffer from epilepsy and regularly have fits. My Doctor will not put me on a slimming plan, what can I do to lose weight?
DHJ: Interestingly, ketogenic diets have been used specifically for the control of epileptic seizures. These diets force your body to burn stored fat by being very low in calories, so theoretically the LighterLife VLCD might even help you. Ask to be referred to your NHS dietician for further advice in your individual case.
LL: Unfortunately anybody with a history of epilepsy, seizures or convulsions is unable to participate on any of the LighterLife programmes.
Is it normal to bruise easy when dieting?
It shouldn’t affect it unless you have lost a lot of fat under your skin exposing more veins to potential damage. Vitamin K deficiency, which effects blood clotting. See your Doctor to rule out your problems not related with your weight-loss.
My little girls rocks and hits herself. Doctors say there is nothing wrong with her but I’m worried she’s going to really hurt herself.
This behaviour is similar to head banging which is often a sign of frustration in two to three year olds. It may be stress related and usually children grow out of it. If her development and behaviour is otherwise normal then don’t worry.
Do many LighterLifers manage to keep their weight off permanently?
Yes, in my experience people who benefit from the LighterLife programme are more likely to maintain their weight-loss long term, much more than if they were on other programmes. LighterLife believe that the maintenance programme and the life-long commitment is more important than anything else.
I heard that weight training can help firm skin and muscles but I’m worried that muscle weighs more than fat and the scales will reflect this. What are your thoughts?
Muscle is more dense than fat so weighs more but doesn’t take up so much volume. It makes saggy skin look better and gives your body shape so you might weigh more but you will look better. Isn’t that more important?
How do you recommend people keep up their motivation to lose weight?
Constant reminders of how you looked and felt before you lost weight. Remembering the compliments since you did. Thinking about a healthier future with more confidence, more energy, better sleep quality and more freedom generally. Enough?
I had an operation in December last year – one of my nasal passages was deformed and it was widened during the op to help me breathe. They gave me a prescription for antidepressants but I’d rather not take antidepressants at all if it can I help it. Do you have any other advice?
At the dose you’re taking it, this medication has no significant antidepressant effect, just a nerve calming action. Alternatives include medicines such as Tegretol or Gabapentin but these too may have side effects. Talk through the options with your GP.
According to NICE guidelines it is only safe to follow a VLCD for 12 weeks, is this correct?
It depends on how many calories you are talking about and whether your intake contains all necessary nutritional requirements. Remember that guidelines are only guidelines and do not cater for individuals and their individual circumstances.
I’ve kept my weight-loss for two years, but it is a constant battle. I’m scared to relax – is this what it’s like being slim?
No it shouldn’t be, you’re craving needs to be replaced with something which satisfies you and makes you happy. It’s unlikely to be food that you need. Talk to your counsellor to identify and address the problem.
I am training for a marathon, my big runs go well at the weekend but during the week I get so tired and find it hard to stay motivated. Sometimes the runs just aren’t enjoyable. Any tips or tricks to help me perk up?
Try alternating early morning runs with evening runs, run with a friend or choose different routes. Play uplifting music and cycle instead of run sometimes to prevent boredom.
When you plateau, is it because the body gets used to the exercise regime? Do you need to change it regularly?
Yes, you need to ‘shock’ your body with a change of exercise otherwise it adapts and it becomes too easy. A sudden burst of different high intensity exercise will do the trick but make you ache.
Am I able to go to my doctors and request a gastric band? I’m 19 stone 8Ibs and have been dieting for 2 months. I’ve lost 17Ib but it seems to have stopped. I find it hard to find time to exercise as I work 5 nights a week in a care home. Do you have any advice?
The criteria for bariatric NHS surgery is that your BMI is over 40/35. Your GP can offer help however if your weight-loss has slowed down before you consider surgery.
I’m getting bruises all over my legs and arms for no reason. I have low blood pressure but my doctor said this was OK – could it have something to do with it?
The blood pressure is healthy but any unexplained bruising needs careful investigation. A blood test is the first step.
I’m starting LighterLife a week today, any tips to stay focused in my first week?
It is ‘LighterLife’ but not to be taken light-heartedly. Think of it as a new beginning for your new life. Take it seriously and don’t let anyone or anything distract you from your goal. Make a list of all potential problems so that you’re prepared!
Dr Hilary Jones concluded the live Twitter Q&A by thanking everyone for their brilliant questions and for showing so much interest in health and well-being.
If you have any health and well-being questions that you’d like to ask Dr Hilary then get them ready for next time! Don’t forget the hashtag: #AskDrHilary