Plan Basics

Meet our wellbeing expert: Honey Langcaster-James

Honey is a psychologist, psychotherapist and personal development coach. She’s also a member, so knows exactly how you’re feeling. 

Check out our top FAQs on Wellbeing…

My sister-in-law often makes jokes about my weight, which I end up taking to heart. How can I handle this when I’m around her at Christmas?

I’ve hit a plateau in my weight loss and although I’ve stuck to the plan, I’m no longer losing weight. I don’t feel motivated to keep going. What can I do?

After having breast cancer, a mastectomy and treatment that put me into early menopause, I no longer feel like myself. What can I do to change this?

I sometimes find myself dreading events so much that I make up excuses so I can cancel. How can I relax and face things more easily?

I find it hard to switch off, even when I’m on holiday. I keep thinking about work and just can’t properly relax. What can I do to help me unwind?

I’m going on summer holiday soon and keep stepping on the scales and obsessing about the number I see. How can I keep on track without getting fixated on my weight?

I’m happy to be losing weight but have low self-esteem and feel like I’m being judged, especially when I’m at the gym. How can I relax around others?

I have no willpower. If I come across unhealthy food, I always eat too much of it. I even eat my kids’ leftovers! How can I gain more self-control?

I’m finding it hard to stick to a healthy-eating and fitness plan. What are the most common emotional issues holding people back from their goal?

I’ve recently separated from my partner, which has been really difficult. How can I pick myself up and get back on track to being healthy?

I'm glad I chose to lose weight and get healthy this year, but I'm worried I'll regain any weight I lose. How can I feel confident and enjoy the journey?

I’m losing weight, but feel self-conscious in my party outfits. How can I feel better when all eyes are on me, and I’m not used to it?

I’m struggling with darker, shorter days and have no enthusiasm for anything. Do you have any tips?

My friend also wants to lose weight, but she’s so competitive. I don’t want her comparing us. How can I tell her?

Although I’ve made positive changes, I still get anxious over small things. How can I stop stressing?

I think my husband is feeling insecure about the changes to my body and confidence as I lose weight – what can I do?

My thoughts have turned to romance, but I’m wary of dating as I’m not yet at goal. Should I wait to start dating, or bite the bullet?

I would like to have more confidence in the bedroom, but I don’t feel happy about my body. Any suggestions?

I’m doing well with my get-healthy plans, but can’t shake the feeling I’m not good enough. How can I feel better about myself?

I’m interested in the idea of living mindfully. Could you give examples of some easy things I could do each day?

I’m meeting my new boyfriend’s family for the first time, but am nervous they’’ judge me on my size. Any tips?
 

 

My sister-in-law often makes jokes about my weight, which I end up taking to heart. How can I handle this when I’m around her at Christmas?

It’s not easy to deal with negative comments about ourselves, no matter if they’re meant as a joke, or not.

People I call frenemies (think half friend, half enemy) are found in any group, whether it’s your family, friends or in the workplace. They’re difficult to spot initially, as their approach might seem friendly, which encourages you to view them as an ally. However, they can be equally judgemental, jealous or competitive, criticising you in front of other people, gossiping about you, or letting you down at the last minute.

Once you recognise a frenemy for what she or he is, their power to hurt you is greatly diminished and their behaviour will become predictable.

There are many reasons why people behave this way, but one thing they likely all have in common is unhappiness and a drive to project their negativity onto others. So, the next time your sister-in-law makes a jibe about your weight, understand that her comments say a lot about her and nothing about you. Finally, bring your focus back to yourself and be proud of what you’ve achieved on your get-healthy journey.

I’ve hit a plateau in my weight loss and although I’ve stuck to the plan, I’m no longer losing weight. I don’t feel motivated to keep going. What can I do?

It can be difficult to remain motivated when you’ve been doing something for a while and no longer seeing results. However, there are simple ways to kick-start yourself back into action! Begin by working out how much weight you’ve already lost and commend yourself for that; sometimes we’re so focused on our goal weight, we don’t stop to appreciate what we’ve already achieved, or the effort made.

Next, start practising the art of marking small, everyday moments as occasions to celebrate. More people are doing this than ever before (thanks in part to social media, where many of us share the joys of our day-to-day lives), and it’s a good way to boost motivation. For example, be proud of yourself when you choose to eat a healthy snack over an unhealthy one; congratulate yourself when you go to that exercise class you were tempted to skip. Or take pics of ‘yes’ moments and record them – perhaps in an Instagram account or on Connect?

The more you acknowledge the positive moments in life, the better you’ll feel about yourself and your weight-loss journey.

 

 

After having breast cancer, a mastectomy and treatment that put me into early menopause, I no longer feel like myself. What can I do to change this?

You have been through a lot and perhaps haven’t received the support you needed along the way. Joining a support group is a good way to meet others who have been though the same type of experience and understand how you feel.

You might need time to grieve the loss of your breast, because it can be difficult to move on if you haven’t been able to let go of the emotions you experienced when the mastectomy was done. As your treatment caused early menopause, you might not have had time to fully process your feelings before continuing onto the next phase. Again, I advise you to share your experience with a close friend or a therapist, to help you come to terms with these changes.

To begin to feel like yourself again it’s important to reconnect with who you are and what makes you unique and special. To help you do this, write a list of all the things that make you a wonderful and beautiful person, and read it whenever you need reminding. Also, set aside some time to do more activities that make you feel happy and fulfilled, as this will help you find a fresh focus and regain your confidence.

 

I sometimes find myself dreading events so much that I make up excuses so I can cancel. How can I relax and face things more easily?

First of all, you need to work out what it is about these events that you don’t want to face – what is it that’s making you feel anxious about them? If you can, talk to someone you trust about what’s causing your anxiety. When we try to do this alone, our worries can be magnified (it’s a bit like imagining there’s a monster under the bed – the more you try to hide from it, the bigger and scarier it gets). But once you identify and share your worries, they won’t have so much power over you, and you can start talking about strategies to overcome them.

If you’re not keen to talk it through, try jotting down your thoughts instead. Start by writing about how you feel and continue, without stopping to think about it, until you have cleared everything out of your head. This will help to clarify what you’re feeling and how to deal with it.

Try to get a more positive dialogue going in your mind too, by thinking of all the good things that could happen at these events. You can either feed negative thinking patterns and spiral into anxiety, or work on spinning the wheel the other way and letting one positive thought trigger another.

 

I find it hard to switch off, even when I’m on holiday. I keep thinking about work and just can’t properly relax. What can I do to help me unwind?

This is a very common problem and it’s such a shame to waste a chunk of our valuable holiday time trying to switch off. A holiday is a break from everyday life and should enable us to replenish our energy. So it is crucial to ensure you have a mental holiday, as well as a physical one.

You need to have the right mindset in order to be able to truly wind down. I recommend writing as a great tool that can help you let go of all the stress you’re carrying with you on holiday. Every time you find yourself thinking about something you have forgotten to do, or need to do when you get back, note it down. How you do this is up to you – write it on a notepad or type it into your phone. Personally, I prefer using good old-fashioned pen and paper. The point of this exercise is to offload any worries from your mind and let them go, rather than dwelling on them for days before you can relax. Tell yourself that you will deal with any non-holiday related issues when you return home, and until that time, give yourself permission to relax and enjoy yourself.

Also, try to bring your mind into the present moment and savour where you are and who you are with. Look around you, take in your surroundings and appreciate this precious time off from your daily life and work commitments.

Have a happy and relaxed holiday and enjoy every moment!

 

I’m going on summer holiday soon and keep stepping on the scales and obsessing about the number I see. How can I keep on track without getting fixated on my weight?

It’s important to try and see the bigger picture. Your preoccupation is causing you to focus solely on the number on the scales, so you’re likely forgetting about all the other positive things that go hand in hand with weight loss, such as improving your wellbeing or fitness level.

It’s crucial to ensure that you are taking care of every aspect of your wellbeing, including what you’re eating and drinking. To redress this balance, try listing all your non-scale victories. For example, are you feeling happier, more confident, or more energetic? Do this every day, or every week, so you can start to move your thoughts away from the scales.

Try to stick to weighing yourself only once a week to break the obsession, each time you feel like hitting the scales outside your weekly meeting or weigh day, try a simple wellbeing exercise instead. For example do something creative, get outside for some gardening, or start a positive-thinking Pinterest board, which can help to keep you feeling inspired.

If you don’t have time for any of these, then simply take a minute to think about what you’re grateful for at the moment: what are the things that make you smile? Some of the best ways to help break a bad habit are to create new positive ones instead.  

 


I’m happy to be losing weight but have low self-esteem and feel like I’m being judged, especially when I’m at the gym. How can I relax around others?

Being relaxed and open to other people can be hard if you feel they’re making assumptions about you and you’re out of your comfort zone, such as at the gym. But this is often due to how you feel about yourself, rather than anyone actually judging you.

I often find people who feel this way are critiquing themselves harshly. If this is the case, work on turning negative thoughts into positive observations. For example, ‘I’m never going to get fit’, can simply become, ‘I’m exercising, so I will get fit’.

Also, try this simple confidence-boosting exercise before you head out. Stand in a Wonder Women pose – legs slightly apart, hands on hips, shoulders back – and hold it for two minutes. Studies suggest practicing this ‘power pose’ before entering a stressful situation, could lower cortisol (the stress hormone) and increase testosterone, to help you feel more confident and capable. 

 

 


I have no willpower. If I come across unhealthy food, I always eat too much of it. I even eat my kids’ leftovers! How can I gain more self-control?

First, are you sure a lack of self-control is the problem? I’d start by paying more attention to how you talk to yourself. We all have an internal voice in our heads, and it can be a helpful, or a harmful one.

Are you being kind to yourself, or overly critical? You say you have ‘no’ willpower and you ‘always’ overindulge. These are strong terms, so maybe it’s time to start being a little kinder to yourself.

Willpower is something you can build. Stretch that muscle, like any other, and it will get stronger over time. Start by focusing on the positives – times when you made healthier choices or resisted eating too much, be proud of those successes.

Next time you’re faced with an unhealthy food you struggle to turn down, think of a time when you did resist and how good it felt. Focus on that feeling and allow it to help you walk away with a satisfied smile!

 

 


I’m finding it hard to stick to a healthy-eating and fitness plan. What are the most common emotional issues holding people back from their goal?

Emotional issues causing people to struggle with a weight-loss plan can be complex. The most important thing is to understand why you, personally, are finding it hard.

Emotional eating is common and might be holding you back. The next time you’re about to eat, stop and think, ‘How do I feel?’

If you are genuinely hungry, go ahead and eat something, but try to be honest. Are you feeling stressed, angry or bored? We can unconsciously turn to food for comfort or distraction from feelings or situations we find unpleasant. If you identify an emotion, just acknowledging it is a great start.

Next, ask what’s causing the emotion and write down your thoughts. This can be quite challenging, but it’s the only way to break free from a cycle of emotional eating.

If that doesn’t help, remind yourself of what motivated you to start a get-healthy plan, and let this give your actions meaning.

 

 


I’ve recently separated from my partner, which has been really difficult. How can I pick myself up and get back on track to being healthy?

The end of a relationship can take a real toll on you emotionally and physically, so I feel for you. Start by finding as much social support as possible. Spend lots of time with your friends and family, and ask them if they can lend a hand with practical things, such as jobs around the house, that you may not be able to do on your own.

Remember the basics, too: healthy eating, getting enough sleep and caring for yourself.

Your get-healthy goals are an excellent opportunity to focus on something positive right now. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, break them down into achievable mini-goals. Try deciding on a simple aim for each day – or even just for the next hour – and focus on small tasks rather than end results.

Achieving these targets, no matter how small they are, will help lift your mood – and feeling brighter can help you keep moving forward on your overall weight-loss plan. 

 

 


I'm glad I chose to lose weight and get healthy this year, but I'm worried I'll regain any weight I lose. How can I feel confident and enjoy the journey?

Concern with what might or might not happen in the future is robbing you of recognising – and enjoying – what you achieve day to day. We all need the boost that comes from recognising our successes. Without this, you could lose motivation in the long-term, or derail your journey completely.

Focusing on the possibility of failure suggests you might have low self-esteem or unconsciously believe you don’t deserve to feel good about achieving goals. Try writing down daily wins, however small, or making memos for yourself with inspiring, upbeat messages to help break the worry cycle.

Any life change can make us anxious, as we break old habits and leave our comfort zone. Remember, this journey is about one step at a time, so really try to notice each mini milestone and take pride in it. This will help you to stop worrying about what might happen and instead, focus on the present. 

 


I’m losing weight, but feel self-conscious in my party outfits. How can I feel better when all eyes are on me, and I’m not used to it?

It’s not often we get dressed up in our party outfits, so it might be that you’re not used to how they feel or fit. Often when I but something new to wear, it feels alien to me when I put it on.

If you’re going to a party and everyone else is dressed up to the nines, this can make you feel intimidated. It’s perfectly natural to be self-conscious when you’re keen to look your best (and people are taking photos everywhere you turn), but remind yourself that other people will probably be feeling the same way, too.

Resist the temptation to buy an outfit that is very far removed from what you might usually wear. ‘Special’ is good – and you should feel fabulous – but try not to go so far outside of your comfort zone that you just don’t feel like ‘you’. One tip is to spend an evening trying your outfit on at home to make sure you’re happy with the fit and the accessories you’ll be wearing. Walk around the house a bit so you get used to how it feels.

If you do feel that all eyes are on it, it’s probably because you look so fab! Try to view the attention as a compliment and mentally say ‘thank you’ if you see someone looking your way.

Remember, too, that the negative attention you’re worried about probably doesn’t exist in reality – and try to act as if there isn’t a spotlight on you. Focus on having fun instead.

 

 


I’m struggling with darker, shorter days and have no enthusiasm for anything. Do you have any tips?

Many feel sluggish, unmotivated and even quite low at this time of year. There can be a temptation to withdraw from the world and almost go into hibernation. Although there’s nothing wrong with curling up with a good book or movie, habitually retreating to the sofa can lead to social isolation and inactivity. Before you know it, you’re seeking comfort from unhealthy food and becoming a couch potato!

Apart from sticking to a balanced eating plan and getting enough sleep, the key to beating the winter slump is to organise or attend regular, sociable activities so that the cold weather and dark evenings can’t give you an excuse not to go out. Draw up a weekly schedule that includes an exercise class or other activity for each day. Build these in as part of your routine, so enthusiasm doesn’t have to come into it! The hard part is often getting to the activity – once there, you’re likely to be glad you pushed yourself.

But if the situation continues and you show signs of depression, see your GP as you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In this case, a light box that mimics daylight, vitamin supplements or medication could help.

 

 


My friend also wants to lose weight, but she’s so competitive. I don’t want her comparing us. How can I tell her?

You could go one of two ways: make up excuses as to why you don’t want to share your weight loss with your friend each week (and maybe even why you can’t attend the same meeting), or simply have an honest conversation with her.

I believe honesty is always best! Tell her that, while you very much enjoy her company and that you’re looking forward to having someone to share recipes with, you find it too much pressure comparing your progress with anyone, so you’d like to keep that between you and your meeting Leader. Give your friend the opportunity to understand your feelings and respect your boundaries, and see how it goes.

If your friend is so competitive that she really won’t let it drop and keeps pushing you to compare, then you might have to consider having another, more frank, conversation with her,

Of course, you might find it beneficial to have your friend with you at meetings, as it can be good for moral supports. You could find that a little bit of competition spurs you on, but bear in mind that what matters is focusing on your journey and goals: don’t let anyone else’s progress faze you. 

 

 


Although I’ve made positive changes, I still get anxious over small things. How can I stop stressing?

To avoid this sort of everyday anxiety, it’s important to get things into perspective and review them realistically.

First, it’s helpful to get organised and keep a list of everything you’re feeling stressed about. Add to it every time a worry pops into your head, however big or small. Sort these worries into categories such as ‘urgent’, ‘potentially problematic’, and ‘small stuff’. You’ll soon see that many of them are quite small and insignificant, and this could help you to minimise the impact they’re having on your anxiety levels.

If you find yourself worrying about the future, try to stay in the present as much as possible. Whenever you feel anxious, bring yourself to the present by focusing on where you are, what you are, what you’re doing and what sensations you’re experiencing.

Taking meditation classes can help, too. You can also try simply asking yourself each time you have a worry, ‘Has this actually happened?’ If it hasn’t, then remind yourself that you can’t be sure it will ever even become a problem. 

 

 


I think my husband is feeling insecure about the changes to my body and confidence as I lose weight – what can I do?

First of all, congratulations on your achievements so far! Reassure your husband that you’re still just as committed to your relationship and that your new-found confidence isn’t making you feel any differently about that, only about yourself. Explain that you’re loving the new you and you hope that he is, too.

Thank him for his support and explain that it has made your love for him even stronger –and suggest you celebrate together. Perhaps you could have a special photo taken of the two of you, now that you’re feeling so much better about the way you look. Or, you could plan a night out together. If you’re feeling confident, wear an outfit you might previously have avoided wearing and ask his opinion on it. Involving your partner in this new aspect of your life is key to making sure he doesn’t feel as if the changes in your body and outlook are coming between you.

As your body confidence grows, your happiness will, too. And he’ll soon see the benefits and feel secure again.

 

 


My thoughts have turned to romance, but I’m wary of dating as I’m not yet at goal. Should I wait to start dating, or bite the bullet?

There’s no better time to start dating then right now. Worrying about reaching goal may just be an excuse to put off something you’re nervous about, and spring is a fantastic time of year to begin new relationships – everyone is optimistic and encouraged by the sight of the new shoots and sunshine.

I suspect the truth is that your real issue is not reaching goal at all, but your self-esteem. You want to date someone who’s interested in you for your character and personality, don’t you? Then go for it: put yourself out there. You have more chance of finding someone who likes you for who you are if you meet while you’re still on your weight-loss journey. Anyone who’s worth bringing into your life will want to support your goals, but will also appreciate you the way you are.

There’s nothing like a new romance to keep you motivated, and if you fall in love, it may even help you reach goal! Feeling loved and having things to do with someone new could help keep you from indulging in unhappy emotional eating or boredom grazing.

 

 


I would like to have more confidence in the bedroom, but I don’t feel happy about my body. Any suggestions?

When you lack body confidence or feel unhappy with your weight, it can really affect your sex life: being overweight can lower your libido and feeling self-conscious can lead to increased inhibition and reduced intimacy between your partner and you.

Real sex appeal radiates from inside, so to feel more self-assured, you need to learn how to feel sensual at any body shape or size. Do fun, physical things to help you feel energised and more in touch with your body, and what it is capable of, such as Zumba.

Feeling brave? Try a pole-dancing exercise class or one that takes you out of your comfort zone and focuses on how your body moves. You’ll be impressed by what your body can do and it might help to alter your perception of what it takes to be sexy.

Remember that you don’t see your body as your partner sees it; you’ll tend to focus on minor flaws, but your partner will see the best. In the bedroom, set the scene with candlelight, music and beautiful nightwear – these will all help to take your mind off your worries, and you’ll feel more free to connect with your partner emotionally. 

 

 


I’m doing well with my get-healthy plans, but can’t shake the feeling I’m not good enough. How can I feel better about myself?

Many people struggle with confidence, including those who are happy with their weight! In today’s world, we’re frequently bombarded with unrealistic images and false ideas of what ‘good enough’ actually is. So a great place to start is to ask yourself where the idea that you’re not good enough actually came from.

Why aren’t you? Who says so? You need to ‘reprogramme’ yourself and work on some of your self-limiting beliefs. One way to do this is to recognise your out-of-date ‘software’: the unhelpful beliefs you accepted as fact in the past. After that, it’s time to put self-love into action: engage in positive self-regard, self-kindness and self-care.

You have to treat yourself kindly, and, importantly, talk to yourself kindly, too. You need to fall in love with yourself all over again and be your own biggest fan, no matter your size or how far along you are on your weight-loss journey. That’s the best way for you to start feeling you’re good enough – recognise that the only person you really need to be good enough for is you. 

 

 


I’m interested in the idea of living mindfully. Could you give examples of some easy things I could do each day?

Mindfulness means to live in the present moment, without worrying about the past, or being anxious about the future. Instead, fill your mind with your current activity – there are so many opportunities to incorporate mindfulness in your day.

When you wake up and brush your teeth, focus on how refreshing it is and concentrate on experiencing the minty taste in your mouth. When you eat your lunch, don’t be tempted to check your phone or read a newspaper at the same time; instead, focus on eating. Savour each mouthful and be aware of the taste of all the ingredients.

When you’re with the family, put away your phones, close your laptop, turn off the TV and really be present to listen and laugh with them. Summer is an ideal time of year to practice being mindful in nature, too. Walk barefoot in the grass and concentrate on how it feels against the soles of your feet, and how the warmth of the sunshine feels on your face.

If you’re taking a holiday, being mindful can be a great way to get the most out of your break, as you’ll be more grateful for the experience it brings and truly benefit from the rest and relaxation.

 

 


I’m meeting my new boyfriend’s family for the first time, but am nervous they’’ judge me on my size. Any tips?

Firstly, are you really sure that they will judge you about your weight? Or could it be that you often judge yourself, and then expect others will think the same way? We all worry about what other people think of us but the truth is, no one is ever as interested in the way we look as we think they are (and as we are ourselves). In reality, it will be your personality and general company that these new acquaintances will focus on; they’ll just want to get to know you better.

Secondly, the very fact that your boyfriend wants you to be there while spending time with his family is testimony to the fact that he feels proud that you’re with him. So try to focus on seeing yourself through his eyes, as the beautiful and unique women that you are, instead of dwelling on the negatives.

Lastly, getting ready for a social gathering is a great excuse to get your hair and nails done, and treat yourself to a new outfit! Choose clothes that flatter your strongest features and make you feel at your best. That way, you’ll meet your partner’s family knowing you are looking confident – and fabulous.