If you’ve had it with dieting, here are three self-care strategies for weight loss to help you shed kilos and feel great…

South Africa’s obesity rates at 28,3% and South African women are more than twice as likely as men to be overweight or obese.

This is according to Statistics South Africa’s 2016 Demographic and Health Survey.

It’s a statistic that is obviously troubling and it clearly points to a need for women to practise more self-care.

Here are three self-care strategies that could help you reach and maintain a healthy body weight and sense of well-being:

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1.  Prioritise self-care

Self-care is number one on the list and for good reason.

According to the Happy Planet Index Score, South Africa ranked 128th out of 140 countries. When it came to wellness, South Africa was still sitting in the lower half ranking 80th out of 140 countries globally.

Instead of falling into the trap of “when I lose weight I will be happier and healthier” you need to start by addressing your overall happiness and wellbeing. When you feel happier, making the necessary changes to drop weight becomes significantly easier.

Start by making time consistently to do the things that bring you joy in life. Find at least one thing and start scheduling it into your day. It can be a hobby, spending time with friends or family, reading a book, or a wide range of activities. If it brings you joy and makes your day-to-day life more fulfilling then it is a great option.

And easy and powerful way to practice self-care

Even simple things can make a drastic difference. For example, set your alarm 15 minutes earlier and spend 10-12 minutes enjoying coffee or tea outside or listening to uplifting music.

This allows you to start day your with a focus on appreciating the little things, instead of starting your morning feeling rushed, stressed, overwhelmed and anxious, which only it carries over into the rest of your day.

Remember, how you feel every day can influence things like eating behaviour, cravings, and whether or not you follow through on a goal.

2. Protect yourself from burnout

The World Health Organisation has officially recognised burnout as a medical condition and it is about time.

The impact of burnout can be devastating. Symptoms like exhaustion, negative feelings, and high stress will find their ways into every aspect of your relationships, work, habits, and overall life satisfaction.

When you are burnt out it is impacting more than how you feel. It is also wreaking havoc on how your body is working on the cellular level and when it comes to obesity, one key way is the influence on hormones.

Stress causes the hormone cortisol to rise dramatically. When cortisol spikes it is essentially telling your body that we need to hoard all the fat and reserve energy – making it harder to lose weight and easier to gain weight.

Everyone should actively be working to protect themselves from burnout. Everything from workplace wellness programmes, meditation, exercise, and even talking with a counselor are great strategies. The list is long varied of what you could start doing.

But, before we start jumping to things we can start trying to pack into your schedule, let’s start with something that is so simple yet severely overlooked.

Start taking your annual leave and paid vacation time

If your job provides you with paid leave time, start taking it!

A poll last year found that 53% of South Africans don’t take ANY of their annual leave.

When it comes to annual leave you are entitled to take a 21 day leave with full pay so start using them.

Study after study has shown that taken necessary breaks from work can be crucial for reinvigorating employees in the workplace. On top of that, employees who do that typically have a greater life-satisfaction and well-being, amongst other things.

Lastly, don’t use them when you have hit rock bottom. Be pre-emptive. Plan breaks into your calendar year so you are routinely getting time away to decompress (and practice that self-care we were talking about).

3. Two time-efficient self-care strategies

It is hard to find the time for self-care or work out nowadays with work consuming our lives, which is why you should start integrating strategies into your workday.

One of the best ways to do this is to start taking mini-breaks throughout your workday.

These breaks can be as quick as one-minute if it is all you have time for. The key is to take them consistently throughout the day and do it every day.

During these breaks, you can easily start getting in a ton of exercise by ‘fitness snacking’. Fitness snacking is using small breaks of time to get in quick bursts of physical activity. Go for a walk. Take the stairs. Do some stretches or bodyweight exercises. Just set an amount of time and do it for the entire duration.

Imagine you work 40 hours a week and for every hour at work, you spent five minutes being physically active. That adds up to 200 minutes per week. That much physical activity has the ability to make dramatic changes to your health, weight, wellbeing, happiness and more.

The other way to utilize these breaks is just to take mental breaks. Just try to check in with yourself throughout the day for 10 seconds, a minute, or for an entire break. These little breaks are great for doing deep breathing and quick meditation sessions. Simply focusing on breathing for a minute can do wonders for your stress, mood, and energy.

Short workouts with high intensity

For those who may not like the idea of getting active at work, there is another option.

Increase the intensity of a workout you to produce equal, if not better, results in a fraction of the time.

For example, you could do a full-body circuit training workout by choosing three to five exercises and setting a timer for five, 10, 15 or 20 minutes. Do one set for each exercises with no breaks in-between. Then, take a 30-60-second break before going again. Push yourself to try and get as many repetitions as possible each workout.

When it comes to cardio, sprint interval training (SIT) is your best bet for a quick workout to lose weight. You only need 20 minutes as well. Start first by warming up. When ready to begin, sprint at full-speed for 20-30 seconds. Rest for four minutes and then repeat three more times. That’s it! This simple but challenging workout will have you dropping weight quickly and consistently.

What strategy are you going to start implementing?

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.