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Cinch Clinic owners explain how to ditch the diets for a lifestyle where no foods are off limits

On the fast track to better health with business partners and fasting gurus Angela and Nicola

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Nicola McIlhagger (left) and Angela Hunter

Nicola McIlhagger (left) and Angela Hunter

Angela (left) and Nicola from Cinch Clinic

Angela (left) and Nicola from Cinch Clinic

Angela Hunter before and after her weight loss

Angela Hunter before and after her weight loss

Nicola McIlhagger before and after her weight loss

Nicola McIlhagger before and after her weight loss

Nicola (left) and Angela Hunter believe in Intermittent Fasting (IF) as a way of maintaining weight loss

Nicola (left) and Angela Hunter believe in Intermittent Fasting (IF) as a way of maintaining weight loss

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Nicola McIlhagger (left) and Angela Hunter

Many of us start a new year with the best of intentions to feel fitter, boost our wellbeing and lose weight at the same time.

Nicola McIlhagger and Angela Hunter, owners of award-winning wellbeing and fat loss business Cinch Clinic, say that winter can be detrimental to our waistlines.

“Winter creates the perfect storm for weight gain,” says Angela.

“The weather is colder, and the nights are shorter which creates a more sedentary routine, with people less likely to get out and get active on walks, runs, bike rides etc. We also tend to crave comfort foods which are often high in carbohydrates.

“In winter, it’s more like jammies on, movie downloads and snacks galore.

“Our old, active, summer routines, take a back seat with the promise of ‘getting back on it in January.’”

Research shows that between mid-November and mid-January, adults in Western societies gain an average of one pound. This doesn’t seem like a lot but if the addition isn’t lost but added to each time there’s a reason to celebrate, it could lead to a significant contributor of annual weight gain.

“We all celebrate a variety of things throughout December — seeing family, Christmas parties, nights out, days out, and everything in between, and each event seems to include rich foods, sugary desserts and alcohol — which adds calories and undermines self-control,” says Angela.

“And whilst yes, it is absolutely fine to enjoy everything in moderation, the problem is, we tend to go into full feast mode for the entire month and end up with extra inches and pounds that not only make us feel rubbish about ourselves but is putting pressure on our health.

“The best gift you can give yourself for the new year is better health.”

Angela and Nicola believe in Intermittent Fasting (IF), based on the theory that by limiting the hours of the day when we eat, the body has a chance to heal and repair. Insulin production is reduced, encouraging the body to use energy in stored fat cells, promoting weight loss.

Short periods of fasting also help promote autophagy, which is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells to regenerate newer, healthier cells.

The friends, who began IF in December 2020, have lost 2.5 stone between them and have felt real health benefits.

Angela and Nicola have created the Cinch FAST 30 online wellbeing programme, which introduces the concept of IF for fat loss and overall health boost. What’s more, no foods are off limits.

Below, they’ve developed easy to follow, practical tips for those looking to start 2022 in a healthy way.

Put your health first

A good barometer for anything you consider putting into your body is, both food and drink, ask yourself, is this helping or hindering my health and overall body goals? Your body is the most precious item you possess. The onus is on you, so you should be looking after it in every way you can, treat it with kindness by allowing it to heal, feeding it with highly nutritious, fresh foods, lots of water and exercising as often as you can.

Remove temptation

Clear out your cupboards and fridge and make a commitment with yourself and whomever you live with that you will buy no more tempting, high-fat, high-sugar, highly processed foods. By not having them in the house, temptation will simply not be an option.

Reassess what constitutes ‘treats’

More often than not, our craving for something sweet can be curbed very easily, and one fantastic way to do that is to have a healthy treat option ready. In our Cinch Fast 30 plan we have developed over 60 recipes of really delicious food and snacks that are nutritionally rich and low in sugar and saturated fats.

Plan to succeed

Start each week by setting out exactly what you hope to achieve from that seven-day period. Plan ahead on a Sunday for a week filled with healthy meals full of goodness. Aim for them to be high on lean protein, fresh fruit and colourful vegetables, legumes, and wholegrains and low on the highly processed foods. Stick to fresh food, steer clear of the ready meals and when eating out make sensible choices — when faced with a menu full of tempting, high-fat meals, ask yourself if it helps or hinders your overall health goals and how you are going to feel after you eat or drink what you are craving. If it is a negative response, steer clear of it.

Get moving

Staying fit, healthy and active is about consistency. Move as much as you can, as often as you can and enjoy the endorphin ‘high’ afterwards. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gym membership, a regular walk is a brilliant way to maintain a healthy weight and lose body fat.

Focus on destressing

Stress increases the production of cortisol in our bodies which may lead to weight gain.

If you feel stressed, book a massage, do an online meditation or incorporate exercise into your day and eat a highly nutritious diet. Most importantly don’t forget to breathe, just a few mins of deep breathing each day can help us relax and feel less stressed, it’s free and can be done anywhere.

Take sleep seriously

Tiredness may increase the hunger hormone which leads to overeating and poor food choices. Have an unwind ritual each night and start as early as 7pm. Limit caffeine intake after midday and put your phone on Do Not Disturb from 7pm, go take a bath, fill it with your favourite salts (Magnesium is thought to promote better sleep) and set yourself a bedtime. And when the clock strikes that hour, stick to it.

Adopt mindful eating

Slow down when you eat: that is one of the best ways we can get our bodies and minds to communicate what we really need for nutrition. The body sends its satiation signal about 20 mins after the brain, which is why we often overeat. If you slow down, you give your body a chance to catch up. Also, remember, just because your plate is full, doesn’t mean you have to finish every morsel.

Write it down

We are a huge fan of the food diary in our Cinch FAST 30 programme. Get a notebook and take a fresh page each day and write down every item of food and drink that enters your body. It offers an added layer of accountability and allows a birds-eye view of what you are consuming.

Opt for protein and fibre

Start 2022 loading up your plate with vegetables and lean protein, the latter of which is thought to keep us full for longer. It also is said to increase metabolism and may reduce levels of your hunger hormone. Carbohydrates aren’t banned of course, but opt for higher fibre options — wholewheat pasta, potatoes with skins on. Fibre is important for the balance of blood sugar and insulin levels.

Stop the guilt!

It torments us all, and can result in us speaking very negatively to and about ourselves. Make a commitment to stop feeling guilty about anything we eat or drink. Instead, ask ourselves how that food or drink made us feel, and learn from it. If it made us feel sick, anxious or remorseful, remember that next time you are faced with it.

Also, stop the negative self-talk. Just because you ate more than you planned to, it does not mean you are ‘fat’ or ‘disgusting’. Make a commitment to only speak kindly to yourself, as you would to a child.

Say well done to yourself for small little victories and turn the negative feelings (following food and drink) into positive changes for next time.

For example: “I recognise that eating too many biscuits isn’t good for my health. Next time I will say no as it made me feel sick and full of guilt last time. I am grateful for this lesson and won’t make that decision again.”

Phone a friend

At Cinch we call them our BFFs — Best Fasting Friends. Find a person or group of people to help keep you accountable.

People who will help support, encourage, and motivate you to reach your goals whether that is losing weight, pushing past a plateau or simply maintaining your weight.

For more information on the Cinch FAST 30 program, see www.cinchfast30.com. It is half price, £49.99, until January 31, 2022. Please note: Intermittent Fasting should not be considered for people under 18, those who are underweight, are pregnant or breastfeeding, have previously had an eating disorder or have Type 1 Diabetes. If you have any underlying health condition you should speak to your doctor before commencing Intermittent Fasting or any lifestyle change.


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