When it comes to weight loss, everyone is looking for the magic bullet.
Knowing what to eat and various diets are confusing. One day everyone is buzzing about Paleo, next it's Keto. Are carbs good or bad? What time of the day do we eat?
Same with exercise for weight loss, one day we are sweating it out with high intensity boot camps. Or should we be running? Or is all that too much and we should stick to a gentle swim or a morning Vinyasa?
There are two weight loss tools that are overlooked in the diet and exercise frenzy, says Steve Jennings, a holistic health coach in Tauranga, and these are both surprising and effective — deep restful sleep, and forgiveness.
So letting it go in our minds and hearts can help let excess weight leave our bodies, says Jennings, a coach with more than 14 years' experience. He helps women with issues like weight loss and stubborn body fat, but also wider women's health issues such as chronic pain and inflammation, anxiety, depression and high stress.
"Using my methods, clients have not only lost weight and body fat, but have found stress levels subsiding, leading a happier and healthier life," says Jennings.
Curious to learn more about his methods, indulge sat down with Jennings who, together with his wife Heidi, is keen to share his knowledge with a wider circle of women.
I've worked with a number of women who have held on to stubborn body fat who started accumulating at the same time a life changing event occurred... they never made peace with their situation. Once we actively pursue forgiveness and closure, the weight drops off immediately
How did you get into health coaching?
I grew up in Katikati and I've always been sporty and competitive. I used to watch the Krypton Factor television show in the early 90s and then I'd go outside and make up my own obstacle course climbing over fences and crawling under seats.
My older sisters took full advantage and would send me down to the dairy to pick them up some lollies while I raced against the clock. When I got home they would tell me they forgot to record the time just to wind me up! Also I had a tough upbringing in a single-parent household where my mother had chronic fatigue syndrome. When my sisters left home I was the primary caregiver at age 10.
I saw first hand the depression that resulted from the effects of someone losing their fundamental abilities through complete exhaustion and medical misunderstanding. It was very hard on me because of my age at the time, but it has given me some unique understanding that I use now in my coaching sessions with autoimmune sufferers and depressed clients.
How did you meet your wife and how do you work together?
Heidi and I met in 2007, but we actually both grew up in Katikati. She's three years older than me, so I wasn't exactly on her radar at school. We married in January 2009 so have just crossed the 10 year mark.
Heidi has a degree in Japanese and is a qualified life coach and is currently a fulltime mum to our two children – daughter Bonnie, 8, and son Arie, 6. She has had a pretty tough health journey for the past two years and we have chosen to use this journey as an opportunity to grow and help our clients better. Fortunately with my professional background and upbringing I had some valuable experience to be a support for her journey.
Does she follow your methods too?
Heidi is very proactive with nutrition and cooks about 90 per cent of our meals as vegetarian, dairy and gluten free. She's big on her walking and we have both chosen for her to be a fulltime parent at this point in time in exchange for less stress, to keep her healthy and the rest of the family happy.
What do you do as a holistic health coach?
I work with people across New Zealand and around the world. I do a lot of phone coaching and online coaching as well as running group fitness. A lot of people come
to me saying they do all the right things and go nowhere with all the effort they put in.
My job is to turn over a few stones and identify what is holding them back. Frequently they have far too much stimulation from their non-stop lifestyle, over-exercising, they have poor sleep and they may have current or historical stress that is manifesting as a physical symptom such as pain, anxiety or depression which is contributing to a few health issues like stubborn weight or autoimmune conditions.
What is unique about your coaching?
The ability to identify and coach people through their personal stress and reintroduce common sense to someone's lifestyle. I don't get stuck on all the trends or every bit of science that ends up being contradicted. I'm very much my own person and because of this I can look at trends as they unfold, pick out the flaws and create a unique position for myself in a competitive market.
Where do you see the future of the health and fitness industry?
I see it contributing to more health issues before it gets better unfortunately. The marketing is very smart and clever and continually suggests people need to continue working out hard all the time to get great results, which is simply not true.
Some people have far too much stimulation from their non-stop lifestyle, over-exercising, they have poor sleep and they may have current or historical stress that is manifesting as a physical symptom
There are more people who are overstimulated and don't sleep well, so many of us don't recover effectively from intense exercise. If people are already overstimulated because they have a busy lifestyle or have some personal stress, then intensive exercise can further increase stimulation.
This pushes the person further into adrenal dysfunction and when that happens, your body will hold onto body fat and feel fatigue. There is a lack of knowledge at the front line of the industry, because clients often ring me asking for help when they already belong to a gym and exercise frequently yet struggle for results.
The other thing is the high fat Keto diet that is widely prescribed as the new saviour. It's good for some people, but for other people who already have a sluggish liver, perhaps from ongoing stress, adding a high amount of fat to the diet asks the liver to work harder and produce more bile to break down those extra dietary fats.
People who have a busy lifestyle or lots of stress need carbohydrates to refuel glycogen stores, support the cortisol hormone and eliminate insatiable cravings from low blood sugars later in the day.
People often tell me they tried Keto and it didn't work. We've seen a lot of trends come and go over the years, many of them regrettable trends. So it's important we are wary of new trends that emerge and don't get sucked in too easy.
What's your best advice for people right now?
Think bigger than just nutrition and exercise. Focus on deep restful sleep and learn to forgive, forget and then practise forgiveness. Forgiveness is forgotten because it's not sexy or cool, but it's extremely important.
People grow very weary when they hold grievances for 20 or 30 years. The idea is to find the opportunity with the cards you've been dealt and focus on moving forward. For example, I've worked with a number of women who have held on to stubborn body fat who started accumulating at the same time a life changing event occurred.
They never made peace with their situation. Once we actively pursue forgiveness and closure, the weight drops off immediately and they can start to rest again.
DOES IT WORK? These women who have tried the programme share results
• Suzanne Hartley
Suzanne lost 20kg in 22 weeks. "This programme makes so much sense. I've tried other diets but found them unsustainable and regained the weight. Aches and pains have also disappeared with the increased healing taking place."
• Kerri McIvor
Kerri lost 10kg in 12 weeks. "I was a terrible sleeper ... due to some stresses in life and had gained some weight through my middle area that I could not shift. I lost 10kg easily just by walking the kids to school and resetting my sleep."
• Wendy Ngamoki
Wendy lost 32kg in 2018. "I got stuck losing weight on my own and had heard about Steve's coaching through a friend. The food is great and I've learned a lot about how stress and poor sleep affects my bodyshape."
• Natasha Snowdon
Natasha dropped 10kg in 11 weeks. "I can't believe the difference. My arthritis has disappeared. The weight has come off easily. I am recommending this programme to everyone!"
From a client who prefers to not give her name for personal reasons:
"I have been following Steve's programme for three months now. I have lost a total of 13.6kg. My goal was 10kg so it's incredibly pleasing to have reached that goal so quickly.
"There is no doubt that without Steve's knowledge, expertise, encouragement and ongoing support I would not have been able to lose this weight. For the last 18 months I had been exercising five times a week and following a restricted calorie diet and couldn't shift the stubborn body fat. I have found Steve's approach to health somewhat unique yet incredibly personal and highly professional.
"Through Steve's one-on-one consultation he helped me understand that the emotional grief in my life (a major fallout with a family member) was the root cause of my weight gain, along with poor sleep and bowel movements. With Steve's guidance I took control of the situation and asked for forgiveness with this person to rectify the damaged relationship.
"Subsequently, the weight started to fall off. Quickly at first, then it plateaued but through regular coaching with Steve I have continued to lose weight. My sleep has become more deep and restful and my bowel movements more regular. My overall quality of life has improved immensely."