Walking and yoga are part of my exercise regimen to lose weight but they have not helped. I feel demoralised. What can I do to achieve my goal?

Instead of berating yourself for not losing the weight you want, you should congratulate yourself for being so committed to improving your health. Fast walking and yoga are wonderful for harmonising the mind and body in a positive way. However, exercise is just one part of the story. The other thing you need to focus on is what you eat.

I find that people often make the mistake of thinking that they can eat whatever they want because they are exercising. In fact, they up their portion size because they feel there is a calorie deficit. The key to achieving a healthy weight in the long-term is eating the right amount of the right things. It never fails to surprise me when I do my daily treadmill workout the amount of effort required to burn off just a hundred calories – you need to walk at approximately 6kph for 20 minutes. Conversely, it’s very easy to eat a hundred calories without even thinking about it – a single slice of wholemeal bread or half a bagel would cover that.

So, to lose around half a kilo per week, you need to shave off 3,500 calories from the average weekly intake for a woman, which is 14,000 calories.

All this calorie counting can be very tedious and put you off in the long term. Losing weight is firstly about what goes on in the mind before it is about what goes on in the body. It’s about accepting that to achieve your goal you can eat lovely food, but it’s got to be of the right type.

Balance is about recognising that sugar, fat-laden and processed foods are going to be a barrier to success, but the occasional treat is going to help you feel you’re not denying yourself all the time.

There’s a wealth of ingenious, healthy, nutritious and tasty recipes out there just waiting to be cooked, which focus on upping the vegetable content and lowering the sugar and fat.

To keep you fully focused and engaged, try some simple mindfulness techniques. Learn to experience what you’re eating in the here and now. It’s not about fad dieting or abstinence, it’s simply about intensifying the sensations of eating so that you are more aware of what your body needs.

This leads you not only to enjoy your food more, but it also means you are far more in tune with your body’s hungry and full messages. And naturally your exercise regime will be the fruit on top of the 0% Greek yoghurt rather than the icing on the cake.

Think of this as a long-term project. It’s going to take time and it will have its ups and downs, but the key thing is that you are going on a journey and you will get there in the end, no matter how many diversions you end up taking. Cement this in your mind, avoid the quick-fix mentality and don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for all that you’re already doing.

Russell Hemmings is a Life Coach and Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist, author of The Mind Diet and Active Positive Parenting. Contact Russell on +971 55286 7275 or www.russellhemmings.co.uk.