We all have times of difficulty in our lives. It's part of living and some say we are defined by how we choose to handle those difficulties. I used to be one of those who would go into denial in the hope that it would just go away. However, that rarely happened.
About 5 years ago, I was going through a pretty tough time. It was difficult emotionally and I felt so alone. My weight started to soar as I started eating emotionally and I felt (as a weight management counsellor) that I had to have all the answers and be so all together. Of course like many of us do, I kept my feelings hidden inside in the hope that if I didn't acknowledge them, it would be ok. However, my husband noticed I wasn't quite myself & sat down me down. I confided in him how I felt and what was going on with me and he gave me one of his pep talks. Of course he said many things which really helped but of all the things he said to me, he said 'You got this Ally' and those 3 words became my mantra for life!
The words we tell ourselves really do make an impact...
It's incredible how just 3 simple words can change your whole perspective. Those 3 words pulled me out of that hole and helped me get my power back. I was able to get my act together and over time have achieved incredible things for which I am grateful. Those 3 words made me think 'Yeah I have got this' and off I went with my cup half full ready for a new fight. Those 3 words became my own personal mantra and even now when I have moments of self doubt or self sabotage, I use them to give me a kick up the rear and get on with it. You too can use them for added strength in any situation in your life.
- Feeling doubtful about something? #YOUGOTTHIS
- Feeling that you aren't good enough or why me? #YOUGOTTHIS
- Feeling anxious about going for a promotion or a job interview? #YOUGOTTHIS
- Lacking self belief? #YOUGOTTHIS
- Finding weight loss hard and want to give up? #YOUGOTTHIS
Have you ever noticed how your mood changes based on your thinking? Your thinking can either ZAP you of your motivation OR it can give you the power to take control and achieve those goals.
Your weight loss strengthened by your thinking and the words that you choose, by your mantras and by how you talk to yourself.
Answer this for me....Who is more likely to achieve their goals. The slimmer who said 'I'll try to lose weight' or the slimmer who said ' I can and I will. Just watch me'
Words are powerful. Choose them wisely
Weight Management Counsellor - the SMLDiet
If you google the UK actress Lisa Riley, you'll get pages upon pages of stories all dedicated to her amazing weight loss transformation. You can't hide from the fact that Lisa has worked incredibly hard to lose 12 stone and drop from size 28 down to a size 12.
As with any weight loss story we hear or read about, we only get to see a cropped 1 page piece. We never get to fully see the sweat, tears and the dedication that slimmers put into their transformations. Nor do we get to read about the parts of weight loss that everyone likes to brush under the carpet such as living with excess skin.
That's why when I read an article on the Daily Mail site about Lisa now facing a challenge with excess skin, I was relieved. Not for her upset or pain that the excess skin gave her but finally someone was bringing this kind of subject into the foreground and breaking that taboo that seems to be surrounding weight loss.
Excess skin can happen to anyone
It doesn't matter how you lose the weight, excess skin can happen and unfortunately, it can bring a heap of new physical and psychological problems associated with it. When we want to lose weight, we can sometimes come from a place of dislike - we dislike our tummies so we concentrate on toning them, we dislike our weight so we work on losing a few lbs, we dislike our dress size, so we work on dropping a size or more. We tend to put so much emphasis on the fact that once we have lost weight, we will be happier and our weight loss problem will be solved. This kind of mentality can make us blinkered so when we reach our target & are left with excess skin, it can cause not only physical pain but psychological pain too.
Lisa has openly talked about how excess skin has left her in physical pain. This is due to the 'bagginess' and the weight of the excess skin but like many slimmers, it would also have affected Lisa mentally. The excess skin is a constant reminder of our old self, who we were not who we are now. I know for me personally, when I embarked on losing weight (going from size 22 to size 12), I had visions of me wearing skirts, strappy tops and dresses but instead, I had excess skin on my tummy and am still aware of excess skin partly on my stomach area. It's not what we want to see when we undress and look at ourselves in the mirror.
A lovely slimmer of mine lost 15 stone with me and one day had a chat to say she hated the way she looked SO much that she wanted to put all the weight back on again. Can you imagine how hard those thoughts must be to live with? You work so hard, lose an incredible amount of weight and at the end, the reality doesn't live up to what you had imagined.
Why does excess skin happen?
Loose skin can affect everyone who loses a significant amount of weight. This is down to many factors such as our age, genetics, the condition of the skin and how much weight we have lost.
Younger skin is more elastic than older skin and is easily able to 'snap back' into its original shape.
The length of time in which you have been overweight can affect your skin. If you have been overweight for a significant amount of time, your skin would have become used to being 'stretched' and this could affect how it rebounds back.
Coping with loose skin
Loose skin isn't nice but it's important to remember that after a period of significant weight loss, it can take up to 1 year for your body to fully change and recover. That's why I would recommend any slimmer waiting for 1 year before taking any drastic steps when it comes to excess skin. There are obviously medical procedures that can help slimmers and the removal of excess skin.
BODY LIFT - A body lift is a procedure involving surgery. This is where your skin is lifted and tightened in certain areas. As this is a surgical procedure, it does carry an element of risk to it.
ABDOMINOPLASTY - This procedure lifts and tightens the stomach area. As this is a surgical procedure, it does carry an element of risk to it.
Lisa Riley decided to undergo skin removal surgery and lost over 1 stone of excess skin. In her documentary Baggy Body club, Lisa discusses the procedure and you are able to watch Lisa undergo the surgery (NOT FOR THE FAINT-HEARTED).
Management of loose skin
As a weight management counsellor, I would still recommend slimmers lose weight and not let the thought of possible excess skin put them off any weight loss. Losing weight will improve your health and your mental well-being. If you find that you are left with any excess skin, you should definitely talk to your GP about how to manage the excess skin. Your GP will be able to recommend the best way forward whether it be surgery or counselling.
I completely understand that excess skin can affect your life and there are various degrees of excess skin and that's why I also recommend counselling. This is where you would be able to discuss your thoughts with a professional who will be able to recommend techniques to help you look at your weight loss and excess skin from a different view point.
Lisa Riley's TV show - Baggy Body Club was on ITV on 5th September 2017. It may still be available on catch up and If you are experiencing the same as Lisa when it comes to weight loss and excess skin, I would recommend you watch it.
Pictures courtesy of Daily mail.
When you're on a VLCD, all you need is for the temperature to change just a bit and boy do you feel it?!
But why is it when you are on a VLCD, do you feel the cold so much and what can you do about it?
Why do I feel so cold?
When you embark on a Very Low Calorie Diet (also known as a total food replacement plan or a VLCD for short), you consume far less calories than you usually would. Due to the smaller amount of calories and carbohydrates you are consuming, your body enters a state of ketosis (this is a perfectly SAFE & NATURAL process for your body). Ketosis is where your body turns stored fat into energy to keep you functioning and that's why you lose weight so quickly on a VLCD.
Ketosis can bring some side effects. In the early stages of entering ketosis, slimmers may have a slight headache, may even feel abit of fever, feel hunger or could even feel lethargic (these symptoms vary from slimmer to slimmer & do not happen to everyone). Once you are in ketosis though, alot of slimmers notice those initial side effects start to subside. However, some side effects do remain and those are the following:
* Feeling thirstier than usual
* Strange or metallic taste in the mouth
* Feeling colder than usual (cold hands, cold feet).
Feeling colder is very common and this is because when we are in ketosis, the body naturally tries to preserve energy where it can and one thing it does is to slow certain processes down and that's why we usually feel colder with our extremities such as hands and feet really feeling it.
What can I do about feeling the cold on a VLCD?
Depending on the time of year, you may not notice the cold as much (slimmers in the summer sometimes welcome that cooler body temperature feeling) but if you are on a VLCD in Autumn or Winter, you may notice it more and here's what you can do to help yourself warm up.
Extra side note - feeling colder than usual is a good thing as it reminds you that ketosis is working for you and your body is burning those calories.
For more info on ketosis or our diet plans, head on over to www.thesmldiet.com
'OMG You look amazing. How did you lose it? A mum in the playground asks me. Obviously extremely happy at such a lovely compliment, I quickly and proudly say 'A VLCD plan'. Her smiley face drops and turns to a face of disgust. 'Be careful on plans like that. A friend of mine lost 5 stone and put it all back on again within 4 months of finishing'.
This was an actual scenario that I was faced with a few years ago. I quietly smiled at the mum who initially complimented me and accepted what she said about her friend who put the weight on again. I didn't tell her that I, in fact own a VLCD company and that our bodies aren't sponges (we won't immediately go and put all the weight on again the moment a piece of 'conventional' food touches our lips) AND in fact that to put 1lb of weight back on, means we have eaten 3,500 calories more than our bodies need for nutritional purposes. I suppose this mum was hoping i'd say something more conventional in terms of how I had lost the weight - personal trainer maybe? weight watchers or slimming world but I dared say the dreaded 4 letters and that was it - back in slimming exile I went.
The truth is that VLCD's have been around for over 30 years and I have worked in the VLCD industry for over 10 now. Sure I have seen people lose the weight and unfortunately put it back on again. Heck - even I've done that but I know that it isn't the issue with the diet. It's more of a 'eating more than I should' issue BUT I have also seen A LOT of slimmers successfully lose & maintain their weight after too.
When we embark on a new weight loss plan such as a VLCD, we are usually excited.
'This is it!' kind of thoughts enter our head and once we start losing weight on a VLCD, it's contagious. We want people to notice the weight loss (just to re-enforce that it's not in our heads). Lets face it, although embarrassing, it's kinda nice when someone goes WOW you look incredible. How did you do it? but like anything in life, when we put ourselves out there, we leave ourselves open to hurt, questioning or criticism.
So to tell or not to tell that is the question...
I'm an open book kinda person...
My hubby always tells me that I give too much about myself away. You ask me a question about myself or my life and ill gladly tell you no holds barred. So when I first embarked on LighterLife back in 2005, I was ready to tell the world and his wife about my diet plan. I would sit at my office desk (as I had a 9-5 council job back then) and I would sit there drinking my shakes. When the weekly cake round came out, I would sit there polishing my halo whilst everyone else guzzled their lemon drizzle cakes. I had willpower, I was determined and I wasn't scared to show it.
At first the compliments came - 'Ally, you've got such amazing willpower, I couldn't live on just shakes' - yup that's me, super Ally!
but then it turned. About 7 weeks and 2 stone in out came the 'Ally you're looking ill' even someone close to me said 'I think you have an eating disorder and should stop'
At first I chose to ignore it, how could I possibly look unwell when I was still medically classed as obese? but after a while when all you get is criticism over the diet and how you look, it's hard to keep your spirits up so of course, I start to believe them and that's when the self-sabotage kicked in (cue sad face).
The 'to tell' debate
The 'not to tell' debate...
Hopefully after reading this, you'll know one way or the other if you want to tell the world about your weight loss or keep it a secret.
I personally still love telling people when I lose weight and how I do it as I am so proud of the SMLDiet and I know if I put on abit of weight, it's because of me eating too much and enjoying the good life rather than the VLCD not working.
I am also grateful for all of our slimmers who share their VLCD journeys as they become our success stories. They are living proof for future slimmers that YES VLCD's & SMLDiet does work and can help you too!
I don't know about you but i'm a gal who likes her lists. Give me a pen & a notepad and i'll give you a list as long as my arm!
I make quite a ritual of it. Every night after the children have gone to bed, I sit down with the TV on in the background & I start to write down my aims for the next day. I also have a general 'Goal list' for the month - this is filled with details of projects i'd like to complete before the month is out.
Now. You're probably thinking 1 of 2 things. Either WOW this girl is organised OR this girl needs to get a life and I'd probably agree with you on both of those thoughts.
BUT after reading this, i'm sure you'll also agree that list keeping is a great way of staying on top of the day to day humdrum of reality.
I don't look at my lists as a 'TO-DO' list you see, that's way too demanding and almost makes me think if I don't manage to complete it, I'm going to get a telling off from my internal self. I like to think of these lists as my 'AIM-TO-DO' list (usually consisting of 3-5 main things i'd like to complete and several others that aren't the main focus. If I complete the main 3-5 items, then i'm one happy girl and I move onto the rest of the list but if for whatever reason I don't complete them, then I don't sweat over it and just move them onto the next days AIM-TO-DO list (but I give them higher priority).
There's several reasons why I like my lists and the main reasons are the
1. I, like you am extremely busy - I work full time, running a house with 2 children and am often driving here, there and everywhere doing errands & having meetings.
2. It helps keep me focused - These lists keep me in the loop. With so many things going on, it's easy to forget what I need to get, do or pick up. I often think of ideas for something like a blog post and by the time, I get home, I've forgotten about it and spend the rest of the night trying to remember what it was (don't you just hate that)?
3. Organisation is ESSENTIAL - How do you know the direction you are heading in, if you don't have a starting point? for me, starting a list is a great way of preparing, organising myself and setting myself up for future success. Any projects or ideas that SMLDiet come up with usually start on a list and the idea of them grows from being on that list. There's also nothing quite like getting to lunchtime and knowing that my list is already completed for that day.
OK Ally, that's all good & well but what's this got to do with a brand new month?
Why do you think we start new years resolutions in January? What does the start of a new year really mean for you? Why do you wait until the new year to start your new years resolutions? Well for me, I like to look at each and every month (like a lot of us do in January). It's a fresh start, it's a new month that's filled with promise and hope & renewed motivation.
A new month can give us the opportunity to create our 'Weight loss' AIM-TO-DO list & give us the chance to start again. We can see our goals through fresh eyes and think it's the beginning of something new. We can mark day 1 of the month as our starting point and use it to re-focus our mind and evaluate what we want from that month.
Do you remember when you were at school & you were given a brand new exercise book to write your work in? I used to get so excited by that part of school & every time I got a new exercise book, I pledged to keep it neat & tidy. No spelling mistakes and certainly no scruffy writing. I look at new years resolutions & January in particular as my brand new exercise book. It's my time to get excited by that promise that we'll do it right BUT because the year is so long, we get lost in the humdrum of daily life. It's hard to be 100% 'perfect' for a year! BUT a month is so much more manageable. Just 30 (odd) days, and in that month so much can be achieved. Imagine this time next month, if we were to re-visit this blog post together, you could be saying to me, I did a month on SMLDiet, I dropped that dress size and now i'm going to use that blog post to focus on another fresh new month OR you could be saying to me, 'I read the blog post but didn't look at my aims & i'm still in the same place'
Which conversation would you prefer to have?
I'm hoping that when you read about my 'Aim to-do-list' that you were inspired to create your own. Why not create your own list focusing on what you need to do to drop that dress size?
Have one as your day to day focus and have one setting your aims & goals for the month.
Ally is a qualified weight management counsellor & founder of the SMLDiet. Having worked in the weight loss industry for over 10 years, Ally has personally supported thousands of slimmers to help them release their excess weight & look at weight management as their long term goal. - www.theSMLDiet.com
and getting back on again....
If you are one of those slimmers who has fallen off the wagon and can't seem to catch up with it whilst it rolls away from you, then don't worry you aren't alone!
A shocking 98% of us have had a lapse at some point in our dieting life and out of that 98%, 4 out of 5 of us beat ourselves up because of it.
I get it, I really do! A friend invites you out or those mini chocolate bars are in the snack cupboard just calling your name. We've all been there and found dieting hard at times.
The thing about VLCD dieting is that it isn't like calorie counting where if you go 100 calories over your daily intake you can think 'oh well, i'll start again tomorrow' . For us VLCD'ers, it can seem like the end of the world to us.
'oh no i've blown it, I'm probably not in ketosis now' and before you know it, we're on a merry go round of feeling pants, eating rubbish, feeling worse about eating that rubbish so we eat some more and yes I know what we all think 'I'll start afresh tomorrow'
However, even thinking I'll start again tomorrow isn't enough to stop that internal battle. That inner critic that seems to suck all of our energy and positivity away.
In fact silencing that inner critic can be hard work and mentally exhausting.
So... If you have fallen off your VLCD wagon, here's how to get back on it again.
You're only human
No-one is perfect 100% of the time. In fact, scrap that. No-one is perfect full stop!
Those celebs we see on the screens or in the mags, they really work to look like that and even those 'food and health gurus' have off days where they may not be up to working out or eating 'clean'. We all make mistakes and you know what? That's ok!
If you have had an off day and found yourself having a lapse tell yourself it's ok and move on from it. If you keep thinking about that lapse, you'll find that any motivation you did have will slowly ebb away.
You can't change what's been but you can change how you behave tomorrow.
Work out your day
We all have 24 hours in a day but we choose to spend them in different ways. When i'm on a meal replacement plan, I divide my day into time sections (abit like i do my working day actually). So for example, i have 4 packs to have in a day and i wake up at 5.30 every day so i know that at 7am (as my children eat their breakfast), I have my first pack then i have packs every 4 hours after that. It spreads them out nicely and as I like my routines, It's a great way to stick to routine and get in the habit of doing something for me.
If your routine is different, then come up with a meal pack routine that you know you will find easy and stick to. If evenings are hard for you (as they are with a lot of VLCD slimmers), then work out a routine to help you in the evenings.
Earlier in the year, i released a free e-guide about motivation and how you can help yourself stay motivated. Those of you who downloaded the free guide will know that motivation can come in many forms. Some people like to use celebs or other slimmers as their motivation, others are motivated by a comment someone has made about them. Visuals are a great way of staying motivated - that dress you want to get into? pop it somewhere you will notice it, try it on every week and see how it's starting to fit you. Leave yourself positive affirmations in food cupboards so when you do reach for food, you find yourself filled with positivity instead.
Instant gratification lasts for that instant
Lets be honest here, how many of us agree with the fact that our need for instant gratification got us here in the first place. I know i can hold my hand up to that one. I would start to diet but food would call to me. I would cave and spend the rest of the day feeling lousy about myself.
When you are on your VLCD and find yourself craving foods, remember this....
These foods you are craving, you have probably craved before (and more than likely acted on these cravings that's why they're repeating themselves).
How did you feel last time you craved them?
What was your end behaviour? (was it that you gave into the cravings and lapsed?) if so, how did you feel after lapsing?
What would honestly happen if you gave into these cravings?
How would you feel if you gave into these cravings?
Noticing these patterns can really help you stop your thought processes before your usual behaviour kicks in.
Find the positive in everything
Have you ever noticed that when you're feeling negative, everything seems like hard work?! Before you know it, you are at a pity party and no-one else wants to come!
It's so much easier for us to be negative instead of being positive. Find the positive in everything you do. So you've just had your second foodpack? celebrate that!
You've drank your water allowance for the day? hey go you!
Start to notice those achievements as they so often get overlooked.
Get yourself a journal and at the end of each day, write down your achievements and what you are grateful for. You'll go to bed with a happy head because of it
I always know when slimmers are having a hard time on VLCD. Mainly because they go quiet in our facebook support group. This is the time though where they should be reaching out more. You should never be afraid to ask for help, say 'hey i'm having a hard time of it, any advice?' I can guarantee that someone will pop along and help you out when you least expect it and you know what? you aren't alone. There's always someone out there who may be struggling with their vlcd too. Our support group is fabulous as it's non-judgemental and our slimmers really are the best when it comes to giving advice. If you aren't on facebook, don't worry as here at the SMLDiet, we're only an email or phone call away.
'If we took a holiday. Took some time to celebrate. Just one day out of life. It would be, it would be so nice'
Now holidays are supposed to be a time of fun, time to relax and unwind. Forget about all the troubles back in reality BUT what if you get so wound up thinking about your holiday, what you are going to look like, how you're going to feel on that beach that you find yourself feeling anxious? We certainly don't want that for you. So. this blog is designed for anyone who has seen those holiday snaps and ripped them up in tears (waves frantically here), this post is designed for those who is losing weight for their holidays (again waves frantically) and this post is designed for those who book their holiday only to be consumed with thoughts of 'I need to lose weight'
So. You've booked a holiday...
and if you are anything like me (or most people out there), one of the first thoughts you had was how long you had to lose weight for this holiday . Am I right?
Thought so. Whether you have 3 weeks or 3 months to go before your holidays, It's a good time to start getting organised about what you want to achieve. Ask yourself this...
How much do I want to lose?
How much time do I have to lose it?
How much can I realistically lose?
How am I going to lose it?
These 4 questions will set you up for your holiday weight loss in no time at all.
How much do I want to lose?
Lets be realistic here. If you are going on holiday in 7 days time, you aren't going to lose 5 stone. However, you need to look at how far away your holiday is. So for example, on the SMLDiet, slimmers lose (an average of) 1 stone a month. If your holiday is 8 weeks away, you could lose about 2 stone in that time on the SMLDiet. However, if your holiday is 14 days away, you could still lose a significant amount if you put your mind to it.
How much time do I have to lose it?
Usually people have a lot of time from booking their holiday to the actual departure to try and lose weight and get prepared. However, I have a friend who randomly booked a holiday and flew out with just 5 days notice (lucky her). Look closely at how much time you have to lose your weight, draw out a chart to show a countdown of days, look at your diary for any events coming up.
How much can I realistically lose?
The key word to remember here is the word realistically . Again, as I said earlier, you can't lose 14 stone in a day BUT no matter how little or much time you have, you can certainly make a difference to your weight, health and overall confidence for your holiday. It's important to set yourself goals and even rewards (not the food kind) along the way but remember - be kind to yourself. Remember: DON'T STARVE YOURSELF!!! There's no point in making yourself unwell to try and lose an unrealistic amount before your holidays.
How am I going to lose it?
Type in the word 'diet' on google and a gazillion websites will pop up all offering to be the holy grail of weight loss. There is a world of information out there to help you lose weight but how do you know that the weight loss plan you are going to follow is safe?
Do your research!
Look for reviews on the company, look at how active the company is on social media channels, look for the support the company offers, look at the about us page for more information on the company and the people behind the company.
You also need to look at how you want to lose weight. I have previously tried many diets and although weight watchers works brilliantly for some, for me I found it confusing. Other plans out there work incredibly well for some of my friends but for me? it's got to be VLCD - I love that the plan is simple to follow - 4 packs a day and i'm off.
I love the faster weight loss that a meal replacement plan gives me.
I love that all I need to do is drink a shake or eat a bar and that's it. No point counting, no weighing, measuring or worrying about going over on my calorie intake.
However, I know that VLCD's aren't for everyone either so you need to find a way of losing weight that's fine for you. So if a Total Food Replacement isn't right for you at the moment, then consider another plan (maybe 5:2), maybe calorie counting. You have to feel comfortable with what ever you choose and don't let anyone pressure you into their way of weight loss.
Ally is a qualified weight management counsellor & founder of the SMLDiet. Having been a size 22 at her heaviest, Ally works with slimmers to help them lose weight and to maintain it afterwards. For us at the SMLDiet, learning to change your relationship with food is the most important step in achieving healthy weight management and we do that with our FREE e-guides, our blogs and our booklets. For more information, please visit www.thesmldiet.com
Welcome to the wonderful world of meal replacements. Now if you are new, it can be confusing as there's so many different brands and flavours available to choose from. Once you get your head around meal replacements and using them to control your weight, you'll wonder how you ever lived with out them!
What is a Meal Replacement?
Simply put, a meal replacement is a food product that is designed to replace one or all of your daily meals. In order for a product to be classed as a meal replacement, it needs to contain essential vitamins/minerals and micro nutrients (this helps to keep your body happy & healthy).
How do you use Meal Replacements?
Meal Replacements are so easy and convenient to use for anyone looking to lose weight or maintain their weight as a part of a calorie controlled diet.
If you are looking to lose weight, you can use meal replacements to substitute your usual meals such as dinner or breakfast for example. Some meal replacement plans (such as the SMLDiet) sell meal replacements that are suitable for Total food replacement & VLCD. Whilst other companies sell meal replacements to help supplement your diet i.e you would have up to 3 per day and conventional food/snacks. Those meal replacements aren't suitable for Total Food Replacement/VLCD due to calories/sugars and proteins contained within the product.
Why do people use meal replacements?
There are so many reasons why we use meal replacements...
Well, you could have up to 4 per day to replace all of your daily meals. This is considered to be a Very Low Calorie Diet (you would be following our Simple plan). However, some slimmers use our products just to simply replace 1 or 2 of their meals on a daily basis.
Personally, if I have had a busy day, i may use one of our soups or meal packs to have as my tea instead of cooking a traditional meal. This helps my weight management and gives me the satisfaction that I have looked after my body by not skipping meals altogether.
What is a VLCD?
A VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) is a weight loss diet designed to help slimmers achieve weight loss at a faster rate than following traditional weight loss plans. You would usually consume on average 600 calories and this is done by consuming meal replacements that are designed to be used for VLCD's or Total Food replacement diets (such as the SMLDiet). Your body would go into ketosis and use stored fats as it's main energy source.
'SHAKE IT SLIM'
The SMLDiet is a leading weight loss plan in the UK. Specialising in VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diets), TFR (Total Food Replacement products and meal replacements.