There is no doubt about it, a large proportion of us have put on some extra pounds over the winter, and maybe we were carrying a few before that. Now that Spring has sprung it’s time to put a spring into your step and think about getting healthier, feeling better and reducing your risk of health conditions.
So, if you are looking to lose weight, how can you do it healthily and in a way that will last? It’s no secret – you need to be more active, eat healthier and generally take time to look after yourself.
- Stop kidding yourself!
If I had a pound (money now not weight!) for every time someone said to me that they do eat healthily or they are active, but when they think about it, they have large portions, snack on bad things, drink lots or only walk the dog when the weather is nice. It’s time to get real with yourself. Start by making a food diary for 7 days of what you genuinely eat. Using apps like myfitnesspal are great as they work out the calories for you. Also, get a pedometer, see how many steps you do and do a diary for how much moderate (out of breath but can still say sentences) to vigorous (out of breath and can only say odd words) exercise you do.
- Focus on measurements other than weight
For 1lb of fat, 1lb of muscle is ¼ – 1/3 of the size. Increasing your activity could help you to lose several inches off of your waist, look better, feel better and fit into smaller clothes – yet be exactly the same weight because of increased muscle. Therefore, measuring your waist (usually at the level of your belly button making sure the tape stays level) would be better than focusing solely on your weight, maybe even not looking at weight at all.
- Give yourself realistic goals
Having a long-term goal in mind is great – your summer holiday, wedding, before you hit a certain age. But sometimes focusing solely on these can make us less likely to achieve. Think about what changes you could make now, that will help you to get there. Think of them as steps rather than a particular measurement, e.g. swap your snacks for healthier ones, how many times you are going to be active in a week etc. Be realistic and build on your steps each week. If looking at weight, allowing for 1-2lb a week/2 weeks is realistic if looking at changing diet and activity levels.
- Look at the quality of your food
If you are looking to lose weight then you need to eat less calories. This doesn’t always mean less food. Sometimes just readjusting the quality and proportions of food can make a big difference. For example, a full plate of bean chilli with freshly cooked sauce and brown rice has less calories than beef mince with a jar of sauce and white rice. Not only this, it will hold more nutrition. The same goes for snacks – swapping a chocolate bar for a Nakd bar could be cutting your snacks calories by half. Even when it comes to beverages – a pint of lager is less than a pint of ale. Try to avoid low fat varieties of food – often they can be high in sugar – swap for naturally low fat versions or cut down the amount.
- Look at how much you’re eating
You’ve readjusted the quality of your food and still not shifting the belly? Maybe it’s time to look at volume. Reducing portion sizes, cutting out some of the snacks and cutting down on alcohol. An easy way to do this is buy a smaller plate – this can help fool yourself into thinking you’re having just as much food. Swap pints for bottles of beer, doubles for singles.
- Get active
Although the saying goes ‘a six pack is made in the kitchen’, being active assists weight loss by burning more overall calories both during exercise, and post. To maximise the proportion of fat being burnt, you need to get to where you’re feeling out of breath but can still talk sentences. Here you are burning a larger proportion of fat than glucose. You also need to be active for at least 20 minutes for this to take effect. If you also incorporate some more vigorous activity (e.g. in a separate session or interval training), you’ll start to increase your fitness; meaning you start to burn more fat sooner and have more post exercise burn. Furthermore, the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn when active or not, and using bigger muscles and groups during exercise will burn more (e.g. squats, deadlifts, press ups etc.). Being moderately active for at least 10 minutes at a time, aiming to reach 150 minutes a week, and generally trying to sit less will also help reduce risks of Type II diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
- Don’t overdo it
We all want to see results quickly but in reality, it is going to take time if you want to lose weight healthily and be more likely to maintain it. Yes, people can lose weight quick using fad diets but a lot of this is usually water retention and the majority of people end up putting it all back on, if not more. The reason for this is ‘diets’ generally leave you hungry and don’t help you to learn about what you are eating, change your habits or get more active. Eating less than your minimum calories to function can leave you feeling fatigued and in the long run fad diets can have damaging effects. Maybe you’ll just skip a meal? Skipping meals such as breakfast long term has been linked to hardening of the arteries. Eating a healthy amount regularly throughout the day will keep your energy levels up and make sure your body has the nutrients it needs. Similarly, do not overdo the exercise. Overdoing it will lead to fatigue and put you at a higher risk of injury – short and long term. Too much too soon could also be too much for your cardiovascular system. Start slow and build yourself up.
If you would like further advice, a personalised program, nutrition assessment and/or personal training sessions then please get in touch with [email protected], call 07876 75 46 45 or visit www.exerciseyourfreedom.com for more information. If you prefer group exercise then we also have several classes on offer.
For more FitBits visit www.exerciseyourfreedom/fit-tips
Fitness and Wellbeing Coach and Consultant
Founder of BirdSol Fitness | Nutrition | Massage | Well-being
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