Tuesday, 3 February 2015

New Year New You - January 2015

A new year rolls over, we make our resolutions for the year promising ourselves this is the year of change. This year we will do and we're not joking! In fact, we are excited, determined and committed but... around about now we have almost given up on the promises we made for the new year. So, listed below are a few tips to easily guide you to a healthier you.

Eat breakfast - a healthy breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism (so you will start burning calories from the beginning of the day), replenishes your body of essential vitamins and minerals and boosts your energy levels to start the day. It also sharpens your concentration, gives you strength and endurance to engage in physical activity and stabilises your mood. What's more, I believe it helps control your weight by keeping you satisfied for longer, preventing you from overeating at lunch or snacking to compensate at other meals throughout the day. Fibre-rich foods, wholegrains and fruits are a great way to start the day.

Small and more - eating smaller meals throughout the day rather than the standard three large meals keeps your energy levels up and your metabolism working. Dish up smaller servings for yourself and in between the three "main" courses, snack on fresh fruit and berries, vegetable sticks - carrots, celery, cucumber or cherry tomatoes, raw nuts and seeds and small amounts of Greek or plain yoghurt or hummus. If you don't feel satisfied at the end of a meal, add more vegetables (including leafy greens) or complete the meal with fresh fruit. Avoid feeling stuffed after each meal. If you are used to eating large portions, this may take a few days to a week to get used to.

Baby steps - start by making small changes to your diet; sautéing food in olive oil instead of butter, choosing wholegrains not refined breads and pastas, limiting high-fat dairy by switching to low-fat milk, eating more fresh fruit and vegetables as snacks or by incorporating them in your recipes ie. adding a salad with a variety of coloured vegetables to your diet once a day. As these changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet.

Keep your foods whole and natural. Choose organically produced foods as much as possible. Stock up on fibre-rich foods because fibre stays in your stomach longer than other foods thus, provides a feeling of fullness for a longer period, making you eat less.

Include healthy carbohydrates to provide energy, regulate your body and control your weight. Healthy carbs include wholegrains, wholewheat, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, barley and beans as these carbs digest slowly keeping you feeling fuller for longer and also stabilising your blood sugar levels.

Avoid unhealthy carbs. Processed and refined foods such as breads, white flour, white rice, pastas and sugar digest quickly because they have had all or most of their fibre removed and cause imbalances in energy as well as blood sugar levels. Refer to the food pyramid if you don't know what you should be eating and how much or consult your doctor.

Large amounts of added sugar and fats are hidden in processed foods including breads, fast food, frozen dinner, canned soups and vegetables, pasta, tomato and soy sauces, and salad dressings so, always check the food labels carefully. If you have a sweet tooth, eat Greek or plain yoghurt alone or with oatmeal topped with berries, fresh fruit or simply eat vegetables such as carrots, beets, sweet potato, onions to add healthy sweetness to your meals.

Water, water, water! Water helps flush your body of waste and toxins yet most people do not drink enough and as a result are dehydrated causing tiredness, dry skin, headaches and food cravings. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger so, stay hydrated to help you make healthier food choices.

If you drink a lot of soft drinks, start by reducing the amount you drink and see how many days you can go without. Aim for 4,8,16,24 days then if you have a burning thirst for a drink, hopefully it will taste really sweet and not have quite the same appeal. Drink water with lemon or herbal teas.

Avoid diets. Weighing food and counting calories can be time consuming and only makes you focus more on food so you are constantly thinking of your next meal. Focus on foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate a variety of fresh ingredients and lots of colour. Gradually, reduce your intake of sweet, unhealthy foods. Over time, you will crave them less and your diet will become healthier. Refer to the internet or magazines for nutritious recipes.

We tend to rush through our meals not taking the time to really taste the flavours and textures of each food. Eat consciously. Chew your food slowly and many times, savouring every bite. After swallowing, take a minute or two before your next bite as it actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body it has had enough food so, eat slowly, enjoy each bite and stop eating before you feel full. You should feel satisfied at the end of a meal, but not stuffed. Moderation is about balance; eating only as much as your body needs.

Too much salt causes high blood pressure, weight gain and other health problems. Limit salt to one teaspoon a day. Slowly reduce your salt intake to give your taste buds time to adjust. Always opt for low-salt reduced or reduced-sodium products and use a high quality salt such as Pink Himalayan rock salt.

Remember, there is no fibre in meat, dairy or sugar so limit your portions of red or processed meats. When you do eat meat, choose smaller, leaner cuts and consume small amounts of cheese and wine.

Twice a week, replace red meat and processed carbs with fish (tuna, salmon, herring and sardines which are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids) and shellfish (mussels, oysters and clams), chicken, low-fat dairy, beans, seeds and nuts. Eat a vegetarian meal once a week. Include beans, wholegrains and vegetables. Gradually increase to two nights per week.

Weigh yourself on a good set of scales, preferably at the doctor's to determine if you are in the healthy weight range. Now you have a starting point to work from and set goals. If you have some weight to lose, set a 5 kilo target so results are quick and rewarding. Let your clothing judge your weight loss; will start to feel a little loose (unless they have been in the dryer too long!). Your weight may fluctuate which is completely normal. Focus on the end result and don't let it put you off as your body fat and muscle mass will also change if you are exercising.

Exercise is not limited to the gym. Find something active you enjoy doing and add it to your daily routine. Team up with a supportive friend who enjoys working out to encourage each other and try out new activities together (it's less daunting trying a new activity with a friend). Mix it up with swimming, yoga, pilates, walking, running, circuit classes, body pump, Zumba, boxing and martial arts. You may be surprised at what you enjoy! Once you find an exercise you enjoy be a little selfish and make it part of your daily routine, just like eating and sleeping. Know that the benefits of lifelong, regular exercise are immeasurable.

Persevere! If the next day or two after working out has you feeling sore (I call this good pain), fantastic! It means you worked hard and have awoken new muscles. As someone said to me (multiple times), "The results are on the other side of burn!"- so true!

Wear clothing that flatters your body shape - avoid hiding under loose-fitted clothing as this makes you look bigger. Also, avoid the 'muffin top' by opting for a high rise jean/pant.

Posture is important as it can give the appearance of immediate weight loss before you have even begun. Hold yourself straight, lifting up from your ribcage, shoulders back and ladies, invest in a good bra that fits well.

Drop the excuses and follow the above tips. Make this a lifestyle change. Think of your diet as nourishment for your body. The aim is to develop healthy eating for life, not just for a few weeks or months or once you reach your ideal weight. The goal is to have more energy, stabilise your temperament, reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases and above all, feel good about yourself.

Finally, reward yourself with massages, manicures, new running shoes or a walk down the beach with a friend and a fresh, blended juice.

"Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right." ~ Oprah Winfrey

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