1. Lift weights twice a week to increase your muscle mass. This muscle will burn more calories even when you are not exercising. Go to the gym, buy some weights for home, go for a walk with a bottle of water in your ruck sack or go to a weighted workout.
2. Take care of your heart and lungs by staying active for at least 30 minutes each day. This can be split into more than one session, so could mean 2 x 15 minute walks.
3. Eat small amounts of GOOD fats: avocado, oily fish, olive/flax oil, nuts and seeds, these will take care of your cardiovascular system (heart, arteries and veins). Eat less BAD fats: Fried food, meat, cakes, chocolate, crisps, biscuits, butter, these will harm your cardiovascular system, and make you fat. Remove ALL hydrogenated fats from your diet, they are very bad for you and hide in many ready made biscuits, cakes, crisps, puddings, sweets, chocolates. These fats are extremely harmful to your health. Avoiding them will help you avoid foods which are high in fat, sugar and salt and low in nutrients. Check labels.
4. Protein will make you feel full, and will help repair muscle after exercise. Try sourcing protein from skinless chicken, tofu, pulses (beans and peas) and oily fish such as salmon, fresh tuna and mackerel; these also contain other beneficial ingredients and are low in bad saturated fats.
5. Make sure you eat your carbohydrates, they help you to exercise and burn fat, but eat SLOW BURN carbohydrates such as oats (porridge), brown bread instead of white, brown rice, honey instead of sugar, brown pasta, lentils, vegetables, pulses. If you want to loose body fat, then replace half your carbohydrates with steamed vegetables, at your evening meal.
6. Drink more water, often the body sends the same signal for thirst as for hunger. Drink water first thing in the morning and all through the day, especially during and after exercising. Cut down on tea and coffee, avoid fizzy drinks.
7. Eat a piece of fruit and drink water instead of drinking fruit juice which is high in calories, and difficult to digest.
8. Watch out for sports drinks. Unless you are training very hard, a bottle of sports drink may replace all of the calories you have just burned in your activity. Bring a bottle of water instead.
9. Keep an eye on your drinking! Alcohol and mixers are high in calories.
10. Do not get hungry; this will lead to you eating the wrong things. Carry healthy snacks wherever you go; bananas, apples, rice cakes, dried fruit and nuts (go easy on them though). Hunger can be triggered by boredom or lack of stimulation. Go for a walk or wander round the garden, or do the vacuuming. Eat 5 small meals a day rather than 3 big ones.
11. Look at your portion sizes; in general they are larger than they need to be. If a smaller portion will leave you feeling hungry, add a huge spoon of steamed broccoli, cauliflower or other vegetables.
12. Eat your breakfast. In tests people who eat breakfast loose more weight than those who do not. You cannot exercise efficiently and achieve your potential without eating properly.
13. Do not go shopping when you are hungry. When you go, write a list and stick to it, don’t be tempted by special offers on foods that you know are bad for you.
14. Look at the ingredients on everything that you buy. Look at the total amount of fat and what kind of fat- avoid saturated fats and hydrogenated fats as they are linked with developing heart disease. Look at the amount of calories and the amount of salt that you will be eating.
In general the more ingredients on a label, the less goodness is in the food. If you have time to prepare some meals with fresh ingredients you will improve your health, and probably cut down on fat, as most prepared food is high in fats and salt.
15. Beware of reduced fat labels- it only means that there is less fat than in the original thing. (For example reduced fat mayonnaise is still 50g fat per 100g- very high in fat). These foods are still often high in sugars, fat and calories and you may eat more of them because they appear to be healthy. Don’t buy reduced fat biscuits and cakes, just eat something healthier and get used to the fact that life is OK without those things.
16. Don’t fill the house with crisps, biscuits and sweets for the kids, it is no good for them and will encourage you to snack on them too. Try and move the whole family into healthier eating, this will help prevent obesity, heart disease and diabetes in your kids when they are your age, gift them with a long, quality life.
17. Stock up on healthy foods. Write a list of delicious healthy things that you may have forgotten you love, and make sure your cupboards are full of them; cherry tomatoes, baked beans on wholemeal bread, kiwis, mangoes, ryvita and marmite……
18. Make your lunch and take it to work. Buy whole grain rolls and tins of salmon and tuna- it only takes a few minutes to make a sandwich and pick up some fruit. Even a shop sandwich will be full of fat, and low in nutrients. Hold the mayo on the tuna!
19. Watch less TV: it will give you less chance to nibble, more time to exercise or organise yourself for the next day. Organization may be the key to making your lifestyle healthier.
20. Motivate yourself to change your lifestyle and that of your family. Set an example to the kids, that mum and dad are fit and active and healthy. Take them on walks, cycling, walk to the shops, and go swimming. Take them to a local fitness centre for football, dance or basketball. Our children need our help if they are to avoid the growing epidemic of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, as well as other lifestyle-related illness. Change their eating habits; you will only do them good. LEAD BY EXAMPLE.
21. Buy yourself an exercise video to do at home instead of watching TV. Choose yoga or Pilates, aerobics or stability ball. There is a huge range on offer, talk to me for help. Buy yourself a healthy lifestyle magazine for motivation, recipes and exercises to do at home. Four good ones are Zest, Men’s Health, Ultra Fit, and Health and Fitness. Buy yourself a healthy eating or low fat cookbook for ideas.
22. Remember to have some treats and some fun, life is for living, being healthy should be enjoyable too, not a chore.
23. Slow down, stop rushing around, become more organised and make time to enjoy cooking, exercising and life in general.
24. Take some time to relax and unwind. You need to lower stress levels to stay healthy, exercise, Yoga and Pilates can help you do this, and so can a warm bath by candlelight.
25. Make exercise and healthy eating a normal and enjoyable part of every day of your life. You will live longer, protect your children’s health and be a happier, healthier person.
I hope that this gives you some motivation to change your life in small ways and reap large benefits. Until next time,
Do you have any friends and family who could benefit from getting fitter and feeling better? If you do, then treat them to free copy of this newsletter, forward it to them, and get them to e-mail me with a request. E-mail [email protected] subject: newsletter request.
Vikki Scovell BA(hons) PG DIP is a fully qualified Personal Trainer and Fitness Coach. She is a qualified Nutrition Adviser and runs successful Community Exercise classes. Vikki is a consultant in Healthy Eating and Exercise initiatives to schools in the independent sector and publishes School and General Healthy Living newsletters.