January may be over but millions of diet books are still being snapped off the shelves and gym memberships are sky-rocketing as people continue their pledges to lose weight and get fit. Those in a rush to shed the unwanted few pounds follow fad diets or strict exercise regimes that are neither sustainable nor enjoyable. With a deadline set in stone, brides-to-be are often the most likely to fall prey to this trend.
But getting healthy and losing weight should be enjoyable, sustainable and done within a realistic time frame. So here are a few tips that will help you attain and sustain your health and fitness goals.
Enjoy the process and think positively
When people do not see instant results or are having a bad day, they often become depressed and lose their willpower. Rather than indulging in negative feelings about how you look, try to channel positive thoughts, such as, how happy you will be when you achieve your ideal weight or how amazing you will look on your wedding day. You should also try to eat more mood-enhancing foods such as almonds, salmon, fresh berries and green leafy vegetables and increase your daily water intake to give you more energy.
It can be hard to find the time to exercise during the working week so walking to work, as part of your commute, is a great way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Not only do you benefit from fresh air and a great view, you also improve your health by cutting the risk of a number of illnesses. So why not trade your office brogues for comfortable trainers and notice the difference it brings to your fitness and mood.
Make small changes to your lifestyle
Making minor changes to your day-to-day routine can help to dramatically transform your health and fitness levels. Why not try to make one small change to your lifestyle each week? For instance, rather than cutting carbs out of your diet completely, try eating them as early in the day as possible so you have more time to burn them off. You could also try swapping milk chocolate for dark chocolate which has a lower calorie count or swap food that is high in saturated and trans fat for unsaturated fats found in nuts and certain vegetables and fruits such as avocado.
Take time to plan
It is very common to decide to do a last-minute diet after an indulgent weekend. This can be problematic because you are unprepared for the busy week ahead and do not have time to buy healthy food for your house or fit in time to exercise. Try to set aside an hour at the weekend to sit down and plan your meals for the week and then shop accordingly, this is also a great money-saving tool. You can then use a health and fitness app like Lifesum, to help track your food and exercise intake throughout the week. This way, you will be able to re-examine your food habits at the end of the week, helping you to recognise where improvements need to be made and incorporate them into your plan for week ahead.
Remember, you are trying to make a permanent lifestyle change and not just looking for a quick fix. Do not jump onto the bandwagon of every new fad diet such as the Mono Meal, 5:2 or the Paleo diet. Although these diets can be helpful for some, it is not a one-size-fits-all situation as each woman is different. Instead, focus on understanding your body’s strengths and weaknesses and tailor your new diet to its needs. I would suggest you consult with an expert when committing to your new diet to ensure that you undergo a natural and comfortable transition.
Find an exercise you enjoy
It’s a common myth that to be healthy you have to be a member of a gym. Joining a gym does not suit everyone’s lifestyle or bank balance. If you are more of an outdoor body, interested in creative ways to exercise, then why not look for an activity that you really enjoy? Running is still considered one of the most exciting and affordable ways to stay fit, so trade in the view of the grey wall at the gym for a more scenic route outdoors. Use an exercise tracker like RunKeeper, which can be linked to the Lifesum app, for optimum assessment of your progress. Or you could take up a new hobby that will help you shed the unwanted pounds.
Lovisa is the nutritionist and assistant product manager at health and fitness app Lifesum (www.lifesum.com)