Starting a health and fitness drive just after the new year more often than not ends in failure.
Generally, this is because the new lifestyle you are trying to follow – in terms of both diet and training – is unrealistic, unsustainable and unenjoyable.
Big changes, restrictive diets and lots of training, are not the way forward.
Instead, try making small and easily followed changes and apply them to your life consistently.
They will work better than a celeb diet, rubbish fad product or becoming a clean eating, cardio professional.
Here are 15 things you could do.
1. Don’t eat too little.
In the UK, we don’t have a weight loss problem but we do have a problem with keeping the weight off in the long run.
We go for unsustainable options like super-restrictive cleanses, tea detoxes, juicing and low-carb diets, which far more often than not, result in us regaining at least the weight we lost when we stop.
Making small dietary changes and not restricting yourself is more effective every time.
2. Cardio is cardio.
As long as you are doing cardio, and trying to increase the intensity (effort) over time, then you’re doing fine.
You are more likely to reap rewards through consistency with cardio activities you enjoy, like sports, classes and outdoor options, than inconsistency with HIIT workouts in the gym or fitness machines you absolutely dread.
3. Stand, don’t sit.
When people get the tube, it is generally for five to six stops.
By standing instead of sitting, you will burn more calories and this will add up over time.
Plus, it’s more comfortable than slouching in a dirty seat while avoiding eye contact with the person sitting opposite you.
4. Keep on moving.
Whether it be walking up the escalator, taking the stairs or offering to make the office teas, just keep moving.
Sedentary lifestyles are being linked with diseases and killing your posture and core strength more and more frequently .
Avoiding illness and injury is key to improving your fitness.
5. Expand your horizons.
Yoga, hot yoga, hiking, skiing, cycling, bowls, extreme ironing, spinning, triathlons, the bull run, squash, Irish dancing, Zumba, pole dancing, parkour, climbing – these are all examples of new sports and potential hobbies to take up.
Find something you enjoy, invest time in it and you will start to reap mental and physical benefits from it.
6. Drink more water.
Sufficient water intake can aid with fat metabolism (burn), efficient bodily function, avoiding headaches, improving physical and mental performance, reducing hunger and more.
All these things will help you progress and stick to a healthier lifestyle.
Sipping on a bottle or chugging a glass every so often are both fine to do and are both better than being dehydrated.
7. Water and vegetables with your meals.
Drink a glass of water 10 to 15 minutes before eating, and more with your meal, and increase the amount of vegetables you eat.
This will increase the bulk of the food you consume for a minimal calorie increase and you’ll up your vitamin and mineral intake too.
These tricks will help increase the likelihood of you improving your health, losing weight and keeping it off.
8. Banning equals binging.
‘Clean eating’ and other diets that ban foods are unsustainable and unhealthy in my view.
They just cause you to binge on the banned items you crave while demonising foods and food groups, causing increased prevalence of conditions such as orthorexia (fear of certain foods).
It is far more sensible to include your favourite foods every day, but to moderate the portion size.
9. Avoid fads.
Fad diets only work in the short term.
They emerge, are omnipresent in the hand of a reality TV celebrity from The Only Way is Dagenham or Z-Lister Island, and disappear just as quickly – just like your results.
They are often super restrictive on calories, carbs and nutrient-dense foods and work very fast in the short term, but are expensive and quickly cause rebound weight gain when you stop.
10. Blacklisting things that waste money.
A simple list of products and diets to avoid include detox teas, juice cleanses, aloe vera cleanses, waist trainers, skinny teas, raspberry ketones, fat burners, diet protein powder, female-specific protein powder, carb and fat blockers, testosterone boosters and anything endorsed by a reality TV celebrity turned fitness guru.
These are, in my view, a waste of money, time and nothing more than a gimmick.
11. Resistance training for maximum gaining.
A combination of both body weight and weight training is ideal.
Too much jumping and higher impact work is not great for those with injuries or are less fit, and weights may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Blending both is great for variation, improving muscle tone and strength, and even improving bone density in post-menopausal women.
12. Become aware of your calories.
Controlling your caloric intake is key to reducing body fat – it is more important than the amount of carbs or fats you consume.
This article was originally published in the Metro.