Happy New Year! This is the time of year everyone’s feeling ready for a change, and every magazine is trying to make you feel guilty for over-indulging during the holidays and telling you how to quickly try and fix it. Well, I’m going to be different. I’m going to reign in any feelings of desperation you may have and tell you what not to do!
First and foremost, now’s not the time to do anything drastic as this normally leads to something unhealthy and unsustainable. So, forget setting the New Years Resolution to follow that new fad diet and get in shape quicker than ever. Any responsible trainer will tell you, ‘moderation and patience is the way to make lasting change’, whereas ‘extreme practices will soon lead to issues’. The body takes time to adjust, fast changes just are not possible, so look to make small steps consistently.
DO THIS INSTEAD
Don’t cut calories too severely
Aim to cut back ~200-300 from your normal levels
Don’t skip meals, you’ll miss out on nutrients and develop hunger cravings
Start the day with breakfast and eat small frequent planned meals during the day
Don’t cut out dairy completely
Swap high fat dairy for low fat
Don’t snack on empty calories like crisps or chocolate, you had enough at Christmas!
Snack on fruit and veg to fill your tummy without the calories
Don’t follow a diet where you eat only one type of thing or eliminate something vital
Up your protein intake to help you feel full for longer
Don’t open yourself us to temptation when hungry
Plan your meals in advance and make sure you have in what you need
Don’t cut out carbohydrates completely
Try reducing ratio of sugars and increasing starchy low GI sources instead
Don’t see fat as the enemy, you actually need a certain amount
Reduce intake of visible fat such as trimming meat or using less butter
Severely limit alcohol. Why not try a ‘Dry January’?
Keep your energy levels up with good hydration
Don’t be lazy and rely on convenience food
Make the time to cook more real meals from scratch
When it comes to diets the general rule is if it requires you to do something peculiar, or is packaged as ‘system’, avoid it and go back to the tried and tested basics of healthy eating. I know what your thinking; you want fast results, more than basic healthy eating can achieve alone. I agree eating clean doesn’t create such fast dramatic results, but that’s exactly why you should do it.
Yes you may have spent most of December treating yourself to every snack, drink and extra serving available but there’s only so much weight you could have gained last month. In which case a month to two of healthy eating will easily do it. But if you’re also trying to rid yourself of many years of excess, no diet can do it quick. Be in it for the long haul and look for impressive long-term results by forgetting extreme sacrifice diets that you just won’t enjoy or be able to endure for very long.
In order to lose weight you need to combine a moderate exercise plan (which I’ve written about in this month’s Sussex Sport magazine) with sensible practices for cutting back on the food and drink you eat, known as a a state of ‘negative calorie balance’. Moderation is key here however, because our bodies still need a certain amount of calories and nutrients each day to function and to give us the energy to move and exercise. That’s why severe restriction is just creating another problem for your body causing deficiencies, energy levels to drop, lean muscle tissue to be reduced, and your immune system to be compromised, meaning you’ll end up tired, run-down, ill, unhappy and unlikely to continue with any form of long-term plan. For some ideas on eating healthily while losing weight check out my list of ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ in this article. I hope these tips are useful to you and wish you every success in 2014.
Brief Bio: Adam Lewis holds a degree in Sport & Exercise Science, a Masters degree in Human Nutrition (with Sports), is a Strength & Conditioning Specialist and has been a certified personal trainer for over 10 years. Adam provides a mobile fitness service around Brighton and Sussex. www.sportfitco.com