Step away from the diet!

So as January is well and truly underway, it got me wondering just how many people committed themselves to ‘going on a diet’ for 2017? Well if you’re looking to lose a little weight, or get a little fitter, let me assure you that dieting is not the answer!

To ‘go on a diet’ implies that this is a temporary measure with an end date in sight, after which you perhaps ‘come off’ the diet and revert to your original ways. But by going back to your normal eating routine, all that lost weight will just go straight back on, possibly with a little added extra. Losing weight has to be an ongoing lifestyle change which consists of a holistic approach, combining healthy nutrition with a balanced exercise / active routine, managing stress levels and ensuring adequate rest and recovery.

So how do you go about ensuring you have a healthy diet? Simply put, by making sure you eat lots of the good stuff and less of the bad!!! And there are all sorts of ways you can do this. Using lots of veggies to make a filling soup, adding berries as a topping to a bowl of wholegrain cereal, using leaner cuts of meat, switching to wholemeal bread, adding a colourful side salad to dinner etc. Simple tips such as making your own bolognese sauce instead of buying a ready made jar can make a huge difference – you can control exactly what’s in it and if often works out cheaper too.

If you can face it, always try and have breakfast – this literally ‘breaks the fast’ from overnight, kick starts your metabolism and gives you some energy to face the day. Not only that but starting the day with brekkie will help stop you from reaching for the biscuit tin at 10am. Couple that with a brisk walk to work and you’ve earned the right to feel virtuous 😊

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring, bland or monotonous in any way, shape or form – learn about portion control and naturally nutritious foods rather than fixating on calories and processed items – you won’t go far wrong if you have an understanding of this.

A really helpful way of helping you identify your weak spots is to keep a food and fitness diary – it doesn’t have to be forever but just in the short term it can really help you identify where you could have made better food choices or where you’ve been a bit lazy!!

I’m a firm believer in there being a space for all foods in your diet, and for finding exercise you enjoy. So for the former, there’s no need to eliminate anything entirely – just see it as an occasional treat. Trust me, you’ll appreciate it more. For the latter, there are a hundred and one different ways that you can be active and sometimes you just need to try a few things to find the activity that you look forward to doing. And there is no right or wrong – just because your friend enjoys swimming and goes twice a week, doesn’t mean you have to! If roller blading over the prom is more your cup of tea then go for it – if you try and force yourself into something because it’s what you feel you ‘should’ do, then you’ll never stick it out.

Lets also not forget the other aspects I mentioned previously which contribute to overall wellbeing – managing stress and factoring in rest and recovery. If work is particularly stressful for you then see if you can break away from your desk at lunchtime and go for a brisk walk around the block. Or come evening, unwind in a hot bubbly bath or settle down with a good book just for 20 minutes. And get into bed promptly – whilst some of us function very well on 6 hours of sleep a night, others may struggle with 8 – you need to find your sweet spot so that when the alarm wakes you in the morning, you don’t feel like you still need another 3 hours!

Get the foundations in place and managing an appropriate weight for you will be a whole lot easier.