Okay its cliché New Year New YOU right?
Wrong … this year there’s going to be a difference … it’s the old YOU we want back. Flat belly, super sexy, slim, confident, and stress-free, you remember how it used to be?
Well 2020 marks a new decade, it’s a big milestone so it’s time for big changes!
January, we turn to resolutions to make changes in our lives, and the number one for most of us is to lose weight or eat healthier.
But usually by February, that all falls by the wayside as motivation wanes and our old habits return to comfortably seduce us back to the familiar foods we know and love.
As a busy, self-employed Mum, juggling businesses, and as a qualified nutritional therapist myself, I know how all too easy it is to do. I may want to change but my family may not, and staying strong and encouraging them can be a difficult task when I’m also craving certain foods and drink.
Most of us know that we should exercise, eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and get a good night’s sleep, its common sense, but how many of us actually do that every day?
Just knowing what to do, doesn’t make it automatically happen.
As Voltaire’s dictum goes;
‘That common sense is not so common’
We know what we should be doing to help ourselves but often we just don’t know how or where to start?
Simply starting is key, and here are 7 tips to get you started in 2020.
- No plan is a plan to fail – Snacking and eating at irregular times of the day stimulates weight gain. A good regular mealtime routine is important, so, plan ahead, decide a menu of meals in advance and write a list of ingredients before you shop, this means you’re more likely to stick to the plan. Preparing meals in advance and batch cooking with a few key ingredients helps, as well as taking your own packed lunch to work. Stocking your kitchen with healthy snack options and discarding unhealthy options is advisable too, when we are starving it’s easy to reach for a quick fix in sugar or salt. You can’t rely on will power in those moments of weakness so best not to put temptation in front of you. To boost your motivation, keep a journal of everything you eat and drink, either buy a nice notebook or use an app on your phone, there are some really good free ones where you can scan bar codes on food to keep track of every calorie or oz of fat. This can be a real eyeopener. I use MyNetDiary https://www.mynetdiary.com/ on my iPhone s its free, quick and easy!
Research has proven that those who write their goals down meaningfully increase their chances of success in achieving those goals by 30% and keeping track as in using the above app and measuring your progress along the way, helps you to increase your chances of success by a whopping 60%!!!!
Reviewing your goals is a must, it keeps you motivated, on track, and shows you what changes need to be made and helps you to see your progress. You can’t conveniently forget when you record what you are eating and drinking. Being honest with yourself is essential to maintaining or losing weight.
- Meal Monotony – Eat the same meals, boring I know but that’s the secret to eating less, your taste buds are less likely to overeat when you’re full, if what’s on offer is a boring plate of food that our taste buds are used to, and this will stop you over eating. Plan meals in advance and shop online for the ingredients, this way you won’t be tempted to buy the foods you don’t want or need, saving you money as well as calories, opt for soup, salads, fish pulses and drink plenty of water. You may not like fish or salad for example, but love chicken and vegetables and that’s okay, just eat lots of veg instead. It’s important to find those foods that you do like, not to eat things because you think they’ll help you to lose weight. Don’t deny or forbid yourself- this is important because the reason diets don’t work long-term is because, we can’t deny or deprive ourselves forever and why should we?
The key to permanent weight loss is finding a healthy lifestyle that you can enjoy and live with forever, not until you reach your weight loss goal.
- EAT MORE- For most of us it’s not how much we eat that causes us weight gain it’s what we are eating. Ironically another key to losing weight is to fill up, when we are hungry, we make unhealthy choices. Bulking up on healthy, nutritious food, prevents us feeling ravenous.
Foods that are filling are those that weigh more, have larger volume and a higher water content (more on this later under Water). Fruits and fibre, beans, lentils, quinoa, oats and barley absorb water and are high in fibre. Water and fibre add bulk making you feel fuller for longer and the good news is, water and fibre have zero calories. To lose weight we need to choose more slow carbs too, these are known as low glycaemic foods or low GI foods, these make you feel full for longer, as they keep your blood sugar even, preventing cravings, regulating your appetite and helping you to last longer between meals so you are less inclined to snack. These are what we call ‘good carbs. A low GI meal inhibits a spike in insulin, promoting satiety and rate of weight loss. You can find some low GI Recipes here https://www.gisymbol.com/low-gi-everyday-meal-plan/
You will consume more volume and weight without feeling hungry by adopting a low-density diet.
- RESISTANCE EXERCISE- Now I need no excuse to resist exercise, this is something that comes naturally to me, in fact out of all the possible addictions in this world I could have, this is probably one of the only ones I don’t have!!!
But I’m only joking, when talking about resistance exercise I’m referring to muscle strengthening. We need to work our arms, shoulders, legs, hips, back, chest and abdomen, at least twice a week to be of any benefit, using heavy weights to lift or using our body weight such as, push or sit ups or using resistance bands, if you’re a scaffolder or do manual work you’re ahead of the game. Also, if you do sporting activities regularly such as rugby or gymnastics. But you do need to push yourself when strengthening those muscles, to the point where you feel you can’t possible do one more lift of crunch. But this muscle building needs to be done gradually so you progress over time and eventually 15 repetitions turn into 50, as your strength and stamina increase. Important as we age as resistance exercises can help to prevent brittle bones and increasing your muscle mass helps you to burn more calories so the more muscle the better, and if you are reducing your calorie intake you will lose muscle as well as fat. However, by including muscle strengthening exercises you keep hold of more muscle and end up losing more fat. It also accelerates your metabolism which means that you continue to burn calories hours later following exercise, according to Melby et al., 1993 your BMR is elevated for up to 15 hours after exercise due to the oxidation of body fat and it increases the effectiveness of your nutrient uptake in your muscles, reducing insulin-related fat storage.
Seems there’s no better reasons to use weight resistance training to burn fat and build muscle – this doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym lifting heavy weights though, getting to a gym can become an obstacle to exercise in itself for some and for we just don’t have the time, but don’t worry, all you need is a couple of hand weights (or tins of beans) and a resistant leg exerciser that can fold away or some stretchy bands. Even if you only have ten minutes a day, that’s all you need to feel and see the positive changes that can occur over time, with consistent use. Excuse me while I convert my clothes horse back to the weights bench, I bought one January aeons ago….
Anyone who knows me will know I love a drink, but I know that although alcohol is socially acceptable and even associated with good times and celebrations, it’s still a neurotoxic, psychoactive drug that depresses the central nervous system. That’s why the government offer guidelines for how many units we should drink a week, but who pays attention or really knows what they are? Well in the UK it’s no more than 14 units per week for both genders last time I checked https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/alcoholic-drinks-units/latest-uk-alcohol-unit-guidance/
Still means little to me, after a few I’ve lost count of how many glasses of wine I’ve drunk let alone units per glass. But if we are counting calories shockingly, for anyone trying to lose weight, there’s approximately 500 calories in a bottle of wine!
Add to that the fact alcohol makes us feel hungry and crave unhealthy food types, then its best to stay away completely if we want to be slim and trim in 2020. But I’m no party pooper, if you socialise there’s great alcoholic beverage alternatives these days or low alcoholic ones.
Low alcoholic drinks are poised for big business in 2020 but I don’t particularly like the taste of them in fact, most of us drink for the buzz not the flavour we get from booze, so many of us will be better off with a normal soft drink, my favourite is flavoured fizzy water, it still feels like a treat compared to the plain still water I drink all day, as it’s got the sweet fizz to fool my brain into thinking I’m having a reward. This is important as having rewards is vital to changing our habits. Some of us may not be motivated by rewards so we may want to focus on avoiding a negative consequence instead, such as a hangover. As we age, we do tend to suffer more with hangovers as our bodies struggle to metabolise alcohol and we fight intoxication and dehydration, then as soon as our liver has had enough, we get a headache.
- WATER – WATER THE ELIXIR OF LIFE
That’s when our faithful sober friend, water helps, by drinking buckets of the stuff, we dilute that alcohol and relieve that banging head.
Our bodies are around 60% to 70% water in weight a day. Some of us can be carrying an extra 10 to 15 pounds of excess water daily, which has become trapped in our tissues.
This excess water causes abdominal bloating, face & eye puffiness and cellulite, and it can be caused from many things such as;
• Food sensitivities
• Nutrient & antioxidant deficiencies
• Hormones i.e. menstrual cycle
• Not enough protein
• Not enough WATER!!!
Yes, ironically not drinking enough water can actually cause water retention.
Our kidneys need water to flush toxins and waste from our bodies, but when water reserves are low i.e., we haven’t drunk enough water, our kidneys end up storing water.
On top of that, not enough water and our lymphatic system slows down too.
When this happens and our bodies can no longer carry waste away, that waste then accumulates in fat cells leading to cellulite, particularly in women.
And what better reason do we need to increase our water intake, than the fact that it suppresses our appetites, and naturally helps our bodies to metabolise stored fat?
As an added bonus drinking enough water gives us clearer complexions.
And of course, when we are drinking plenty of water then we are not drinking too much caffeine, fizzy drinks and fruit juices. All of which cause us to gain weight and increase our daily calorie intake considerably.
WEIGHING ALL THIS UP
Our weight changes due to our hydration levels.
Therefore, if you do weigh yourself regularly, for accuracy make sure you weigh yourself at approximately the same time of day, with similar hydration levels. For more in-depth readings you can also buy Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis [BIA] scales, because these can measure your body fat percentage and hydration levels.
HOW MUCH WATER DO WE NEED?
Water is essential for survival.
We can live without most things but not water.
It maximises our muscle functions, rids our bodies of excess water, and increases our metabolism. But to do all that efficiently we need to drink about two litres [or eight glasses of water] a day, for our bodies to function properly.
On top of that, in hot weather we should all be drinking more than the recommended daily amounts.
And did you know that if you are overweight, you will need an extra glass for every twenty pounds of excess weight you carry?
HOW CAN WE INCREASE OUR WATER CONSUMPTION IN ORDER TO LOSE WEIGHT?
– TOP TIP 1
Get into the habit of always carrying a bottle of water with you wherever you go!
– TOP TIP 2
ADD WATER TO MEALS
To help with weight loss, drink plenty of water prior to and during meals.
Also, drink your daily calories in vegetable soups, because soups fill up our stomachs more and for longer.
Research has also shown that low energy density foods- that is foods that have a high-water content such as stews and soups, and foods such as salads and fruits that are naturally high in water; reduce appetite and make us eat less high calorie foods.
So, we need to increase our intake of water rich foods, as well as foods that absorb water during cooking, such as rice and pasta, if we want to lose weight without feeling hungry.
WATER THE ELIXIR OF WEIGHT LOSS
So, there you have it, weight gain can be attributed to water retention, and paradoxically water can be the answer to weight loss.
So, in either case drink up if you’re trying to lose weight!
- SLEEP- We are all different and the amount of sleep each one of us needs will vary, some will bounce out of bed after 6 hours of sleep others need 9 hours to feel refreshed. Quality and quantity of sleep is important. Usually these are both in short supply, but if we scrape by on a couple of broken hours here or there, we are likely to find ourselves overreacting to every -day life, leaving us stressed and anxious.
Everybody experiences times when they can’t sleep at night, but if its ongoing with no apparent cause, and it isn’t to do with physical factors such as temperature or something we can identify with such as pain, then we need to be proactive and find out what the cause is.
Our work and family can seem more challenging at those times when we are tired, and problems can seem worse than they actually are.
This is because the amygdala, the emotional part of the brain, is more active when sleep deprived.
Lack of sleep can be detrimental to overall health and wellbeing, none of us should be deprived of the basic necessity to sleep. Lack of sleep is also accumulative, and it’s much harder to catch up on missed sleep than you may think. That’s why we have to catch up on sleep whenever we can. Even if this means a nap in the day to make up for lost sleep at night.
- How do you feel when you do not get your nightly quota of sleep?
- Do you ever feel so tired you struggle to get through the next day, only to go to bed that night unable to go to sleep?
Then you’re overtired and stimulated, resulting in unhealthy sleeping patterns. The only solution is to sleep whenever you can, to restore the balance and improve your sleeping habits.
To check out subjectively whether or not you’re getting enough sleep take a look at The Epworth Sleepiness Scale https://epworthsleepinessscale.com/about-the-ess/
We need sleep to normalise hormones: melatonin and cortisol. Cortisol regulates our immune systems, metabolism, blood sugar and stress response any lack of sleep will instantly impact your cortisol levels. Melatonin regulates our sleep-wake cycle and is needed to regulate metabolism, the immune system reproduction and co-ordination. Not having a regular sleeping routine or for those who work nights or shifts, change these hormones. If trying to lose weight sleep deprivation won’t help, research shows when you sleep less you eat and drink more calories and if you are fighting to stay awake you are probably going to turn to high sugar and high fat foods and drinks.
I can think of no better time to renew my mattress, bed clothes and most importantly my pillows, than a new decade. We spend a whopping 26 hours asleep in our beds in our lifetime according to a Dreams online article by Gemma Curtis https://www.dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/your-life-in-numbers-infographic/
Unfortunately, for many of us we spend that tossing and turning. Comfort is crucial for this heavenly retreat we call bed, so investing in this is a true investment in our health and wellbeing. Satin sheets are great anti-aging, skin creasing fabric for looking younger, for longer and also for cheeky sensual early nights with a loved one, but for comfort, cotton in the highest thread count that you can afford is the best chance of a soothing, peaceful deep sleep.
It’s also advisable to get into a regular sleep cycle by going to be bed and waking up the same time each day, including weekends (forget those lazy Sunday lie ins!)
And don’t eat big meals where you are stuffed, or drink alcohol for at least 2 hours before bed. Poor nutrition can also cause chronic fatigue, so avoiding sugar and stimulants such as alcohol, coffee, tea and chocolate is recommended and include more vitamin C into your diet along with healthy antioxidant-rich foods.
Keeping your bedroom around 16°C to 18°C degrees is the best temperature for encouraging a good night’s sleep.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, fun 2020!
Your Time is the Present, Enjoy the Gift,