Are you regretting your indulgence at Christmas yet? With at least one party every week, and countless dinners, it’s easy to lose track of a health and fitness regime by using “it’s Christmas” as an excuse. But now it’s a new year, you’re probably back at work, and you may find yourself with a few extra pounds that just weren’t there a month earlier.
Losing weight is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, along with ‘life/self improvements’, and ‘work out more often’. If you share this resolution, following these easy tips and tricks can make it much easier to shed the pounds, giving you the perfect beach body in time for summer.
- Set realistic goals and work slowly
Having a realistic goal is key to successfully losing weight. If your goal is unrealistic it’ll be easier for you to give up when you haven’t achieved exactly what you set out to. Realistic goals also help you remain healthy while you lose weight, rather than lose too much too quickly which can bring about its own health issues.
Most experts recommend losing around 5-10% of your body weight as a starting point, or one to two pounds every week, however it’s important to note your weekly weight loss will not be consistent. Most weight loss programs suggest losing 10lbs before stopping, and maintaining that weight loss for about six months. After this, you can continue with your weight loss plan, and lose a further few pounds if you choose to.
- Practice mindfulness and yoga
Mindfulness has skyrocketed in popularity in the past few years and has often been labelled as the latest health and wellbeing fad. However, studies into the meditation practice have found that it does offer positive changes, such as stress relief, increased concentration, and even weight loss.
New research has suggested that practicing mindfulness can not only help people lose weight, but also help them avoid slipping up and gaining the weight back. Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, reported that mindfulness was “moderately to largely effective in reducing weight loss and improving obesity-related eating behaviours”.
A study by Yale University also found that slender women who had high levels of cortisol, a hormone released as a result of stress, also had more abdominal fat. Cortisol raises blood sugar which in turn reduces your ability to burn fat. It therefore makes sense that mindfulness can help in aiding fat loss by reducing stress levels and in turn levels of cortisol in the body. There are a number of different meditation courses available online that can teach you about mindfulness, giving you the chance to lose weight and keep it off after Christmas.
- Make smart substitutions with food choices
Many people believe the secret to losing weight is to exercise more. Exercise certainly does help, but there’s no point in putting all of your energy into a gruelling exercise regime if you’re not also paying attention to the food you’re eating. The food you eat controls your overall health and can determine the speed at which you lose weight. To lose 1lb per week, experts recommend shaving 500 calories off your daily intake.
Another common misconception is that removing things entirely from your diet will do the trick. But, rather than giving up your favourite treats altogether, there are much easier changes you can make with smart substitutions.
For example, you could substitute sugar with raw honey or mashed banana, or use unsweetened cocoa powder with soft margarine instead of baking chocolate. Swap fried crisps with baked, and opt for fruit sorbets instead of ice creams. Use low-calorie alternatives to sugary, high-fat treats, such as frozen grapes instead of sweets, and air-popped popcorn instead of oil-popped.