Top tips for success
It's January and, like many, you're probably feeling that familiar dread of getting back to the routine and saying goodbye to the festivities. Has the Christmas period left you feeling sluggish and bloated? Don't worry, it's normal to feel like this, and to want to curl up on the couch until April. Instead of feeling bad about it, however, look back on the Christmas period and be grateful you enjoyed yourself, rather than regretful. What's done is done, the past has no impact on what you can do in the future, so look ahead to the new year, wipe the slate clean and kick-start your health and fitness plans for 2013 with my pro tips.
Believing you can do it and committing to the fact that you will achieve your goal, whatever that is, is vital. You must go into this with a positive attitude, otherwise you will be disappointed.
What is your goal? Decide exactly what you want and write down clear objectives, not just: "I want to lose weight." How much do you want to lose? How are you going to go about it? Ensure the amount of weight loss is achievable and realistic. Set a precise date to achieve this goal, which gives you focus.
Tell the world
Let everyone know what you are doing and encourage family members to get involved. Having a training buddy helps to motivate you and keeps you on your toes.
Make small, gradual changes every week. It's easier to move a pebble than an entire mountain. For example, in week one, drink one litre of water per day, and in week two, introduce some exercise.
Step off those scales
Focus less on losing pounds and more on your overall feeling of fitness and well-being. This is more manageable and allows you to concentrate on other achievements like managing to fit exercise into your week or reducing your sugar intake.
Stay away from fad diets. They do not work, destroy your metabolism and make you feel miserable. It is about balance between healthy and unhealthy foods. I advise my clients to use the 80/20 rule, 80pc of the time eat healthy foods like lean protein (chicken, meat, fish), fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates (brown breads, rice), 20pc of the time enjoy the "not so healthy" foods.
Never skip meals
This is a common mistake, which can be detrimental to your metabolism and weight-loss goals. Our bodies go into starvation mode when we don't eat and hold on to fat rather than burn it. Eat healthily and regularly, four to six times a day, about every three hours.
Once a week, I recommend having a treat meal. This allows you to have the foods you love so that you don't feel deprived.
Don't be scared, it's good for you! Try to choose something you enjoy rather than endure. Do it with people you like being around – this increases your chances of making it a habit. If you are a beginner, ease into exercising rather than jumping in with two feet. Exercise every second day, which gives your body time to rest and recover. As you gradually become fitter, you will be able for more.
Think outside the gym
Don't join a gym if this is your idea of hell. You won't go and will feel bad, which defeats the purpose! Go walking or cycling in the park; jogging is also a handy and cheap way to get fit and stay fit. Start slowly, with two-minute walks alternated with 30 seconds of jogging. Gradually increase the jogging intervals and reduce the walking. Set yourself markers on your route, jog to the school or to the top of the hill, always trying to improve on what you did in your previous session. There are also many pay-as-you-go classes available out there, meaning you don't have to pay joining fees and yearly gym memberships.
To see results, you need to exercise at least three times per week and you must sweat. If it's too easy, it's probably not working, so don't be afraid to push it! Try to incorporate cardiovascular exercise (walking, jogging, spinning) and weight training. Combining cardio and strength training is the best way to achieve weight loss and a lean, strong body.
A healthier, fitter life will not happen overnight, so be patient. Always remember that you're in this for the long haul: it is a marathon, not a sprint. With this mindset, you will be able to create new healthy habits to last a lifetime. Going into this year with a positive attitude and the knowledge that you can succeed puts you in the best position to achieve your goals. Good luck!