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January - a time to start afresh

It's one of life's small, but intensely niggling ironies; at this time of year, the urge to start afresh, turn over a new leaf and right wrongs is stronger than ever.

And chief on the to-do list is always a bodily reboot. Yet, herein lies the rub: it is also the one time of the year where most people feel like hibernating.

Thanks to long nights and bitterly cold mornings, workouts and salads take a backseat to sloth and comfort eating. The head is willing, in other words, while the thighs are probably not.

Surely there has to be a way forward? Read on for a no-pain, all-gain way into a healthier and more streamlined 2012.


1> Start the day with a glass of warm water and lemon juice. It flushes out the liver and kidneys, readying the body for detox and fat-burning functions throughout the day. Better still, it has an alkalising effect, which is great for digestion.

2> Various herbs and spices are renowned for their slimming powers. Chilli is known for its fat-burning properties, as are carob, ginger and olive oil. Parsley cleanses the body, sage alleviates bloating, while mint and cinnamon are great for digestion. Use herbs and spices instead of salt, sugar or fatty dressings/sauces.

3> Most people complain about not having enough time to cook dinner. If that sounds familiar, use this foolproof, five-minute recipe. Lob a fillet of salmon/tuna on to a grill, season with black pepper, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar, and serve with steamed green beans.

4> Research shows that the parts of the brain that tell us we're hungry and thirsty are beside each other, and we often confuse the two feelings. Keep fluid levels topped up and you'll feel fuller, plus it will keep your hair, skin and nails in tip-top condition. About two litres of water a day is optimal. Try topping up with fresh juices and herbal teas.

5> Eat lighter meals later in the day, so you can burn it off before bed. Fill up with a big lunch, which will keep you going all afternoon.

6> Stock up on slow-release carbs such as oats, bran and whole-grains for breakfast. It is thought that grabbing breakfast on the go before work can add almost 450 calories to your daily intake and those who skip breakfast eat 200 more calories than those who eat breakfast.

7> Believe it or not, getting a decent night's kip is the key to slimming success. If you don't get enough sleep, the body cuts back on energy, meaning your body won't burn as many calories. Lack of sleep also elevates cortisol (known as the 'stress hormone') levels in your blood, which can increase hunger levels.

8> Lean proteins tend to be lower in calories than carbs, and can help boost metabolism and keep you fuller for longer. Load up on skinless chicken fillets, turkey breasts, tofu and fish. US research has proved that anyone who eats three to four portions of non-fat or low-fat dairy a day tends to manage their weight better than those who don't.


>If you are going to exercise, drink a glass of cold water before you start. You'll burn an extra 100 calories warming up again.

>Adapt a more DIY approach to life, be it washing your car, ditching your dishwasher or doing your own gardening. You'll lose weight AND save a few quid.

> Stand on your tippy-toes while brushing your teeth or taking a phone call. . . a sure-fire way of burning calories without even knowing it.

> Use the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. Running up stairs can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour.

>Dust off your Wii -- even just playing tennis on the Wii Fit for 13 minutes means you will burn 100 calories.

>Go dancing with your friends -- 20 minutes of even just moderate dancing will help you burn around 100 calories.

>Shopping may not be good for the wallet, but it's good for the economy and great for your figure. Even just an hour of window shopping will help you use up 150 calories.

>Pole-dancing is great for improving your posture and core muscles. An hour of pole-dancing can burn 400 calories.

> Have a good laugh with someone -- it will amazingly help you to get rid of 40 calories in just 30 minutes.

>Depending on how vigorous you want to be, sex can help you lose a few wobbly bits. On average, you'll lose up to 105 calories an hour while getting it on. Even good old-fashioned kissing is good for your waistline, as you'll lose 80 calories if you manage to smooch for an hour.