11 December 2008

Why some people can never lose the weight

is losing weight beyond our control?
Losing weight is straight forward. You eat a good diet and you work out regularly ensuring you are burning more calories than you care consuming and voila...weight loss will follow.

However, if I had a gold coin for every time someone has told me that they are different and they are the exception to the rule and that no matter how much they work out and eat salads, they are still fat - I'd be very wealthy. I've just been reading an article based on some new research that may just prove those people right. Maybe there are some people out there who have the fat gene and there's nothing hours in the gym can do about it.

Steven Blair, a professor of exercise science has discovered that genes and hormonal balance can have a huge impact on your weight and size. Here's a selection of his findings:

1. Some people have more fat cells
Some people could have as many as twice as many than then next person which would help to explain why they may struggle so much where other find it easy to shed extra weight. Fat cells never go, they can reduce in size but they are always there - waiting to be filled up.

2. The Fat Gene is real
Fatso - that's what the fat gene is called and those with the genes are 60% more likely to be obese than those without. This may explain why some people do so many sports and physical activities and eat and balanced diet and still have a lot of extra body weight.

3. Your mother's pregnancy sealed your fate
If your mum ate very unhealthily during her pregnancy, according to these findings, a sugary and fatty diet can cause havoc to you before you're even born if the womb has higher levels of glucose and free fatty acids floating around than it needs.

There's plenty more nuggets of research in this report which are worth a look but I'm a little skeptical. I'm willing to accept that you don't have to be thin to be fit - slightly overweight people can be fit to but just unable to shift that last 10 pounds. But I'm not convinced yet that fat can be blamed wholly on genes. Maybe this report will convince you?

To discover more on the 13 things you never knew about your weight, read the full article here.

Photograph by insecurity (flickr)

10 December 2008

How to Sleep like a Baby

learning from babies how to sleep well
Getting a good night's sleep can seem to get more difficult to do the older you get. This makes sense especially as your responsibilities and worries increase as you get older - the more you have to mull over at night when trying to sleep. 

However, it is possible to learn how to sleep well again and get the most out of each nights shut eye. It is possible to wake feeling refreshed and ready to face each day with energy - yes it is. And here's how....we copy what we did as babies.

When we were babies, sleeping was second only to eating in the important things to do each day. So it was taken seriously. By using some of the same tactics our parents used to get us to sleep, we can get that same quality of sleep again.

1. Routine, routine, routine
Most babies have a strict bedtime (whether they adhere to it or not) and we need to do the same. I'm not suggesting 7pm but pick a time that is before 11.30pm at least and try to make sure you get to bed at that time every night of the week. This new routine will help your body get used to the pattern and adjust accordingly and the aim is to always have the lights out and eyes shut by midnight if you want to feel refreshed in the morning.

2. Bathtime before bed
Some people shower in the morning before work whilst others prefer to bathe the night before. I'd suggest bath time before bed, again just as babies do. The warm water will be soothing and relaxing in a bath will help you fast track through your unwinding so you don't do any of it in bed. This may be difficult to fit in round your other routines at home but try it out and you'll feel the benefits immediately. It's worth the effort.

3. Cover Lightly
Staying warm and cozy in bed is what we dream of but as with babies, you shouldn't wrap up too warmly with heavy blankets and duvets. The key is layers that together keep you warm but are also light in weight. You may have experienced waking up in the middle of the night before when you get too hot and sweaty and we're trying to ensure that you stay asleep through the night uninterrupted.

4. Nothing too wild
By this I mean, start winding down in the evening hours before bedtime and don't do strenuous housework or workout half an hour before bed. Try reading or watching a little TV - not a horror movie or anything too disturbing. That would be the equivalent of reading a baby horror stories for a bedtime treat. Relax and wind down and remember, nothing too wild.

5. Drink nothing an hour before bed
Sure, babies get their hot milk but they wear nappies / diapers! We don't so no hot drinks just before bed as this can sometimes force you to head to the toilet in the middle of the night with a full bladder. And we all know there's nothing worse than waking from a lovely slumber to do that.

Photograph by paul goyette (flickr)

26 November 2008

4 Tips to Having A Healthy Thanksgiving

Following on from the post yesterday about how to prepare yourself for Thanksgiving and make sure you don't gain tons of weight from pure overindulging, here are some quick tips to try out during the day that won't get in the way of having fun and spending time with the family.

They'll also help you feel good and avoid the holiday bloat.

Rule 1 - I know you don't want to set your alarm on your day off but try to get up early and do a little exercise. Even if it's just running on the spot for 10 minutes and a few press ups and crunches on the floor. try to do something and spend at least 20 mins doing it. Trust me - this will make you feel energized and buzzing for the day ahead.

Rule 2 - Pace yourself. Today is not a competition to see how much you can eat and drink. the moment you feel full, put your fork down and clear your plate away if you need to. Don't just ignore your tummy - listen to it. Turkey is actually a great low fat meat to eat and the vegetables are good for you so eat a decent portion but try to lay off pastries and breads if you can and don't have a carb fest.

Rule 3 - Drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated and make you feel full so you'll eat less. Keep a large bottle on the dining table and drink a large glass before the meal. it really will make you feel less hungry and chances are that you'll eat what you need, now what your eyes devour.

Rule 4 - play some fun games with the family after the meal - don't just fall asleep in front of the TV. Maybe even wrap up warm and get everyone to go one a short walk with you. You'll all feel great afterwards.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Photograph by numstead

How to Avoid Holiday / Thanksgiving Weight Gain

Happy Thanksgiving!
This Part 1 of your 3 Day Guide to enjoying the Thanksgiving without gaining lots of excess weight, ruining your diet and regretting it later. Here is your guide for THE DAY BEFORE. As my dad always tells me, fail to prepare and prepare to fail. What an annoying expression that is??! Ready

Rule 1 - Eat normally. Don't get any ideas into your head about skipping meals so you can leave plenty of room to stuff yourself tomorrow. Today is a normal day and if you're traveling home, plan where and when and most importantly, what you are going to eat on your journey. If you leave it till the last minute, you may have no choice other than junk food to see you through so plan ahead.

Rule 2 - Drink plenty of water today. Chances are that during the Thanksgiving meal, water will get forgotten and be replaced with sodas, juices and alcohol so hydrate yourself now.

Rule 3 - If you can exercise today, do. This will really set you up for an energetic weekend and help you get one step ahead of the game. Some suggestions that you can do at home / in the garden - in the gym that will make the most out of a 30 minute workout:

Do This
Jump rope for 10 mins - try to have as few breaks as you can
Run for 10 mins - either on treadmill or outside and try to do a couple of 1 minute sprints to get your fat burn going.
2 x 15 squats
2 x 15 lunges
2 x 15 press ups
The Plank - do this for 60 seconds
2 x 15 scissor kicks
2 x reverse crunches
Jump rope for 5 mins
Cool down

More exercises you can do indoors here.

Photograph by ~Sage~

11 November 2008

The dangers of bottled water left in your car

Urban myth or wise warning? I received an email from my friend Amanda warning of the dangers of using plastic containers and plastic wrap in microwaves which can be highly toxic and lead to cancer. Also, there were warnings about drinking from plastic bottles of water left in the car over night. Now these 'Erumours' have been around for a while and are fairly difficult to get to the bottom of but my question is this - should we just ignore them just because we can't prove them?

I'm not a fan of the microwave anyway and probably use it once a year to reheat something but for a lot of people, it's a really convenient machine that saves them time. Should they be ditching their plastic containers which are said to release harmful dioxins into their food and switch to glass Pyrex dishes?

I do however always have a bottle of lukewarm water in the car that I drink from before I replace it with another one. Since reading the email, I have to say I've stopped doing it. I'm not a likely candidate for breast cancer anyway but I'm not convinced that plastics when heated don't react with the water.

So is this all nonsense and scare mongering or is there a grain of truth in it? That's for each of you to decide but here's some more info before you make your mind up.

Photograph by Muffet (flickr)

3 November 2008

Get slimmer, toned thighs

Whether you're trying to squeeze into your skinny jeans or just don't like the wobble on your thighs, these two exercises are great for toning that area and helping you get shapely legs. All you need to do is some cardio to get you sweating for at least 15 mins and then follow the instructions on how to do the narrow to wide squats and the backwards lunge with kick. 

You ready?

Narrow to wide squat jumps

starting position for narrow to wide squat jumpsjumping after squat
landing in wide leg squat position

Stand upright with your feet hip width apart
Sit back into a regular squat position making sure that your knees do not travel further forwards than your toes
Now swing your arms to jump out of the squat position

Move your feet apart in the air and land with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart and with your toes turned out

Keep your tummy tight as this will help you balance

Sit back into a wide squat position making sure that your knees stay in line with your hips and ankles

Swing your arms to jump out of this position

Move your feet together in the air and land with them hip width apart

Repeat for 20 jumps; 10 squats in each position

Backwards Lunge with Leg Kick

Backwards lunge with kick1kick following backwards lunge - position 2
Stand upright with your feet hip width apart, shoulders relaxed and arms by your sides

Take a big step backwards and move into the lunge position

At the bottom of the movement you should have right angles at both knees with your body upright

Spring the back leg out of this position as you stand upright, swing it forwards and straighten it in front of you

Return this leg to the starting position

Repeat the sequence on the other side

Continue until you have completed 10 lunges and kicks on each leg

Make sure your body is upright throughout the movement - no leaning backwards and forwards...

More thigh blasting workouts to complete your workout.

27 October 2008

Why sodas are so bad for you - and oranges are your friend

oranges score 100 out of 100 for nutritional value
Have you heard about the NuVal System? It's a nutritional quality index created at the Yale University Prevention Research Centre that gives all foods and drinks a score and the higher the score, the more nutritious the food is. Simple.

Some of the foodstuffs will surprise you by not being as high up the list as you'd expect but it's a great list to have on your fridge door to make sure you're having as many of the 100/100 foods - broccoli and blueberries, and none of the 2/100 foods - like all full-fat sodas and saltine crackers which seem to come with every bowl of soup in the US! How have you done so far today - check out the list and make a promise to yourself to aim for as many 100/100 as you can each day. Its like dieting without dieting.

Broccoli 100

Blueberries 100

Okra 100

Orange 100

Green Beans 100

Pineapple 99

Radish 99

Summer squash 98

Apple 96

Green cabbage 96

Tomato 96

Clementine 94

Watermelon 94

Mango 93

Red onions 93

Non-fat milk 91

Fresh figs 91

Grapes 91

Banana 91

Avocado 89

Oatmeal 88

Atlantic salmon fillet 87

Blackberries 83

Cod fillet 82

Raw almonds 82

Iceberg lettuce 82

Raw pecans 82

Rocket 82

Brown rice 82

Snapper 82

Milk (1% fat) 81

Oysters 81

Prawn 75

Couscous 72

Clams 71

Raw pistachios 70

Unbuttered, unsalted popcorn 69

Canned tuna in oil, drained 67

Monkfish fillet 64

Vegetarian split-pea soup mix 63

Instant oatmeal 61

Canned pineapple in juice 60

White rice 57

Sodium-free sparkling water 56

Milk (2% fat) 55

Canned kidney beans 53

Milk (whole) 52

Scallops 51

Pasta 50

Canned peas 49

Prunes 45

Vanilla yoghurt 43

Orange juice 39

Skinless chicken breasts 39

Canned peaches in light Syrup 37

Lobster 36

Flank steak (beef) 34

Dried apples 34

Tomato juice 32

Condensed split-pea soup

with ham 32

Minced sirloin 30

Chicken drumstick 30

Enriched white bread 29

Whole chicken with skin 28

Leg of lamb 28

Ham (whole) 27

Raisins 26

Hamburger (75% lean) 25

Apple chips 24

Coconut 24

Green olives 24

Pork baby back ribs 24

Bagel 23

Condensed tomato soup 23

Peanut butter 23

Sherbet 23

Reduced-fat sour cream 22

Condensed cream of

broccoli soup 21

Salted, dry-roasted peanuts 21

Instant chocolate pudding 20

Fried egg 18

Swiss cheese 17

Diet fizzy drinks 15

Non-streaky bacon 13

Pretzel sticks 11

Dark chocolate 10

White bread 9

Salami 7

Hot dog 5

Cheese puffs 4

Milk chocolate 3

Apple pie 2

Crackers 2

Fizzy drinks 1

Popsicle 1

To see the whole list, please visit the site and print out the list.

Photograph by .:barbarina:. (flickr)

24 October 2008

150 Minutes a week to stay fit

squeezing 20 mins of exercise a day can keep you healthy and fit
150 minutes is the amount of time the government in the US and UK recommends you should do each week in order to maintain good health and fitness.

Do you do your 150 minutes of exercise a week? Didn't think so. Unfortunately, many of you reading this will fall short of your exercise quota for the week every week.

And yet 150 minutes only works out as just over 20 minutes of rigorous exercise a day in exchange for a healthier body. So what's stopping you? We can all try to spare 20 minutes so how can you start fitting this burst of activity into your day.

I've got some suggestions:

1. Power walking - not a slow stroll but try to go up hill and if you can handle it, walk moderately for 1 min and then really speed up for 1 minute then slow down a little for one minute then speed up for 1 minute, You should aim to do the last minute as a sprint / fast run.

2. Jumping Rope - keep one in the house and go outside after work or first thing in the morning and skip. This will get your heart pumping and help to burn calories and tone your arms and legs. And it's fun.

3. Walk up and down the stairs repeatedly - at least 10 times till you can feel yourself getting short of breath. If you did this everyday you would realise how much easier it gets by day 3. Keep it up.

4. Do some strength training. Push ups, press ups, crunches, squats, lunges and using some light weight do bicep curls and try shadow boxing whilst holding the dumbbells.

5. Attend a gym class or play a game of ball with the kids. take part in something that keeps you in perpetual motion with other people and have fun doing it.

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Photograph by mikebaird (flickr)

23 October 2008

Eating fast makes you fat

eating your food too fast can make you fat
Sometimes you read a report that falls into the category of stating the very obvious.

This is one of those reports. The reason I mention it to you though is because I think that despite it being very obvious, it's a small change that everyone could make that would get a good result quickly.

The slower you chew your food and eat, the more likely it is that you will stop eating when you are full and not carry one overeating.

Whereas, eating fast almost makes it too difficult for your brain to keep up and send the right message that you are full and so you carry on eating (overeating).

So if you fall into this category:

1. Regularly eat on the go - whilst walking, at your desk etc.
2. Regularly eat whilst watching TV at the same time
3. Regularly eat whilst reading at the same time

....then you need to stop and try just eating. Try these tips:

1. Chew each mouthful at least 20 time
2. Sit at a table to eat and switch the TV off - focus on your food and eat it without rushing
3. Think about how you feel - the moment you start to feel full, put down your fork and stop.

These little tips work and they will help you to lose some weight through consuming fewer calories.

Have a read of the full article here for more tips.

Photograph by elh70 (flickr)

14 October 2008

5 ways to speed up your metabolism

squeezing in exercise where you can helps to speed up metabolism
Losing weight is all about one thing - your metabolism. The faster your metabolism, the more calories you burn, the slower your metabolism, the less calories you burn. So the question is how do you speed it up and what tricks and fitness tips can help you reach your weight loss goal in the shortest time. Hint - skipping meals and fasting is the fastest way to slow it down.

The lean tissue in our bodies burns calories and so our end goal should always be to have more lean tissue. When you skip meals repeatedly in an attempt to lose weight or go on fasts / crash diets, the problem is that the initial weight you lose is mostly lean tissue and so you are actually slowing down your metabolism. That's why after a crash diet, the weight comes back fast and hard and it seems even tougher to lose. So what can you do to speed it up:

1. Interval training
When you are running, walking, cycling or on the stairmaster, don't just go at one speed. Start moderately and then do 60 second sprints periodically so you are working at your maximum. Even if you are walking, try and squeeze in a one minute print every 2 minutes and you'll be amazed at the difference this makes to your body.

2. Regular meal times and habits
If nothing else, please stop skipping breakfast. Its slows down your metabolism and makes your morning so much harder than it needs to be. If you can, though a modern lifestyle can make this difficult, try to eat your dinner by 7pm. It simply gives your body more time to burn the calories you've consumed all day. If you're having carbs, try to eat them earlier in the day as well - breakfast or lunch and leave the lighter choices for your evening meal.

3. Strength training
The more muscle tissue that you have, the higher your metabolism is and the less muscle that you have, the slower your calorie burn. So try to do strength training when you can - light weights, push ups, squats etc. This will mean that when you are not working out, your body is burning more calories and that's your end goal after all - to become a mean, calorie burning machine.

4. Regular movement
Stay on the move if you can. For those with a sedentary job, try to walk around at least once an hour - more if you can. Walk to the water cooler, the photocopier, walk up the stairs. The more constant motion you have, the higher your metabolism.

5. Get Spicy
Add spice to your food. Whether its a curry or hot sauce on the side or even chilli flakes added to vegetables, they all contribute to helping raise your metabolism. Add it to your routine to give your body a helping hand.

Photograph by pierre lascott (flickr)

10 October 2008

Good Fat vs. Bad Fat -Which is Which?

fried chicken full of saturated fats and oh so fattening
When it comes to eating healthily, there's a lot of misinformation and confusion out there and sometimes, it's easy for people to get an idea into their head abut how 'bad for them' and 'full of fat' something is. Take avocados. They get such a bad press because everyone thinks they're fattening. We all need fats - some of it is essential to help regulate hormonal production, improve our immune function, lower total cholesterol, lubricate the joints, and provide us with the basics for healthy hair, nails and skin. So here is a simple guide to what to look out for so you know your fats. 

And remember, as a rule of thumb, the fats that go solid and white at room temperature are bad and the fats that stay runny are good.

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats lower total cholesterol. They can be found in:
canola oil
olive oil

These fats also help with weight loss, particularly with reducing body fat. 

Polyunsaturated Fats
Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol levels. You can find these in:
fish oil
sunflower oils

They are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Some people get a little picky about Polyunsaturated Fats as they think that they can sometimes reduce the levels of good cholesterol but I don't think you will be consuming enough to reach that stage.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats raise your total blood cholesterol and can lead to heart disease. Saturated fats are mainly found in:
animal products such as meat
Interestingly, the palm tree is guilty of creating saturated fats too which is why you should limit the amount of coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil you have.

If you are on a diet and actually want to lose weight, never, ever have deep-fried food. It has absolutely no nutritional value and is the equivalent of eating rubbish. Loaded with saturated fat, it's very fattening and bad for your heart and arteries. Foods to avoid - fries, potato chips, breaded chicken dippers and onion rings.

Trans Fats

Trans fats are created in labs as a by-product of adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. This is done to extend the shelf life of the food. Another name for trans fats is “partially hydrogenated oils." The trans fatty acids are found in:
packaged foods
fried foods from some fast food restaurants
some brands of microwave popcorn

You don't ever want to consume the stuff if you can help it as it clogs the arteries and raise cholesterol levels dangerously.

photograph by joshbousel (flickr)

6 October 2008

Losing weight with a thyroid problem

Thyroid disease is fairly widespread today with approximately 10 million sufferers in the US and 4 million in the UK. With numerous symptoms like: feelings of exhaustion, hair loss and aching limbs, the weight gain associated with an underactive thyroid is probably the most commonly known.

The thyroid plays a major role in your body. It secretes two different hormones which are responsible for regulating your body’s metabolism. It is from these hormones that your body gets the messages to burn energy and regulate your metabolism. So the thyroid, as small as it is, is responsible for how efficiently your body burns fat, for how much you weigh and for how much you sleep. Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) can cause the metabolism to slow down and this leads to weight gain. This is why it can be much harder for someone with a thyroid problem to lose weight even when they eat only a diet of lettuce leaves and go to the gym 3 times a week!

So what can be done to lose the weight when you suffer from a thyroid problem?

There's a new ebook out about how to lose the weight and it's written by a woman who suffers from hypothyroidism and she wrote it after gaining over 37 pounds and was unable to lose it at the gym or through diet. It details what diet and exercise routine she followed and includes lists of what to eat and what's bad for your thyroid. Full recipes, advice and details on natural supplements to take to help get rid of the other symptoms of hypothyroidism including hair thinning and hair loss, dry skin and feelings of depression.

I have an exclusive offer for readers of the Instant Feelgood blog. If you use the code feelgood, you can get a 10% discount off the price of the book if you order before November 1st 2008. How To Lose Weight When You Have A Thyroid Problem is by Amina Razaq and available at www.ThyroidWeight.com.

Photograph by img056

3 October 2008

Fitness on a tight budget

We're all trying to save money at the moment as prices rocket and we wait to hear the next doom and gloom story on the news about the economy. So I thought that for those of you who may be thinking about not renewing your gym membership to save a bit of cash, here's a free workout you can do at home on a budget. This is Credit Crunch Fitness and it's just as effective as heading to the gym but much, much cheaper. You ready?

The only kit you need:
  1. A fitness ball - most homes have one of these lying around or they are really cheap on EBay or Craig's List.
  2. Mat / or you could use an old towel
  3. Two bottles of water filled
  4. Jump rope - look in the kids room or buy one in a department store

0-5 mins - Warm up, march on the spot, shake arms and legs
5-15 mins - skipping / jump rope outdoors for 10 mins. Try to keep going and not take too many breaks.
15-25 mins - run around the block for 10 mins. Go at a steady pace so you can keep it up.
25 - 27 mins - 15 lunges, 15 crunches using water bottles
crunches using water bottle
crunches using water bottle
27-29 mins - 15 squats, 15 press ups with ball,
press up with fitness ballpress up with fitness ball
29 - 32 mins - The Plank, Side Plank - do each for 60 seconds if you can with short rest in between
the plank
the plank
side plank
32 - 35 mins -  stretch

You're done! Do this 3 times a week, it only takes half an hour and you'll feel so much better for knowing it's costing you very little.

2 October 2008

How to burn calories without really trying

watching TV helps you burn 300 calories over 4 hours
Getting to the gym 3 times a week requires you to give up a minimum of 3 hours of your time. In a whole week, that is only tiny amount but the reality is that even this can seem impossible to achieve.  Everyday life is very demanding and can get in the way. 

So if you are having one of those weeks or months where you don't seem to have enough hours in your day to spare for the gym, this is for you.  A handy list of ways to burn the calories whilst just living your life (gym free).

Active persons Guide
Brush teeth - 2 mins 16 cals
Sweep floors - 20 mins 63 cals
Moderate walk - 30 mins 150 cals
Wash the car - 30 mins 171 cals
Play with kids - 30 mins 100 cals
Clearing garden - 15 mins 126 cals
Mowing lawn - 15 mins 60 cals
Raking 20 mins - 98 cals

TOTAL 784 calories = one hard gym session

Lazy persons Guide
Washing Dishes - 2 mins 6 cals
Watching TV - 4 hrs 300 cals
Kissing - 20 mins 26 cals
Playing cards 1 hr-  131 cals

So now you know - you need to watch at least 5 episodes of Lost on TV just to burn off one egg McMuffin.
Hmmm, maybe a quick trip to the gym is worth it after all.

See article here.

Photograph by lyrrad nahc (flickr)

26 September 2008

Ghost Spotted in the gym?

I don't believe in ghosts but when I saw this video, it did make me pause and think...what if?

Judge for yourself?

And more importantly, does this mean that even when we're dead we still have to go to the gym to workout? Literally, no rest for the wicked.

See it here.

Happy weekend.

19 September 2008

How to Stop your Thighs Rubbing Together

I recently saw a disturbing advert for a cream that you rub on your skin if you suffer from chaffing, for example, if your thighs rub together as you walk. As uncomfortable as this sounds, its sadly not that uncommon for some women to have chaffing at the tops of their thighs.  I did a little research on this and the only solution that seems to be offered is for them to wear support pants like Spanx each day.  Now that just sounds like swapping one uncomfortable problem for another  So, I thought I'd write up a couple of exercises that really target the thighs to keep them trim and toned and ensure you never go anywhere needing a product like the cream.

No one should ever need that cream.

Are you ready?

1. Single Leg Squats Jeff Archer doing single leg squats for toning thighs

Jeff Archer doing single leg squats for toning thighs
Stand sideways on a bench or step
Adopt an upright posture with your tummy tight and shoulders back and relaxed
Hang your left leg over the side of the step taking your weight onto your right side while keeping your hips level
Squeeze your bottom muscles, sit back at the hips and bend your right leg
Allow the left leg to travel towards the ground but keep your hips level at all times
Keep the right knee above or behind the right toe as you bend the knee
Pause at the bottom of the movement
Keeping your stomach muscles and bottom muscles tight, straighten your right leg to return to the start position
Repeat for 10 squats on the right leg and then swap sides

2. Power step up

power step ups using a bench
power step ups using a bench

This move is similar to the Step Downs with Toe Tap only the movement is faster and you bring your active leg up so that the thigh is parallel with the ground at the top of each repetition.
Keep your stomach muscles and butt tight at all times
Complete 15 repetitions with each leg

18 September 2008

Get a body like Gwyneth Paltrow's

We had a sneak peek yesterday into the 6 x 2 hour fitness sessions Gwyneth Paltrow does each week to get her body into A list (read skinny and toned) shape. Okay - she can afford the trainer and the top of the range equipment but the reason I"m mentioning it today is that I love the fact she didn't pretend it was all so easy. Looking at the photos of her in the gym

It's easy to see how she shed the 20lbs of baby weight she gained after the birth of her second child.

Weight loss isn't easy but it can always be achieved with enough determination and dedication. Gwyneth had her red carpet incentive - find your incentive and get dedicated.

Gwyneth hard at work shedding the weight.

12 September 2008

Take your clothes off, it's dinner time

try taking a photo of everything you eat - how does it make you feel?
Earlier this week, I wrote about low calorie snack ideas that you could turn to when the hunger cravings got too much but you didn't want to ruin your diet.  Being a slave to your appetite can be a dangerous thing and even the most disciplined of people find it hard sometimes not to go for that third biscuit, second donut or dessert after you've already had two courses. So here are some fun / useful / crazy ways to help you control the urges.

Ever thought about eating in front of the mirror naked? Or how about taking a photo of every single thing you are about to eat. This is meant to make you think twice before over indulging knowing you have a captured image of it. I agree that some of these tricks work but at the end of the say it's important to find your own way to control over eating. 

After all, it is your body.

Here's the full list of novel ways to control over eating.

Photograph by thevoicewithin (flickr)

8 September 2008

What to eat if you're on a diet but desperate for a snack!

chopped vegetables and fruit make perfect healthy snacks
There's something about going on a diet that makes you think about nothing but food all day long. You obsess about it, you long for pizza and you even dream about Chinese food / Mexican food / Indian food...... 

This is the reason I don't really think diets work because you end up resenting them because they deprive you. However, if you are on a diet and find yourself ready to chew your own arm off, what can you eat that won't ruin all your hard work so far?

Take a look at my list of 10 snack ideas and I'd love to hear about the snacks you turn to when hunger strikes.

The most important thing if you are on a diet and really hungry is not to ignore it. Starving yourself won't help you lose weight - just water.

1. Mug of hot water with a slice of lemon or a slice of orange. Refreshing and filling.

2. A banana or an apple. Both of these pieces of fruit will help quash the hunger pangs. Try frozen grapes for some variety.

3. A small pot of fat free yogurt. Sprinkle some nuts on top to add the protein (protein fills you for much longer than carbs)

4. Drink a glass of water and wait 10 minutes. Often, when you think you are hungry, you are only thirsty. You should feel fine after 10 mins.

5. Hard boiled egg - if you're at home, this is a great snack and it'll fill you till your next meal.

6. 2 rice cakes. Not yummy admittedly but they do the job. Avoid the flavoured ones - stick to plain.

7. Handful of dried fruit - keep a bag of apricots or raisins on your desk at work.

8. Chopped carrots, celery, radishes. 2-3 of these will sort out your craving.

9. Green tea - good for weight loss as well as satisfying hunger cravings.

10.Slice of chicken breast or turkey breast - the protein is filling but these lean meats will make you feel like you have filled the hole in your tummy.

Keep this list as reference so you always have something low in calories and low in fat to turn to when you're in need. What do you snack on?

Photograph by programwitch Flickr

3 September 2008

Is your coffee habit making you fat?

coffee stays in your system for much longer than you realise
While I was making my morning coffee today I was remembered something my nutritionist friend told me recently.
Caffeine has a half life of around 4 hours which means that if you drink one cup at 8am, you still have half the caffeine from that cup in your system 4 hours later - at 12 noon. And then you have half that amount still in your system at 4pm and so on through the day.
You can easily see why nutritionists recommend a maximum of one cup a day - it's plenty to deliver enough caffeine to last you for 24-hours. You can also see how 'chain drinking' one coffee after another can cause the jitters and loss of focus - you are literally flooding your system with one of the most powerful stimulants known to man.

It's even worse if you take the contraceptive pill....

Women taking the contraceptive pill having 1 cup of coffee should expect the the half life of caffeine to be increased to 5-10 hours and if you are pregnant it's roughly 9-11 hours.

So, although a little caffeine can help with fat burning, too much will over stimulate your system and send your blood sugar levels on a rollercoaster throughout the day which can make losing weight difficult. Too much caffeine backing up in your system will also make it difficult to sleep and disrupted sleep patterns lead to weight gain.

So do yourself a favour and start cutting back on the caffeine from today. Aim to reach a point where you have a single cup each day and really enjoy it. Seek alternatives at other times safe in the knowledge that more caffeine at this point will do you more harm than good.

Photograph by غҰёll ♥ RAINBOW ! (Flickr)

2 September 2008

Do you exercise enough for your age?

I'm regularly asked about how much exercise and how often to do it if you want to achieve weight loss. Or more specifically, 'I want a flat stomach, how long will it take'. When it comes to the amount of exercise you should be doing to reach / maintain your ideal weight and fitness, a lot of this depends on your age

Most people don't do enough exercise - simple. They may think that they do but perhaps they don't appreciate how much exercise it takes to keep fit.

Start early and get into the routine of doing it. 

Children should be doing one hour of exercise (playing, sports) a day. 
And 40 year olds need to do at least 2-4 hours a week

There's an easy guide on each age group for you to follow which I've linked to below. No more excuses. Grab exercise where you can in your day and make it part of your life and you'll never look back.

So are you doing enough exercises for your age group?

photograph by Kat (flickr)

27 August 2008

5 Best Dinners for Losing Weight

healthy ideas for dinner when you want to lose weight
Here is the final installment about what meal choices to make that are great when you're trying to lose weight. We're had healthy breakfast ideas and lots of lunch suggestions - today is all about dinner. Trying to eat healthily doesn't have to mean starving yourself and spending all day dreaming about your next meal. that's never going to work. But sometimes it's hard to find out what's good to eat that will fill you but not fatten you.

Here are a few suggestions of my own to give you some new ideas.

1.Grilled Salmon
Pre heat the grill and brush the salmon fillet with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper and crushed garlic. Wrap the fish in foil and place under the grill for 10 mins. Open the foil so the fish is exposed to the grill directly and cook for a further 5-10 mins depending on how you like your fish. Add a squeeze of lemon and serve with wild rice / cous cous / brown rice and small side salad.

2. Vegetable Pasta Bake
Choose 4 of your favourite vegetables (red pepper, mushrooms, carrots and leeks for example) and chop into medium size pieces and add to a pan on a low heat with a crop of olive oil. After 3 mins, add a can of tinned tomatoes and mix together. Season with oregano, thyme, salt and pepper (garlic optional). Using another pan, boil some wholewheat pasta in a pan and when it is al dente, drain the water and add the pasta to the vegetable and tomato mix. Pour this pasta / vegetable mix into a a casserole dish, add some low fat mozarella to the top, cover and place in the over for 20 mins.

3. Spaghetti Bolognese
Make this classic even healthier by using turkey mince instead of beef and use a jar of passata and not a pre-prepared bolognese sauce. Season with oregano, garlic and add some grated carrot. Serve with wholewheat spaghetti and a tomato and onion salad on the side. Yum!

4.Grilled Steak with Greens
Buy the best cut you can afford and make sure it's lean. Season with some black pepper and salt and a little steak seasoning mix if desired. Chop a few mushrooms in half and put under the grill at the same time as the steak. Grilling times according to taste. Serve with steamed spinach, green beans and peas.

5. Grilled Mackerel on Toast
Squeeze a wedge of lime over the fish and season before placing under the grill. Serve on top of 2 slices of wholemeal / granary toast. This makes a perfect light supper that will still fill you.

Photograph by marielito (flickr)

21 August 2008

Best Lunch ideas when trying to lose weight

healthy and filling lunch options
Lunch is a meal that shouldn't be messed with.

It can make or break an afternoon and just the anticipation of it can get you through from 11am when you're in the office. But all too often, you can end up making the wrong choices and end up feeling bloated and unsatisfied from sandwiches or hungry and sulky after a bowl a soup.

I gave you some healthy and hearty breakfasts ideas last month so here are some ideas of what you can eat for lunch without ruin the diet. Yum!

If you are one of those super organised people who takes a packed lunch into the office with them, here are a few suggestions:

1. The Filling Ham Sandwich
Make sure you get a good quality ham from the deli counter rather than out of a packet. Use 2 slices.
Use wholemeal, multi grain or sourdough bread to make the sandwich as this will also keep you feeling full for longer than white bread.
Add a small spread of mustard instead of mayo.
Add two sliced tomatoes and a pinch of salt and pepper to season.

2. Hummus and pitta bread
At the supermarket, select a large tub of reduced-fat hummus so you can have this 2/3 times during the week.
Chop up some crudites - cucumber, carrots, spring onions. Take one standard sized pitta (warm this at work if you have a microwave -15 seconds) and slice into thin slices for dipping.

3. Tuna tortilla wrap
Buy a packet of tortilla wraps from the supermarket (they also have wholemeal versions now but white would be OK).
Spread a thin layer of low fat plain yogurt and season a little.
Add a generous spoonful of tuna from a can and top with some finely shopped tomatoes and red pepper.
Roll up and wrap tightly in foil - ready to go.

Eating out options

4. Soup and Roll
Don't pick a light soup though or you'll be hungry within the hour. Go for a hearty choice like mixed bean, french onion or lentils. Have this with a wholemeal roll.

5. Baked potato with tuna and sweetcorn or cottage cheese or baked beans.
Choose a medium sized potato - don't go over the top and accept one of those monster sized ones you see!
Add no butter. You won't miss it once you start eating.
Have a small side salad if you fancy some more greens with just a squeeze of lemon for dressing.

6. Sushi
Most supermarkets sell trays of sushi nowadays.
Get a medium sized tray (approx 9 pieces)
Avoid the trays with the deep fried in batter options.
Drink plenty of water with this lunch as soy sauce is salty and the wasabi is wonderfully fiery.

7. Turkey Salad
Go for the works when it comes to the salad - aim for a good mix of colour on your plate.
Avoid the dressings that are creamy and oily even if they claim to be low fat. A dash of balsamic vinegar is perfect.
Top the salad with a generous portion of chopped roast turkey (or chicken).

I'm sure there are some new ideas there for you to try and remember, all these lunches will not add to your waistline and will give you enough energy to get through the afternoon without that sleepy lull that an over sized meal can cause.

Remember to have a small snack around 4pm. A banana or orange is ideal.

Look out for Best Ideas for Dinner coming soon.

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12 August 2008

What to do when you start forgetting things

I was recently sent an early copy of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife & Beyond.  Someone at the publisher had read my blog and thought the book might be a good fit with what I write about. What to do when you start forgetting things is just one of the questions they answer in the book. 

Written by two doctor, they've compiled a guide based on the real questions their patients have come to them with over the years.  This makes the guide practical, relevant and real rather than purely academic and also allows you to use the guide both as a comprehensive overview of the changes to their bodies that women face through the years or as a reference to look up specific issues.

The book is a good mix of the medical and the everyday practical and what’s really clear is that although some of the issues discussed may not become priorities until midlife, there are plenty of reminders that living well now will pay dividends in the future. 

So I’d say the book is worth a read at any age – for those who’ve reached midlife it will provide a lot of answers and save you some potential anxiety.  It’s also useful for younger readers as it offers motivation to stay on track with looking after yourself each and every day.

For more details, take a look at the guide here and it may just answer any questions you've ever wanted to ask the doctor.

9 August 2008

How to Stay Fit on Holiday

Jeff Archer swimming on vacation
At the moment I’m on vacation visiting family so I don’t have access to my gym for my regular workouts and I’m away from all the running routes that I’m familiar with. 

Rather than be worried that I'll get out of shape while I’m here, I decided when I left home that I’d see what new things I could try and see if they’ll be options for adding to my routine when I get back home.  Here’s how I’m getting on so far.

Having watched a really exciting Wimbledon this year, I wanted to take up tennis again.  I didn’t get around to it when I was in London but here I've been to the stores and bought racquets for all the family and so far we’ve had a championship in the street and found a local court where we can all pretend to be professionals.  I’ve really enjoyed it and everyone else has had fun too so this is something I’ll definitely continue when I get home.

It’s easier to swim here where the weather is 80+ degrees and the pool is outdoors in the sunshine but, regardless of the weather, just getting back into swimming has reminded me of how much I enjoyed it a few years back and also what great exercise it is.  I’ve also been to the beach and swum in the ocean and had great fun on a boogie board, though this isn’t something I’ll be able to do back home.  I know people who do it but for me, it’s just too cold!  I will be visiting the local pool though.

3.Circuit training
I like circuit training at home but it’s usually in the gym.  Here there is a park with a full exercise area so it’s been easy to put together a few programmes that don’t take long but have really been fun to do.  Having enjoyed these workouts here I’ll be making more of an effort to get fit outside as well as in the gym when I get home.

So I’ve managed three new activities so far and enjoyed each one of them.  I’ve also felt aches in places I don’t think I’ve worked for a while, felt the sun on my skin and slept really well.  Oh to be on vacay all the time.....

It would be great to hear what new exercise or activities anyone else has tried on vacation…the start of a vacation does not have to mean abandoning your fitness.

31 July 2008

How to get rid of cellulite

For anyone who doesn't know, cellulite is the knobbly looking 'orange peel' type skin that can appear on your legs, arms, bum and stomach.  It spoils the smooth appearance of a sleek, toned body and, needless to say, is not something than any woman likes to see. (unless its on a celebrity of course!)

If you find yourself stuck with a case of cottage cheese skin, here are a few ideas of how you can get reduce the appearance of it and if you are super strict with yourself, get rid of it completely.

Remember, cellulite can happen to anyone, regardless of your weight or body shape. The only way it seems to prevent it from appearing is a life of constant activity and fitness. Have you ever seen an olympic athlete with cellulite?

Get active
Cellulite can be caused by the way fat cells are sitting under the skin.  Getting active with some high intensity cardio work such as interval training on the bike or sprint or hill running outside will burn some fat ensuring that any fat cells won't contain much that will show on the outside. This is why expensive creams don't work. The effort of getting rid of cellulite takes place beneath the skin.

Get hydrated
Your body is mostly made up of water so if you're dehydrated, strange things can happen.  Drinking your eight glasses of water each day will keep your metabolism running efficiently, including burning fat instead of storing it.

Get brushing
A healthy circulation will keep your skin looking smooth so invest in a good quality skin brush and use it every day. Brush thighs, tummy, bum etc. in a circular motion always towards your heart.

Get healthy
When it comes to eating to avoid cellulite you need to think natural and avoid toxins.  Maximise fruit and vegetable intake and minimise coffee, alcohol and processed and fast food.

Get started
There's no time like the present to begin your cellulite busting programme.  Here's what to do today:

1. Make part of your workout really tough.  Spend 10 minutes working at a 9 out of 10 effort level.  The easiest way to do this is to get warm and then alternate 1 minute of maximum intensity exercise with 1 minute of recovery for a total of 20 minutes.  This is easier than trying for 10 minutes straight at a really tough level.

2. Drink water right now.  Then buy a big bottle and make sure it's empty by the end of the day.

3. Make a date with yourself to get to the store and buy a skin brush.  If you can't get out today, order one online and use it everyday.

4. Eat two pieces of fruit within the next hour.  Avoid caffeine, pastries, muffins and chocolate for the next 3 hours.

There you have it. Good luck.

Photograph by petname (flickr)

28 July 2008

How to Stretch Properly Part2

Naturally, you've all been doing plenty of stretching since I posted about it last week.;-)

Here's part two in our series to keep your lower limbs flexible and keep you on the road to fitness without any breaks for injury.

I've chosen these two fitness tips particularly following a recent conversation with someone who used to suffer a lot of lower back pain. It turned out that tightness in the front of their legs was causing their pelvis to be pulled out of line and the solution to fixing the back was to loosen off the muscles at the front of the hips and the front of the thighs.

So here are the key stretches.

This one is to stretch out the muscles that run along the front of the thigh. This area can become very tight if you train your legs a lot or take part in dynamic sport with quick bursts of speed in a variety of directions. Do this after running and cycling. Also great if you have problems with your knees after workouts.

quad stretches for thighs

Stand upright with a bench or wall next to you for support
Bend your right leg up behind you and grab the laces of the trainer on this foot
Keep your supporting knee bent and knees together
Still standing upright, push the right side of your hip forwards and you'll feel a stretch along the front of the thigh
Hold for 10 seconds, relax and repeat on the other leg

Hip Flexors
The hip flexors and small muscles at the front of your hips. If you sit down a lot these muscles can become shortened and tight which can result in them pulling your pelvis and spine out of natural alignment. To keep them loose:

hip flexors to stretch muscles at front of leg

Stand next to a bench for support
Step your left foot forwards into a half lunge position
Keep your body upright and tilt your pelvis backwards on the right side
Because this muscle can be tight it's best you move very slowly into this stretch - it can feel quite acute
Hold for 10 seconds, relax and repeat on the other leg

24 July 2008

Bored of the Gym?

If you sometimes find yourself dreading a visit to the gym don't panic. Even the most dedicated of fitness fans has off days when they just can't face their usual workout. So what do you do if you want to keep getting results but can't be bothered to plod through your routine?

The most important thing is to do something different.

Often it's the routine that's the problem, not the effort of actually doing something physical. The barriers to a good workout are just as likely to be mental boredom as they are to be physical fatigue.

Here's the solution.

No matter what mood you're in, don't hesitate to get to the gym. Don't think twice about it, just go.

When you're there, do not spend more than 5 minutes on any one activity. Here's a suggested routine - I used this with a client the other day. She really wasn't in the mood but ended up loving this programme and working really hard - much harder than she thought she would when she left the house and dragged herself to the health club

  1. Cycling - 5 minutes warm up 
  2. Treadmill - 5 minutes, starting with a slow jog and increasing the speed each minute 
  3. Squats x 15 
  4. Lunges x 15 
  5. Rowing - 5 minutes to row as far as possible and record the distance 
  6. Bench Press x 15 
  7. Seated Row x 15 
  8. Press ups with feet on the fitball x 15 
  9. Treadmill - 5 minutes in 1 minute bursts, moderate, fast, moderate, fast, moderate 
  10. Shoulder Press x 15 
  11. Lat Pulldown x 15 
  12. Rowing - 5 minutes to see if you can beat the distance from the previous 5 minutes 

Cool down, stretch, relax, recover and go home feeling tired, satisfied (smug) and knowing the gym is once again your friend.

17 July 2008

How to Stretch Properly

There's nothing worse than having to slow down your fitness routine because you suffer an injury. I've had a few people recently complaining of tightness and aching in their legs that ends up slowing them down.

A common reason for suffering minor injuries is not taking enough time to stretch as part of your regular fitness routine.

I know what you'll say - stretching is boring and it doesn't burn calories or body fat. Well, think about it this way instead.

1) If your workout is effective, your metabolism will be running fast for a good 30-60 minutes following your activity so if you stretch during this period, you'll be burning calories while you stretch.

2) If you pick up even a small injury that puts you out of action you definitely won't be burning many calories for a while. You only need a little bit of stretching in your routine but if you do it regularly you will be able to keep up your programme without interruption and make sure that your results keep on coming week after week after week.

Here are a couple of simple stretches to get you started. Try doing these right now to practice and at the end of your next workout.

For all stretches, move gently into position, hold the stretch for 10 seconds and then release gently. Think about where you feel a stretch and what you might need to adjust if you're not feeling it where the stretch is intended to work.

The lower legs can take a battering, particularly if you walk, run or use an incline a lot. Wearing heels also makes these muscles short and tight so avoid wearing them too often and do this stretch once you take them off.

Here's how to keep them loose.
how to stretch your calves

Lean into a wall and extend one leg out behind you
Keep your toes facing forwards
Put most of your weight on the front leg and push the heel of the back leg into the ground
If you need to increase the stretch, step the back leg out a little further and repeat the move
Swap and repeat on the other leg

The backs of the thighs spend a lot of the time in a shortened position as we sit down on them all day. Tight hamstrings can lead to lower back pain in the long term so make sure you stretch this area regularly.
how to do hamstring stretchhow to do hamstring stretch

Lie down face up with your knees bent and feet flat
Extend one leg above you
Grab the back of the thigh of the extended leg and then pull it towards you
Make sure you keep a slight bend at the knee
Note - the straighter the leg above you, the more you feel the stretch behind the knee, which can be painful. Bend the knee a little to keep the stretch right in the middle of the back of the thigh
Swap and repeat on the other leg

15 July 2008

Exercises with a Fitball Part 2

Assuming that you're all still in one piece following the first lot of exercises to do with a fitball, here's the second installment.

These two exercises are great for working on:
1. tightening up your stomach
2. toning your bum
3. toning your legs

Try doing these after 20-30 mins cardio work and make them part of your workout 3 times a week. You'll really notice the results.

Ready? Let's get started.

bridge lift on fitball position 1bridge lift on fit ball
Lie face up with your heels resting on the ball
Tighten your stomach muscles and squeeze your butt muscles
Press your feet into the ball evenly and lift your hips off the ground
Form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles
Hold the bridge by squeezing your butt - keep the legs relaxed and avoid tension building up in the back of the thighs by focussing on your butt
Keep the bridge steady for 5 seconds and lower gently
Repeat x 5, holding the bridge for 2 seconds longer each time

Bridge with Leg Curl
bridge lift on fit ballbridge lift with curl on fit ball
Begin in a similar position to the bridge but this time have your knees a little bent and your heels resting on the ball
Lift your hips into a bridge
With your hips up, bend your legs and move the ball towards your butt
Straighten your legs but don't let your hips drop
Perform 5 leg curls and then lower your hips to rest

11 July 2008

Best Breakfasts when trying to Lose Weight

eggsBreakfast like a king - that's what they say and this doesn't mean a fried breakfast or French pastries galore to start your day. You need something low in fat, high in taste and most importantly, a meal that will see you through to your 11a.m. snack without leaving you feeling hungry and unprepared for your day ahead.

Here's My Top 5 Best Breakfasts to have when you want to get your day off to a healthy start and keep the pounds off. Choose one each day - not all!

What to Eat.....

1. 2/3 pieces of fruit chopped up and a large spoonful of fat free plain yogurt on top. Sprinkle some nuts and seeds on top.

2. Scrambled Eggs on wholemeal or granary toast. One slice of toast and no butter needed. Add handful of sauted mushrooms or tomato to the side to bulk it up.

3. Porridge made with fat free milk or water with a handful of berries - strawberries, blackberries or blueberries - on top and a sprinkling of nuts and seeds.

4. Grapefruit and Muesli. The muesli may be filling on it's own but the grapefruit on the side is a great source of Vit C to kick start your day. (check the label for amount of salt and sugar in it - go for healthiest, organic brand you can buy. With fat free or 2% milk.

5. Boiled eggs or Poached eggs on toast. Again, no butter needed on the wholemeal toast. Add the mushrooms or tomato to the side as with the scrambled eggs.

What to Drink...

Green tea would be an ideal hot drink to have if you're serious about your diet and a cup of hot water and a slice of lemon if you are deadly serious. Otherwise, if you are going to have coffee, make it small, black, no sugar. And with tea, not too much milk and no sugar.

Look out for My Top 5 Best Lunches next week.

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7 July 2008

Kick the bad food habits

Many people come to me frustrated that they just can’t get the results they want with their fitness and their body. Usually this happens simply because they are stuck with habits that don’t help them in their efforts to reach their goals. For example, recently someone approached me complaining they had difficulty sleeping. On further discussion it transpired they were in the habit of drinking up to 8 coffees in a day so it’s no surprise they weren’t able to sleep well. You hold the solution to everything that's stopping you losing weight and feeling fit. Only you - so isn't it time you kicked the bad habits and got on with reaching your goal? Here are some tips to make that easier.

Another common complaint is a difficulty with losing weight which often turns out to be due to a daily treats of cake or chocolate with every cup of tea and a pastry with every morning coffee. Its time to be honest with yourself about whether or not you want to lose weight and get fit and time to stop with the excuses.

Time to be honest.

Think about which of your habits may be slowing your progress, write them down and then apply the following 3 rules to kick the habit.

1. Always have a substitute. It can be difficult just to ‘not have coffee’ or ‘lay off the cakes’ so make sure you have an alternative ready for the times when you’d usually indulge. Green tea is a good alternative to coffee. Nuts are a good alternative to sugary snacks.

2. Mind your language. Stop thinking of yourself and talking about yourself as someone with the habit you’re changing. Don’t say, ‘I drink a lot of coffee’. Say instead, ‘I’m someone who’s happy with one or two coffees a day’. Or, ‘I used to drink a lot of coffee but I don’t any more’. Or even better, ‘I’m a person who drinks the right amount of coffee a day to make sure I feel great!’ Listen to what you say to others and catch yourself everytime you slip up.

3. Plan ahead. Often people picture themselves following their old routines and falling back into old bad habits so this is exactly what happens. You must picture yourself with your new habits as often as possible to make sure they stick. Visualise yourself throughout the coming day saying no to the old routine and yes to the new one and you’ll find it really easy to get through each day with new routines that support you in your desire to get in shape.

Don't waste time and energy resenting having to give up cakes / mochas / dessert - you've decided to give them up because you don't like the effect they have on your belly / skin / butt / waistline etc. * delete as applicable.

Good luck.

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