It is that time of year where we start to regret the Christmas over indulgence. A friend said to me the other day ‘Christmas ended up being the whole of December for me’. This is so true. These days we have Christmas parties, work gatherings, and generally find any excuse to start buying all those delicious festive treats that have adorned supermarket shelves since late October.
Once the decorations are down, and we do not sit in the soft glow of fairy lights, the truth emerges. We might have put on a few pounds, our skin might be a little dehydrated or had a break out of spots. However it effects you, we all have that guilt complex that makes us vow to do something to reverse what we have done to ourselves.
Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Lighter Life, Slim Fast. These are just a handful of the ‘diets’ we hear about today aimed at helping people to lose weight. What do they have in common; they provide you a snippet of information for free to entice you to buy a membership to an exclusive club with all the secrets to lose weight or buy their specially designed weight loss products normally at an extortionate price. Each provides a unique methodology for weight loss over a period of time, but are any of them actually sustainable? Does anyone enter into a diet with the intention of following it for life or is it a temporary change in their habits to reach a goal?
As anyone who has experienced one of these diets will tell you, they work for a while but as soon as your body accepts the new portions and combinations of food you eat, your weight loss will plateau. The only option is to continue to reduce portion sizes and cut things out, on these such diets, and then what; we just eat nothing? Latterly you reach your goal and start to introduce food into your diet again that was ‘banned’ or restricted. Inevitably weight creeps back on.
Nowadays these diet regimes will talk about exercise too. But they all miss the main principle… most likely to keep you paying for their advice and buying into the corporation.
The simplest advice out there is; Eat less and move more. I got to thinking about this, is it in fact that simple? Calories in versus calories out will determine your weight loss, gain or maintenance. That is all you really need to know to make this work. The more you eat, the more you need to burn off to avoid fat gain. If you can combine the idea of eating less and beginning to move more then you should be able to lose weight.
I have a good understanding about food groups and what these foods mean to your body, but you don’t really need to be an expert to make this work. You will hear people talk about empty calories, good fats, bad fats, super foods and so on. Ultimately energy (calories) is energy and fat is fat. Take in more energy than your body needs for the amount you move, the more will convert to fat that then needs to be burned off. You will not burn fat until you have burnt the energy surplus in your body. Hence why weight gain is easier than weight loss.
Weight loss/ gain is merely a simple equation. There are many apps these days with databases that will calculate the calories you have eaten and what you have burned. It puts the control in your hands to be the maker of your own destiny. If technology is not your thing, food labels display the calorific content of the food contained.
Exercise is moving, in whatever way works for you. You don’t need to get an expensive gym membership, buy an exercise bike or the latest celebrity DVD. Start small, make a little change to your habits; go for a walk, join an exercise class, maybe a steady bike ride. Build up your enthusiasm for exercise, don’t overwhelm yourself by setting unrealistic expectations of yourself. If you haven’t run before perhaps aim to get to 5k rather than a marathon and so on. You should only exercise for you and not compare yourself to others. It will be your biggest downfall. The internet has a vast array of free videos to introduce you to new exercise too. Everything from aerobics, to HIIT exercise programmes and yoga, there is something to suit everyone.
Using this principle I am starting the year eating smaller portions and reducing the ratio of carbs in my diet. I am drinking more water and a little less caffeine too. I am not depriving myself of any food group or treat merely moderating what I have. Exercise wise, before Christmas I would have considered myself to undertake light activity. I walk my dog at least once a day, and went to Pilates once a week. Now I will continue with both, adding in a dance aerobics class once a week plus a 6 week training plan to be able to run 5k by Valentine’s Day.
So if you feel you have more pounds on your person than in the bank in January, don’t subscribe to a profit making diet plan but simply eat less and move more. It is far more sustainable as it is habitual change.
Good luck to all you post festive fitness fanatics in the making 🙂