So you’ve started making lifestyle changes, you’re eating healthier foods and you’ve become more active. Sounds like you’re ready to take your lifestyle change to the next level!
You’re probably all thinking, “Great, here we go, I cannot be bothered calorie counting! I don’t have time, I won’t keep it up, it puts me off”.
Well, we all have to do things we don’t necessarily enjoy! Personally, calorie counting isn’t just a guide for one not to over eat; it also works as a check that we eat ENOUGH. Many people find that they have not been consuming enough calories and therefore slowing their metabolism and not achieving their desired weight loss/fitness goals.
It must be stressed though that nutrition is important and we should eat food with nutritional value, not just empty calories. You can certainly see the difference in someone who eats say for example, 25 grams of chicken breast as opposed to a bar of chocolate for lunch every day. Before you put food in your mouth, ask yourself, “What does my body NEED this for?”.
If you are still really dreading counting calories, keep a food journal! That way you’ll what you eat and have an idea as to whether its too little or too much!
Work out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) to ensure you are providing your body with the right amount of fuel. Just like a car needs fuel to perform efficiently, our bodies need fuel to function effectively too! I personally recommend Fat to Fit’s BMR calculator to work out the number of calories one should be consuming!
Starting a well-balanced, healthy diet is obviously harder to accomplish if you do not have the right ingredients at home! Sit down and work out a weekly/fortnightly or even monthly meal plan, then go shopping. You can find so many easy, simple, healthy meal ideas online.
Substitute and get creative!
Start substituting the usual bad fat, sugar, high-GI foods with healthier options. For example, instead of buying milk chocolate, start buying dark organic chocolate. Buy wholemeal/grain bread and rice instead of white. Buy raw sugar instead of white. There are also options of natural sweetener now available too! It’s really not that hard, when buying your groceries, take a good look at what is on the supermarket shelves, you’ll be pleasantly surprised! There are also many varied, interesting and healthy desserts online. Having a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to equal to boring!
Tips on helping keep those cravings at bay!
We all get them, they are so hard to resist sometimes! However, there are ways to reduce the damage and alternatives for those cravings!
My first tip is to not buy too much “junk food” when grocery shopping. Yes, we have stressed that we do not believe in diets and are promoting healthy weight loss and lifestyle in these articles and as mentioned above, there are healthier options for sugary cravings such as dark chocolate (which comes in a variety of flavours), protein bars and shakes, and fruit to name a few.
If you want to buy treats, go ahead, just make sure you buy say one chocolate bar instead of a big family sized block. That way the damage is not too great. Or instead of a chocolate bar buy some nuts and dried fruit, or even better fresh fruit! I find a fantastic way is to eat berries when I get sugary cravings; they are delicious, reasonably sweet and low in calories! My favourites are blueberries and raspberries!
Nuts are also wonderful and possess a whole range of other benefits including protein! Opt for the healthier nuts such as almonds, pistachios, hazel and Brazil nuts. Throw them in a fruit salad; you’ll be pleasantly surprised as to how yummy and satisfying it can be!
For those carb cravings, I usually have a packet of roasted vegetable chips on hand. They contain much less calories than their traditional counterparts and are healthier for you! Like with every meal, perhaps drink a couple of glasses of water before you eat them. Air-popped popcorn or even oil -opped popcorn are a great alternative to potato chips. Potato chips are known to be the biggest factor in stopping people from losing weight, simply because it’s hard to stop after one, two, or three, or four, you get my drift!
Salads are also another great option to have with not only your meals but as snacks. You just need some imagination and you can make salads creative and interesting! A favourite of mine is rocket leaves with dukkah, lemon juice garnished with some parmesan cheese. I usually eat this if I get hungry late in the night. Rocket is a wonderful option as it compliments so many other foods such as pumpkin, sweet potato, nuts, dried fruit, pear, apple, fetta and red wine vinegar just to name a few! Again have a look online and you will be sure to find many interesting recipes!
As you are probably aware, most of the time we snack we do it out of habit. Try keeping a glass of water with celery and carrot sticks in it (keeps them fresh and crunchy) and keep this on the kitchen bench so that when you’re tempted to open the fridge or pantry for a snack, you already have one waiting for you on the bench and always have a bowl of fruit sitting out!
At this point into your healthy lifestyle transformation, you probably should start to take exercise more seriously. You need to make it a habit, “The hardest thing about exercise is to start, once you start exercising regularly the hardest thing to do is to stop!” just like any other habit! Exercise for me is no longer a chore, it’s a way of life, and it’s a habit. If I don’t exercise I feel like I have missed something that day!
The trick is to keep it varied! For example I run on average 3-4 times a week and do weight training and core work every other day. Yes, I throw in a rest day during the week, but I no longer like NOT exercising! I used to love no exercise days, now I frown upon them Because, again, it’s a way of life for me, a habit! So ramp up your workouts, if you’re only exercising 3 times a week, try to increase that to 5 days a week!
There are so many different effective methods of exercise available to you! You don’t need to join an expensive gym. Running and walking are free (until you become an avid, keen runner and become obsessed with running gear and entering races!) You can buy fairly reasonably priced workout videos to do at home. Then you have treadmills, exercise bikes, etc.
You don’t have to do an hour of exercise a day. The most efficient type of exercise to do if you are time restricted is interval training. It is an excellent way to burn more calories, build endurance quickly and make workouts more interesting. Interval training involves alternating high intensity exercise with recovery periods and there are a variety of ways to set up interval workouts.
One option is measured periods of work followed by measured periods of rest. An example would be 1 minute of high intensity work (such as a sprint), followed by 2 minutes of low intensity exercise (e.g., walking) and alternating that several times for 15-30 minutes. You are in charge of the intervals and how hard you work during the work sets. The idea is to work harder than usual in your work sets and to fully recover during the low intensity intervals. Interval training is a great way to change your routine, increase results and burn more calories. There are many interval workout DVDs available and plenty iphone apps not just for interval training but many different workout apps too!
The key here though is to keep it varied! If you repeat the same type, intensity and level of exercise every day, your body will develop a resistance to it, or get “used” to that type of exercise and you won’t notice the same change as when you first started to do it.
“The difference between your body this week and next week is what you do for the next 7 days, to achieve your goals!”
Don’t let another week pass you by! And remember, simplicity and activity is the key!