Health & Fitness

Give fad diets the flick...

For something that will stick. Already breaking your New Year's resolutions? Turn it around with a few smart rules...

It’s that time of year when New Year’s Eve feels like it was centuries ago and you’re starting to lose steam on the I’m-really-going-to-stick-to-my-resolutions-this-year train. You started off with a gung-ho attitude but your sprint has turned to a crawl. We hear ya. But hey, you signed up to a marathon, not a sprint and now isn’t the time to give up! Don't turn to fad diets to give you that boost. They'll only let you down in the long run. The boring but honest answer is you need to create a lifestyle change, not try a flash-in-the-pan diet. So if you feel your promise to eat better and get healthy is going down the drain, here are some handy tips to help you keep going.

Yo-yo diets = very low calorie diets

It’s time to ditch fad diets. They might help for a nano-second, but soon the weight will be back on and even harder to shift. Why? If you’re not getting enough calories, your body will enter starvation mode. When it starts to cannabalise itself, it’s going to start burning through your muscle and lean tissue first. And to start the obvious, that’s bad. In fact, you will be shooting yourself in the foot. Your muscles burn up more energy than any other part of your body, which means if you have less muscle, you’ll enjoy slower metabolic activity. Woohoo! So please repeat: the less you eat, the more you keep.

The answer? Eat small healthy meals throughout the day and ensure you have an adequate intake of food.

Get moving

If you want to boost your metabolism, then getting activity should be a major priority. Commit yourself to at least the recommended guidelines for exercise:

Two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week (like power walking) and strength training on two or more days per week (that works all major muscle groups). Or, an hour and 15-minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity like jogging or running each week and strength training at least twice a week.

Go to bed on time

Studies have shown lack of sleep leads to weight gain and an increase in other health issues. So do yourself a favour and aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

When you stress out, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Since your body think it’s either heading into a famine or about to fight mammoths, it starts to hold onto your fat and tissue to make sure you have all the strength and calories you can muster. Studies show stress can lead to increase girth around the belly and stomach fat has been associated with diabetes. Ergo, it’s time to unwind.

Love thyself

Be honest: do you have a nasty habit of mentally beating yourself up? It’s time to put that aside. If you have self-confidence, it’ll be easier to make positive changes in your life. Honestly! You’ll not only want better things for yourself but you’ll think you deserve them. You won’t let yourself be demotivated by negative thinking because you know you can make the change. Makes sense, right?

Don’t let yourself use food as an emotional crutch

Whether you want to lean on it or beat yourself up with it, letting food have an emotional hold on you can be dangerous. It’s alright to love food. After all, it’s a great way to bring family and peeps together. But don’t forget food is just fuel. It’s there to give you energy and to keep you healthy, not to drown your sorrows in. If you want to cry, do it on your friend’s shoulder, not over a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. The same goes for being self-destructive. Don’t punish yourself with pizza and a litre of ice cream. It doesn’t take a scientist to know that isn’t healthy behaviour.

Be committed to a lifestyle change from the get-go

So you’re going to revamp your eating habits until when? And then what? You return to old ways? Steel yourself for a lifestyle 360 and be committed to it. You need to acknowledge that you’re creating a permanent change so you’re ready for that what that really means. That being said, you should enjoy everything in moderation so don’t promise to give up chocolate for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. That won’t last.

Make small changes

Don’t be scared to take your time to change your lifestyle. It’s better to ease yourself in then go all crazy at once. Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Eat smart

Eat protein-based foods for your meals and your snacks. These will keep you feeling fuller for longer and avoid those blood sugar spikes.

Eat complex carbohydrates with your protein. Avoid simple carbs (looking at you, sugar) and opt for the more complicated variety like buckwheat. Carbs can cause your blood sugar to shoot up, which means when it comes crashing down, you’ll be starving. Complex carbs take longer to digest, more so if you pair them with protein.

Enjoy fibre-rich foods. Not only does fibre keep you regular, it also takes longer for stomachs to digest, so you stay fuller for longer! Beans, berries, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables are all great sources of fibre.