So we’re done with January; how did it go for you? Are you part of the ‘New Year, New Me’ crew? Did you tell yourself (and everybody else) that this year would be YOUR year? THE year of change and growth? Growth everywhere except the hips right? An increase in your finances and a decrease in the gut? Those health and weight related goals you made; how are they going? Still staying strong? If you’ve already fallen off of the bandwagon and found yourself swapping your cute packed tupperware lunch for a cheeseburger or forgotten your gym entry code then this post might be for you. In a world full of healthy living tips, forbidden foods and before and after photos, here are ten things that I recommend you start doing to find a healthier you.
Images in this post are not my own
- Plan your meals
I can’t stress this enough! Meal prepping is not for everyone but knowing what you’re going to eat every day is extremely important. When you’re trying to eat clean you can’t leave meals to chance. It is important to plan ahead; whether that be a week’s worth or a day’s worth, you need to know what you will eat that day. If you wait to see what you “feel” like eating, you’ll find yourself with a Pizza or maybe even skipping dinner. If your goal is to eat well then you need regular healthy meals and this requires planning the meals, buying the food and knowing when and how you will eat it. If you really want to stay on track then check out my meal prep post to see how preparing your food ahead of time can help you.
2. Keep a food diary
Sometimes, we think we’re eating well but we’re actually not. Try noting down every single thing that you eat and you’ll soon be able to see why the pounds are not falling off. Those 2 biscuits you have every morning at your desk with your sugary tea? The smothering of ketchup you have at lunch? That carton of juice? It all adds up! It’s hard to be strict but it is how you get results. You have to learn to start saying no when your colleagues offer you sweets or resist that daily desert and realise that every bite matters.
3. Watch your food portions
That mountain of rice or cauldron of porridge needs to change! You might be eating well but if your portions are huge then you’re doing yourself an injustice. Use this guide to help you portion out your food and stick to it. Also, don’t be afraid to stop eating if you are full; you can train your stomach to get used to smaller portions.
4.Read ingredient lists
I’m always surprised at the food that people consider to be healthy. That shop-bought granola might as well be Frosties because if you read the sugar levels they’re not far off. It might say ‘ contains honey’ but just how much honey does it contain? And do you know the many different names for sugar that manufacturers cleverly use? Do your research. Yogurts, cereal bars, soups and rice cakes are not always the cleanest thing to eat because they sometimes contain unnecessary sugar, salt and preservatives. Check your food labels and if there are ingredients that you cannot pronounce or know are bad for you then don’t buy them. It might say low fat but that does not mean low sugar. Healthy/clean foods usually have about 4-5 ingredients at most. If you can’t find a healthy version; try making your own.
5. Add vegetables to each meal
Ensure that every meal has a good portion of vegetables, not just a spoonful of frozen carrots and peas. Discipline yourself to do this and it will soon become a habit. Try eating less starchy foods and bulk up your meals with vegetables instead. You might miss the rice at first but you’ll get used to eating more vegetables and your body will thank you. There are so many vegetables to try; you don’t have to stick to broccoli all of the time. Did you know that you can add courgettes or carrots to oats? I’ve seen some great looking carrot cake porridge recipes. How about courgette noodles? Cauliflower rice? Look up some recipes and get creative!
6. Drink more water
I’m so guilty when it comes to drinking water. I have all of the fancy bottles in the world but my intake is slacking. We all know the benefits of drinking water and how much we need to do it but do we realise that it aids weight loss too? We need water to aid digestion so the more we drink, the more smoothly everything works inside. Not to mention how many of our health problems are linked to dehydration. Also, sometimes we think we’re hungry but we’re actually thirsty. When you feel hungry in-between foods drink a large glass of water then wait 20 minutes and see if you still need food.
7. Exercise regularly and intensely
People often message me and say they are exercising and eating well but are not seeing changes. More often than not, they think that they’re going hard in the gym but they’re actually not. I used to be the same; I would have a relaxing 30 mins on the cross trainer whilst watching the TV screen then breeze through a few machines and then wonder why I looked the same. You have to exercise intensely if you want to see results! If you’re chatting away on your phone whilst on the exercise bike then don’t expect to get the thighs of your dreams. You should push yourself really hard when you’re working out. Squat until your legs shake and run until you almost fall off of the treadmill. Be safe of course but if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. Speak to the trainers in the gym or online for a workout plan and keep updating it to ensure you are progressing. You also need to work out regularly; I always recommend 4 times a week because it means that over half of your week are workout days. Go hard and you will see results!
8. Get an accountability partner
Sometimes it helps to tell someone your weight loss plans so that they can check up on you and see if you’re on track. Some of us like to do this via social media but that is not for everyone. Choose a friend that is positive and will encourage you, not one that will say “Are you supposed to be eating that?” or “I thought you were on a diet.” You need someone who will help you when you’re about to run into KFC and remind you that it’s okay to slip up. An ideal partner is a friend or relative who is also trying to lose weight then you can motivate each other, work out together, send each other food photos and understand each other’s journey.
9. Don’t rely on the scale
The scale. How depressing it can be! When I first starting losing weight the pounds were falling off and then the scale just stopped. It wasn’t moving but I surely was! I exercising, eating well, saying no to chocolate and cheesecake but the scale was just not my friend. However, when I measured myself I found that I had lost inches. And when I compared photos from a year ago I could see a visible change. The scale will not always show an accurate picture of how well you are doing so do not let it affect your motivation or progress. Find other methods like I did; pictures are really effective and really show you the smallest of differences. Also, remember that you may have lost fat but gained muscle and so the scale will not always show this. And ladies, remember that our weight can fluctuate according to our monthly cycles so if you’re constantly losing and gaining a few pounds each month that could be the reason why. Document your progress and you’ll be able to see how things are going. I still have my weight log from three years ago and I can see which months things were going great and which months things were a bit stagnant. I can also match these up with photos and see if I was actually getting smaller or not. Find what works for you.
10. Be consistent
This is my top tip. Weight loss is mentally hard, I’ve been there, but if you keep giving up then you’ll never see results or you’ll just keep losing and re-gaining. You have to be consistent with your food and exercise. Going to the gym five times this week and then just once next week is not enough. As is eating clean for three days then going wild for the remaining seven. Figure out a realistic plan for your goals and do all you can to stick to it. And if you do slip up, don’t give up! You can make the very next meal a great one; you don’t have to wait until tomorrow or until Monday. Those who see results and make it to June or even December and are still in the gym are those that remained consistent. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t have days where they ate takeaways and cried about their jeans still being tight; it means that they preserved and looked at the bigger picture and were determined to carry on. It’s hard but it is possible – if you really want to lose weight and you are mentally ready, then you will do it.
So those are my top tips – did I forget anything? Share yours below.