Ten steps to healthy living – Getting ready for that Christmas party dress

The Christmas lights will be going up across the country in the next few days and weeks. So for those of us who want to be in our best possible shape before the Christmas season, now is the time to put some good habits into place. Here’s a few tops from Rachel Clarke, CEO of JBC Nutrition.

1. Download an app to help track nutrition or fitness

The initial step to start any weight loss programme is your nutrition. Many people don’t tend to realise how many calories they are actually eating and don’t understand how far they are straying from a balanced diet and the implications of this. Keeping a food diary can be a useful aid in targeting this issue. But as we live in a digital ready world, of course there’s an app for that. One of our favourites is My Fitness Pal.

It allows you to set up a profile which includes your age, weight, gender, height and how active you are in your daily life. By using this information, it asks you how much weight you would like to lose and sets a daily calorie goal for you – it even tells you how long your goal will take to achieve. After doing all this, you can then start to log in your food diary and you can start tracking what exercise you’ve done. For a lot of people, seeing this visual information makes it a lot easier to keep track. It’s a free app so it’s always worth a try.

2. Exercise

Yes, we know this is a pretty obvious answer when we’re talking about fitness and weight management, but exercise really is key. The best way to make exercise part of your routine is by finding an activity you enjoy so it’s not so challenging to make time for. Whether it’s going for a run or joining an exercise class, you should make time to exercise at least three times a week. And for those who want to track their activities, there’s usually an app for your exercise of choice – always check the app store. One of our favourites is the Nike+ Running app which tracks each run, your average pace and calories burnt. It even rewards you with little trophies for each achievement.

3. Stay hydrated

Especially when you exercise, your body needs to replace the fluids it has lost. But drinking water can also help you to stop overeating. How, you may ask? Well a lot of the time, many people can confuse thirst with hunger and the results can be extremely calorific. It’s recommended that you drink a glass of water before every meal so that it helps to fill you up and stops you indulging in those extra calories. Water can also help you burn fat and improve the condition of your hair and skin. So fill up a water bottle and stay hydrated.

4. Never skip breakfast

Research has shown that people who regularly skip breakfast are more likely to snack on more food throughout the day, resulting in more calories and most likely unhealthier choices. According to recent research from the Rochester Centre for Obesity in America, having eggs for breakfast can help you to feel fuller for longer and calorie intakes for the rest of the day can be up to 400 less. How do you like your eggs in the morning?

5. Get eight hours sleep a night

It sounds quite simple really but a lot of people don’t realise how much sleep can affect your weight loss. Sleep is the time where your body recovers and helps maintain the balance of hormones that make you feel hungry. It also helps aid your body in growth and development which is especially important after a heavy workout. So try to set a consistent bedtime and get those eight hours in.

6. Eat more protein

Protein is essential for the healthy growth and repair of body tissues, such as muscles including the heart, internal organs and skin. By filling up on protein, it can help reduce the amount of bad foods you eat as it’ll leave you feeling fuller and more satisfied for longer. So whether it’s making a protein shake after your workout or adding lean protein meats to your dinner, make sure you integrate protein into your diet.

7. Balance your plate

Although lean protein is important, it’s also important to balance your plate with other good foods. Start with loading your plate with lots of veggies. If you’re including carbohydrates in your meal, always consider wholegrain foods first, especially with pasta or rice. Also, make sure you cut back on foods that are high in fat and sugar like sweets or chocolate.

8. Cut down on the caffeine

For the coffee addicts, this will be one of the most difficult tasks. But studies show that drinking more than five cups a day can lead to obesity, with fat being stored in the abdomen and around your organs. Instead of harsh caffeine, try switching to green tea as it has been proven to aid in weight-loss by speeding up your metabolism and reduces cholesterol.

9. Track your progress

Although it’s good to track your progress on your journey towards health and fitness, it can become quite addictive and can sometimes fuel you in the wrong way. It’s recommended that you weigh and measure yourself no more than once a week, just enough to keep you updated on your progress. Remember to stay practical and make a note of these changes to see how far you’ve come.

10. Relax

Our very busy day to day lives can include a lot of stress. Don’t worry, everyone feels the same. But sometimes, this stress can turn into overeating and this just turns into another thing to worry about. So, it’s important to take some time for yourself to relax. Successful relaxation activities include meditation and yoga as they help to calm the mind and block out the everyday. Give it a try!