Here’s how to approach the dreaded “exercise” word!

 exercise and activity

“Exercise” is an emotive word. To many, it means sweaty sessions in the gym, team games down the local park or long runs on dangerous, unlit roads and so is distinctly unappealing! Compartmentalising it in this fashion gives us the perfect excuse not to do anything because it’s OK to say “I don’t have time to go to the gym”.

There are two important points to get across here:

1. General “activity” is vital. The health benefits of a physically active lifestyle are well documented and there is a large amount of evidence to suggest that regular activity is related to reduced incidence of many chronic conditions. The latest Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, England 2013 report (read it here www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB10364 found that 32% of men and 60% of women were not even fit enough to sustain walking at 3 mph on a 5% incline. That’s pretty shocking and not good news for the NHS, already buckling under the extra work due to obesity.

2. If you specifically want to lose weight (see our article Don’t think “I want to lose weight” – think “I want to get fitter” if this is you) you’ve got to remember that  it’s pretty damn hard to lose lots of weight through exercise alone. True, you don’t see many fat marathon runners, but think how much exercise they do each week…out of the question for most of us. It’s also almost impossible to “target” fat reduction through exercise alone, so forget the “flat abs in 10 days” headlines. Remember that the muffin you had with coffee today will take several hours to “jog” off!

Whilst there are people who regularly go to the gym and are pretty fit, to most of us, exercise should just mean activity.

The key thing is to replace the word “exercise” with “active”…don’t worry about going to the gym, just get more active. Remember, you’ll gain the most benefit just by starting the process! 

So, before you go and drag on those old running shoes, think basics:

If you are sitting down all day, don’t! Get up for 5 minutes every hour and walk around (or stay and your desk if at work and do some leg bends and shoulder rolls).

Sit up straight, with your shoulders back and neck tall.

Always take the opportunity to walk, and walk briskly to get your heart rate up and your breathing quicker.

Never take the lift and always walk up escalators.

Never just do nothing! Use your odd minute or two to do something energetic…even if it just some stretches.

Plan your day so that you find an extra few minutes to do some of the above and then congratulate yourself.

Once you’ve been doing this for a few weeks, go a step further and try a more vigorous activity.

Start thinking like this and your lifestyle will change. If you do it at the same time as working on your eating habits, then you WILL achieve your ideal weight and get fitter.

Better still, download the New In 90 app or e-book and be guided through the whole process, one day at a time! Or go to the NHS site…there’s loads of info here about what you should be doing.

A WIN WIN!

William

Why we should all be drinking more water…

glass-of-water1

We all need a certain amount of fluids each day to keep our body functioning properly. Unfortunately, we seem to have become slaves to coffee, tea and soft, sugary drinks and a large number of people perceive that a glass of  fizzy cola is all the liquid intake they need. This is a particular problem for children because of the high sugar content of this type of drink.

Whilst there’s no doubt that coffee, tea (particularly green tea) and diluted squashes provide the body with fluids, the simplest and most available drink (and it’s almost free out of the tap!) is plain old water, and a simple switch to this rather than sugary drinks is not only much better for the body, but can contribute to weight loss as well. A study conducted in 2012 by researchers at the University of North Carolina (Ref) demonstrated a 2%-2.5% average weight loss amongst adults who swapped calorific drinks for water over a six month period.

So do you drink enough water?

Probably not!

So, if you do nothing else this new year, follow these two rules:

1. Drink more water – at least 5 glasses a day. Reduce (or better still eradicate) all fizzy colas and fruit drinks. You can still drink a couple of cups of tea or coffee each day and diluted squash is also fine.

2. If you feel hungry, drink a glass of water before even thinking about a snack. Have a glass before you eat as well.

If you’re in doubt, try it for just a day…drink nothing but water and you WILL notice the difference.

Good luck

William

 

Ref: Tate DF, Turner-McGrievy G, Lyons E, Stevens J, Erickson K, Polzien K, Diamond M, Wang X, Popkin B, “Replacing calorific beverages with water for weight loss in adults”, 2012.

Seriously, what’s the best way to lose weight and get fitter?

Today is the day with New In 90

As predicted, pretty much every newspaper and magazine has their own New Year diet and/or exercise plan, normally promoted by a fitness expert or celebrity guru. Sifting through them all trying to find something that’s suitable is daunting and, in many cases, confusing.

It’s little wonder that the majority of people give up all good intentions only a few weeks into January.

However, there is a very useful message to be gleaned from all the suggestions on offer…and it’s a good one!

There’s much more emphasis this year on overall lifestyle change to facilitate long term health – something we’ve been banging on about for months – and that’s refreshing to see. It certainly makes a change from the usual fad diets and celebrity exercise trends.

However, just like any life change (whether it’s like moving a house, getting a new job or starting a relationship), anything that alters established habits and routines is difficult to implement without good perseverance, advice and help. So here’s a simple two point plan to kick start your journey to a healthier and fitter you!

1. Decide you want to make a change! It may seem obvious, but you’ve really got to want to do it…not anyone else, just you! If you’re only making the effort because you think you ought to or because someone else wants you to, then it’s going to be tough!

So what’s going to make the difference between really wanting to and just feeling you maybe should do something?

Well, there’s a whole host of research that says that overweight and inactive people are prone to multiple health issues and problems, with the more serious being heart conditions and type 2 diabetes, to mention a couple. Unfit people are also generally more stressed, with all the complications that can bring to a busy life.

With this in mind, ask yourself again whether or not you’d really like to be fitter, healthier and slimmer? If the answer this time is “yes” then that’s a great place to start!

2. To make the lifestyle change worthwhile and effective, you’ve got to work out how you can be more active overall and how you can adjust your eating habits to both reduce the amount you’re eating and eat healthier – without doing it too quickly or too strictly. And you’ll want to do this based around your normal day routines and chores which, let’s face it, most of us can’t escape from!

The key thing to remember is that any positive change, however small, is a good change, provided it’s maintained and built upon. 

There’s lots of advice in my previous articles on exactly what steps you should take and how to go about it, but start by checking out Follow these simple eating rules for long term weight control and Do you want to be more active but just don’t have the time? for starters!

William

“I want to lose weight” – here’s how to do it…

A-huge-part-of-losing-weigh

I talked in my last article about the whole process of “losing weight” – how it’s become the sole focus of behavior and big marketing campaigns, when the true approach should be to concentrate on changing lifestyle in order to become healthier and fitter…weight loss becomes the welcome side effect of the latter.

I also put forward two big assumptions that you have to take on board before embarking on a lifestyle change:

1. You’ve got to REALLY want to make the change – the only person who can do it is you.

2. Nothing is going to happen overnight – but remember, this is all about bringing about a permanent change, not just a temporary quick fix.

The next and most obvious question is how do you actually start making the correct lifestyle changes? Many people perceive it has to be dramatic to be effective; others think that a “healthy lifestyle” is all about becoming a non-drinking vegan who practices yoga and loves colonic irrigation!

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, the key to making positive lifestyle changes is to make them as small and as simple as possible, adapting them into your daily routines with the minimum of disruption. The process may take weeks and months, but you know you’re making positive changes every step of the way – and that will give you the motivation to continue. You’ll also start to see and feel the results of what you’re doing…creating a further positive feedback loop.

So how do you actually get started?

The two key focus points are on your activity and eating habits and routines. Most people know that they have to get more active and eat healthy foods, so that’s the objective. Try writing down a weeks worth of day plans, both when you are at work and home. Look for times when you could be more active (particularly when you could walk instead of using the car, or times when you sit for long periods) and also “danger” points for eating. Work out how you are going to change these habits (some of which you may have had for years!) and alter your routines to miss the trouble spots. For instance, you may have got into the habit of meeting up with a friend or work colleagues every morning and having a muffin and cappuccino…if it’s the company you enjoy, then persuade them to go for a walk instead and you’ll all feel better for it. Likewise, if you’ve got in the habit of eating late, then change something to enable you to eat earlier.

These are all simple examples, but you’ll soon get the hang of “thinking” differently.

I’ve done lots of articles about changing habits and routines over the past few months and there’s lots of information to help you start thinking about the process.

Good luck and have a great Christmas!

William

 

Don’t say “I want to lose weight”, say “It’s time to change!”

If-you-dont-start, you will never finish

Out of the entire adult population, how many people do you think want to lose some weight? And how many people want to lose a bit and how many a lot? 10%….20%…80%?

There’s no really definitive research out there but if you take into account that 64% of UK adults are either overweight or obese, then you would think the final figure is going to be nearer the 50-60% mark…that’s over twelve million people!

With such a big demand for something, you’d have thought that there would be some fairly effective solutions but, as most people know, the majority of the diet and weight loss business thrives on the fact that most marketed solutions don’t really work. The same people keep returning to try the latest fad product without any realistic hope of long term success.

If YOU happen to be one of those people who DO want to lose weight, then surely it’s time for a new approach…and there’s no better time to start thinking about it.

The truth is that so-called diets are trying to treat one of the major symptom of an “unhealthy” lifestyle, namely being overweight. By rigidly cutting out calories or certain food groups (the basis of most “diets”), then a temporary weight loss may occur. But what happens when the diet stops? If you’re still leading the same lifestyle, then surely the weight will come back on?

This is a typical “endless” cycle for most people looking to lose weight.

Surely then, the solution is to change one’s lifestyle in such a way that natural and progressive weight loss is a valuable by-product rather than a main objective?

To many people this is a seemingly insurmountable problem – a perception that a “lifestyle change” that’s effective in bringing about meaningful weight loss  must be drastic and extreme.

In fact, one of the biggest reasons why people don’t even start the process of getting fitter and losing that unwanted weight is because they think that ANY solution is going to be too hard and too painful.

It’s time this myth was put to bed for good!

If you take on board two big assumptions, then the whole process can be relatively simple and achievable (honest!).

1. You’ve got to REALLY want to make the change – the only person who can do it is you.

2. Nothing is going to happen overnight – but remember, this is all about bringing about a permanent change, not just a temporary quick fix.

Once you have these two things firmly set in your mind, then you can move forward.

I’ll be telling you exactly how and what to do in our next article.

William

The amazing 10 second body makeover

One of the simplest and quickest ways to both make yourself look fitter immediately  AND strengthen your core muscles for long term health is to get your posture right. Read on to find out why.

This may seem a very obvious comment, but not many people sit or stand with a good posture. If you don’t believe this, then just check out your own posture NOW!

If you are sitting, your bottom and lower back should be hard against the bottom and back of the chair (you shouldn’t be able to get your hand or arm in the gap), your shoulders should be back and your tummy muscles flat, firm and slightly held in.

A good sitting posture

A good sitting posture

If you are standing, your body should be straight from back of knee to neck, with your shoulders back, chest out, head up and with your tummy held in and muscles firm.

Good standing posture

Good standing posture

 

The chances are that you are slumped, with rounded shoulders, curved back and relaxed tummy muscles!

So, if this is you, then change positions into a “good” posture outlined above. Remember to pull in your tummy, not fully, but just enough to feel the muscles tighten.

For most of us, whether sitting or standing, this will feel unnatural to begin with and quickly your back and tummy muscles will start to gently ache. That’s not a problem, but it is an indication that your general “resting” posture has been neglected over the years  and it’s time to change things!

The objective is to always maintain the right posture, so start changing things little by little. When you are sitting down, begin with a good posture and, every time you realise you’re slumping or slipping in your seat, then alter your position back. Likewise, when you’re standing, adopt a good posture and then make corrections every time your body slips back to a “bad” posture.

To begin with, you’ll be making a lot of corrections, but that’s to be expected. After a while though, your body will start to adapt, the muscles will strengthen and you’ll find you adopt a good posture automatically.

Why is a good posture important?

  • It keeps your skeleton aligned in the right position, taking the pressure off joints and tendons.
  • It will strengthen your core inner muscles, particularly the ones surrounding your midriff, and will help minimise lower back strain and problems.
  • It will prevent you becoming round shouldered and your head will be supported correctly, taking pressure off nerves that cause neck and head aches.
  • If you learn to keep your tummy muscles firm and controlled permanently, then you’ll never need to do any tummy muscle exercises ever again!
  • It’s make you look and feel great! Next time you’re in  a public place, have a look around you and see who has a good posture and who a bad one. Now decide who looks fitter and healthier as a result!

Good luck!

William

 

’tis the time to eat and drink too much…10 great tips to save your waistline.

Master your portion size

Over the next few weeks, most of us will over eat and drink…after all it’s the festive season right? Eat, drink and be merry! There’s lots of TV ads showing very happy families sitting down at tables laden with glorious looking food and drink and we all start eating stuff which we wouldn’t normally even consider throughout the rest of the year!

No wonder the first week in January hits us like an express train!

So is there a way of having a great Christmas and New Year to minimise the effects of the January hangover?

You bet there is…just follow these simple tips and you’ll be able to indulge in all your favourite treats with a smile on your face!

1.  Drink lots of water – everybody says it but nobody does it! By all means have a small juice and coffee at breakfast but then stick to water instead of fizzy drinks. Aim to have at least 5 glasses per day and definitely drink one just before, and during, a meal. If you’re having alcohol as well, make sure you drink water in between.

Why it’s good: Water is the best drink for your body, bar none. Drinking it will stop you feeling hungry, will make you feel fuller and help flush out all the toxins from the alcohol.

2. Have a good nutritious breakfast everyday – you’ll probably be eating treats for the remainder of the day, so no need to start off with a cooked and fat-full breakfast! What’s a nutritious breakfast? See my article here for some great suggestions The top 10 ingredients for the perfect breakfast.

Why it’s good: Having a good, balanced breakfast will set your body up for the day and leave you less tempted to start snacking early on.

3. Eat smaller portions of EVERYTHING – don’t deprive yourself of any favourite treats, just eat a bit less of all of them. Don’t let anyone else pile your plate with food, don’t be tempted to finish off the last roast potato “because it’s there” and never have seconds of anything.

Why it’s good: If you think that we probably eat 20-30% more things at Christmas, then reducing the actual amount you eat by the same percentage will let you indulge to your heart’s content.

4. Go for lots of brisk walks – we’re not talking about hour long, all-the-family-have-to-come-too rambles, we’re suggesting quick 10 minute walks by yourself (or with a conspiratorial partner) up and down the road. Do one after every meal if you can and halfway through the inevitable TV marathon in the evening. It’s easy to do, doesn’t require any special exercise gear and no one will miss you for 10 minutes!

Why it’s good: Increase your breathing and heart rate and brisk walking is one of the most effective exercises you can do. A 10 minute walk won’t burn off a Christmas lunch but it will help the body metabolise the food and drink much more efficiently, stop you grazing on those after-dinner treats and make you feel human again.

5. Eat healthy snacks as well as the unhealthy ones – wherever you are, make sure there is plenty of nuts and fruit readily to hand. At those “grab a mouthful of something” moments, make sure it’s one of these, rather than chocolate or another mince pie. Save up your “unhealthy” treat for a certain time of the day and then really enjoy it!

Why it’s good: You’ll probably put most of your unwanted calories into your body by “grazing” on unhealthy treats over Christmas. If you can swap out 50% or even more with healthy ones, then you’ll be that much better off.

6. Brush your teeth after every meal – and as many times in between. It’ll make your mouth feel fresh again and will stop a binge run in its tracks.

Why it’s good: As well as creating a taste barrier, teeth cleaning is a great cue telling the body that eating time is over. Most drinks don’t taste so good after either!

7. Use a positive mantra – decide on an expression like “I just don’t need that“, “I know I’m not going to have a second helping” or “Don’t even think about it” and say it to yourself whenever temptation rears it’s head…not just once, but lots of times. And when the temptation passes, give yourself a huge mental pat on the back.

Why it’s good: Doing something like this may sound silly, but positive self-talk is extremely effective at directing your behavior. Do it enough and it will become self-fulfilling.

8. Keep a mental food diary – we’re not talking about calorie counting, but a big food plate. Imagine putting everything you’ve eaten on one plate and see how it piles up during the day. Keep it in your mind’s eye and slow down, or stop, the food intake when the pile gets too high.

Why it’s good: There’s a reason why all these diet reality TV programmes pile someone’s weekly or monthly food intake up on one table. Actually seeing how much you eat can be truly scary. Use this technique to help keep in control.

9. Try to stop eating when you feel a bit full – difficult with all the tempting food and drink on offer but crucial in keeping the calorie intake down. Never let yourself get into “stuff” mode…push your plate aside if necessary or excuse yourself from the table for 5 minutes.

Why it’s good: One of the main causes of being overweight is eating when you don’t need to. Let your body tell you when it’s had enough.

10. Try not to eat after 7pm – have a small treat and a fruit tea but avoid the late-night binge on the leftover turkey, roast potatos and spirits bottle.

Why it’s good: Going to bed on a full stomach is NEVER a good idea.

Follow these simple tips and you’ll emerge out the other side in the New Year relatively unscathed, ready to face the challenges of 2015.

Happy holidays!

William

Why now is the BEST time to start thinking about a New Year’s resolution…

Key points in this article:

  • There’s no need to dread the “New Year diet” if you take a different approach.
  • Plan some simple and achievable lifestyle changes that’ll both give you the control you want and make you fitter and healthier.
  • Look forward to the process because it’ll make you feel GREAT!

 Party drinks

With Christmas rapidly approaching, the last thing we want to be doing is thinking about that depressing moment in January when we realise that we have over-indulged during the festive period and really need to do something about our weight and general fitness.

This moment comes to most people – January is always the most profitable time for the diet and fitness industries – and we flock to the latest fad dieting book or celebrity-led fitness craze. It all goes to make this time of year even more depressing than usual!

If all this sounds familiar, then make a resolution NOW to do something different this year!

Instead of saying this to yourself:

‘Oh dear, I know I’m going to have to go on a diet after Christmas’

Say this:

‘This year, I’m not going to worry about my weight because I’m going to approach the whole slimming issue differently’

That feels a bit better doesn’t it?

Now stop thinking about losing weight at all. Instead, think more in terms of getting fitter and healthier. WHY?

  • Merely trying to lose weight is treating a symptom and if you don’t treat the cause (an unhealthy lifestyle), then you’re on a hiding to nothing.
  • To most people, everything to do with losing weight has BAD connotations…horrible diets, sweaty exercise sessions etc.
  • If you work on changing your lifestyle in terms of eating and activity, then you are looking at a long term solution, as opposed to a quick fix!

Check out this article for more information about this Don’t think “I want to lose weight” – think “I want to get fitter”

So if you think ahead to the New Year with a view to making your lifestyle more healthy, then that’s something you can really look forward to, as opposed to dread…and here’s why:

  1. Changing your eating and activity lifestyle is easier than you think, as long as you take it easy and think long term. If you want dramatic and instant results, then you’re going to be disappointed.
  2. Getting fitter and healthier will make you feel GREAT, whereas going on just a diet will make you feel BAD!
  3. Adapting your lifestyle is for a permanent effect and once you’re in control, you won’t have to worry about weight or diets again…imagine how that’ll feel!

Next steps:

If you like the sound of this approach, then I suggest you first read  The 5 golden rules before you try to lose weight. This will get you in the right mind set. Then find a plan that shows you how to make the changes…New In 90 is a good starting point because it will show you exactly what to do on a day by day basis. They are updating their App and it will be available in January but you can see the book here New In 90 e book.

Good luck!

William.

 

Why it’s important to manage your time if you want to lose weight and get fitter

Manage-your-time to manage your fitness

How much time are you REALLY prepared to invest to lose weight and get fitter?

A lot of people think (or hope) that losing weight is just a matter of watching what you eat using the latest diet craze. For some people this may be true, but to most of us, this approach just won’t work.

Changing anything “big” in your life, either because it’s forced upon you or done by choice, will inevitably take time, effort and focus. Whether or not that change is successful will depend on how motivated you are to see it through, particularly if it’s not a forced change. Even with the latter, the positiveness of the outcome will more often than not depend on your attitude and commitment to getting the best result (even if that means making the most of a bad situation).

What does this mean practically?

Well, learning to drive a car, a new language or a musical instrument would take a significant commitment and could not be done either overnight or halfheartedly. You would have to set aside specific time to study and practice over many months. Whether or not you are successful will depend on your motivation and commitment, with the latter being determined by how much you actually want to succeed.

Having big changes forced upon you are likely to be much more traumatic, but quite often the outcomes can be controlled to a degree by your approach to the problems and issues.

Losing weight and getting fitter can fall into both the above categories. A lot of people trying to slim or get more active are doing so out of choice, but many are doing it because they either know they should or have actually been advised to do so for good health reasons. But, make no mistake, getting rid of any excess weight (and then keeping it off) is a lot harder than putting it on in the first place! As such, it definitely should be treated in the “big” change category.

So, if you are one of those people who are unhappy with your weight and general fitness. you have to accept this first and foremost. Once you have done that, you can start to plan what you are going to do about it!

The good news is that something can be done! If you are one of those people who have tried diets in the past and found them not to work, you may be disheartened and fed up, so go back and read that sentence again…and the best thing is that losing weight and getting fitter goes hand in hand, particularly if you’re doing it for the long term.

The key is to understand this “big” change theory and treat it as such…and a crucial part of that is finding some time in your busy day – just like you’d have to for any other big change.

And so we are back to the question posed in the opening line. If you are not prepared to invest some time and effort, then you can stop reading this…come back to it again when you feel the right level of motivation!

If you feel you ARE ready for change, then you need to find, and then manage, some time for you.

For many people, this is a big stumbling block. “I just don’t have any time” is one of the most used excuses when it comes to losing weight and getting fitter. However, most people can actually free up some time (and we’re not talking about hours per day here…just a few minutes here and there) – if they want to.

So start by doing a short diary of your day, concentrating on blocks of time and what you are doing in those blocks. Remember, you don’t need to find huge amounts of free time.

Specific areas to target are TV and social media time (a recent survey suggested that the average Briton will spend over 3 hours and 14 mins per day either watching TV or on social media in 2014), coffee and lunch breaks and wake up/going to bed times. If you feel that you couldn’t possibly give up any of this sort of time, then you must go back to the “how motivated are you?” question.

Once, however, you have freed up some time, you have to find out how to spend it to achieve the most effective results for the long term. There is lots of information out there (the NHS is a good source – see link below), but a structured plan like New In 90 will tell you exactly how and what to do on a day by day basis in order to succeed in your goals.

Good luck!

William

Get the New In 90 book here

NHS Change4Life

Would YOU know what “too fat” is?

I wrote an article a few months back Being overweight is becoming “normal” says CMO, Dame Sally Davies about how people are beginning to accept that being overweight is the norm…and in a lot of research people constantly underestimate how “fat” they actually are.

So, before reading on, take a look at the figures in the picture and say which one most closely resembles your body shape.

African American women body image scale. Photograph: Adapted with permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd

African American women body image scale. Photograph: Adapted with permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Whilst on the one hand it’s good to know that people who are overweight or obese are not stigmatised as much now as they may have been in the past, accepting that it’s OK to be overweight is not a great position to be from the point of view of your own health and fitness.

The latest evidence that we no longer see being “big” as necessarily “unhealthy” comes from the Rush Medical Centre in Chicago where a group of African American women were asked to look at the body shape scale above and rate which bodies they thought were underweight; OK; too fat; overweight or obese. They were also asked which of the figures represented their own body shape the closest.

This was only a small study, so not conclusive by any means and the average BMI of the group was 32 (which is classified as obese), but the women thought that only the last two drawings (8 and 9) were “too fat”. The researchers concluded that this particular group of women thought that it was OK to be overweight and it was only serious obesity that could actually be bad for your health.

When it came to identifying their own body shape from the drawings, many of them got it wrong, classifying themselves in a “normal” weight category.

The results of this study cannot be extrapolated out to the whole population but it does raise important issues at a time when the health services are struggling to cope with all the side effects of a population that is getting fatter.

So where did you put yourself on the scale?

For your information, Figure 1 on the left has a BMI of 16, and is therefore underweight; Figures 2, 3 and 4 lie between a BMI of 20 and 25, which is considered normal; figures 5 and 6 are overweight and very overweight respectively;  figure 7 is obese and figures 8 and 9 are severely obese.

Even though it’s well known that not all overweight people are unfit, if you are in categories 5 or above, you should be thinking hard about trying to lead a healthier and fitter lifestyle.

Food for thought, as they say.

William