Why now is a GREAT time to think about your lifestyle

Small-daily-changes

With the days lengthening and February coming to a close, now is a great time to think about your overall health and fitness.

In exactly the same way as the traditional home spring clean, it makes great sense to give yourself a bit of an audit to see if anything could be altered or changed to give a positive benefit and, if there is, how can it be done without too much disruption?

So ask yourself the following questions:

Do I feel I should be a bit fitter?

Could I do with losing some weight?

Am I stressed and tired?

If you’ve answered “Yes” to any or all of the above, then it would probably be very useful to do a quick review of your current lifestyle and see what changes you could make to turn the answer(s) into a “No”.

At first look, this might seem an impossible task. To many people, the above questions only have one answer:

Do I feel I should be a bit fitter? – Go to a gym (don’t have the time, too expensive, put off by the other people, hate them).

Could I do with losing some weight? – Go on a diet (tried that before, too hard, never work, makes me miserable).

Am I stressed and tired? – Get more sleep (too many demands on my time, too much to do).

In truth, all the above issues can actually be addressed in one go…the “being overweight” and “stressed and tired” elements are normally the result of a certain type of lifestyle as opposed to the other way round. People are not necessarily unfit because they are overweight, neither are they unfit because they are stressed or tired.

So the key thing here is to see what changes we can realistically make to have the most impact, within the normal restraints that most of us have in our daily lives. As much as we would like, it’s just a pipe dream to disappear off to a health spa for a month!

Here’s how to start:

Take 5 minutes to write out everything you ate and drank yesterday and then another 5 to detail your activity. Try and be as detailed as possible.

Then take a moment to consider whether or not that was a “normal” day. Given that yesterday was a Sunday, you might have done things that were actually not particularly normal…go out for a Sunday roast meal, or a long walk, for instance. If this is the case, you may want to do the same exercise for today, or last Friday.

The key reason for doing this is to identify any “unhealthy” habits in your day…by this we mean habits that may cause you to eat more than perhaps you need, or be inactive for long periods of time. Examples of this might be meeting up with a friend and always having a muffin and cappuccino, eating processed food on most nights of the week, having numerous snacks throughout the day as well as your normal meals, sitting at a desk for more than a couple of hours at a time, always using the car even for the shortest of trips etc etc.

Try putting a big red circle around any activity which you think may be relatively “unhealthy”. Now look closely at them.

Were they one-offs…or were they regular features of your day to day routines? If the latter, now is the time to make some changes!

Remember, you only have to make small, regular changes to make a really big difference in the long term. That way, you won’t disrupt your overall life, or that of those around you, like your partner or family.

But you’ll know you’re doing something, and after a while, you will notice the difference!

Good luck!

William

New In 90 is a complete plan that will tell you how to make the day to day adjustments discussed above for really effective long term results. Download the new, updated App and start today!

Can alcohol ever fit into a healthy lifestyle?

Glass-of-wine-320-by-213

In most diets and fitness regimes, the role of alcohol is often overlooked…probably because it’s assumed you just don’t drink it if you’re on a real health kick.

However, to many people, drinking alcohol would not only be difficult to give up totally but is highly enjoyable…and definitely seen as one of life’s little “treats”.

So saying that, we all know that drinking excess alcohol in one sitting is definitely rather horrible and drinking to excess on a regular basis is very bad for you indeed.

So, if you want to lose weight and get fit…can, and should, you still drink?

The Government guidelines are still 21 units for men per week and 14 for women, with the recommendation that you don’t drink on at least three or four days each week. One of the difficulties of these guidelines is the measurement of one unit of alcohol, particularly with wines seemingly getting stronger and stronger.

As anyone who drinks knows only too well, abstaining completely is difficult! Just like giving up the muffin with coffee, it takes a lot of will power and determination and it’s all too easy, particularly if you have a partner or friend who cracks open a new bottle of wine in front of you, to give in to temptation.

It’s also true (like many other things that tastes good) alcohol is very fattening. It contains lots of sugar and it does very odd things with your appetite, like making you want a big curry at midnight! It’s addictive properties also play havoc with your mind and willpower…the more you have the weaker the latter becomes.

So what’s the best strategy if you’re trying to lose weight and get fit?

Well, obviously the best thing is not to drink at all if you find that easy to do. Your body certainly won’t miss it and your waistline/health will thank you for it.

But giving up drink entirely is certainly not for everyone…and so we’re back to that wonderful word: MODERATION.

So here are my golden rules on drinking (not just in the short term, but for life):

If you can give up for good, do. And congratulate yourself for doing it!

If you can’t, or don’t want to stop drinking then;

A. Don’t drink alcohol on at least 4 days per week. If you have been drinking everyday, then start the stopping slowly…miss out one day, then two etc. Come the evil hour at 5pm, get up and distract yourself. Go out for a quick walk, drink a glass of water or diluted squash. Don’t have an alcoholic drink with supper and you’ll find the moment passes very quickly…and once you do the first day of the week, then the others will be much easier.

B. When you do drink, don’t binge to make up for the abstemious days. It’s not clever or particularly enjoyable. By all means drink steadily, but drink water in between or dilute your alcoholic drink with water. Remember, it’s pretty bad for your body to drink to excess.

C. Try and stop drinking by 8pm and then make sure you drink lots of water before bed. Late night drinking means piling on the calories before you go to bed, and your will power goes as well which means you’ll probably eat more food.

D. Never drink and drive…just never. So volunteer to be the driver and you know you won’t drink…and you can enjoy the food even more if you’re eating as well.

E: Remember to include drink in your overall “food intake” thoughts. There’s no point in having a great food diet if you then drink a bottle of wine regularly. Everything’s a balance and if you enjoy a drink, then that has to be counted alongside everything else you eat.

Get into this routine and stay in it for the rest of your life. Don’t worry if there is the occasional over-indulgence – your new lifestyle will quickly correct it. You’ll find you can still enjoy drink, and you’ll feel much better in yourself as well.

Good luck!

William.
www.newin90.co.uk

And here’s a useful list of alcoholic drinks that are a bit easier on the calories.

  • Gin and slimline tonic, single serve (56 cals)
  • Bacardi and diet coke, single serve (65 cals)
  • Vodka lime and soda, single serve (76 cals)
  • Southern Comfort and lemonade, single serve (73 cals)
  • A small (125ml) glass of dry white wine (85 cals)
  • A small (125ml) glass of medium dry (95 cals)
  • Flute of Champagne (91 cals)
  • A bottle of Corona Light (99 cals)
  • A bottle of Magners Irish Cider Light (92 cals)
  • Half pint of lager shandy (78 cals)

David Aaronovitch gets it spot on…forget the faddy diets and go back to basics.

61856618_aaronovitch_10481wI think David Aaronovitch’s opinion article in The Times yesterday (see below for link) is spot on. He talks about the constant stream of conflicting advice about diet, nutrition and exercise from the experts and how, at the end of the day, we tend to read the latest bit of news from the comfort of an armchair in our local coffee shop…at the same time hugging a cappuccino and muffin!

Us poor humans aren’t evolved for a world where delicious, low priced food is easily available. Our bodies are wired to crave food and constantly demand it but unfortunately we haven’t developed the inner mechanism yet to control intake. Maybe another few thousand years of evolution will see it done, but until then we have to live with what we’ve got!

So that leaves two real options – either all the food manufacturers and retailers get together and decide to only produce and sell what is “good” for our bodies, and in controlled quantities, OR we take responsibility for what we eat and drink ourselves.

Mmmn…tough choice!

Safely assuming the second option, we all have the choice about how we go about it.

Maybe you don’t have to at all…many people are able to balance food and drink intake to what their bodies require…and that’s great for them.

However, with the latest figures from Public Health England showing that over 60% (and growing) of the UK adult population is overweight, it seems that many of us could do with a little help. And that’s where the diet industry helpfully steps in!

I won’t repeat all our comments about the latter here, but, as many of you know, diets are REALLY tricky! Not many of them work long term and they tend to be HARD! That’s primarily because they concentrate on what you actually put in your mouth, rather than WHY and WHEN you do so.

I always maintain (probably boringly so!) that the only way to get that control is to change eating and activity routines and habits to achieve those positive long term effects many of us so want and need.

I’ve written lots of articles (go and see them here, or try my advice centre) on how to go about this, so, if you are one of those people who feel they should be getting a bit fitter and losing some weight, go and have a look round!

William

David Aaronovitch – Forget the faddy diets and go back to basics.

The role of genes in contributing to obesity

All the newspapers this morning were headlining results of a recent study and intimating that millions of people may be unfortunately obese because of their genes, rather than their lifestyle.

The study, from the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits consortium and published in Nature, has identified seven new genes relating to obesity in a survey of more than 300,000 people worldwide. Whilst this discovery is no silver bullet for those who are overweight, it certainly paves the way for future research into possible new treatments for obesity.

“The newly discovered genes represented further pieces in the puzzle as researchers sought to understand the genetic contributions to height and weight. They already know of some genes likely to affect height and weight, but these genes only explain a limited amount of the contribution of genetics to these traits. So a lot of genes still need to be identified, but this is an important step,” said Prof Gemma Cadby of the University of Western Australia, co-author of the paper.

“The ultimate goal for genetic studies is to further the understanding of human diseases and in doing so, to develop new treatments and ways of preventing disease. Actually translating the results of studies such as this into providing intervention, management and treatments for people who are obese is a long way ahead, but in order to do those things you need to understand the genetics of the disease. We have to get this bit of the puzzle before we can move to the next step,” Prof Cadby explained.

One thing is clear though – we are still a long way from developing a drug or treatment for obesity and, at the end of the day, it’s only a relatively small proportion (approx. 20% at present) of the population that may have the relevant genes present in their DNA.

And all this leads us back to the fact that exercising and healthy eating is still the most effective and cheapest protection against becoming fat…however much we may look for other miracle cures!

But remember, having a “healthy” lifestyle need not be difficult…it just takes a re-arrangement of your daily routines and habits.

William

See more about the study here Nature Genetics article

nothing looks as good

Here’s why we should re-think our eating habits

If you’re one of those people who think they should be losing some weight, then it looks like the odds are stacked against you. Not only do the food makers, supermarkets and takeaway outlets pack their inventory and shelves with tempting (but probably unhealthy) food, our general way of life seems to be working against us. No one has any “time” to do anything anymore.

I’m always saying that losing weight and getting fitter is not just a function of what you eat…but a whole host of other important contributing factors. We maintain that most people deep down know what is good and what is bad to eat, but it seems that this sub-conscious control mechanism is being increasingly sidelined. So many foods and drinks these days are just plain nice to eat!

Research carried out by Kantar Worldpanel into our eating habits between 1980 and 2012 shows that we eat a lot more pre-packed and processed food than ever before. Sandwiches are the most popular meal, followed by ready meals. Of the latter, Italian is the most popular with 1.1 billion pizzas being tucked into during 2012. A traditional roast is the most popular evening meal, followed by pizza, sandwiches, Indian food, sausages, Asian dishes, pies, casseroles, spaghetti bolognese and soup. It’s hardly the most inspiring of lists…and certainly not the most healthy!

Pizza - most popular in 2012

Pizzas – most popular in 2012

Additionally, the time spent cooking the evening meal has dropped from 60 mins in 1980 to 34 mins in 2012.

The most common excuse for people not to cook is because we “all lead incredibly busy lives and don’t have the time” – yet EMarketer has reported that the average UK adult spent 3 hours 15 minutes each day watching television in 2014, and another significant amount of time on other digital devices.

It’s clear that anyone who wants to lose weight and get fit is not going to have much outside assistance! The TV channels are not going to helpfully stop broadcasting for an hour in the evening so we can all go out for a brisk walk…nor are the shops going to ban the sale of processed food on certain days of the week! It’s going to be down to you and how big your desire to change actually is. Remember, eating a “balanced” diet is not about never eating the so-called “bad” foods, it’s about reducing the amount you eat over the weeks and months.

So, if YOU are serious, then look at your day and your shopping basket. Try to re-arrange things slightly so you do have time to cook some of the healthier food you’ll buy and then go out and do some exercise (a brisk 10 min daily walk will be extremely beneficial over time for most of us). Don’t try and change things overnight…instead do it gradually over a period of time. It may mean freeing up half an hour, or even an hour each day, but think how much better the 2 hours and 15 mins of TV will feel afterwards!

There’s lots of really good advice out there, but if you want to follow a structured programme that shows you exactly how to do this, then try the New In 90 plan. It’s a very cheap way to change your life forever!

Good luck

William

Find out if this approach to fitness and weight loss will work for you…

Starting-is-the-hardest (1)

It’s a stark fact but the vast majority of well-intentioned New Year diets are dumped by the wayside before January is even over! This statistic just seems to prove how difficult the whole “get fit…get slim” thing is to maintain for the long term.

My view is simple…the only way to get fitter and healthier (and therefore slimmer) is to swap out all the “unhealthy” habits and routines and replace them with “healthy” ones! Forget fad diets and trendy exercise regimes because the important thing is when, why and what you eat combined with when and how active you are.

There’s no point in cutting out carbs for a month for instance, or starving yourself for two days a week, if you’re not active and you don’t change your overall eating habits and routines in the long term.

If you’re stuck in the “wanting to do something” but every diet you’ve ever tried to go on is too hard, then don’t despair!

If you follow these simple thinking steps, then by spring, you could be in control and looking forward to a slimmer and fitter summer!

1. Do you REALLY want to get fitter and healthier for the long term? Or do you just want to drop a few pounds by expending the least possible effort? Read our article The 5 golden rules before you try to lose weight for some great insight here.

2. If the answer to the first question is a resounding “yes” then how do you feel about the following statement:

If I stop worrying about “dieting” and “losing weight” and try a new approach, how does that make me feel? 

Take a moment to consider this – how does it make you feel? Happy? Relieved? Annoyed?

If saying the words to yourself makes you feel positive, then great! See how you feel about this:

If I could learn a “new” way of life when it comes to eating and activity, and it sets me up to be fitter, healthier and slimmer for the long term, then am I prepared to give it a go? 

If you answer this positively, then you’ve already made a big step…so now think about this.

If you decided to learn a new language, or drive a car for instance, then what would be your learning expectation? Would you think you’d be able to do it quickly…in a few weeks or a month? Or would you think that it’s going to take time and practice but it’ll be worth it because you’ll have a great skill that will stay with you for the rest of your life?

OK. Now this is the mindset you need for your “healthier lifestyle” journey and the really good news is that this journey will be easier than learning a new language!

So now say this to yourself:

If I can adapt my habits and routines surrounding eating and activity, I will get fitter. I will get healthier and I will get slimmer. 

Does that feel right? Does it make you feel excited?

If the answer to the last two questions is a resounding “yes”, then you’re probably ready to start!

So what’s the next step?

This approach is not new or revolutionary and there’s lots of advice out there to follow. However, I’ve found that it’s all very well for “experts” to say “change your habits” but it’s another thing entirely to then actually do it for yourself. That’s where a program like New In 90 comes in. It’s a structured plan that will show you, not how to crash diet or run a 10k race, but how to slowly and simply adapt your existing daily routines to achieve the desired results. Check it out here and read what other people say about their solutions.

And make sure you look at their help centre…packed full of advice from the experts.

Good luck!

William

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