Getting fitter and healthier doesn’t have to be hard. Making small changes you can incorporate into your usual routine can make reaching your health goals a breeze. Here are 21 easy ways to get in shape.
1 Make small changes
Don’t think vaguely, ‘I must get healthier and fitter.’ Break your goal into small, achievable steps: take time for breakfast, for example, or aim to get fit for a 5K run. Apply a time frame so you have something to aim for.
2 Think positive
Focus on the things you will do, rather than what you won’t. Instead of saying, ‘I won’t touch chocolate again’, say, ‘I’ll only have it twice a week.’ Positive, realistic goals are more likely to keep you motivated.
3 Don’t skip meals
Low blood sugar will leave you irritable, hungry and more likely to snack on convenience items, so don’t skip meals. Make sure you include slow-release carbs, such as wholegrain bread, brown rice, wholewheat pasta and oats.
4 Plan ahead
Arriving home to an empty fridge will send you straight to easy, processed items. Stock up on quick, healthy meals and snacks, or use our meal planners to organise the week’s meals.
5 Downsize dinner plates
Using smaller plates helps you eat 22 per cent fewer calories, according to researchers at Cornell University in the US. Why? Because it tricks your brain into thinking you’re eating a normal amount (even though you’re eating less).
6 Use technology
If you have an iPhone, download the free MyFitnessPal app. It scans food barcodes to display nutrition information and may help you make choices at the supermarket that are in line with your goals.
7 Rethink breakfast
Don’t settle for toast alone. Introduce protein in the form of eggs, smoked salmon, plain low-fat yogurt, skim milk or nuts to keep you going until lunchtime.
8 Sidestep salt
Stick to the recommended max 3g a day and over five days your body will release more than 1 litre water, resulting in a weight loss and, more importantly, will help keep your heart healthy. When you eat salt your body retains water so switch to seasonings such as lemon juice and herbs.
9 Add healthy sweetness
When you’re baking, use mashed fruit instead of sugar, and try spices to sweeten dishes. Good choices include vanilla, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg.
10 Ditch your peeler
Wash veg well rather than peeling. The skins contain fibre (and extra vitamins), which keeps you healthy and full.
11 Buy a new pan
Invest in a good non-stick frying pan – you’ll use less oil.
12 Don’t boil your veg
Steaming vegetables retains more colour, flavour and crispness than boiling – and you’ll enjoy eating them more.
13 Mix in some extra vegetables
Bulk out meat stews, casseroles and curries with vegetables and pulses and you’ll feel fuller on fewer calories. Dishes will go further and cost less, too.
15 Keep a daily food diary
A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who are trying to lose weight and note down what they’re eating lose twice as much weight.
16 Switch off the TV
Overweight adults who halved their viewing time over three weeks burned an extra 119 calories a day.
17 Stay busy
Don’t stand or sit still for too long. At home, tidy up as you go along and stay busy. You’ll increase your fitness and have a tidy house!
18 Shop with purpose
Integrate a workout into your shopping spree. Researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada found an eight-week mall-walking programme with bursts of speed walking led to weight loss and a 63 per cent increase in motivation to exercise.
19 Sneak in some squats
‘Do 20 squats before each meal,’ recommends personal trainer James Duigan. ‘It only takes two minutes and helps your body to use food as fuel, instead of storing it.’
20 Calm down…
‘Stress releases cortisol, which encourages the body to cling to fat,’ says trainer James Duigan. ‘Try a de-stressing exercise such as yoga or pilates to help you relax.’
21 Try a stronger cheese
Being healthy doesn’t have to mean giving up cheese – just choose stronger-tasting varieties, such as parmesan or grana padano. Even though parmesan has more calories than cheddar, its fuller flavour means you’ll use less.