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1. Exercise at least three times a week
This is definitely one of the harder ones to stick to and will vary depending on your goals and what you’re looking achieve - general fitness or looking to become super fit a la Kayla Itsines. ‘Exercise’ is also a very loose term which could mean anything from a light walk to full on HIIT (High Intensity Training) Circuits. It’s important to know what your goals are and your timescales - remember, summer bodies are made in winter. Personally, I like to train at least 4-5 times a week and vary the exercise between weights, circuits and cardio. I’m likely to switch this up to more cardio soon in order to train for the summer races. As long as you get some exercise for at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week this should provide a general level of good fitness.
2. It’s not all about working out, it’s as much about what you eat!
I’m definitely one who struggles in this area. I can go most of the week eating the right foods, lots of fish and vegetables etc. but come the weekend and it’s like a sugar fest! Not to mention alcohol, takeaways, chocolate and so on. Generally I’m very good with avoiding these food groups (I do count alcohol as a food group! There are calories in it!) but I find I can reduce excessive consumption by moderating my intake - have chocolate when you want it but just don’t have too much. By doing this you are much less likely to binge on the wrong foods. Have you ever heard that saying ‘abs are made in the kitchen’? This is entirely true! Eat the right things as well as regular exercise and it won't take long before you’re seeing results.
3. Eat more Vegetables than Fruit
The ‘five a day’ rule is generally a very good rule to stick with. It encourages us to eat more of the right things and get the right nutrients but it’s important to understand what this means. Fruit contains a lot of sugar and you are very likely to increase sugar intake considerably if most of your ‘five a day’ are fruits. As a rule I restrict my fruit intake to around 2 pieces a day and the rest is vegetables and salads. Try and vary the fruit as well - bananas have a high sugar content as do apples but blueberries contain a lot of nutrients and contain less sugar (oranges are great for the immune system - they contain a lot of Vitamin C!). I do not drink fruit juice either, you may as well grab a milkshake.
4. Don’t calorie count!
This is a similar to the idea of not restricting yourself of naughty foods. If you start calorie counting you’ll overeat at some point and undo all the hard work you’ve put in. I pay attention to calories in food but when I pick something to eat the first things I look at are the fat and sugar content - you can have 500 calories from some fast food fries or from a healthy chicken caesar salad, one will contain more fat and sugar than the other and less nutrients. Calories are a good indication of how much you’re eating but not what you’re eating.
5. Drink lots of water!
This might seem like an obvious one, but it’s something a lot of people fail to do. I am a self confessed coffee addict but have managed to restrict my intake to one cup in the morning (massive triumph for me!). You can increase your water intake in various ways - squash, teas, sports drinks etc. but for me I like plain ol’ water! I’ll have a glass on my desk at work and if I fancy a hot drink, I’ll grab a green tea or peppermint if it’s after lunch (great for digestion). This is the best way of giving yourself energy, good skin and stopping yourself from overeating (most of the time you are hungry, you’re actually thirsty).