Easy ways to lose weight that are healthy for body and mind, and inexpensive too. Share with your loved ones and start the New Year as you mean to go on – fitter, healthier and feeling better than ever before.
There are healthy ways to lose weight and maintain your new, slimmer figure. You don’t have to buy over-priced ‘diet’ foods, skip meals or feel that you are missing out. It’s just a case of adjusting the way you eat the foods you love and a balance of expending more energy than you consume.
1. Get Cooking
Make your own meals from fresh ingredients. It’s free to look up healthy meals online and if time is short look for quick and easy recipes to replace often unhealthy (and more expensive) takeaways and ready meals. You can make tasty and filling healthy meals for all the family in under twenty minutes or batch cook a large amount and then freeze it in portions to use throughout the week. Cook with a variety of vegetables, whole grains (brown pasta and rice) and lean protein such as beans, lentils and fish to see real results in how you look and feel.
2. Make Protein-rich Salads
The reason protein-rich salads help us lose weight is because the protein fills us up and stops us feeling hungry while the salad provides a lot of the essential nutrients and fibre we need at low calories. Contrary to old opinions, we do need a certain amount of fat in our diets and some of the best sources come from avocados, oily fish and vegetable oils.
Add protein such as: fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils, turkey, prawns, chickpeas or cheese
to an interesting, colourful and delicious salad of any of the following: sweet red pepper, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, sweet corn, rocket, lettuce, raw spinach or watercress
and any other raw or roasted vegetables you like, along with a carbohydrate base such as: potato, pasta, rice, bread or couscous and a drizzle of dressing to make an amazingly filling and tasty meal that keeps you from gaining weight.
3. Always Add a Side Salad or Vegetables
When the salad itself is not your actual meal, add a side salad or vegetables, so the portion you consume of the dish you love – for instance lasagne – is smaller but you are still full at the end of it. The side salad or vegetables should contain many of your essential nutrients and fibre, which might have been missing from the meal.
The French are known for their cheese and wine and lovely white French bread yet French women are brought up to eat everything in moderation and to eat a side salad with every meal. How many overweight French women do you know? Read ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’ by Mireille Guiliano and learn why you don’t have to live on salads alone, you can still enjoy your cheese and wine and cake; just consider portion sizes and set some limits for yourself.
4. Make a Weekly Stir-fry
With a large heavy-based saucepan you could make a healthy stir-fry for the whole family in under ten minutes. Add lean cubes of meat, tofu or prawns, plenty of vegetables and either a small squirt of sweet chili sauce or better still, make your own sauce from lemon or lime juice, corn flour and fresh coriander and serve with rice. Delicious, simple, quick and healthy eating. Just leave out the prawn crackers or try not to eat too many.
5. Make Soup a Regular Meal
Soup keeps you fuller for longer. Warming winter soups containing some source of protein will be your new staple as you start to eat healthier. You can make a delicious healthy soup in under half an hour, freeze it and reheat it in just five minutes! Take a container of your home-made soup into work for lunch, or a flask if you have nowhere to reheat it. If you add pasta (ideally wholewheat) to it you won’t even need a roll. Minestrone is amazing as it has protein in the beans and carbs in the pasta along with some of the best vegetables around. Casseroles and stews are also full of goodness so invest in a slow cooker and put the dinner on before you go to work, letting it cook all day to enjoy as soon as you come home.
6. Eat Between Meals
Eating little and often is good for you. Have a proper breakfast, a healthy mid-morning snack, a good protein-rich lunch, a light mid-afternoon snack and a proper dinner. Smoothies, cereal bars and flapjacks taste great. Home-made banana flapjacks with nuts and seeds are as nutritious as they are delicious and need less sugar as the sweetness comes from the banana. Just watch your portion sizes. Drink water often and dilute fruit juices to make them less sugary. Diet drinks are not as healthy as plain water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. A fruit and yogurt smoothie is perfect to keep you going between meals.
7. Lose Weight Slowly
Losing weight must be done steadily – your health is more important than your dress size.
Read up on healthy eating to find out more about portion sizes, buy a book of healthy recipes such as the Food Doctor’s Everyday Diet cook book or consider asking for help from a dietician if you feel you need expert one-to-one advice. If you’re overweight and feel very unfit then it is advisable to consult your GP to ask for some general guidelines on nutrition and how to start exercising safely before getting started.
Starting off gently is the best way. Take up a yoga class or buy a yoga mat and go barefoot in your living room in front of a yoga DVD or Wii Fit. Yoga and meditation calms your mind as it tones your body and the practice of yoga reminds us to take time out from our busy lifestyles for ourselves.
8. Eat Less, Move More
If you need to lose weight then start by making changes to your diet and begin exercising, building up to at least three times a week. You don’t have to sweat it out for an hour, a twenty minute walk to work from your car parked further away than usual is a great start.
Exercise makes you feel good, it’s a fact. Exercising releases endorphins in our brain naturally increasing feelings of pleasure and happiness. You will start to notice the natural high you get after exercising and look forward to regular exercise for the way it makes you feel, not just how it makes you look.
If finding time is hard then make time in your busy schedule to fit in just 30 minutes per day. You don’t have to get up early, exercise during your lunch hour, straight after work, just before dinner or last thing at night. Thirty minutes per day is all you need.
9. Create Healthier Habits
When you repeat an activity on a regular basis such as every day for just six weeks it becomes a habit. Make fitness your new daily or weekly habit. It may start off feeling like a chore but it will soon become a habit that you can’t do without.
If money is the obstacle then exercise at home, walk to work or go for a run round your local park. Many leisure centres offer a free introductory weekly membership so take advantage to try the classes, go for a daily swim or get your gym induction. Cycling, walking and jogging are free.
If you want to lose weight and need a boost of added motivation a personal trainer will design a fitness programme specifically for you and ensure you work to the top of your ability, or book into a boot camp. Results are guaranteed.
Getting fit and healthy with your partner could bond you even closer. Taking up a fitness regime as a couple and learning to cook delicious healthy meals might even improve your relationship, as it will give you a shared interest, as well as a positive goal. If your partner isn’t interested and you don’t want to start on your own then ask a friend.
Having sex burns calories, reduces stress and also brings you closer together as a couple, and the act of love should be a whole lot more enjoyable than lifting weights or running on a treadmill.
10. Think of Your Loved Ones
See health and fitness as a lifestyle change for the good of your loved ones and not just for yourself. Embrace healthy eating alongside regular exercise to help you feel good and ward off illness as well as looking and feeling fitter. Now’s the time to give up smoking too but rather than seeing it as giving up, see it as starting a newer and more positive lifestyle for the future
And if you really don’t want to change your diet or do any exercise but wish you had smoother lines, just cheat and invest in some shape-wear but remember you are loved for who you are, not how you look.