Maintaining a healthy weight doesn’t have to be all about eating cardboard and relentless dieting. We all want the ‘quick fix’ when we are desperate to get into a bikini for that holiday in the sun or even just to be able to take the children to the local swimming pool. At my ripe old age of 40, I have come to realise that this isn’t actually the most sensible way, and it often doesn’t work in the long term, so it’s more about making the right lifestyle choices. I have been researching the best methods to maintain a healthy weight from anywhere and everywhere, and I’ve compiled my top 20 in an effort to help myself and hopefully a few of my readers too. Let me know what you think . . .
- Embrace the power of walking – it seems like such a simple thing, but even a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day (or at least 3-4 times per week) can effectively keep your weight down. It’s free to walk and you don’t have to be limited to the four walls of the gym to keep fit.
- Drink lots of water – did you know that drinking 500ml of water half an hour before a meal can encourage weight loss. Drinking water is important for your body and weight loss; however, make sure to pay attention to the water you’re drinking because not everything you consume is clean of contaminants. You can decide to buy water or install a reverse osmosis system to filter the water.
- Don’t eat in front of the TV – Hubby and I are guilty of this one. We have a perfectly good dining table, but we still eat off trays in the lounge. When you eat in front of the TV, you aren’t concentrating on your food, so you are likely to eat more of your meal because your brain isn’t registering that you are getting full.
- Make a meal plan – whilst sitting away from distractions so that you focus on the meals and the shopping list. Hubby and I sit down together to write a meal plan from our favourite cookbooks (Leanin15 series and Deliciously Ella). Having a meal plan to work from will avoid the urge to order a takeaway or eat rubbish food because you are hungry. It also means you can fire up your tastebuds by thinking about what’s for tea before you get home.
- Spice things up – adding dried chill flakes or, even better, fresh chilli to your cooking will burn calories faster and reduce the cravings for fatty/sugary foods.
- Eat from a smaller plate – this one might sound silly, but it works. Most people will fill up a full-size dinner plate and then eat everything out of courtesy, but if you use a smaller plate, you will naturally eat less and still feel full by clearing the plate.
- Eat more protein at lunch – by increasing protein and reducing carbs, your blood glucose levels will remain steady, so you are less likely to reach for snacks. My favourite is poached eggs on rye bread.
- Don’t serve at the table – you are more likely to fill up your plate with seconds (or thirds) if you use serving dishes at the table.
- Work out before breakfast – The University of Glasgow found that going for a run or even a brisk walk before breakfast can help you to shed more fat.
- Grill, steam and poach – cooking via these methods doesn’t use oil, so your food is naturally lower in calories.
- Exercise with friends – it’s ok to exercise alone, but when you attend classes, the gym or even just go for a walk with a friend, you are much less likely to back out and find excuses not to go. Exercising with friends is fun and becomes a social experience. It’s also much healthier than meeting for coffee and cake!
- Make your own – we are trying as much as possible to make our food from scratch. No shop-bought sauces, dressings and meals because they contain preservatives, sugars and fats.
- Get quality sleep – going to bed late or waking up extra early can leave you craving bad food. A lack of sleep causes your leptin levels (appetite suppressant) to drop and, in turn, makes you more hungry. Switch off screens at least an hour before bed, read a book and relax so that you fall into an easy sleep.
- Make good sugar choices – my sweet tooth has always been my downfall, but slowly I am getting there. I no longer have sugar in my tea and coffee or in my cereals. I have switched to dried fruit and maple syrup in my porridge instead to sweeten it up.
- Take care of your gut – French research found that people who take a probiotic supplement and live yoghurt are more likely to be slim. People with low levels of diverse bacteria were more likely to be overweight and have insulin resistance.
- Have a treat – denying yourself will only make you crave something more, so go ahead and have a treat but remember to keep it small.
- Relax – whether your choice of relaxation is meditation, yoga or curled up in a chair with a good book, relaxing will reduce your stress levels and therefore reduce the body’s tendency to hold onto fat (particularly around the middle).
- Choose healthy snacks – I keep a jar of nuts and seeds on the worktop in the kitchen right under the cupboard that stores the sweeter snacks. When I feel tempted to reach for the cupboard, I spot the nuts and seeds and 9 times out of 10; I will choose them instead (well, it doesn’t hurt to be naughty every now and then – see 16 above).
- Love pasta? Cook it al dente – cooking your pasta al dente will slow down the rate it releases energy which will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
- Switch to Coconut Oil – cooking with coconut oil reduces cholesterol levels and helps to lose weight.
If you have anything to add to this, then please feel free to leave a comment below.
DISCLAIMER: I am in no way a health advisor; this post is merely a selection of information I have found through extensive reading. If you are unsure about anything, then please seek the help and advice of a registered health advisor.