To be healthy is one of the most precious things in life, but it can be difficult to know exactly what to do to support this. There is no one size fits all, but predominantly, there are two things you need to do to make a difference; exercise regularly and eat a healthy balanced diet. In essence, your output needs to be more than your input in order to be in a deficit and lose weight. There is no quick fix to weight loss, it takes consistency and time, but the theory behind it is simple.

Despite government strategies, such as banning tv adverts for high fat and sugar foods before 9 pm, it is down to us as individuals to employ healthier lifestyles. Whilst I appreciate for some this is a lot harder than it sounds, with determination and persistence, anybody can lose weight. Here is how you can step towards losing weight healthily.

Movement

Moving your body on a daily basis is immensely important, not only for your physical health, but also for your mental health. There is no quick fix to losing weight, and it is difficult to do so sustainably on diet alone, and vice versa, therefore, the most effective method is to incorporate exercise into your daily routine in the least disruptive, most enjoyable way.

As a guide, an individual should aim to move for at least 150 minutes a week, which is just over 21 minutes a day. That is less than 1.5% of a day! If you can do more than that, great, but use this as a starting point.

If you find it difficult to motivate yourself alone, try going to a class at your local gym or employing a personal trainer. Opting for a personal trainer can help ensure you push yourself enough without causing damage by doing too much too soon.

There is an unlimited number of ways you can exercise and moving your body, however best suits you, is always better than not moving at all. Exercise will not only help you lose weight but also ‘reduce your risk of developing a serious illness’. It is however, important to remember that ‘you can’t outrun bad eating habits’, therefore your diet is just as important as exercising.

Diet

Whilst exercising regularly is a great place to start when embarking on a weight loss journey, as previously stated, it won’t make life changing differences to the health of your body on its own.

Looking at your diet and ways you can incorporate more balanced, healthy foods into it, can improve your physical health as well as how you feel mentally. It isn’t rocket science and there is no magical quick fix, but there are a few simple places to start.

Avoid fad diets

Throw away any plans you had to embark on a crash diet that involves rapidly reducing your calorie intake, such as a juice detox. Reducing your calorie intake drastically for a long period of time can lead to significant muscle loss, especially if not accompanied by exercise.

Maintaining a good level of muscle is extremely important to maintain health, particularly as we age. Also, in order to lose weight and remain healthy, it is important to follow a balanced diet that you can sustainably maintain.

Many fad diets only have temporary effects and can lead to binging or significant weight gain after a short period of time.

Eat your 5 a day

Ensuring you get 5 portions of fruit and vegetables into your daily diet is a great step forward. Not only does this help provide your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs, but filling casseroles or stir-fry’s up with lots of different vegetables can help fill you up in a cheaper, healthier and more satisfying way.

You can also opt for fresh fruit or cut-up vegetables as an alternative to sugary snacks and fizzy drinks.

Be Prepared

If you are no longer working from home and find yourself being fuelled by fast food restaurants on your commute, think ahead to avoid this.

A recent study found a positive link between the number of fast food restaurants on an individual’s commute route and their BMI. Food from fast food restaurants tends to be higher in sugar, fat and calories, therefore preparing your own packed lunch before leaving the house will help keep your stomach full without you needing to rely on fast food.

This can be as easy as making a little bit more for dinner, so you have enough left over to take for lunch the following day or waking up 10 minutes earlier to prepare a healthy packed lunch.

Cook from scratch

Cooking from scratch isn’t something to be afraid of. You don’t need to cook a gourmet meal or invent your own recipe.

It can be incredibly tasty, but also incredibly simple. Meals include something as simple as pasta in a tomato sauce with chicken and broccoli, stir-fry or a jacket potato with a source of protein and vegetables.

By opting to cook from scratch you can ensure less processed food is used in your meals and you can also avoid foods that have been deep fried.

Plan for the week

Planning all your meals at the start of the week is a very beneficial thing to do. It helps avoid waste, as you only buy for the meals you are cooking, which in turn saves money.

It also ensures you don’t leave the food shop until the last minute, when you are already hungry for dinner and likely to make poor food choices.

Myth busting!

A healthy diet is incredibly important for everyone, no matter what background you come from.

Many think, in order to have a healthy diet you need to spend lots of money on food. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are countless ways to eat well on a low budget, such as, eating cheaper cuts of meats, opting for frozen fruit and vegetables, incorporating pulses and other tinned vegetables into meals, and buying large packets of dried pasta and rice to last you a long time.

Eating healthily doesn’t have to be expensive, in fact, it can be as cheap as you like! Here is a great resource provided by the NHS for 20 ways to eat well for less.

Ultimately, as suggested by this article and stated by the NHS, ‘the only way to lose weight healthily and keep it off is to make permanent changes to the way you eat and exercise’. Don’t take your health for granted, instead, invest in it for life.

References

Kunitz, D., 2018. Can You Outrun A Bad Diet? Experts Weigh In. [online] Runner’s World. Available at: <https://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-weight-loss/a19726348/outrunning-a-bad-diet/> [Accessed 9 September 2020].

Lay, K. and Ellis, R., 2020. Tackling the Obesity Crisis. The Times, [online] Available at: <https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/tackling-the-obesity-crisis-2fd2q5q2n> [Accessed 9 September 2020].

nhs.uk. 2018. 20 Tips To Eat Well For Less. [online] Available at: <https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/20-tips-to-eat-well-for-less/> [Accessed 9 September 2020].

nhs.uk. 2018. Cut Down On Your Calories. [online] Available at: <https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/cut-down-on-your-calories/> [Accessed 9 September 2020].

nhs.uk. 2019. Fast Food Restaurants On Commuter Routes ‘Contributing’ To Obesity. [online] Available at: <https://www.nhs.uk/news/obesity/fast-food-restaurants-commuter-routes-contributing-obesity/> [Accessed 10 September 2020].

nhs.uk. 2018. How To Diet. [online] Available at: <https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/how-to-diet/> [Accessed 9 September 2020].

Siddique, H., 2016. Exercise Alone Won’t Cause Weight Loss, Study Shows. [online] the Guardian. Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/jan/28/study-reveals-that-exercise-alone-wont-cause-weight-loss> [Accessed 9 September 2020].

Statistics on Obesity, P., 2020. Part 5: Physical Activity – NHS Digital. [online] NHS Digital. Available at: <https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/statistics-on-obesity-physical-activity-and-diet/england-2020/part-5-adult-physical-activity-copy> [Accessed 9 September 2020].

Hannah Irwin

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