Spring has sprung! The weather is warming up, and it’s time to put your winter coats away and get out your shorts and singlets. If you overindulged this winter your shorts might be feeling a bit snug. This is the perfect chance to commit to a lifestyle change to shed those excess winter kilos, and get your body ready for spring wear. Here are the top tips to losing those unwanted centimetres:
1. Control your portions
Believe it or not, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. When trying to lose weight, cutting down your portions can make a huge difference. Start using a smaller plate when serving up your meals- this will encourage you to eat a smaller portion size, and trick your brain into thinking you are eating more than you actually are. When snacking, portion out a little bowl and limit yourself to that- snacking can get out of control if you let yourself eat straight from the packet.
2. Cut the carbs
Now don’t freak out. You don’t need to cut out carbs completely, but it would be in the best interest of your waist line to reduce them. Excessive intake of carbohydrates leads to excess fat storage, which is not what you want when trying to slim down. Reduce the amount of bread, pasta, pizza, biscuits, donuts, cake, rice and other high-carbohydrate foods in your diet and replace with low-carb options such as vegetables and proteins.
3. Be mindful
Mindfulness is really important, but often forgotten. If you are distracted by the TV or talking on the phone while you’re stuffing your face, your brain doesn’t have the chance to register the amount of food you are consuming and won’t signal you to stop when you should. Take 3 deep breaths before you start eating, and really focus on the flavours of your meal. Try to be free of distractions when you eat so your brain can tell you when enough is enough.
4. Love your liver
Your liver is the major fat burning organ of your body. When your liver is happy and functioning well, it will burn off excess fat and cholesterol. When your liver is sad and sluggish, its capacity to burn fat is reduced. Eat lots of fresh vegetables, fruit and lean protein, reduce refined carbohydrates and alcohol, avoid excessive use of painkillers, drink plenty of water and consider taking a good quality liver tonic – your liver will love you for it!
5. Feel the burn
Exercise!! This is an obvious one. It’s easy to use the book of excuses when it comes to exercising, but you DO have the time to fit in a quick workout! Get up 15 minutes early and do some star jumps, go for a quick jog or do some Pilates. Just get your body moving!! Any type of movement will help you to burn those unwanted calories. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is great for weight loss and doesn’t take up too much time.
6. Ditch the liquid calories
Are you one to indulge in the regular soft drink, bottled ice tea, caramel latte, milkshake or glass of wine? Sipping on beverages that are high in calories (and sugar) is one of the easiest ways to put on weight! Because they don’t fill you up, you are having these calories in addition to the food you are eating. Try cutting these out and opt for water, black unsweetened coffee, herbal tea or a vodka lime and soda- if you must!
7. Don’t starve yourself
This is a mistake that is so commonly made by individuals wanting to lose weight. When you excessively restrict your food (or calorie) intake, your body goes into starvation mode and will start storing every scrap of food you eat as fat. When you eat normally again, you will pack on more weight than you lost before. Eat regularly, but make wiser choices- filling up on vegetables is great as they are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and are generally low in calories so you can eat more of them!
8. Load up on protein
Protein has a higher thermic effect of food (TEF) compared to carbohydrates and fat, which means that more calories are used to digest and metabolise the protein- protein burns calories! Protein also helps to boost metabolism, reduces hunger and food cravings, and helps to balance blood sugar levels, which can contribute to an overall reduction in weight and fat percentage. Swap your afternoon snack for a good quality protein powder to boost your energy, mental focus and to burn that fat.
9. Stay hydrated
Water, water and more water! Quite often, thirst can be mistaken as hunger, making you eat when you don’t actually need it. Drink water consistently throughout the day, and when you think you might be hungry, have a glass of water and wait for 15 minutes- you might just be thirsty! Also, try having a glass of water before each meal, as it will fill you up a little, reducing the risk of you over-eating.
10. Be prepared
There is nothing worse than being hungry and in a position where the only food you have access to is junk. Keep healthy snacks in your car, handbag and desk drawer that you can easily access when you’re feeling ravenous. At home, keep your freezer stocked with vegetables and lean meat, and your pantry stocked with cans of beans or tins of tuna, so if you aren’t able to get to the supermarket, you are still able to make yourself a quick, healthy meal. Try preparing and freezing portions of soups and stews.
11. Set realistic goals
If you aim to lose 10 kilos’ in a week, you are likely to fail and feel bad about yourself. Set yourself a steady goal of ½ a kilo a week and if you achieve more than this- it’s a bonus! Be focused and write yourself a list of the changes you are going to make. For example- Aim to walk 3 times per week, limit yourself to one soft drink per week, do some meal prep and eat dinner at a table. Set yourself some goals that you can achieve!
12. Take a photo
Weighing yourself regularly can be disheartening, and can also be unreliable, as weight will fluctuate depending on what you’ve eaten, whether you’ve had a bowel movement, if you’re carrying fluid or if you’ve put on muscle. Start by taking a ‘before’ photo of yourself. Use this photo as motivation to stay focused on your goals, and take comparative photos once a week/ fortnight and you will start to see the changes- even if the scales don’t say the same!
It’s time to get Spring-ready! If you feel like you need some additional support, you could try taking a weight control supplement. Dr Cabot’s book “I Can’t Lose Weight and I Don’t Know Why” is a great reference for those of you who struggle to lose weight. It goes through the many reasons for difficulty losing weight, explains syndrome X and provides a 12-week metabolic weight loss plan, complete with delicious recipes.