The Party's Over - Go Magazine Feb 2013

The Partys OverNarelle Muller looks at ways to get into shape and make 2013 the year of great health.

It all seemed so innocent at the time, didn’t it? But now, as you’re seeing the results of the festive season calorific extravaganza you have to admit those wayward indulgences have caught up with you. It’s time to take action!

A recent study has shown the extra kilos we pile on over the festive period can take a depressing three months to shift, if we lose them at all. What researchers should have told us in December was that an average traditional Christmas lunch can contain a whopping 2,300 calories. Oh, and that’s before we add on the nuts, chocolates and alcohol. Living in the moment is all well and good, but it shouldn’t mean reckless abandon.

Apparently, three quarters of us admit to over-indulging at Christmas, knowing we will suffer the consequences in the form of extra body fat. It seems we don’t really care until the damage is done. The good news is, it’s never too late to do something about it. So, where to start in restoring ourselves to optimal health?

The one thing we all do know is crash diets are OUT. Dieting doesn’t work. This has been proven time and again. Lifestyle tweaks, steps towards improving nutrition, depositing generously and regularly into your sleep account and upping your exercise levels, definitely do. This has been proved. Don’t be intimidated. You can begin with baby steps and work your way up.

Here are some simple ways to begin:

  • Chew things over. Instead of drastically cutting back on food intake, try eating more slowly. If you slow down and actually savour each mouthful, you taste and enjoy the sensation of eating and are likely to consume noticeably less.
  • Drink up. We’re talking water here. By staying hydrated you’re also likely to feel less hungry. Our bodies often confuse thirst for hunger. So when you’re feeling peckish, have a big glass of water first, to help fill your belly.
  • Don’t be too strict. If you rule out all treats, you’ll feel deprived and may lose sight of the big picture. Build a few weekend splurges into your leaner eating plan, but use common sense. You don’t want to undo a week’s good work in a two-day binge.
  • Eater small and often. Frequent healthy low GI snacks help keep cravings at bay, energy and mood levels high and the metabolism revved. Remember, digestion itself is a way of burning energy, which translates to calories.
  • Go green. Decaffeinated green coffee bean extract can assist with weight loss by supporting the body’s management of body fat and healthy glucose levels. It is said to work by introducing chlorogenic acids, which then force the body to seek energy sources other than sugar, allowing it to release energy stored as fat. This is a great tip particularly if you always struggle with getting the last few kilos to budge!
  • Deduct a third. When eating out don’t try to clear your plate. Mentally portion a third of your meal to be left uneaten. If you like, ask for the remainder to be doggie-bagged for the next day. Try this at home too. You’ll potentially save up to 500 calories per day using this technique.
  • Countdown. Research suggests the average craving lasts about 10 minutes. By setting a kitchen timer, you can develop a wait and see mindset. More than likely, after the bell rings you’ll have changed your mind, thought of a healthier alternative, or distracted yourself.
  • Post it. Write Post-It notes to put on your cupboard and fridge to remind you not to mindlessly grab for food. Consider Kate Moss’s famous line, “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels”, or a more basic teaser, “Is it worth it?”
  • Get your move on. Restricting your food intake is one way to lose weight, but a much more efficient and beneficial way is to exercise as well. Regardless of what fitness level you’re starting from, you need to make a firm, non-negotiable commitment to doing some form of movement for at least 30 minutes a day three times a week. For absolute beginners, walking is ideal. That’s brisk walking, not strolling. You should be able to speak while moving without becoming breathless. As you progress, increase the pace and distance.
  • Use incidental movement at every opportunity to burn fat. Walk, ride or jog instead of using the car. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Ditch the TV remote and get up and change the channel. Put some music on and give the house a good once-over, or just dance for fun. Play tag with your kids or dog, or the neighbours’ dog. An hour of light child’s play burns around 120 calories an hour. Anything that makes you move and feel good should be done as often as possible.
  • Get a pedometer. You could burn on average 400 calories a day by walking 10,000 steps. You may think you’ve been on your feet all day, but the average office worker manages less than 3,000 steps. Using a pedometer will give you an indication of your movement levels.
  • Liver longer. Your liver is your body’s major processing plant. By supporting the liver with supplements containing milk thistle, dandelion, globe artichoke and astragalus, you’ll be offering your body the best possible chance of benefitting from all the lifestyle changes you’re introducing; which means, your hard work definitely won’t be wasted.

Narelle Muller is a journalist and health writer with more than 20 years’ experience.


This article originally featured in the Feb 2013 Go Magazine produced by Go Vita

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