Spring has sprung, and with summer just around the corner, you can no longer hide those winter love handles under layers of clothes. All those hours hibernating on the sofa, carbo loading on winter comfort food have added the extra kilos. You will need to get rid of them stat! You’ll soon be hitting the beach, in little more than a pair of Quiksilver boardies, so if you don’t want to look like a beached whale, let’s get shredded for summer.
Diet and exercise are the key for all round fitness, but it can be the small changes in your daily life that can make all the difference. Fad diets and extreme workout regimes are all well and good, but they are hard to maintain in everyday life. Have you ever heard the saying ‘slow and steady wins the race’? Well it’s true for diet and exercise too. It is the small choices that you can make part of your everyday lifestyle that will really make the difference to your overall health and wellbeing. These are the ones that you barely even notice, so you don’t feel you are missing out. Extreme diets may lose fat fast, but will you keep it off when it comes to going back to your normal daily lifestyle?
In this issue of ‘Spring Health Hacks’ to get shredded, I’m going to give you some ideas for the small changes you can make in your daily routine that will make big improvements to your health and fitness. So here we go:
Order groceries online – it’s not just for housewives you know! You’ll be a lot less likely to buy junk food when ordering online. You won’t fall prey to those impulse ‘buy one get one free’ purchases in the snack and lolly aisle that you just don’t need. Planning is the key, create a healthy meal plan for the week and only buy what you need. Focus on real food (not out of a tin or a box), loads of fresh fruit, veg, whole grains, pasta and protein and don’t forget fish. You’ll end up saving in the long run. If those cheeky little snacks aren’t in the cupboard, you won’t be tempted. It’s win-win, because everything delivered to your door, you’ll have more time to exercise, rather than suffering, the dreaded Saturday supermarket shop.
Know your labels – Read and get to know your nutritional labels. The word’s ‘light’ ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are banded about by many food brands that want their products to appear healthier to the consumer. Don’t get sucked in by the marketing. ‘Fat free’ can mean loaded with sugar and many ‘diet’ products contain a list of ingredients better suited to a chemical factory than inside your body. Many of these processed food, just aren’t healthy. Food star ratings can also be misleading, as they are for foods in that group, not as a food as a whole. A snack bar may have three stars, but actually be packed full of sugar, because the rating is compared to other similar snack bars, not an apple for example.
Not out of the box – Try and take your food intake as back to basics as possible. Reduced foods that come in a packet (you will be reducing landfill too). Cooking from scratch doesn’t have to take much more time, but it means that you know exactly what you are eating. If you’re time poor, invest in a slow cooker. Before work pile in fresh veggies, a protein and some stock and you’ll come home to a healthy, nutritious and additive free dinner. – Overall you don’t have to go over the top and become a crazed label checking monster, but knowledge is power and the more informed you are the better choices you will make.
Cut out Sports and Energy Drinks – I know I am going to be unpopular saying this, but unless you are Usain Bolt, you just don’t need sports and energy drinks. Many of these vibrantly coloured liquids are packed full of, chemicals, sugars and caffeine, as well as the ‘good’ addition of electrolytes. Water is the best thing for hydration. It’s free, readily available and healthier. If you are doing an intense workout for longer than one hour, you may need hydration with some levels of sodium which will help the body hold onto water. But for a casual Saturday afternoon footie game or a gym work out in under an hour, water is best.
Find water boring – Fruit Juice’s may seem healthy but they are packed full of sugar. Some ‘natural’ fruit juices contain more sugar that fizzy cola! It would be far better to just eat an orange and get the benefits of the fibre and vitamin C direct from the source. And as if I needed to tell you, definitely cut out all sodas. If you find water too boring, buy sparkling water and add a squeeze of fresh citrus from lime, lemon or orange. Or jazz up your water with loads of ice and add some strawberries, cucumber and mint. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning and before a meal, it will get your metabolism going and help you feel fuller.
Hidden Sugars – Think that spoon full of sugar in your coffee and the sprinkle on your Weet-a-Bix in the morning doesn’t count? Well it does. Over the week, those spoonful’s can add up. Try cutting out the sugar in coffee and tea, after a few cups you’ll get used to the taste. Jazz up your cereal with sliced banana or strawberries rather than sugar.
Brown is better than white – swap your whites for browns. Wholegrains, brown bread, rice and wholegrain pasta, are less processed than white and much healthier. Even brown sugar is better than the bleached white alternative.
Socials – Just because you’re on a health kick doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the social occasions. Just plan before you go. If you are going out for drink, try gin and tonic or vodka and soda with a squeeze of fresh lime, these drinks have way less calories than a beers or spirits with cola. Alternate with a glass of water or sparkling water, you’ll be glad you did in the morning. If you’re going to a function eat a slow release meal before you go, that way you’ll be less likely to binge on those calorific canape’s because your starving. Dinning out? Maybe skip the starters or the dessert and just have a main. Also give the bread basket a miss.
Portion control – In the 1950’s, dinner plates, wine glasses, home cooked meals and take away portions were much smaller than they are today, most by at least half. In the 50’s a standard soda would be in an 8oz bottle, today the standard size is 20oz, a burger was 3.9oz it’s now whopping 12oz. This generation are the most obese for a reason. One of the major contributing factors to the growing obesity epidemic is that our portion sizes are growing. Perceived value is not supersized, we are eating more than ever. Portion control is key, just reducing your meal serving size by 20% will have a huge impact and you will barely notice the reduction. A good rule of thumb is, fist size portions. Another good trick is to reduce the size of your plates and bowls at home, it tricks your mind into feeling fuller. Your plate is smaller, but it is full and when you’ve finished you’ll feel full.
Hidden Workouts – Exercise comes in many forms, not just at the gym. Discover the hidden workouts you can implement into your weekly routine that are social and fun. If it’s fun you’ll be more likely to keep it up. Take the dog for a run on the beach, hike or ride the bike to the shops. Planning a meeting with mates? Suggest an active catch up such as going for a surf, hit the rock climbing gym, or a soccer game rather than sitting around at the pub. Walk or ride to work, or if it’s too far park a distance away and walk part of the journey. Do some chores, sweeping, painting, mowing the lawns all burns calories. You’ll keep the misses happy and you’ll be active at the same time.
Switch it up – Switch up your work outs. If you’ve been doing the same gym work out for years you’ll find it harder to get results. Switch it up and try something different. Do a class you’ve never tried, such as spin or intensive cardio. Or try something really off the wall, such as parkour or circus training. You’ll feel the results with muscle confusion. Need motivation? Create a focus and ambition to work towards, such as a marathon or triathlon. If you have a goal to work towards it’ll give you the focus you need.
Screen time junkies – Netflix, Stan, I-phones, gaming and social media mean our screen time is getting increasingly worrying. We are spending hours online. A quick check of Instagram or Facebook can easily spiral into scrolling for hours. Just look up occasionally and you’ll be shocked to see everyone is on their phone! Psychologists are currently researching into the significant links between social media usage and depression with worrying results. So, turn off the technology and get outside. You’ll feel so much better. Go and do something exciting, rather than checking out other people’s staged social feeds. Watching an entire season of ‘Game of Thone’s’ in one night, might sound cool, but it is it really? Monitor your screen time and create a balance.
Relax – Finally, every day take 10-15 minutes to just relax. Don’t do anything! Don’t read, watch, do. Just sit somewhere quiet and breath. Focus on your breathing and don’t let those niggling thoughts creep in. Clear your mind. Overstimulation and stress is a major contributor to overeating, over-drinking and overthinking! Taking just 15 minutes a day to decompress and clear your mind will be well worth every minute.
Stephen Handisides is an international TV presenter, model, journalist and an all-round expert on Aesthetic Beauty and Male Grooming. Stephen is the host of ‘Modern Face of Beauty’ series which will be broadcast on Bravo TV in the US, as well as the UK and Australia this summer. He is regular expert commentator in the UK on ITV’s This Morning, GMTV, Lorraine, OK! TV, Five, Sky News, and BBC radio. Stephen writes for over twenty major newspapers, trade and consumer magazines, with five regular columns focusing on the trends in lifestyle aesthetics and male grooming. He also hosts and produces Sky TV’s MyFaceMyBody and is the brains behind the Global Aesthetic Awards, held in London, LA and Sydney.
Picture credits PerfectlyAttired.co.uk