The end of the festive season leaves most of us with that all-too-familiar feeling of tighter jeans, and a tell-tale number on the bathroom scale. Amidst the celebrations and stresses of the December holidays, it’s easy to fall into unhealthy habits and to overindulge, gaining some unwanted kilograms in the process.
There’s so much advice out there for anyone looking to get back into shape after the holidays; in fact, there’s a very lucrative industry built around it, with fad diets, “miracle” weight loss pills and pricey gym memberships. But many of these so-called solutions will simply set you up for failure, without a significant positive impact on your overall health.
Here are some smarter, more sustainable tips for better health and weight management in the New Year.
It’s OK to Start Slow
Yes, really! You don’t have to go full throttle from day one; in fact, you really shouldn’t.
If you try to do too much too fast, you’ll burn out and break your resolutions before January is even halfway through. If you ease into a new health regime and keep your expectations realistic, you’ll be more likely to stick with it, and less likely to put yourself under unnecessary pressure.
The best way to improve your health in the coming year is to take small but consistent steps towards your goals. Gradually reduce your calorie intake, while still allowing yourself regular, filling meals. Gradually increase your physical activity, without jumping into a vigorous workout that could strain you and set you back.
Fill Up on Fresh, Seasonal Produce
Summertime in southern Africa means an abundance of affordable fresh produce in every store. January is the perfect time to take advantage of this, by adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Melons and summer berries, artichokes, aubergines and asparagus are all in season this time of year. They’re low in calories but high in nutrients (and flavour of course).
Make Smart Substitutions
Start cutting back on the unhealthier parts of your diet, in a way that won’t leave you feeling deprived (and more likely to give in and cheat). You can do this by looking for healthy, tasty substitutions, one at a time.
Swap sugary soda for sparkling water with fresh lemon and lime; order a side of rice instead of fries; snack on nuts, raisins and dates instead of crisps and sweets. Get creative! Your body will thank you in the weeks to come.
Have Fun with Fitness
A shiny new January gym membership might sound like a good idea at the time, but if the treadmill just isn’t your thing, chances are you’ll soon be stuck with costly fees on a membership you hardly ever use. Instead, find a type of exercise that you’ll actually enjoy, and want to do regularly. Kickboxing, yoga, swimming, road running – there’s so much to choose from!
Exercising 3 to 4 days a week for just 20 to 30 minutes can make a big improvement to your health. So even if you’re short on time with all the demands of a post-holiday work schedule, you can still fit a realistic new fitness routine into your day.
How to lose holiday weight gain
Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/438854-how-long-does-it-take-to-lose-10-15-pounds/
Three steps to get back on track, post-holiday indulgence
Retrieved from http://www.shape.com
Seasonal chart – fruit and vegetables
Retrieved from http://www.food24.com/Recipes-and-Menus/Farm-to-Table/Seasonal-chart-fruit-and-vegetables-20130731