How to get back on track post-Christmas

The festive period is so filled with temptation and indulgence it can be a real struggle to revert to healthy eating and exercise habits come January. Lack of sunlight lowers the feel-good brain chemical serotonin, so your enthusiasm often feels lower than ever at this time of year.

Here are some top tips to help you to get back on track and feeling your best:

  • Re-train your brain

Instead of resenting the changes you’ll need to make, think of the nutritious food you eat as high quality fuel that will help you look and feel better with every mouthful. Make a list to remind yourself of all the benefits of regular exercise (such as feeling less sluggish, reducing digestive discomfort and being able to wear clothes you don’t currently feel comfortable in) and ensure you create positive associations with your new healthy lifestyle.

  • Ditch the detox

Before you attempt a strict January detox, it’s time to cleanse yourself of the concept that we need to be periodically detoxified. Restrictive detox diets might claim to liver-detox-smoothie-copyrid your system of toxins, but your body already does that job for you; working to break down what goes in, absorb the good and excrete the not so good. Restricting your food consumption limits intake of energy and important nutrients needed for good health, which can cause unhealthy side effects such as headaches, dizziness and low energy. If you want to maintain optimal health then the best approach is a balanced diet.

  • Be realistic

Rather than focusing on one ultimate end result, try dissecting your goals into smaller, bite-size pieces to make them seem less intimidating. Take it one day at a time (for example eating a healthy breakfast, or going for a daily walk) then gradually up the pace. By being realistic with your goals, you’ll be far less likely to feel overwhelmed and throw in the towel by the end of the month.

  • Be prepareddetoxification-camtreatments

By keeping a well-stocked kitchen, you’ll be better equipped to keep up your healthy eating plans. Cheap and easily available, lentils are high in protein and fibre but low in fat.  Keep a few cans in your cupboard, rinse thoroughly then add to salads, soups, casseroles and stir-fries for a nutritious protein boost. Frozen and pre-chopped fruits and vegetables are also a godsend for throwing together smoothies and quick, nutrient-dense meals.

  • Try something new

You’ll find it particularly hard to get back on the wagon if you’re not excited by the meals you’ll be eating. Have a good look through recipe books, magazines and blogs and plan to cook something tempting and delicious each week.

  • Get some support

Let your friends and family know what you’re trying to achieve and that you would appreciate their support. It’s likely that someone close to you will have similar health and fitness goals, and working together can be a great way to stay motivated.

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Re-train your brain

HEALTH:

In order for any weight loss regime to succeed, you need to start looking at healthy food in a different way.

Instead of resenting the changes to your lifestyle, try thinking of the food you eat as high quality fuel that will help you to look and feel better with every mouthful. The positive association could make all the difference.

EXERCISE:240872280039622088_NIpGfx8z_c

Instead of fixating on the negative aspects of exercise, try making a list of all the benefits; such as  looking leaner, having more energy, receiving compliments on your appearance and being able to wear clothes you don’t currently feel comfortable in.

Imagine being your goal weight and how it would make you look and feel. Surely that’s worth going to the gym for?

NUTRITION:

A common dieting pitfall is the belief that you can eat as much as you like as long as you exercise. However, the truth is that your portion sizes are an important part of the plan.

However long you spend in the gym, you won’t see results if you consistently consume more additional calories than you burn off. You can’t out run your fork!

© Sarah West Nutrition

Eat like an athlete

HEALTH:

Training for sport requires a combination of endurance, strength, speed and agility. High energy requirements coupled with high fluid loss and the potential for sports injury make a well-established nutrition strategy a must in order to get the best results possible.

EXERCISE:bodybuilder  velvettangerine 3084405810

To stay hydrated, you must drink plenty of fluids before, during and after a training session.

Water is all that is needed if you’re exercising for less than an hour, but sports drinks or diluted fruit juice are a better choice for longer workouts. These contain sugars which provide fuel for the exercising muscles and help speed up the absorption of water into your bloodstream.

NUTRITION: 

A diet rich in carbohydrates will provide energy to maintain performance and assist recovery. A high carb, low fat meal should be eaten 2-3 hours before you begin training, with yet more carb-rich foods consumed soon afterwards to help replenish glycogen stores.

It is also important to include protein-packed foods post-workout to aid muscle repair and growth.

© Sarah West Nutrition

 

Happy New Year

HEALTH:

This New Year, be realistic with your goals. Resolving to run a marathon by March is wholly unfeasible for an inexperienced exerciser. Likewise, intending to cut out entire food groups is likely to be a short-lived (as well as potentially harmful!) tactic. When choosing a resolution, try to pick a safe, attainable goal with a realistic time frame.15058979974098659_lLqXLSvY_c

EXERCISE:

Don’t make too many resolutions all at once. There’s no rule that you have to cover all areas you’d like to change, so pick one or two themes that are most important to you and set reachable targets within these areas.

NUTRITION:

Looking closely at what you eat is often an eye-opening experience, and keeping a food diary is a great way to keep track of everything you put into your body.

Monitoring your daily intake will help you to tweak your diet so that you can still enjoy foods you love without sabotaging your fitness efforts. You don’t have to do it for the rest of your life, but it’s a great way to start the year feeling your best.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Be prepared

HEALTH:

Getting fit is not just about what you do; it’s about how you do it.

To set yourself up for success, invest a bit more time into making sure you’re fully equipped for your workout. As the saying goes; by failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.

EXERCISE:

34Wearing the correct shoes for your sport or exercise can help protect you against discomfort and injury, so you should always ensure that your workout footwear has shock absoprtion, cushioning, a flexible sole and sufficient stability.

Feet swell over the course of the day and expand while you run or walk, so always shop for trainers at the end of the day to ensure they fit your feet when they’re at their largest.

 

NUTRITION:

Make your healthy cooking efforts pay off throughout the week by dividing a large serving of food into individual portions, packaged in single-serving containers.

The mini-meals you create will be easy to access when you’re in a hurry and much better for you than anything you’d grab while on the run.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Are you getting enough?

HEALTH:

Iron is an integral component of many proteins and enzymes that maintain good health and wellbeing. You must always ensure you take in sufficient amounts of iron-rich foods in your diet.

Excess amounts of iron can result in toxicity and even death, so it important to see your doctor for a firm diagnosis of iron deficiency before simply supplementing with iron tablets.

EXERCISE:

spinach-dd-02Keen gym-goers will deplete their iron stores much faster than their less physically active counterparts sweat & the digestive tract, putting them at greater risk of deficiency and decreased endurance.
Insufficient iron stores lead to a shortage of oxygen being delivered to the muscles during exercise. This means that those with low iron levels will have a much harder time sustaining their workout and will rapidly run out of energy. Watch out for signs of weakness, lethargy, dizziness and heart palpitations and see your GP if you are concerned or feel unwell.

NUTRITION:

Poor dietary choices are the cause of most cases of iron deficiency.  Try boosting your intake by including more lean red meat, poultry, shellfish, lentils, leafy greens (such as spinach and broccoli), almonds and iron-fortified cereals in your diet.

By combining these iron-rich foods with a source of vitamin C (such as orange juice) and avoiding milk, tea and coffee while you eat, you will further optimise iron absorption.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Eat like an athlete

HEALTH:

Training for sport requires a combination of endurance, strength, speed and agility. High energy requirements coupled with high fluid loss and the potential for injury make a well-established nutrition strategy a must in order to get the best results possible.

EXERCISE:

To stay hydrated, you must drink plenty of fluids before, during and after a training session.

4Water is all that is needed if you’re exercising for less than an hour, but sports drinks or diluted fruit juice are a better choice for longer workouts. These contain sugars which provide fuel for the exercising muscles and help speed up the absorption of water into your bloodstream.

NUTRITION:

A diet rich in carbohydrates will provide energy to maintain performance and assist recovery. A high carb, low fat meal should be eaten 2-3 hours before you begin training, with yet more carb-rich foods consumed soon afterwards to help replenish glycogen stores.

It is also important to include protein-packed foods post-workout to aid the repair and growth of muscle fibres.

 

© Sarah West Nutrition

You can’t beat an egg

HEALTH:

You don’t need to buy expensive foods to consume a nutritious diet. Apart from being inexpensive, eggs are a great source of concentrated nutrition including fat-soluble vitamins D, A, E and K, all the B vitamins and minerals such as phosphorous, calcium, zinc and iron.

Still not convinced? Contrary to popular belief, they won’t negatively affect your cholesterol levels; however many you eat.

EXERCISE:

The structure of the human body is built on protein. Exercise depletes the critical amino acids required to make protein, but eggs contain everything our bodies need for optimum 2growth and maintenance of lean, metabolically active tissue.

So forget expensive protein shakes to boost your strength training; eggs give you access to one of nature’s best protein sources at a fraction of the cost.

NUTRITION:

Eggs are easy to prepare and can be cooked in a variety of ways, which is vital to help keep boredom at bay. Try them scrambled, poached, fried or in an omelette as a quick post-workout meal.

And don’t just eat the whites; egg yolks contain protein and B vitamins and are relatively high in calories, which can help you achieve the caloric surplus necessary for muscle gain.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Fuel your workout

HEALTH:

The best pre-workout meal depends on exactly what time of day you’re going to be in the gym. If you’re an early riser who fits it in before work you’ll need to keep it light. However, if you’re working out later in the day you can get away with a bit more as you’ll have more time to fully digest it.

EXERCISE:

It takes the body approximately four to six hours to digest fat, around three hours to digest protein and about two hours to digest carbohydrates. It is therefore important to keep things simple and focus on consuming mainly carbohydrates directly before a workout.

278378820688404198_jxsLVERX_cBy eating too much fat or protein, your blood will rush to your stomach for digestion while also trying to fuel your exercising muscles. As a result, it might not do a very good job of either (leading to indigestion and lack of energy).

NUTRITION:

Bananas are a great choice if you don’t have long before your workout (i.e. less than an hour). These are a very quickly digestible form of carbohydrate and are also packed with potassium, which aids in maintaining proper nerve and muscle function.

If you are able to eat several hours beforehand, try a meal based around wholemeal pasta. This is a great way to increase stored energy in the muscles and give you the extra oomph you need later in the day.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Get equipped

HEALTH:

On average only about 20% of us keep our New Year’s resolutions, with some of the biggest failures often found in fitness resolutions. But don’t let the statistics get you down: by following these tips you’ll be better equipped to succeed.

EXERCISE:

Rather than focusing on one ultimate end goal, try dissecting it into smaller pieces to make it seem less intimidating.

199213983487253074_XwUYjumA_cFor example, if your main objective is to complete a 10K race, your smaller goals could involve running a 5K in less than 30 minutes, adding upper and lower body strength training to increase your muscular endurance, or running 2 miles with a personal best completion time.

NUTRITION:

By keeping a well-stocked kitchen, you’ll be better equipped to keep up your healthy eating plans long term.

Cheap and easily available, beans (kidney, aduki, flageolet, mung, canellini, broad, haricot) and pulses (such as lentils) are high in protein and fibre but low in fat.  Keep a few cans in your cupboard, rinse thoroughly then add to salads, soups, casseroles and stir-fries for a nutritious boost.

© Sarah West Nutrition