Losing a few pounds the healthy way

A few weeks ago I wrote about my battle with my body image issues. The response was amazing. So many of you could relate and had similar feelings in the run-up to your wedding day. Now I don’t advocate crash dieting, or even that there’s a need to change your body before your wedding. This post is for people who’ve decided they want to change their diet and exercise habits to feel more healthy and positive. Please, please make sure you’re careful about how you do this. This isn’t an exercise in feeling bad about yourself or your current habits – this is something you have to want to do!

I always say be happy with who you are. But if you’re set on losing a few pounds, or you don’t quite feel like “yourself” after a little weight gain, it’s best to shed pounds the healthy way. Meet Renza, the gorgeous lady behind Delicieux Designer Cakes and a trained dietician. So she knows good food and how to use it to your advantage! I hope you enjoy her sound advice and put it to good use!

Images owned by Renza from Fotalia 

Losing a few pounds – the healthy way

Lovely Sara from Under the Vintage Veil has inspired me to write this post when I read her The dreaded F Word blog entry. Sure most women can relate to her? Regardless of age, being a bride-to-be or a singleton, we all know that dreaded feeling when you confidently pick your favourite outfit and then have to wrestle to get into it.

I just spent five weeks of blissful laziness in my home country where everybody treats you with food. Loads of food. And don’t forget the wine, cocktails and Don Pedro’s.  Nope, this isn’t a sexy Italian man (sorry, ladies) but a dreamy, creamy concoction of ice cream and whiskey. Needless to say I have gained weight. Unless you’re fortunate enough to have the world’s fastest metabolism, it’s what happens when you eat and drink decadently and do too little exercise, unfortunately. The law of nature.

Know your habits

If you have gained a bit of weight what can you do about it? Actually, a lot without too much effort or emotional distress. What I would initially recommend is to keep a food diary for at least one week. Write down what you eat and drink, the amount consumed and the time and place where you munched. Oh, yes, and any physical activities that have burned a bit of energy!  I know you are busy but this diary will provide you with a personalised solution to get rid of those extra pounds.

Once you have completed the diary, it’s investigation time. Sit down with a friend, partner or husband who cares about you and try to get behind the reasons for your weight gain. Check for the following culprits:

Do you have a balanced diet and good portions? Are you getting the right amount of protein, starch, veg etc? Take a look at Eatwell Plate for proper advice, but here’s a rough guide – protein the size of your hand palm, starch the size of your fist and the rest of your plate vegetables or salad.

 What types of food are you eating? Do you eat a lot of fast food, convenient meals, fried food, roasted with or in fat or butter, topped with sauces or dressings? Look out for words like creamy, decadent, chocolate, rich, oil, double thick, lush, luxury, deluxe. Are you eating a lot of takeaway or eating out regularly?

Are you drinking well? Regular consumption of alcohol, fruit juice and fizzy drinks can lead to weight gain as these drinks contain empty calories.

Where do you normally eat and snack? In front of the computer, TV, on the run, in the train/bus/car? This is called unconscious eating, almost like a sheep grazing without realising it.

 What type of snacks do you eat between meals? Crisps, sweets, chocolate bars, cakes, biscuits, dried fruit, cereal bars or large portions of ‘healthy’ snack items?

 Not burning enough calories?  How do you spend your day – in front of a computer screen, around a boardroom table, taxi for the kids? Do you burn any energy by walking the dog, cleaning the house, gym, dance, swimming, climbing stairs?

Make small changes

If the size of your meals is an issue, have slightly smaller portions. I try use a small bowl for cereal or yogurt in the morning and a fish plate for my main meals.

 Be consistent in your eating habits. Try to have three medium to small meals and three snacks, if possible. It will keep your blood sugar constant and could prevent cravings, tiredness, headaches and feeling irritable.

 Eat sitting down at a table in a quiet environment. Focus on your food and enjoy it. Yes, we all need breaks during the day to function better.

Often your body is crying for water without you realising it. Try to have water or spritzers if you need to have a drink. Always have a bottle of water with you, and drink it. Aim for at least 2 litres of water per day.

♥ Cook from scratch. Yeah, I know it seems like a hassle but if you plan ahead it’s actually easy. Stock up with vegetables; interesting bits and bobs for salads; fresh fruit; lean meat, for example, chicken breasts, salmon, smoked mackerel and fillet; high fibre starches like sweet potato, baby potatoes, tinned legumes, wholegrain rice, oatcakes and porridge; and low fat yogurt, milk and cottage cheese. Mozzarella, ricotta and Parmesan also works like a charm in limited amounts in salads, spuds and steamed vegetables.  Transform your plate of food into a healthy feast with fresh herbs, a slice of lemon and a tiny drizzle of olive oil.

 Don’t stock temptations in your kitchen, bedside drawer or work desk. You will eat them! Replace them with healthier snacks listed above!

♥ Get your body moving – walking, running, gym, dancing or even mundane tasks like house work. I myself love gardening. This not only burns calories but increases your metabolism. Next time you’re thinking about driving a short distance, think again and walk – it can make all the difference.

 Limit takeaways and eating out to special occasions. We all need a treat once in a while!

I hope these easy guidelines will inspire you to a healthier lifestyle. Gaining a few pounds doesn’t mean you’re fat, ugly or unworthy. But if you feel your body is telling you that you need to change your lifestyle slightly, then take the bull by the horns, plan your grocery shopping, stock up with healthier food choices, make time to eat regular meals and start exercising. You’ll really notice the change in your mood, energy and body!

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