Un-processing your Diet
Recent studies have found that people who eat more processed food, consume about 500 more calories per day than those that eat wholefoods. Why? Because processed foods provide limited nutrients and are not as filling, so you tend to eat more to feel full and an extra 500 calories per day, can lead to quite a significant weight gain!
It’s quite a big challenge to switch to an entirely whole-foods diet overnight. But you can start to make healthier choices most of the time by making some small, sustainable changes to “unprocess” your diet.
What are Processed foods?
Most packaged foods such as crisps, sweets, chocolate bars and biscuits are considered ultra-processed along with fast food, most take-out food and packaged bakery items, refined grains such as white rice, sugary cereals and white bread also are processed. However, foods such as canned or frozen vegetables, whole-grain bread and rice, are considered less processed because they are closer to their original forms (and have more nutritional value).
Here are six practical tips to help you make nutritional improvements that will improve your energy, health and fitness, by switching from a processed to wholefood diet, increasing your fibre and protein intake and making you feel fuller without going over your calorie requirements.
1. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
When it comes to foods high in nutrients, fruits and vegetables can’t be beat. They contain fibre (which will make you feel full) and they also aid digestion.
- Batch chop and prep salad and veg so it’s ready to go.
- Add a side salad to your meal.
- Snack on raw vegetables.
2. Avoid sugary drinks.
Fizzy drinks, alcohol, smoothies and canned coffee drinks often contain a surprising amount of sugar and calories. For example, a Costa caramel latte contains a whopping 34g sugar and 331 calories!
- opt for tea or black coffee in coffee shops.
- Choose spirits rather than beer or wine.
- Read labels on smoothies/canned drinks.
3. Read labels.
In most cases food packaging does not give an accurate representation of a food’s nutritional value no matter what the claim on the front of the pack says! so it’s best to look at the nutritional label on the back of the item and check:
- Serving size.
- Amount of added sugar.
- Ingredient list (keeping in mind that ingredients are listed by quantity, with highest listed first).
4. Skip convenience foods when possible.
There are a lot of foods that although marketed as healthy (such as bars or snacks) are often full of sugar and lack fibre and protein. Carry your own snacks to avoid temptation!
- Nuts or seeds (portioned) and an apple.
- Chopped veg with hummus.
- Greek yogurt with fruit.
5. Eat mindfully at restaurants.
Eating out can feel like an occasion to indulge, but if you’re eating out regularly, learning to make healthy choices is essential.
- If eating out is an infrequent occurrence, order what you love, but stop eating when your full.
- You don’t have to go for all 3 courses!
- If eating out is a common occurrence choose a protein and vegetable meal with whole grains as often as possible. Such as:
- Sandwich on whole-grain bread with salad.
- Fish, Chicken or Steak served with veg.
- Salad (dressing on the side).
Small and sustainable changes are much easier and more beneficial in the long run when it comes to improving nutrition, rather than trying to make too many big changes all at once but to see a change you’ve got to make a change!
Excuses not to Exercise
When it comes to exercise, if just the thought if it has you thinking of any excuse to get out of it, you’re not alone. Many reasons for putting off exercise are completely legitimate, however finding ways to overcome these barriers is a starting point.
#1 You’re too busy at work
These days, everyone seems to have a hectic lifestyle. The solution to this is PLANNING. If an hour at the gym is out of the question you might still find that a 20-minute brisk walk to or from work or on your lunch break is do-able. It doesn’t have to be all in one go – break it up during the day
#2 You have family responsibilities
When family takes priority, try to build exercise into your everyday parenting duties or weekend family time (e.g. walking with the pram, playing in the park, swimming or going for a family bike ride).
If you really can’t fit in a workout around the kids, re-assess your daily routine. Could you get up half an hour to fit in a workout? Or take some me-time when your partner gets in from work? Or when the kids are in bed? A 15-minute workout is just 1% of your day!
#3 You’re confused about what you should be doing
You might not have a clue where to start or what’s the best exercise for your goals. Look online, read up, ask a professional or hire a Personal Trainer – even just a couple of sessions can educate you, motivate you and put you on the right track with a suitable programme of exercise.
#4 You don’t like the Gym
It’s a common problem (which is why many of my clients hire me as they can train at home) But it’s worth trying a few out, or going to a few different non-gym-based classes as there may be one you feel comfortable attending. Failing that, you really don’t need to go to a gym or class to exercise – you can do it at home!
#5 It’s too expensive
Activities such as walking or running outdoors, or doing a home workout are all free!
#6 The Weather
You can’t control the weather, but you can keep an eye on the forecast and plan accordingly. You may need to reschedule your workout (e.g. an early-morning run to beat the heat) or even change the outdoor workout you’d planned for an indoor activity.
And there’s more…….
I’m too tired Workout early, get better sleep.
It’s too hard If it was easy everyone would be doing it! Build it up gradually.
I’m too old Being fit and healthy is beneficial whatever age you are.
I’m too unfit Everybody has to start somewhere – do what you can and gradually progress from there.
It’s boring Keep trying out different activities until you find something you enjoy.
I’ve just done my Nails Now this is the worse excuse EVER!
Remember, you can either have EXCUSES or RESULTS, unfortunately not both!
But if it’s important enough to you, you’ll find a way……
Exercise for Mental Health and Well-being
We know how exercise improves our general Health and Fitness, but along with the physical benefits, exercise can also have a huge impact on your mental health and well-being. Exercise is not only great for the body, but also great for the mind. It’s a mood changer!
There’s a strong link between being physically active and improved mental well-being, especially when we learn that depression is strongly associated with illness and even cardiovascular mortality. People who engage in regular exercise at any intensity are less likely to suffer from mental health problems and there’s a vast amount of research showing that exercise can be as effective as medication when it comes to treating certain conditions.
Physical activity is proven to have positive effects on:
Physical activity that is practised as a group also helps enormously in combating social isolation. During a group activity – such as running, classes, dance, team sports, etc. a person is included and engaged in a group of like-minded people. This helps improve motivation levels and alleviate stress and anxiety.
Exercise really can make you feel better WHATEVER your mood is: Motivated, Tired, Angry, Sad or Stressed, so make sure you plan your workout accordingly. Although you may have a training plan to follow or a class you regularly attend, if you’re not on top form that particular day, change your usual workout for something else to suit your mood. There’s really no point in doing a workout that you’re not going to enjoy as it will only worsen your mood if you fail. If you tailor your workout to your emotional needs rather than physical needs, you’ll not only avoid a meltdown but you’ll enjoy the session much more!.
There’s no point in enduring a gruelling run if you’re feeling really tired – go for a brisk walk instead. If you’re feeling angry or stressed, do some weightlifting or boxing (you’ll give your best punches!). But if you’re feeling at your best that day – give it all you’ve got!.
Sometimes the hardest part of a workout is actually getting started, but lace up your trainers, take a deep breath and just do it – I guarantee you’ll feel better for it!.
Realistic Goal Setting
January is the month when many people are super-motivated and make their resolutions for the year ahead. But do you set the same goals each year? And do you reach your goals?
If what you tried last time didn’t work, what makes you think that doing the same thing all over again is going to give you a different outcome?. Because if it didn’t work last time you tried, you need to change your plan of action!
Losing weight and getting fit is one of the most common resolutions, especially after spending the festive season eating and drinking so much. This is the reason why the gyms are packed this month, but after a couple of months of the initial ‘I’m going to lose weight and get fit’ motivation many give up.
But you don’t need to be one of the quitters! There are strategies for success in keeping that Health and Fitness motivation going all year.
Make it a Social thing……
Social interaction has been shown to make people more likely to workout so join a fitness class, a local running or sports group, get yourself a gym buddy or hire a personal trainer. Paying out in advance for things may be a financial commitment, however, combine it with a commitment to another person and you’re much more likely to stick with your program. If you can’t make it to a group, having an online social fitness community (e.g., Facebook group) can also inspire you to keep working towards your goals.
Set and Commit to a specific goal…….
Although the long-term goal may be to lose 2 stone or run a 10k, it’s a good idea to set short term goals too. Sign up to the race and put it in your diary, but also set yourself weekly/monthly challenges that will lead you to your main goal. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time framed) and write them down!
Find the Best Exercise and Diet Plan for you……..
The best Exercise and Diet plan for you is the one that you enjoy doing!. You are far more likely to stay consistent if you actually enjoy what you’re doing and therefore this commitment will bring the greater long-term results. If you find it boring, you won’t stick to it so try something else!
Those low moments when you feel like stuffing your face or cancelling your gym session are bound to happen so plan a strategy for dealing with it. If you blow it on a night out, get back on it the next day, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed – you only fail when you give up!
You don’t have to exercise or eat like an Athlete, It doesn’t matter if you’re first or last and so what if you didn’t get a slimmer of the week award!. The most important thing to making your New Year’s resolutions work in 2019 is to keep at it!
Happy 2019 – Here’s to your Health, Fitness and SUCCESS!