|Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art|
My fail-safe way of making a weight loss resolution is to break it down into tiny parts. You could for example, break your resolution up into months. This makes it far less daunting and less of a dramatic overhaul of your life, which as we already know, is difficult to maintain!
Start off by weighing yourself to assess where you are right now. From this information, set yourself an 'end goal' to reach a year from now, whether this is your ideal weight or body fat percentage (or both). If you haven't go much weight to lose, you'll probably reach your goal well before a year (bonus!) if you have more than a year's worth of weight to lose (for example, 60lb+) then by following this year-long plan, you'll find yourself well on track by the end of this year and able to carry on with your amazing progress!
The key to remember with healthy, sustainable weight loss is that it needs to be taken slowly, otherwise you'll have unpleasant side effects, ranging from excessive loose skin to dizziness and exhaustion!. If you never want to go through the process of losing weight again, it's worth taking up at least a year of your life to dedicate to the goal, instead of say, fasting for 2 weeks (or whatever silly fad is the latest fashion right now) to just lose all your results as soon as you return to normal. So the idea here is for the plan to be gradual, healthy and simple enough that you won't hate doing it and then give up.
Right-click and save the image below, print it off and pin it anywhere you're likely to need a reminder of what your goal is for the month. Keep each month's goal going throughout the rest of the year and add in the new goals on the 1st of each month. By this time next year, you'll be a totally different person!
More information on each of the monthly goals:
Focus on water. Just get your 8 glasses a day in, every day this month and don’t worry about changing anything else. This alone will help with water retention, causing you to drop ‘water weight’ and feel a bit slimmer already! Plus it’ll curb your appetite so you’ll snack less automatically, boost your energy and concentration levels and clear your body of all those holiday toxins!
Cut back on the condiments – the salt, sugar and extra sauces. Cutting down on salt will reduce the bloat and if you find yourself needing extra flavour try adding herbs and spices. Instead of adding sugar to your cereals in the morning, try pieces of fruit, as these are naturally sweet (and count towards your five a day, but we’ll worry about that later!) Ditching Mayo alone will help you shed lbs if you have a bit of a mayo-smothering habit. Leaving it off your food will save 100’s of calories resulting in very easy weight loss – you haven’t even had to break a sweat to do it!
Swap to wholegrain for bread, cereals and pasta. Wholegrain are far more filling, so you’ll find yourself naturally using a smaller portion (reducing calories) and they keep you fuller for longer, so you’re less likely to go looking for a sugary fix by 11am or 3pm. It also makes for healthy bowel!
Buy smaller plates, you're less likely to feel 'cheated' by portion controlled meals (if you don't already, use a food scale to weight out certain foods, like pasta, meat and cheese as these can be calorific, so try to keep to the portions suggested on the packet) and psychologically trick yourself into thinking you've ate your normal portion as your eyes will just register a full plate of food.
Swap to Lean Mince, if you frequently cook with mince (whether beef or pork) for recipes such as Shepherd's pie, bolognese, lasagne etc. then swap to a version that says 'lean' on the packet. This will instantly reduce the calories and saturated fat levels in the recipe. The lean version of mince beef could have 193 calories and 4g sat fat per 100g whereas the regular version could have around 257 calories and 11g sat fat! Of course, you could even go one step further and use a 'meat free alternative' like Quorn or my personal favourite, turkey mince, which is rich in protein, low in fat and contains the amino acid tryptophan, which produces serotonin (the happy neurotransmitter) and plays an important role in strengthening the immune system!
Increase everyday activity. Just simple things, like parking a bit further away from the office, getting off the bus 1 or 2 stops early, taking the stairs and not the lift where reasonable, walking to anywhere within a mile radius (bonus money saving on fuel!) hand washing the car, cleaning the house a little more, or even dancing wildly to your favourite music when no one else is around.
Cut down on alcohol and fizzy drinks. Fizzy drinks and alcohol (especially alco-pops and cocktails) are likely to fuel a bit of a sugar addiction, making you want to eat more sweet things, plus they contain loads of calories! The diet versions are a huge no-no as these contain more chemicals than a mad scientist's lab and really do your metabolism no favours. We want to speed it up so that it burns more calories for us all day long!
Try some new foods and create some recipes - a bet there's loads of vegetables and new fruits that you've never tried! It's warm and bright outside (hopefully) so it's the perfect time to get creative in the kitchen with exotic fruit smoothies and colourful salads! Aim to come up with about 5 healthy recipes (or adaptations of current recipes you love) that you can master over the summer, then you'll be so speedy at cooking these that you'll be able to eat them all year round! By the time you've compiled all these recipes and tried all these new foods, you'll be well on your way to getting your five-a-day!
Add in some basic cardio workouts, go out for brisk 20 minute walks or runs, try an exercise DVD, by a games console that you can play fitness video games on. Go swimming if you feel confident enough (if you don't yet, you soon will!) Anything that you can put sweats on for and sweat at!
Try a radically different workout. Now is a brilliant time to join the gym, the quiet period between summer holidays and Christmas means that gym's will offer very low prices and you'll be able to haggle easily. Now have a look around the gym, how about a Zumba class? Self defence? Martial Arts? Yoga? Get in there and try anything that's new to you, you're bound to fall in love with something and want to carry it on.
Add in some strength training. Basically, anything involving weights, resistance bands, body weight (squats, lunges, triceps dips). There's loads of good books on the topic to inspire you. Bottom line on why you need strength training: increase muscle = looking more toned and burning more calories all day long. Perhaps this book will convince you more
Increase protein intake. If you've been carrying out November's task, you see why you need more protein. This will keep you feeling energised and full. Protein will also help repair and rebuild muscle, making you lean and toned!
If you're carried every single one of these 12 tasks on, you'll have lost loads of weight and I bet feel stronger, faster and more agile as a result. You've got something to celebrate this New Years - you've kept your resolution for 12 months and you look fantastic for it! Set yourself a new resolution this year - maybe something personal, like travelling or learning a new language. Perhaps something daring and fitness related, like a marathon, or instructor training! Whatever it is, remember to pat yourself on the back and reflect on how much you've changed in the last year!