Kicking off your 2013 with a new diet?
Don't expect to drop a dress size overnight by starving yourself. The key is to eat healthy and exercise regularly − give yourself at least six weeks to shift the first five kilograms.
Sound impossible? It isn't and we've got the tips to show you how:
"Sixty to seventy percent of your results will come from improving your diet," says personal trainer Gavin Walsh.
For some of us, this means taking a close look at what, how and when we eat.
"Your first step is to assess your usual daily calorie intake over a period of seven days. Then you can take steps to adjust your calorie consumption and improve nutritional balance," dietitian Katie Peck says.
"When combined with exercise, your body will start to break down fat stores for energy. So, my top tip is to track your food and drink intake over seven days and then make food swaps, taking out unnecessary foods and replacing them with nutritious alternatives, such as skimmed milk for full fat, sweet fruit for sweets, dark chocolate for milk and whole grain for white bread. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but you should aim to reduce your intake by 200-500 calories per day (assuming you normally eat the recommended 2,000 calories a day)."
What to eat, what not to eat
Reaching your weight-loss goal isn't just about the number of calories you consume every day. More important is the type of food you are eating.
"Don't worry too much about counting calories. When you eat clean it's difficult to overeat," Walsh says.
"Cut out processed foods, sugar, caffeine, dairy, wheat and starchy carbohydrates like pasta, rice and bread. Make sure you drink plenty of water too, around 1.5-3 litres a day to flush out toxins and prevent your body from storing water."
Sticking to natural foods is key, agrees Peck.
"Stay away from anything high in salt, sugar or fat. And cook at home rather than eat ready meals or take-outs, unless it's a healthy option. Aim for 50 percent carbs, 20 percent protein and 30 percent fats. You can still drink alcohol, but only in sensible amounts, aiming for 2-3 alcohol free days a week.
"Foods to go for include unrefined whole grain carbohydrates, high-fibre breakfast cereals, whole-grain crackers, wraps, fresh fruit, sweet potatoes, seafood, lean red meat, chicken, turkey, game, eggs, nuts, nut butters, seeds, beans, tofu, yoghurt and olive oil.
"Finally eat, then exercise, as this is the time when your body will need the energy most. The following menu is my ideal nutritional day."
- Breakfast: porridge made with skimmed milk, topped with flaked almonds, cinnamon and a drizzle of runny honey
- Morning snack: Four Brazil nuts, one small banana
- Lunch: 60g smoked salmon, extra-low-fat cream cheese, sliced cucumber in a wholemeal wrap, handful of cherry tomatoes
- Afternoon snack: 30g toasted sunflower seeds mixed with soy sauce
- Dinner: Three-ounce fillet steak, sweet potato spicy wedges, purple sprouting broccoli
- Dessert: 100g natural yoghurt, 100g fresh pineapple
How to work out
There's no way around it if you're going to unleash a new physique, then the next month is going to involve a ramped up exercise regime. But don't be scared, says Walsh: "Now that the diet is sorted, it's time to look at your fitness programme. Thankfully, there is no need for marathon sessions in the gym. Keep it short and sweet. The catch, however, is that you're going to be exercising more regularly, which means your home will also be your gym for the next few weeks.
"Use a mixture of cardio and resistance exercises for the best results. Imagining a scale of 1-10, aim to keep an intensity level of at least seven. Be honest with yourself; if you want quick results then you're going to have to up your game. Try this weekly programme which, alongside your improved diet, will make sure you arrive at Valentine's Day in the fittest, healthiest, sexiest shape of your life."
Monday: Three x four minutes of 30 seconds exercise and 30 seconds of rest. Akternate between jumping jacks, squats and press-ups.
- Tuesday: One minute on, one minute off mountain climbers (from the press-up position, raise one knee up towards your chest, lower, then repeat on other side) for 10 minutes, twice a day (morning and night).
- Wednesday: 100 burpees
- Thursday: Five minutes in the plank position, broken up with short breaks in between
- Friday: 200 lunges throughout the day
- Saturday: 30 second sprints, with one minute rest in between, for a total of 20 minutes. You can also do rowing, spinning, burpees or mountain climbers.
- Sunday: Long walk (this is your active rest)