Body & Fitness

This year I will…

There’s always promises we make or goals we set for ourselves. We’ve taken a look at a few of the common ones and given you tips on how to achieve them.

**Lose weight

Why you should do it:** Being significantly overweight increases your risk of dying early. You’re more likely to get everything from high blood pressure and high cholesterol to diabetes, heart disease and stroke if you’re carrying excess kilos. You’ve also got a higher chance of getting prostate and bowel cancers if you’re a man and ovarian and breast cancers if you’re a woman.

How to do it:

  • Tell people you’re trying to lose weight – if everyone knows, you’ll feel like you really have to make an effort so they can see the results.

  • Keep a food diary, and don’t cheat. You’ll think twice about sneaking those chips or biscuits if you know you have to account for them in your diary.

  • Learn to recognise feelings of hunger, and if you’re not hungry, don’t eat. oany of us eat just because food is there or because we think it will make us feel good. Think of food as fuel only.

Cut back on drinking Why you should do it: Drinking too much booze (the equivalent of more than two standard drinks a day for a woman and four for a man) makes you more prone to liver, kidney, lung and heart disease as well as strokes and osteoporosis. It can also damage your brain and increase your chance of getting certain cancers, including breast cancer.

How to do it:

  • Cut down gradually – making drastic changes is more likely to make you crave what you can’t have.

  • For every alcoholic drink you consume, have a glass of water.

  • Think carefully about when and why you drink. For example, if you pour yourself a wine the minute you get in the door from work because you feel you deserve a treat after a hard day at the office, replace it with something else you enjoy, such as an aromatherapy bath or 10 minutes somewhere peaceful reading a magazine or book. Like many other things, drinking alcohol can be a habit, and that habit can be broken.

Stop smoking Why you should do it: It could be killing you. Women who smoke have more heart attacks, cancers, oral health problems and lung problems. It can also cause early menopause, play a part in osteoporosis and affect fertility.

How to do it:

  • Get help. Giving up smoking is very hard to do on your own. Contact Quitline on 0800 778 778. They’ll help with resources, support and low-cost nicotine patches or gum.

  • Try hypnosis. It can help reduce the cravings for nicotine and break the habit of lighting up. – Talk to reformed smokers about how they gave up and become inspired. one of my friends gave up her 20-a-day habit after reading the book Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking. She says the psychology made perfect sense and she just didn’t want to smoke any more. Another friend collected a week’s worth of cigarette butts and kept them in a jar in her lounge. She felt sick whenever she looked at them all and never smoked again.

**Eat more fruit and veges

Why you should do it:** Fruit and veges contain important nutrients that our bodies need to function properly. Eating lots of them can help you to ward off heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure and cholesterol and prevent some types of cancer. They’re also good for your digestion, your eyes and for helping to keep your weight under control.

How you can do it:

  • Always have fruit with your breakfast – a smoothie made with frozen berries, tinned peaches with your cereal, mashed banana on toast with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

  • Add vegetables like mushrooms, peppers and peas to omelettes.

  • Chop up raw vegetables like carrots, beans, cauliflower, broccoli and snow peas for a salad with a difference. 

  • Keep a supply of tinned fruit (in natural juice, not syrup) for when you run out of fresh fruit.

  • If you find boiled veges tasteless, try steaming them (that keeps lots of flavour). If you really don’t like the taste, add herbs or spices, such as a dash of chilli or curry powder to cabbage, or some sprigs of mint to peas. A splash of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice gives microwaved veges a tasty tang.

**Exercise more

Why you should do it:** Because it’s very, very, very good for you! Regular activity improves your mood, helps prevent chronic conditions like diabetes and osteoporosis and strengthens your heart and lungs. You’ll sleep better, have more energy and are more likely to be a healthy weight if you exercise for around half an hour a day, at least five days a week.

How you can do it:

  • Find an exercise buddy so you can motivate each other to get off your behinds and get moving. It helps if they’re at the same fitness level as you.

  • Choose an activity you enjoy. There’s no point in joining a gym if you can’t stand the thought of lifting heavy objects. You’ll want to give up very quickly.

  • Try lots of different types of exercise. Ask gyms/pilates instructors/yoga centres/dance teachers if they offer free one-off “tester” sessions to see if you’ll like it.

Tips on how to keep your New Year’s resolutions:

  • Don’t set yourself unrealistic goals. You’ll get frustrated and give up.

  • Tell your friends and family what you want to achieve and ask for their help and support.

  • Write down your resolution and the reasons you want to keep it. Be really specific, eg “I want to give up smoking because I’m sick of having ashtray breath.” When you feel yourself weakening, look at what you’ve written.

  • Get professional help where possible,eg hire a personal trainer or go to a weight-loss organisation like Weight Watchers.

  • Reward yourself when you achieve something. For example, if you lose 5kg celebrate your achievement by treating yourself to a night out with the girls, a massage or a good book. 

  • Don’t expect to be able to change the habits of a lifetime overnight. It takes about 21 days to create a new habit, and around six months for that to become an accepted part of daily life.

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