Indulged a bit too much over Christmas and now finding yourself struggling to get back on track?

With the winter here many of us are feeling quite run down from a busy December month and end of last year. Perhaps we did not get as much rest over the holidays as we could have done with and now we are hitting the new year running. We might have eaten and drunk a little bit too much over Christmas so now we are stressed out over having gained some weight.

At the same time the deadlines at work keep on flowing in so we are putting in extra hours in the office whilst getting less sleep and grabbing whatever convenience food we can get our hands on. Still we are trying to keep that heathier living News Year’s resolution we promised. Well the eating healthier did not work so well but we have managed to clock up quite a few hours on the treadmill in the gym so it’s not so bad, right? Then the cold hits us, we are floored for a week or so and then we are back to scratch and feeling deflated. You get the gist.

There is no point in beating ourselves up about having fallen off the waggon, but there is also no reason for giving up because of it. Here are some simple and achievable steps towards getting your health back on track.

1. Be organised

This might sound boring however, if you are not organised, you will find yourself continuously grabbing any processed convenience food that you can find. Unfortunately, these foods tend to be void of any of the nutrients that your body needs and instead full of empty calories, sugar and the wrong type of fats. If you are organised and do one large food shop once a week, you can easily prepare most of your meals for the week on a Sunday evening and store them in the fridge / freezer. You do not have to prepare a different meal for each day, two or three choices are fine and then just alternate what you have as an accompaniment so if you for instance make a vegetable or chicken stew, vary what you have with it. For instance, brown rice, mashed sweet potato, quinoa, steamed vegetables and mixed salad are good choices. Another alternative is using a slow cooker, add vegetables, spices, herbs, liquid and some protein in the morning and when you get back from work, your dinner is ready. Having left overs for lunch is a great way of keeping your costs down as well as allowing you to control what you are consuming.

2. Eat a balanced diet with whole foods

By focusing on whole foods, you will ensure that your body is equipped with the right fuel to help you improve your health and losing any unwanted weight you may have gained. To maximize nutrient intake, include plenty of vegetables and smaller amounts of fruit, quality protein, whether animal protein, fish, eggs, chicken and smaller amounts of red meat, or vegetable protein in the form of legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds and health fats in the form of nuts, seeds, avocado, olive and coconut oils. Your body will thank you for it!

3. Avoid Processed Foods

These include processed meats, most ready-made meals, fried foods, baked goods, soft drinks, all products with refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. These foods contain a lot of calories but very few nutrients so will hinder your weight loss and instead make you pile on even more weight.

4. Exercise

Although long-term weight loss is unlikely without a healthy diet, exercise is vital for a healthy body and mind. A good workout can increase your energy levels, boost your immune system and it is also vital for the health of your heart. According to an analysis published in the American College of Cardiology by the ACC Sports and Exercise Cardiology Leadership Council, small amounts of exercise are associated with a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. More importantly they also confirmed that more exercise can lead to an even smaller risk of developing cardiovascular disease. So even if you do not have time for a visit to the gym every day, incorporate 20-30 minutes of brisk walking during you lunch time hour and you’ve heard it before, take the stairs rather than the lift, these are simple and quick solutions to get your heart pumping a little harder, helping you burn more calories.

5. Stay hydrated

By the time you feel thirst, you are actually dehydrated already, potentially resulting in unnecessary fatigue and brain fog. when we think we are hungry, we are actually just dehydrated so a good tip when you are feeling hungry, always have a large glass of water before eating anything. This will help you lowering intake of unnecessary calories. Drinking plenty of clean water is one of the best things you can do to your health. For an extra boost of nutrients, add a few slices of lemon, lime, orange or cucumber.

6. Sleep

Your body strengthens and rejuvenates when it rests. If you do not get sufficient sleep your cells will not have enough repair time and your immune system is likely to suffer. Additionally, it will cause a vicious circle of increased cortisol levels in your body. Cortisol, a hormone released by our adrenals in order to deal with short-term stressors is vital to our bodies, however, if it becomes chronically raised as with long-term sleep deprivation, the cortisol can lead to raised blood sugar as well as increased fat storage due to its influence on insulin levels. Due to it’s detrimental affect on blood sugar levels, sleep deprivation also increases levels of ghrelin the hunger hormone, making us reach for high sugar, high fat comfort foods. Ensure you get 7-8 hours of sleep as often as possible to allow your body to function optimally.

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