Despite our best attempts not to put on any extra weight over the Christmas period, the reality is that we might find ourselves a few pounds heavier at the beginning of the new year. The combination of parties and socialising centred around eating and drinking, atrocious weather with unrelenting rain, floods and storms resulting in reduced outdoor activity and long, dark evenings is not conducive to top physical and mental form. However, this is a good time to start afresh and get back in shape.
A gentle detox would benefit most of us. I don’t recommend going on a severe restrictive regimen or a full fast because in winter our bodies are still in storage mode and proper cleansing is much more effective in spring. However, switching to vegetarian foods such as soups, stir fries, stews and curries with warming spices as well as snacking on crudités, fresh salads and fruit from three days to a couple of weeks will be fantastic for detoxing the body from heavy and stodgy festive roasts and puddings. Sprinkle fresh parsley, dill and coriander on your cooked vegetarian foods, use garlic, turmeric, cayenne and spring onions. Vegetables are full of fibre, so will help to ease your digestion and get your bowels moving; they are low in calories and you will start burning the excess weight.
CUT DOWN ON SUGAR AND ALCOHOL
Most of us are sometimes tempted by those lovely looking chocolates, biscuits and cakes, or a drink after work and over the weekend. Although an occasional dessert or a glass of wine are fine, after the excesses of the festive season our body needs a break. Sugar temporarily lifts our mood but it very quickly leads to blood sugar rush followed by a dip, which leaves us craving more sweet stuff. When having a couple of biscuits with your afternoon tea is fine, having a big helping of ice cream or a big dessert after dinner is unwise as it not only will pile extra inches round your waist but also may lead to a blood sugar drop in the night and you will wake up craving a snack. Alcoholic drinks, although enjoyable and socially acceptable, dehydrate your whole body including brain and skin, making you look older than you really are. Alcohol is a toxin, which has a unique ability of scarring the liver, thus damaging the main detoxifying organ. While one glass of wine with a meal can make us feel relaxed and talkative, larger amounts of alcohol tend to have a depressing effect. If you tend to suffer from volatile moods, steer clear of alcohol. Another thing we tend to forget is that alcohol is very high in calories and our body will break it down into sugar and then store it as fat.
LIFE IS MOVEMENT – START EXERCISING AGAIN
Your normal exercise routine may have been interrupted over the holidays due to social engagements, bad weather, travelling, spending more time than usual with relatives, family members or guests. You may need to renew a lapsed gym membership or take advantage of a better weather forecast to venture out into your local park for a jog. Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean carving out some time for yourself. Make good use of your weekends. You may play a game of tennis or football on a sunny day with friends, drive out of town with your family for a long country walk or take them on a cycle ride. If you are overweight and it hurts your joints to do any strenuous exercise, you can whirl a hula hoop round your waist or go swimming in your local pool. If you are not a sporty person and have never exercised before, perhaps it’s time to have a chat with a fitness instructor to determine a few simple exercises that you will remember and be able to stick to. It doesn’t have to be a long workout in the gym, it can be a set of 6-7 exercises you can do at home for 15-20 minutes a day. The main thing is to be moving as much as you can.
HAVE A POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE
Do not be defeatist even before you have started your lighter eating phase, reducing sugar and alcohol in your diet or a new exercise routine. Set yourself a short-term goal, which you know for sure you will be able to achieve, and it’s going to be very pleasing and rewarding when you do. Keep in mind that you are not just trying to follow some latest fad, but actively taking responsibility for your health and well-being. Whenever you have a chance, do things you enjoy that lift your spirits up. And smile while doing so.