Eat Yourself Fit: Make Your Workout Work Harder - Rosanna Davison (2016)
PART 2. FIT FOR LIFE
“Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”
Nutritious food and fitness are a match made in heaven, and like any great relationship, they bring out each other’s very best qualities. The closest thing to a magic bullet for slowing down the ageing process and developing a healthy, strong, fit and lean physique is that golden combination of good nutrition and exercise.
Your entire physical and emotional well-being benefits enormously from this dynamic duo. Increasing your heart rate and working up a sweat regularly through exercise boosts digestion and elimination, blood flow and lymphatic drainage, enhances your fitness and energy levels, supports fat burning, reduces cholesterol levels, improves insulin sensitivity and may even combat feelings of anxiety and depression while boosting your mood with feel-good endorphins.
The scientific consensus supports regular exercise, and suggests that ‘moderate fitness’ can be achieved in as few as 10 weeks by daily walking, cycling and even tending to the garden. In fact, exercise and the path to fitness can incorporate a whole range of movements and different ways to increase your heart rate and work up a sweat.
We all have to start somewhere
For the majority of people, the most daunting and intimidating part of getting fit is where to begin. It can feel like we’re constantly bombarded with conflicting information about health, fat loss and fitness, making it almost impossible to know what to start with.
There seems to be a vast array of diet plans, powders, tablets, shakes, bars, websites, blogs, gyms and fitness experts trying to sell us their products, which is why it is so important to separate fact from marketing. Confusing the public can work in favour of the companies pushing their wares, as it may encourage us to blindly buy into their trends.
Just like food and nutrition, fitness works best when it’s kept as simple as possible. Different types of exercise work for different people, and discovering what you like most is the key to viewing exercise as enjoyable and getting the very most out of it. It should be fun, challenging and changed up regularly to make sure it never gets boring.
Do you love to dance? Unwind in a yoga class? Or maybe jogging along a scenic coastal route really helps to uplift and energise you? No matter how disciplined and determined you may be, it’s very difficult to motivate yourself to get active when it’s something you don’t enjoy.
I used to love running until my hip began to hurt after long-distance runs. I pushed myself for a while longer and forced myself out for runs, until one day I just stopped completely because I was beginning to really dislike running. You can always swap one type of regime for another that suits your age and body type better, and now I much prefer the cross-trainer or bicycle for my cardiovascular exercise.
I have also found that in my thirties, I’m more interested in doing slower and more controlled exercises that really build my core strength and muscle groups, such as Pilates and resistance training in the gym. I used to love boxing and high-intensity treadmill sprints in my twenties, but they don’t suit me so much anymore.
Another important part of staying fit and active is making sure it slots into your lifestyle and that you’re not compromising your health or sleep. If you’re dragging yourself out of bed at 5am to hit the treadmill before work, there’s probably only so long you can keep it up before illness or injury prevents you. A bad experience can quite easily lead to a loss of confidence in your own abilities and even cause you to resent exercise.
If you have joined a gym or fitness class and aren’t sure where to begin, then don’t be afraid to ask questions and look for help. Most good gyms will have fitness experts on hand to advise you. It’s so important to do certain exercises properly to avoid injury, and weightlifting in particular can become more risky if you’re not protecting your neck and back.
Want to change your body shape?
The number of times a week you train will depend on your own lifestyle and personal goals. To maintain your current body, aim to work out three times a week. To really change or sculpt your body, increase it to four to six times a week. You certainly don’t need to spend two hours in the gym each time. Step up the intensity, taking as few rests as possible, and you can get a very good workout done in 30-40 minutes.
My top tip for building muscle tone and really changing your body shape by reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle is to work the muscle until the point of failure. You can do this with heavier weights for three or four sets of 10-12 reps, or lighter weights for more sets and reps. To find out which approach suits you, I recommend that you meet with a trainer before beginning a new exercise regimen. Good technique is crucial if you are to avoid injury and get the most out of your workouts. Add to this an eating plan to support your hard work in the gym, and the results will soon begin to show.
Try to get into the habit of pushing yourself through those final few reps that you think you can’t manage, because they’re the ones that really count. Your brain will probably try to tell your body to stop or that it can’t go on. But mental strength and determination are key, and overcoming your brain’s messages to quit will make all the difference to your fitness and body shape.
To burn body fat, my advice is to do cardiovascular exercise four to five times a week. High-intensity interval training is a tried-and-tested way to torch calories. It can be done on the treadmill, stationary bike, cross-trainer or any other cardio machine. I like to cycle or cross-train for 30 seconds as fast as I possibly can, then slow it right down for 30 seconds and repeat for about 20 minutes. As you get fitter, you can adapt it for a longer sprint time and less recovery time. This type of high-intensity training helps to burn body fat without reducing lean muscle mass, which is also ideal for boosting your metabolism.
Types of exercise
Different types of exercise achieve different health, muscle-toning and cardiovascular goals. My advice is to combine a variety of movements to achieve a great boost to your endurance, flexibility and strength. The key is to keep it consistent for the best results.
I’ve tried out many different types of fitness classes and regimes, from aerobics classes to kickboxing and yoga. As much as I enjoyed them, I find that I get the very best overall results from combining weight training with Pilates and cardio.
Do you struggle to make time for regular exercise? I’m often busy working or travelling and finding the time can be difficult, so I have to get inventive with workout routines. It’s possible to do a demanding workout in the space of 10-20 minutes at home using your own body weight, training bands or a TRX, and I’ve been known to sprint up and down hotel staircases to work up a sweat!
The point is to make exercise an enjoyable part of your lifestyle so that it’s a fun challenge, it never feels like a chore and you miss it when you don’t have a chance to do it.
Weight or resistance training is incredibly important for strengthening all your muscles, for improving your ratio of lean muscle to fat mass and for sculpting your body.
Like many other women, I used to worry that lifting weights would bulk me up like a bodybuilder, so I lifted tiny weights inconsistently and instead focused on cardiovascular exercise. When I was eventually convinced to try proper weight training, I couldn’t believe the difference it made to my body.
It became so much easier to stay slim and toned, as weight training boosts your metabolism by encouraging the body to burn calories for hours after the session while your muscle fibres repair themselves. Of course, I didn’t bulk up but actually slimmed down, as a pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat.
Women don’t have enough of the hormone testosterone needed to bulk up in the way that men can. Instead, we produce more oestrogen, which makes us prone to storing fat. Weight training is especially beneficial for women, as it encourages your bones to continuously rebuild and strengthen themselves, helping to prevent the onset of osteomalacia and osteoporosis.
It’s important to train each major muscle and muscle group in the body at least once a week for visible results. Resistance training tones, tightens and sculpts your body while reducing body fat levels and improving muscle tone. I would encourage everybody to consider adding weightlifting to their fitness regimen.
Exercises such as squats, lunges, press-ups and planks work a number of major muscles and can all be done without equipment, using your body weight in the comfort of your own home. As long as you don’t suffer from lower body joint problems, I advise you to incorporate regular squats into your routine. They work your glutes, quads, hamstrings and core and even help to improve your posture, plus they encourage fat burning by boosting your metabolism and increasing the production of growth hormones.
To avoid injury if you’re brand new to it, it would be best to start out with a trainer or workout buddy who knows what they’re doing. If you’re over the age of 35 or have had a sedentary lifestyle for some time, it would be best to arrange a one-on-one consultation with a health and fitness expert before beginning an exercise programme.
Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise boosts your body’s ability to burn oxygen and glucose while benefitting your cardiovascular system by increasing the blood flow to your heart, lungs and muscles and carrying oxygen via your blood to all your tissues. More oxygen-rich blood in the tiny capillaries near your skin’s surface means plenty of nutrients reach your skin to help keep it looking fresh, radiant and young.
As little as half an hour a day of power walking, jogging, swimming, cycling or dancing helps to keep you lean, builds a stronger heart, and supports your lymphatic system in draining away toxic build-up.
I always aim to do some form of cardio exercise about four to five times a week, whether it’s a cycle, a brisk walk or using an exercise machine in the gym such as the cross-trainer, step machine or Wattbike. The impact that it has on my alertness, mood, happiness, health, fitness and body fat makes it time very well spent.
Depending on the type of class, exercises like Pilates and yoga don’t always get your heart pumping in quite the same way as cardiovascular and high-intensity resistance training or circuits, but they strengthen and elongate muscles, help to improve joint health, tighten your core muscles, lengthen your spine, help your posture, oxygenate your blood and body cells and offer countless benefits for emotional well-being and stress management.
I have loved Pilates for years, and I really like how well it balances out the other types of training I do. Most weeks, I will do three to four classes and the routine changes each time. Some will be more focused on breathing and core, while others really challenge all your muscles and give you a sweaty, full-body strength and conditioning workout.
Stretching before and after a workout can be just as important as the workout itself. It helps to prevent injury, increases blood flow and encourages long, lean muscles and good flexibility.
It also makes a big difference to muscle tightness and pain over the day or two after an intense workout; sometimes this lingering discomfort can put people off continuing their fitness regime. Take a few minutes to warm up and stretch well before a workout, then a few minutes to cool down and stretch afterwards to avoid those muscle cramps and soreness as much as possible.
The band of muscles around your mid-section that make up your core, such as your abdominals and obliques, are probably the most important of all to keep strong for overall strength, fitness and protection from injury. Almost every movement you make, from lifting shopping bags out of the boot of your car to pulling out a chair from the kitchen table and lifting weights in the gym, relies on your core muscles.
In nearly every resistance or Pilates workout I do, I’m working and strengthening my core. Whether you’re a cardio bunny or a weights devotee, working with a strong core can really help to improve your overall posture and form.
MY POSITIVE FITNESS TIPS
I’m often asked about how I fit regular exercise into my busy routine and to suggest ways for others to manage it in a practical way. We all lead hectic lives packed with work, family and domestic commitments amongst many others, and I fully understand how difficult it can be to squeeze a bit of time into the day to exercise. Getting myself into the gym or outside to exercise is as much of a struggle sometimes as it is for anyone else, believe me. There are some days when I feel really revved up and ready to go, but others when I feel tired and unmotivated. And almost every day, there’s something ‘more important’ to be done first.
But one of my main sources of comfort, support, stability and feel-good factor, other than my husband, friends and family, of course, has been my exercise routine. Yes, it can feel like torture to get yourself to the gym or park, but have you ever regretted a workout? I certainly haven’t. Being self-employed and working in an industry where plans can change literally at the last minute, fitness has been a constant and reliable friend to me, always guaranteed to energise my body and brighten my mood. Here are my top five positive fitness tips.
VIEW IT AS TIME OUT FOR YOURSELF RATHER THAN A PUNISHMENT
I like to view it as time out from a hectic life. Plus it helps to calm me because I put all of my mental energy into focusing on the exercise I’m doing.
Exercise oxygenates the body and brain, releases happy endorphins and makes you feel strong, healthy and capable enough to take on life’s challenges. It’s also excellent for your heart and lung health, helps to maintain a healthy weight and to improve insulin sensitivity in a world where many people eat far too much refined sugar.
MAKE IT A PART OF YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE
Exercise is as much a part of my daily routine as my breakfast is. It’s not something that I have to think about and decide on - I just do it and get on with my day. Removing the decision to exercise because it’s as normal a part of your routine as brushing your teeth or showering helps to cancel out the temptation to skip it.
BRING YOUR GYM GEAR EVERYWHERE
I keep a pair of old runners in the boot of my car in case I meet up with a friend and we decide to go for a walk instead of sitting down for food or a coffee. Similarly, I take my gym gear on every overnight work trip I do abroad, as it’s normal for me to squeeze in a workout between the plane and whatever job I’m doing. If I’m tired from an early flight, a blast in the gym or run in the fresh air works wonders.
EAT TO SUPPORT YOUR BODY AND MIND
Good nutrition is crucial to fitness and emotional well-being. I know I couldn’t lead a busy life and stay fit and healthy without eating the way that I do, with foods that nourish every cell in my body. Back in my early twenties, when I was a sugar addict and unaware of the connection between food and my body, I used to eat whatever junk I craved and then wonder why I’d get constant colds, sniffles and sore throats. All the recipes in this book are designed to deeply nourish your body and support fitness, health and weight loss goals.
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS
One trait that all fit and motivated people share is discipline. It’s easy to make excuses to skip exercise or do a less than high-standard job at anything in life. But taking responsibility for your actions and knowing that nobody else but you is accountable for the consequences has always helped me achieve my goals. Hard work, intelligent effort and avoiding the temptation to blame somebody else when things don’t always go right is a key combination to success in fitness and in life.
HOW TO BOOST YOUR MOTIVATION
As much as I love keeping fit, I definitely have days when I’m feeling disinterested. It’s only human. But the glowing, virtuous feeling you get afterwards makes it all worthwhile. Just getting yourself outside or to the gym is half the battle. Here are my favourite motivation tips.
I love this tip and it pretty much works every time. If I’m not feeling very energetic, I’ll go to the gym and tell myself that I’ll do a light and easy 10 minutes on the bike or cross-trainer, nothing too strenuous. Then if I still don’t feel like it, I’ll go home and have a much-improved resolve the following day. And guess what? Nine times out of ten, I’ll feel so much more energised and raring to go after that light warm-up that I’ll stay on to do a proper workout and feel great afterwards.
PUMP UP THE MUSIC
The difference between a mediocre workout and a brilliant one can sometimes all come down to the music you play. I have an ever-expanding playlist on my phone that I put on every time I plan to do a strenuous workout, and it never fails to make me feel happy and motivated. Choose your favourite tracks with a beat that you can keep up with, put on your runners and go!
GET A WORKOUT BUDDY
Let’s face it - it’s easy to make excuses for skipping exercise. But having a workout buddy, such as a friend, family member or partner, means you’re accountable. It’s harder to skip training when you have arranged to meet someone else at the gym or park. Look for someone motivated and at a similar level of fitness as you so that neither of you feel like you’re at a disadvantage. If a personal trainer is a feasible option for you, then I definitely recommend it for their encouragement, advice and expertise.
INVEST IN NEW WORKOUT CLOTHES
I find that having colourful, fun clothes to wear for my workouts really helps to make me feel excited and motivated. It’s also less pleasant to go to the gym when you’re not feeling good about what you’re wearing. There’s a great range of brightly coloured sportswear available in shops now that doesn’t cost a fortune and a decent pair of runners will make all the difference to your training experience.
MAKE HEALTHIER CHOICES
As I will explain in the next chapter, nutrition is the key to getting the most out of your workouts - food choices contribute to as much as 80% of your fitness results. That’s huge, so your meals need to be created to keep you feeling energised and motivated. If you’re not providing your body with the correct nutrients or you’re eating processed foods lacking in nutrients, then your energy will likely be low and your sleep may even suffer too. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of complete sources of protein is crucial to muscle recovery and growth. Healthy complex carbs like sweet potatoes, butternut squash and oats provide the energy for training, while smoothies and fruit are good sources of quick pre-workout fuel.
BODY CONFIDENCE TIPS
If you’re a bride-to-be or aiming to get in shape to feel great for a holiday, party or big event, then you will want to feel like the best version of yourself when the big day arrives. For my own wedding in the summer of 2014, I didn’t want to lose weight, but I did want to feel lean, toned, confident and healthy. I focused on following these 10 body tips in the lead-up to my big day, and they really helped me to look and feel my best.
AVOID REFINED SUGAR
Found in a wide range of both sweet and savoury foods, from packaged goods such as biscuits, cakes, crackers and baked treats to sweets, ice cream, sorbet, cereal, jam, yogurts, chocolate, soups, pasta sauces, breads, sweetened plant milks and fizzy drinks, refined sugar is one of the most damaging foods for your skin and body. It may even cause skin to age more quickly through a process called glycation, by which metabolised sugar molecules could damage the collagen and elastin fibres that keep skin youthful and plump.
Simple sugars provide an instant burst of energy for the body, which is why so many people reach for a biscuit or bar to combat that mid-afternoon energy slump. But this instant rush of glucose into your bloodstream causes your blood sugar to quickly rise as it triggers the pancreas to release insulin, which stores the excess glucose as fat. Insulin is a major fat-storing hormone, and its control is crucial to successful long-term weight management.
If you’re somebody who battles with your weight, constantly snacks on sugary treats and suffers from energy highs and lows, then you may find yourself caught in an addictive cycle, which can be challenging to break. Refined sugar is the worst type of food you can eat if your aim is to lose body fat and boost your energy levels. It can deplete your body of vital nutrients, including magnesium, vitamin C needed for plump skin and B vitamins for energy production. It can encourage weight gain around the middle, disrupt appetite hormone regulation, triggering you to eat more, and it places unnecessary stress on your body.
It can damage the special cells of the immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to colds and other illnesses. Refined sugar may also cause your body to look and feel more bloated than normal, as glycogen is stored with molecules of water to eventually be used as energy.
The very best way to stabilise blood sugar levels to feel calm, balanced and satisfied throughout the day is by eating a diet high in fibre, lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbs.
All my recipes are free from refined sugar, are fibre rich and are designed to stabilise blood sugar levels. If you regularly eat sugary foods or add sugar to hot drinks, then my advice is to try to wean yourself off it in plenty of time before your wedding day, holiday, party or important event, as it takes around 21 days to break the habit and really feel the benefits. Get used to reading labels carefully in order to avoid added refined sugar and other processed ingredients.
MANAGE STRESS LEVELS
Many people are so chronically stressed out that they have begun to see it as normal. But long-term stress can be detrimental to your overall health, weight, fitness levels, emotional health and sleep patterns.
Have you heard about the connection between high stress levels and weight gain around the middle? Adrenaline is released when stress levels are raised. It increases levels of cortisol circulating in the body, which is the stress hormone that encourages fat to be stored around your middle. When you factor in the refined sugar that many people eat daily, there’s a serious insulin spike to add to the cortisol levels. Together, these hormones are a disaster for anybody trying to shift stomach fat and combat bloating. As I explained, insulin is the fat-storing hormone that instructs the body to store fat around your middle to be easily accessed for quick energy. So cortisol and insulin can work together to add weight around the midsection and increase your cravings for more sugar and caffeine. It’s truly a vicious cycle.
I find that taking time out each day to exercise and simply relax can really help to lower stress levels. But everybody is different and what matters most is finding the time to regularly relax and unwind. Spending time with friends and family, meditation, yoga, watching a movie, having a bath, going for a massage, cuddling your pet and reducing your caffeine intake can all help to lower those cortisol levels to help you look and feel your best.
BANISH BLOATING FOODS
Feeling bloated? There may be a large number of reasons why. Constipation can be an issue for many people, and is undoubtedly one of the main causes of bloating. However, eating a diet high in fibre-rich plant foods and drinking more water can make a big difference for a lot of people.
For many women, it’s simply hormonal and an annoying symptom of that time of the month. For others, it can be a result of eating too quickly and gulping in excess air, not chewing food correctly, eating foods that your body may find difficult to digest and is sensitive to, or the carbon dioxide in fizzy drinks.
However, there’s another reason to consider: bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, also known as SIBO. Humans naturally have more bacteria in their bodies than actual body cells. Gut bacteria is a complex area because there are at least 500 different species of micro-flora living in the normal human gut. The ‘friendly’ bacteria work hard to maintain an optimal environment for food digestion and immune system health and they synthesise certain vitamins, amongst many other necessary tasks. Their job is to also keep the unfriendly bacteria, yeasts and parasites at bay. The upper section of your intestine has been designed to remain quite low in bacteria of all types, but if bacteria multiply in high amounts in the first two sections of the intestine, they may compete with you for nutrition.
SIBO remains a poorly understood issue, although bloating, excessive gas production, nausea, diarrhoea and feelings of being too full after eating may occur when bacteria or yeast reach the food in the upper intestine and ferment the carbohydrates present. Foods high in refined sugar and white flour are more prone to cause bacterial overgrowth and bloating. Some people also get very bloated from excess fructose in their diet, which impoves by avoiding sweet fruits like bananas, grapes and pineapple, as well as fruit juices, honey and many other sweet foods. A compromised immune system or a diet low in dietary fibre may also be a cause for excess bacterial growth. Always speak to your GP if you suffer from digestive issues.
All of the recipes in this book are designed to maximise your intake of fibre and build your immune system to help resist infections. One of the best ways of controlling excess bacteria and its effects is to take probiotics daily or enjoy fermented foods and drinks regularly. We’re all different, so certain foods that can cause bloating for some may have no effect on others.
If you do suffer from bloating, then I encourage you to keep a food diary to try to find a link between the foods you’re eating regularly and when you feel excessively bloated. I have discovered that gluten and wheat-based foods, yeast, dairy, refined sugar and salt all cause me to look and feel bloated, so I have to be careful to avoid them.
I’ve just explained why probiotics can help control bloating, and I believe that they’re one of the most important factors to introduce to your daily life in order to boost digestion and reduce digestive discomfort.
There are many benefits of probiotics. They can improve digestion, liver function, allergy resistance and B vitamin synthesis, increase overall energy, enhance nutrient absorption and help to banish bloating. Probiotics can help to improve nutrient absorption and satisfaction after meals, meaning that you’re less likely to continue snacking.
DRINK ALCOHOL IN MODERATION
Alcohol is not a friend to your waistline. It can trigger stomach fat to build up around your mid-section because it’s quickly absorbed into your bloodstream and deposited in the stomach area. That’s why some heavy drinkers can develop ‘beer bellies’. It may cause you to gain many unwanted pounds due in part to the hundreds of extra calories in sugary cocktails and mixers, while wine and beer are also high in sugar and calories. But alcohol itself is a simple sugar, which hits your bloodstream fast and causes insulin levels to increase, encouraging fat storage. All alcohol contains seven calories per gram, which is just under the nine calories per gram of fat. Being a liquid devoid of fibre, it doesn’t make you feel full, so it can be easy to overdo it.
Drinking alcohol may also slow down your metabolism because the liver prioritises the metabolism of alcohol before it can process energy from the food you have eaten. So for a certain period of time, it may actually prevent your body from burning fat efficiently. It must stop burning off the calories from your last meal while the alcohol consumption is broken down, which can store whatever you’ve eaten as fat. The Irish government recommendations for alcohol consumption are up to 11 standard drinks a week for women and up to 17 standard drinks for a man.
I speak at length about the importance of consuming abundant leafy greens, as calorie for calorie, they’re the most nutritionally dense type of food that you can eat, packed with fibre, minerals and protective phytonutrients.
Many people find it easier to ingest them in smoothie or juice form than in a salad, which is why you’ll find a number of green smoothie recipes in this book, including my signature green goddess smoothie (here) and green goddess juice (here).
Enjoying blended greens really helps to boost your complexion, hair growth and encourage a flat stomach. Your digestive system has less work to do, meaning you save precious digestive energy and the nutrients are delivered much more quickly to your cells via your bloodstream. I love to drink a protein smoothie after a workout because all the goodness goes straight to repairing torn muscle fibres and boosting your energy.
In addition, the dietary fibre remains as part of a smoothie, which is so important for a healthy digestive system and to encourage fat burning.
FILL UP ON LOW-CALORIE, NUTRIENT-DENSE FOODS
It makes sense that the more you fill your body with nutrient-dense foods, the more satisfied you will feel and you will hopefully be far less likely to overeat or snack on sugary foods. Sometimes those who make less healthy food choices or base their diet on processed foods can be driven to continue eating long after they’re full because their body is not efficiently absorbing the variety of nutrients it needs for normal everyday function. It continues to demand food, and these hunger signals may be interpreted by the individual as a craving for fatty or sugary foods.
If you aim to base your diet on whole, nutrient-rich foods, then your body should feel far more satisfied and you will be less likely to crave junk food and sugar. Filling up on plenty of fresh fruit and veggies, healthy fats and lean protein will naturally encourage your weight to stabilise at what is ideal for your height and build.
EAT HEALTHY FATS
There is no need to fear fat. The right type of essential fat is important for building a smooth and soft complexion, growing glossy hair and encouraging normal hormone function, efficient fat burning, healthy brain function, eyesight and joints, and so much more. In fact, you need to eat healthy fat to help burn excess body fat.
Aim to eat fat every day from sources including avocados, nuts and seeds and their butters, coconut oil and other high-quality cold-pressed oils such as hemp seed and walnut, and organic or wild salmon if you’re a fish eater.
Fat is a concentrated macronutrient, so you don’t need to eat too much of it to reap its many health benefits. There are nine calories per gram of fat, which is more than double the calorie content of both protein and carbs, which both contain four calories per gram. Two tablespoons of hemp, chia or ground flaxseeds on your porridge each morning, a handful of raw walnuts as a snack or half an avocado each day are sufficient quantities. Fat can also help you to lose weight because it keeps you feeling full and satiated for a number of hours, which means you’ll be less likely to snack on unhealthy foods. If I’m in a rush, I’ll have a couple teaspoons of almond butter to keep me going until I can get a proper meal.
I’ve spoken about how effective weight training is for both men and women, especially if you’re trying to tone up and shift some body fat before your wedding day or a holiday. Plenty of people step up their exercise regime ahead of their big day, and there are few more powerful motivations to get fit than an upcoming wedding.
I increased my workouts and upped their intensity even more in the lead-up to my wedding to help me feel my most strong and confident. It’s obviously important to train all your major muscle groups each week, but as my dress had a full skirt and a fitted waist with my shoulders and arms on show, I placed plenty of focus on training my upper body. I made sure to train my chest, shoulder, triceps, biceps and back each week and did plenty of Pilates to strengthen and lengthen muscles and improve posture.
It can be surprisingly easy to go through your day without drinking enough water, not realising that you’re becoming increasingly dehydrated. If you’re a regular tea or coffee drinker, then too much caffeine can also contribute to dehydration.
Did you know that your body can sometimes mistake feelings of thirst for hunger? This may cause you to reach for unhealthy snacks such as biscuits or crisps. If you feel hungry between meals, drink a glass of water and wait a couple of minutes to see if it helps.
If you feel a little bloated, try drinking more water. It really helps to boost kidney function, improve lymphatic drainage and help your body to flush out toxins. Eight glasses of water a day is the normal recommendation, and more in warm weather or if you exercise regularly. Try to reduce caffeine intake too and replace caffeinated drinks with caffeine-free herbal teas. Pop a couple slices of lemon and lime or a sprig of mint into chilled water if you find the taste too plain.