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Slim and Fit for Summer

March 2013

March is here, and that means we will definitely be seeing the signs of spring all around us. The light is different, the sun is higher, early flowers are with us and we start to shed the thick layers of winter clothing. Too often, we suddenly realise that we don’t look quite as slim and fit as we did at the end of last summer.

ExercisePutting weight on during the winter months is quite a natural occurrence; we stay inside more, become less active and our metabolism slows. We also turn to more substantial foods to help give us a boost during the dark cold days; hot pies and chips are far more appealing than a cold fresh salad when it is freezing outside!

So while we shouldn’t feel too despondent when we find last summer’s clothing is a little tight, spring is also a good time to take control and regain that healthy slim line look.

In the next few weeks the media will be full of spring diets and the new ideas for dieting and the new products on the market are astounding. Some help speed up our metabolism, some stop us feeling any hunger whatsoever. While few of us wish to even think about the trend towards gastric bands for people who are seriously obese, nevertheless many of us will be very tempted to get involved with the latest weight loss ideas that offer amazingly fast results.

Sadly - and annoyingly! - for normal people with just a bit of weight to lose, there really aren’t many instant or easy ways to shed those pounds.

However, tempted you are, always be very careful before starting any highly specialised diet; research has proven that fad diets for very fast weight loss rarely work on a long term basis and for some people they can actually be dangerous. By far the best and healthiest way to regain a good weight level is to simply substitute some of the more unhealthy foods for better ones and to increase your level of exercise and activity.

There is a wealth of information and support available everywhere on dieting but a few tips that can help include:

  1. Breakfast. This is such an easy meal to skip and you can spend all morning feeling you are doing well on your diet. But there are lots of reasons why you should always have breakfast :
    • it gets your systems (and therefore your metabolism) up and running
    • it is the perfect time of day to add high fibre and whole grains into your daily diet (fibre is important to keep your system working well and can also help prevent diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers).
    • a good breakfast keeps you feeling full right through the morning and will prevent that desire for mid morning nibbles or a really early lunch.

  2. Add an extra course for dinner in the evening. A tip from those super slim Continental men and women - prepare and eat a small fresh salad before your main evening meal. It helps fill you up with healthy foods so that you will desire smaller main helpings and certainly won’t have room for much in the way of puddings!

  3. Plan your sweet treats rather than waiting until you are desperate and grabbing a big hunk of cake. Keeping some high cocoa content chocolate in your cupboard is a good idea. When you are desperate for something sweet, you can break off a square or two; and the antioxidant properties of dark chocolate can help to ward of heart disease and other problems.

  4. Soup isn’t just for winter. Homemade soup can be so easy to make; it is full of good nutrition and it fills you up. Make a simple pumpkin soup by boiling up small cubes of pumpkin, add some pepper and chicken stock; liquidise and you have the perfect diet lunch. Add a slice of bread and an apple and you will feel full for hours on minimal calories.

  5. Drink water. Yes we all know it is good for us, and it can help to make us feel fuller and take away the hunger pains…..but it really isn’t a very appetizing drink! One idea that more and more people are doing is drinking hot water. It sounds odd, but once you have got used to the idea, and the taste, it can actually become really appealing. Substituting a couple of cups of coffee or tea a day with a mug of hot water can be a good boost to any healthy eating plan.

And then of course there is the dreaded exercise. You don’t have to join a gym or book in for classes to get fitter. Just think about being more active, walk briskly instead of slowly; always use stairs instead of escalators or lifts – by just thinking about being more active, it is amazing how much more exercise we can add into our daily routine.

By a few fairly simple changes to lifestyle, that slimmer figure can be regained quite quickly so that all those summer clothes slide on easily!

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