Thursday 19 March 2015

10 Easy Ways to Boost Your Weight Loss

   Alternate your workouts, and try to include 3 non-consecutive days of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) - just 20 minutes of HIIT can send your fat burn through the roof and give you considerable after-burn (when your body continues to burn extra calories even after you've finished). Fill the remaining two days with yoga and cardio, for example, and you've got an effective set-up. 

   Start your day with a glass of hot water and lemon juice. This helps to kickstart and care for your liver which is responsible for an awful lot in your body, including filtering out the toxins in your environment. You can get a bad liver from things other than excessive alcohol, and a poor or sluggish liver can lead to an increase of fat around your middle. Also be sure to eat broccoli, cauliflower and other members of the cabbage family to help it along.

   Get some protein in your breakfast. Lots of cereals, even the 'healthy' ones, are often packed with sugars. Sugars digest very quickly and if the energy gained from it isn't used right away, it's not going to help your waistline. Protein, on the other hand, digests much slower and helps to maintain muscle mass. Slow digestion means you'll feel fuller longer so you shouldn't feel the need to snack around the clock. Your breakfast should be filling anyway, as it is the most important meal of the day, and trying to cut down on calories by skimping on breakkie isn't going to do your waistline or your concentration any good in the end. Try to find cereals with a high amount of protein, between 10-15g. Alternatively an egg or two, or oats and milk, will be a good alternative.

   Drink water. This is something that can easily be overlooked. You need to consume 2 litres of water a day, and while this does also include the water in our food, you do have to drink it, too. Water helps to maintain normal function in your body and is one of the most necessary things we need to live. So take a step away from diuretics like caffine which encourage you to pee and turn to fruit/herbal/green teas, fruit juice (one of your five a day, but only one; avoid added sugar, as fruit is filled with natural sugars) or plain water. Don't like water? That's tough, really, but it's a unique taste that you will get used to. Don't overdo it, though. 6 litres of water is lethal. A cute water bottle design can help to stick to this.

   Rest. Take a day off of your exercise. You can hit a plateau by not getting enough rest. Aim for no more than 5 days of exercise, and take two non-consecutive days off, ideally Wednesday and Sunday. Exercising every day seems more productive, but if you don't give your body the chance to recover, everything will slow down to a stop as it focuses more on completing a task rather than growing beyond it. Taking a break can also keep your workout tougher for longer, meaning you won't grow out of it as quickly, which will keep you losing weight for longer. Plus, you'd be surprised what one day of rest can do. Your body is remarkable when it comes to learning new things and recovering from those things.

   Change your workouts every month, as workouts can get stale, and when they get stale you lose enthusiasm for them and you're likely to hit a plateau. At that point, it doesn't matter if you keep doing that same workout for another month, you won't see much - if any - weight loss. This is because the stresses put on your body to complete the activity becomes normal for it and it adapts at a surprising rate, focusing instead on becoming more efficient at performing the moves rather than struggling to complete them. This is why you don't necessarily see athletes who are just sticks - because their bodies are more adapted to their activity as it rarely changes.
   This is a great opportunity to encourage yourself to try new things. Changing your workout could just mean switching up your circuit - repeat it backwards, jumble it up or add new moves - it could mean using heavier weights, it could mean doing more hill runs instead of street runs. But the most effective way of taking advantage of this is to completely change your workout. Buy a new DVD, attend a new class, buy a new piece of kit - and if you need inspiration or a fool-proof workout, check out the 10 workouts I used through 2014, which included strength, yoga, and Irish dancing, all in my living room. I've made the same resolution this year, too, so every month I'll be trying and blogging about another workout/combination.

   Familiarise yourself with a kettlebell. These are one of the best pieces of kit you can possibly use, and they're widely available. Why are they so good?
1: Unlike dumbbells, the weight of the kettlebell isn't evenly distributed, instead it's a weighted ball rather than being at either side of your hand. The handle is above the weight rather than between it, too, which makes it harder to control, and you end up using your whole body to stabilise it.
2: Kettlebells are also heavier than dumbbells, making them more challenging, but they're kit you can use with both hands or just one - dumbbell sets usually start at 1kg and work up to 2 or 2.5kg, growing in 0.5kg increments for each new weight. Kettlebells, however, start at 2kg and increase by that amount for each weight, meaning the highest weight in a standard set if either 6kg or 8kg.
3: Don't let weight put you off! The majority of kettlebell exercises are full-body exercises, meaning it's far more than your arms and shoulders that get a workout from it; your legs, glutes and back often get involved, too, so you use your whole body to support the weight. 3kg dumbbells are still a challenge for me, but it's the 6kg kettlebell that seems to match it.
4: Kettlebells are an extremely versatile piece of kit and even provides cardio as well as resistance training, allowing you to shed fat and build muscle, and muscle is key to not only increasing the fat burn, but also keeping the fat off, especially when you get older.
   Here's a great page detailing 33 kettlebell moves for beginners all the way to advanced.

   Make sure you get enough sleep, around 7 hours on average. Make a routine to go to bed around the same time every night so you get up around the same time in the morning. This will set your body clock to a certain routine, so even if you don't go to bed until midnight every night, your body will be used to it and can regulate itself as such. Going to bed earlier than midnight is better, but, let's face it, we all have the childish element to ourselves that says "I'm a grown up, I can stay up as long as I want!"

   Never, ever, ever skip meals. Instead, distribute your calories throughout the day to accommodate for snacking as well. Ideally, you want to be like a Bactrian camel eating snow: little but often. Spread your food out so that you have about 5 sittings of 300 calories through the day. This will prevent over-eating by taking in lots of calories in one go, a portion of which your body would store rather than use. Instead you're giving your body frequent refuels, but your body will actually use that fuel rather than store it, which is what can happen if you eat only 3 times a day at 500 calories a sitting. It will also prevent sneaking snacks because you'll have already accommodated for them, and it will prevent you from getting hungry, too. Being hungry is not a good thing.

   Speaking of hunger, the next time you feel hungry, drink a glass of water, especially if you only ate about an hour before. Thirst can present itself in the same manner as hunger if your body gets confused, so be sure to drink a glass of water each time you feel hungry. If, after half an hour, you're still hungry, eat something. If you're not hungry any more, you won't notice because the water will have done its job. That's not to say 'try to replace eating with drinking', but it's simply a fact that sometimes if you need a drink, your body lets you know in the same way it tells you it needs food. Of course, if you've not eaten for 3 or 4 hours, odds are it really is hunger, and it may well also be meal time. At times like these, well, this point can be forgotten.
   Keep your mind busy, too. Boredom can make you think you're hungry, too, so keep your mind busy to keep it off of food, and drink a glass of water if it persists. Boredom hunger is something I struggle with in the evenings, but drinking a cup of green tea (so no milk or sugar, just hot, green water) often makes me forget about it. Finding something to do does the same.

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