Keeping track of what you eat and how you work out could make 2016 your healthiest year ever.
The festive season has come and gone and perhaps with it, some unwanted weight and feelings of discomfort in your body?
You can get healthy again. It all starts with a plan.
Why do meal and fitness plans work?
Working out and eating on a “schedule” takes the stress out of figuring things out day by day. Having a plan at the very outset ensures that you have goals and targets, and if you fail on one day, you simply move on to the plan for the next. Research shows that dieters who follow weekly or monthly programmes with predetermined foods and workouts experience a higher rate of weight loss.
Planning your meals and sticking to your plan will ensure a healthier you. Seeing your food laid out in a daily or weekly plan allows you to identify your good habits, spotlight the bad ones, and find the gap for improvement.
Tips for creating your plan:
• For weight loss, stick to portions no bigger than your fist.
• Choose skinless chicken and fish and limit red meat, sugar and soft drinks.
• Try to understand why you are eating. Are you genuinely hungry? Or bored? Or using food for comfort? Understanding your motivation will help you eat healthier.
• Work out which “diet” will be best for you, your budget and your needs. Not everyone can cut out carbs or subsist on a Paleo diet. The simplest way to start is to focus on fresh veggies and fruit, wholegrains, lean cuts of meat and minimal amounts of dairy.
• Stock up on a weekly basis. If the foods are right there in your cupboard or fridge, there’s less chance of you cheating on your plan.
• Learn about portion control (see our guide).
• Include water in your meal plan! Water fills you up and flushes you out and people still don’t get enough of this natural goodness.
• Eating out? Don’t let this put you off your plan. Most menus incorporate healthy options. Ask for your fish grilled instead of fried. Choose steamed vegetables with a dash of salt, pepper and butter rather than greasy fries. With a little creative thinking you can stick to the plan.
How much is too much? Here’s a guide to portion control:
Carbohydrates: approximately the size of your fist, a tennis ball, 1 slice of bread
Non-starchy vegetables: unlimited
Fruit: size of your fist, a tennis ball
Dairy: 1 cup of low-fat milk, 1 small tub of low-fat/ fat-free yogurt, a matchbox cube of cheese; 250-300ml drinking yogurt
Protein: the palm of your hand, 1-2 packs of cards
Fat: 1 level teaspoon of oil (canola/olive), lite margarine, butter, peanut butter, regular mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon of reduced-oil/lite mayonnaise/salad dressing, ¼ medium avocado, 1 small handful of nuts or seeds
Sample meal plan
- Rooibos tea
- Green tea
- Coffee (max. 3 cups a day) – no sugar, if possible
A fitness plan is a great tool to set and stick to goals. Whether it’s to lose weight or simply maintain, fitness on a schedule will help “formalise” the idea of working out.
A fitness plan also helps you ensure that you are getting the most from your workouts and targeting all your muscle groups.
Set attainable goals for yourself. Establish what you would like to achieve and prioritise your goals into long-and short-term categories.
Find a workout buddy
Someone with the same fitness goals as you may increase your motivation to train harder and more consistently. View it as positive peer pressure!
Get proper training gear
The correct training gear allows you to experience a more effective exercise routine, can make you feel more comfortable and may also reduce your risk of injury. And there’s nothing like looking the part of an athlete!
Run to the beat
Music is a major motivator. Create your playlist of music that lasts at least 60 minutes and aim to work out for as long as the music plays.
Sample fitness plan
How the DASH diet became the best eating plan
Dietary reflections for the festive season
Low-carb vs. high-carb – which is the best diet for type 2 diabetics?
Image: Female workout plan from iStock