Ok so technically, summer is almost over. Maybe I’m a little too late to the party to be writing tips for the summer, but the truth is the things that I’m about to say really are things that you should be doing all year round; not just when you want to put a bikini on! Or…you know…a male equivalent of a bikini. These tips are not gender specific! I support equality :3
I’m aware that a lot of my advice might sound like common sense, but it’s actually remarkable how many people neglect to do these things.
Drink more water. One of the most important things that you can do is to hydrate yourself properly. Aim to drink at least 2 litres of water a day.
It should go without saying that water is absolutely essential for us to drink, and yet most people don’t drink very much of it! There are so many reasons why you should start drinking water right now. You heard me, right now! Go and get some water and come back, I’ll wait.
You’re back? Good. Take a sip.
So as I was saying there are so many benefits to drinking enough water; it helps to energise your muscles (as when we aren’t drinking enough water this can cause muscle fatigue), it helps to keep your kidneys healthy and doing their job, it helps your body function better in general, it helps to clear up your skin (acne? Tell me about it. More on this in another post) and finally water helps you to maintain regular bowel movements. This is pretty important, and I’m sure you all know what constipation feels like…it isn’t nice. But drinking more water allows your stools to become more moist which then allows them to pass through your bowels easier, and in turn this stops you from becoming bloated and uncomfortable from constipation. And if you put a lot of importance on weight, you will weigh less if you maintain regular bowel movements. Gross, I know.
If you have trouble remembering to drink water or keeping track of how much you drink, try carrying a bottle of water with you at all times and drinking from bottles of water rather than cups or glasses (feel free to fill the bottles with tap water obviously!). This way you can easily keep track of how much water you’re drinking – if you’ve drank 4 500ml bottles of water then you know that you’ve drank 2 litres!
If you just don’t like drinking water for whatever reason, try spicing it up. A good way to do this is to add fruit to your water to flavour it naturally. Get creative – go wild! Try filling your water bottles with chopped up strawberries, kiwi, orange, lemon…whichever fruits you want and in whatever combination you want! Bear in mind though that certain fruits will leave a stronger taste than others…you’re more likely to taste strawberries, oranges or lemons in your water than you are bananas or kiwi!
Exercise, exercise, exercise! This is pretty fundamental if you want to lose weight! You have to exercise! But exercise shouldn’t just be about losing weight, it should be about getting stronger and healthier and feeling good about yourself. At the end of the day, if you don’t exercise regularly, then you aren’t healthy. If you’re like me and you hate cardio, you don’t have to spend hours a day on a treadmill. My daily exercise usually consists of a lot of walking (my dogs help me out a lot with that!) and I try to walk at least 10,000 steps per day. Along with that I also do a lot of strength and toning training, which isn’t as fast and energetic as cardio is, but trust me if you do it right then your heart beat will raise and you’ll sweat like a pig – exactly what the aim is for cardio!
If you have a big weight loss goal however then simple walking and strength training will help you to lose weight…but more slowly than if you incorporate cardio into your routine as well, and to be honest you may not lose as much weight as you would if you incorporated regular cardio into your workouts.
If you’re currently not very fit and only just starting out on your fitness journey, then don’t push yourself too hard. You want your workouts to hurt…but in a good way, not in a searing pain you’ve-pulled-something-and-now-your-entire-body-is-in-agony kind of way. Start out with increasing the amount you walk if you don’t think you can manage very much cardio, and as you get fitter and stronger slowly start to increase the amount of cardio that you do! And keep walking the same amount too obviously. Just because you run on a treadmill now doesn’t mean you can stop walking!!
Eat clean. Unfortunately all the exercise in the world won’t help if you’re eating 7 McDonald’s a day! I’ve really got into fitness in the past few 4 or so months, and I find myself thinking every day now, ‘what is this food giving my body?’. If you’re eating 7 McDonald’s a day, then the answer is not much!
A healthy diet should be balanced and consist of a lot of fruit and vegetables. Aim to get your 5 a day. I’m not a nutritionist, so I can’t say what will work best for you and your body, but what I do know is that you should fill your diet with fruits and veggies, grains, nuts, meat (if you’re not a vegetarian/vegan) and even some fat. That’s right – fat can be good for you, you just have to eat the right kind of fat. Try to replace your saturated with unsaturated fats, and remember that though a small amount of fats are essential to a healthy diet, make sure it is only a small amount!
As for calories, I personally do not count them. I know that I’m healthy and I have maintained a consistent weight for several years now, and I don’t see the point in my life being ruled by how many calories I’ve eaten. If I’m hungry, I eat, and I eat healthily.
In terms of eating meat, try and stay away from processed meat (bacon, sausages etc.) as processed meat is the meat that is pumped full of additives to lengthen its shelf life. Only eat processed meat rarely (I eat bacon maybe once every 2-3 months) as it really is bad for you. Try and buy meat that has not had anything added to it – the safest place to buy meat is a small local butchers and/or farm. This way you can ask questions to find out if the animal was raised and killed humanely, and also there is less chance that the meat has been altered in any way (which you can also just ask about). This is likely to be more expensive than just buying meat at a supermarket, so if you can’t afford to do that, then a little research goes a long way!
Types of meat that are not normally classed as processed are mince meat, steak, chicken etc.
Here is an article on eating meat and whether it is dangerous. Read to the end as the first part is focussed on meat being unhealthy, whereas the second part debunks some of these theories.
Vegatarian/Veganism. This isn’t really a separate point, more just an extension of the previous point about eating clean. Above I have advised to eat meat and dairy products, but this will not be applicable to you if you are vegetarian/vegan. I personally am not vegetarian or vegan as I eat both meat and dairy products. If you have read the article above to the end then you will have seen a sentence that roughly states that each professors’ findings on how healthy eating meat is, is largely dependent on their own eating habits and that ultimately you have decide for yourself if you think that eating meat is unhealthy for you. I have researched the benefits of veganism/vegetarianism and have decided that I disagree fundamentally with many of the points that are typically raised for why eating meat is unhealthy (not the ethical side of things, that’s why I advise getting your meat from small local butchers/farms). I do not believe that eating unprocessed meat is unhealthy providing that we eat it in moderation (as we should with all foods, including fruits and vegetables), however many of you may disagree with me. This is fine. I’m not here to criticise your beliefs or tell you that you’re wrong, I completely believe that you should have the freedom to believe what you want. You may even be able to present me with many studies showing how meat is in fact bad for you, however this is where the making up your own mind comes into play. Give me Google and 10 minutes and I will present you with just as many credible studies that contradict all of the findings in your anti-meat studies. An example of this would be a study I found that showed that most vegans/vegetarians tend to be healthier than meat-eaters because they are more health conscious overall and stay away from unhealthy, fatty foods an exercise regularly. When compared to meat-eaters that are equally as health conscious and do not eat processed meat often however, it was found that they were just as healthy as those vegetarians/vegans. This is just one of many different studies, all of which come to different conclusions. You must decide for yourself what you believe, and what kind of lifestyle you wish to live. I will never judge you for the choices you make with your diet, just be happy and healthy 🙂
Dieting. I would advise that you stay away from diets, if not just for the connotations of the word. Try to think of it as more a lifestyle change – a permanent thing, not a diet, that is only temporary. Dieting may work temporarily by starving yourself to cut out the calories, but guess what? The second you come off that diet you’re just going to put all of that weight back on. Work to permanently change your eating habits, not temporarily. With that said that are ways to help you resist the oh-so-tempting call of junk food. The first is – ironically – referred to as a diet, specifically the ‘one’ diet. This is basically where you don’t deny yourself anything, you merely have it in moderation. Wegner et al found that when you try not to think of something, you end up thinking about it even more. Common sense right? But this is the basis of many diets. The ‘one’ diet advises that when you feel a craving for something (e.g. chocolate) then have some of the thing that you’re craving. Taking the chocolate example – so you want chocolate. Have some, but only have 1 square of chocolate, not an entire bar. You want pizza? Have some, but only one slice. Of course this still takes self-control and you have to stop yourself from eating the rest of the pizza or chocolate bar, but this should help to stop the cravings as by not denying yourself anything you are learning both self-control and preventing the phenomenon sometimes known as ‘ironic thought process’ which is outlined in the link to the above study.
Secondly, allow yourself to have one junk food meal a week. Not one day of junk food, one meal. This means that you’re not so strict with your diet that you cut every delicious unhealthy meal out of your diet forever and ever, but it does mean that you stay healthy whilst allowing yourself to indulge once a week, be it by eating a pizza whilst watching Netflix or having a meal out with friends/family.
Cut down on salt and sugar! Salt causes your body to retain water, and so as a result you retain water weight. This causes you to bloat, which is obviously not something you want if you’re trying to lose weight and look like you have! Try and aim for a low-sodium diet. Furthermore, try and cut down on your sugar. The recommended amount of sugar is around 6 teaspoons of sugar a day, although it would be advisable to cut down even more on this and eat as little as possible. If you eat enough fruits, then you will already be consuming a lot of natural sugars in the first place. Eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain, and diabetes.
Cook your meals. A good way of regulating what you’re eating and ensuring that what you’re eating is healthy is by home cooking the majority of your meals. It may seem like a bit of a burden if you’re used to just sticking pre-made meals in the microwave, however it is pretty essential if you want to maintain a healthy diet. It probably comes as no surprise that pre-made meals come with a lot of salt and saturated fats, but it may surprise some to learn that there is a lot of sugar in pre-made meals too! In fact sugar is added to a really large range of different meals in order to make the taste more palatable – e.g. quite a lot of sugar is added to many different brands of tomato soup…which I always found really weird.
Limit your alcohol intake. Another common sense point maybe, but alcohol really isn’t good for you, guys. I know it can be really fun when you’re dancing in the club with that hottie you’ve been eyeing all night, and I also know that it can be less fun when it’s 3am and you just projectile vomited into your best friend’s hair in the club’s bathroom (which I have definitely never done….teehee); but alcohol is not only bad for your liver, general health and mental wellbeing (not to mention that it can compromise your safety), but also the regular consumption of alcohol causes you to gain weight – a lot of it. Getting hammered on a very occasional night out – though not advisable – won’t do you too much harm. The very occasional glass of wine etc. with a meal won’t do you too much harm. It’s even ok if you have 2 glasses. But the regular consumption of alcohol can really harm your body and will lead to weight gain. Try to at least go 2-3 months without drinking any or very little alcohol. As for me personally? I drink alcohol (which could range from 1 glass of champagne to getting drunk in the club) about once every 4-6 months. Not very often I know, and that’s because I know how bad alcohol is for you and I really don’t enjoy either projectile vomiting into my friend’s hair in the club’s bathroom or hangovers.
Read more about it the negative effects of alcohol here
Have fun! I know these kinds of things can be more of a drag for some people than ‘fun’, but try to make it fun for yourself because that way you’ll be more willing to do the things that you need to do to keep your body healthy. Remember; you deserve to be healthy! The aim doesn’t need to be to lose weight. If you currently have a very unhealthy lifestyle and then you start eating healthily and exercising, you will inevitably lose weight – but don’t make that your only goal. Just aim to be healthy and strong, and if you want to lose weight then great! Go for it! If not then just aim to make changes for the better in regards to your health, and I guarantee you’ll start feeling stronger and healthier in no time 🙂
Have I missed anything off of the list? What do you guys do to stay healthy?
Until next time guys ❤