I'm fairly fit, but in the grand scheme of things and not kidding oneself, I'm not healthy. I still smoke each day, albeit in the evenings and only a couple, I do like wine, and cocktails and beer... I am not a member of a health club, gym or spa. I do not have a personal trainer, dietitian or chef, I do not wear lycra or have a strict fitness regime... at all. But I was stood corrected two weeks ago by a friend who I'd not seen since before I had my children. She seemed surprised at my physical appearance and after a couple of glasses of wine I decided to tell the truth. I look a lot fitter than I possibly could be...
I like to LOOK fit is what it boils down to. And therein, I think, lies much of the secret battle. I think if push came to shove we all like the quick fix, the shortcut and the easy route so this is what I know. But we need to stop mistaking dieting and getting THIN, for being fit and getting healthy. HUGE difference. Its no good eating weighwatchers every day if you aren't going to change your lifestyle and fundemental outlook at food and excercise.
And this is the deep-rooted problem with all "diets". They aren't addressing the root-cause of the weight/health issue, merely masking it with clever products designed to make them money and you keep getting thin/fat/thin/fat. It vicious!
Being fit and looking fit are slightly different things. Its one thing to want to look tremendous in an amazing bikini, its another thing to run the London Marathon! Far too many trainers and fitness nuts focus on BEING 100% healthy, when for the largest majority of the population even looking healthy would be a big start. Truth is, unless that's your job, its hard to be healthy 100% of the time, in fact, I'd say its impossible unless you move to a small inhabited island without contact with the rest of the world.
Rules of the anti-diet are knowledge. I'm always shocked to my core by how little basic biology and some chemistry most adults understand. This compiled with a growing nation of people who drive everywhere, education cut-backs stopping P.E and home-economics (cooking) in schools and - Voila! You have a pretty scary obesity problem.
I know that this information is universal, solid, seemingly common-sense and at time obvious, but I'm seeing more and more, it really needs to be said. There are lots of options that you can use, but no matter WHAT "diet" you are on, what you think you know, or what some celebrity idiot has tried to tell you about food and diet - all it boils down to are these rules. For EVERYONE.
There are things that can be added into these rules, like by-laws, for certain common medical conditions, such as diabetes, thyroidism, post-natal etc etc, and where I can, I will include all this as well.
- Water- Our bodies are made up of a huge percentage of water. (I shan't bore you with the statistics) If you are breathing you need water. All the time. ALL the time being key. Hydration, using plain old tap-water, is fundemental to weight loss and health. If like me you do like a glass of wine (or 5) in the evening you HAVE to understand that for every glass of wine you need an ADDITIONAL two glasses of water to even MAINTAIN your hydration levels. If you remain hydrated continously your brain, (and fat cells and skin cells) will begin to recognise it doesn't NEED to store as much fat. This is simple science. We store fat for survival. We either burn it off and use it efficiently or we don't. Its thats simple.
- Excuses - there are a thousand excuses and reasons why you "can't" lose 'weight' and trim down. But at the end of the day - we both know that unless you have a diagnosed medical condition or problem that actually directly affects your weight or ability to burn the food you eat into useful energy, then non of your excuses are valid. Not a single one of them. So lets understand that. "I've tried everything" being THE WORST....
DO NOT BELIEVE ME! ITS RUBBISH!
- Simple formulas - The Skinny is you have to eat less and excercise a lot more. When you are completely sedentary (which most town dwelling non-gym-going-desk-working people are) Excercise is NOT a brisk walk to the bus-stop. NO! Exercise must make your heart beat faster for a prolonged period and eventually sweat. (Don't forget to drink more water!)
- Advertising and Marketing- DO not succumb! Whatever you may be told, no amount of cartons of orange juice and tinned tomatoes ACTUALLY count as your 5-a-day. Unless you have to peel it, cut it or wash it before you eat it- then it doesn't count. Apple JUICE is not an apple. (A glass of wine is NOT a handful of grapes!) Catch my drift? So put down the shakes, soups, packets, ready-cook crap... and go and fill your fridge with things that you can either eat raw or can be easily steamed.
- Education - weight-watchers was made for fat people to pay to meet other fat people to support them all in encouraging each other to pay for more lower-fat things they don't need to stay fatter as long as possible on their road to getting healthy so that they pay more money to weight-watchers. FACT! Unless you actually cannot read at all nothing stops you from going online and looking up the basics. Read a few books on vegetables and diet and nutrition. NOT DIET BOOKS.
- NHS health the facts
- BBC Health and Diet
- "Diets" are bad for you. Yes. A good 'diet' is essential to being fit and healthy. The difference is one is part of your lifestyle, the other is something you read in Heat magazine. I Love food. I love GOOD food. And I don't really deny myself anything strictly. However I know that eating a whole chocolate bar would take me about 6KM on the treadmill to burn off. Did you know that? So if you actually wanted to use the right amount of energy you're consuming you NEED to ensure that your calories roughly stay below a daily average of 2000. Every day. Every week. Every month. (Perspective; a huge plate of chinese takeaway is about 3000 calories).
- Will Power. Got any? Nope that's ok. You just need to retrain your wistful brain. You need to do WHATEVER it takes to crack the habits. And for all too many people now they are literally lifetime habits. That's hard. Additives and Preservatives in our supermarket bought food have become a toxin waste dump in our body. You NEED to detox first.
- Detox- go cold turkey! I do not advocate any kind of starvation. But fasting and flushing your system is like emptying the dirty bath water, scrubbing the bath clean and then filling it up with crystal clear new water. Which would you rather bathe in? The old scummy, oily, scaly, brown residue or the nice fresh blue pure stuff. Imagine that if you put all the food and liquid in your bath tub throughout the day- and then at the end of the day when you were going to sleep you then had to get in that bathtub full of food and liquid, that would smell and be lumpy and frankly sickeningly disgusting.... well hey presto YOU DO! We just can't see it... So think, fasting for a day whilst drinking hot water and lemon ONLY will do you NO harm. NONE. Only once in a while. Eat a light meal of raw and easily soluble vegetables, celery, cucumber, tomatoes and an apple before bed, and yes you may FEEL hungry but remember.... you're just draining the bath water.
- Get measured NOT just weighed. You need to know your vital statistics if you intend to change them. However you and your flatmate can do this. Height, Weight (in kg), waist, thighs, chest, arms, bottom, and even your neck are what you want to be changing. Get familiar with the BMI Calculator app on a smart phone. It will give you the tools to not cheat and tell yourself you're doing better than you are. It has an easy graph and chart interface. Fill in your basics - it plots them on a chart that tells you exactly where your BMI is. Get used to doing it daily. If you see no change after 14 days - you're cheating and lieing to yourself!
- Workouts hurt. FACT! As someone who has learnt and taught dance and drama I never cease to be surprised by people who tell me they can neither touch their toes and that "their knee/ankle/shoulder/toe hurts" Fooey! Unless you have a medical condition and by that I mean something that requires ongoing pain killers, stitches or a large dressing (not a plaster) You're fine. If its swollen - ice it, if its sore, ice it, if it aches, ice it. Get the picture - most things where you aren't bleeding can be resolved with a bag of frozen peas. Stiff shoulders and sore calf muscles ARE NOT an excuse for not exercising - they are in fact the very reason TO exercise.
- If you are unfit - YOU WILL HURT for about 6 weeks. Sorry. There is no way around that one. If you want the omlette you gotta crack the egg. You will be tired. You will be sore, things will ache, pop, bulge, swell, blister, bruise and throb. If you do it properly. But you will heal. Excercise carefully, and by that I mean stretch until your eyes are about to water, not until you can just feel a slight twinge. Soak in the bath after you run. Alternate your workouts to give muscle groups the rest they need to repair and grow, yoga, swimming, ballet, pilates, weights, running, rowing, these are good things.... they are proper workouts. Zumba, Salsa and stretch class in the village hall is not.... Don't cheat yourself... If you can't feel anything whilst your doing it, if it doesn't give you stitch or force you to stop for breath, then face it, it ain't really excercise.
- The Loop-holes - Yes you can eat cheese, drink red wine, have a pudding after a fancy meal and enjoy a takeaway - BUT not everyday! Come on! (well the wine you can have most days!) But if you want a flat tummy and want to drink alcohol then put the glass on the floor in your living room, turn on the tv to something easy to watch and reward yourself after each set of 20 situps with a slurp of wine. Take a 1 minute rest, fill your glass up and do it all again.... Keep going until the alcohol has made your stomach muscle stop hurting and Grand Designs has finished and then stop. Repeat this as many time as you need.... (try not to finish the bottle). The loop-holes are all of the above taken into consideration all of the time and in moderation. Only an idiot drinks a bottle of vodka every day, but you're not an idiot if you have a couple of vodka tonics at the weekend. The difference is using all of the tools and rules to create a healthier, more balanced and fitter version of yourself.
You don't have to be fighting fit and super skinny, but we could always improve your lifestyle in a variety of ways. Implementing changes is terribly hard work, but so is dancing until 2am in high heels but we see the benefits for the smiles it puts on our faces, only with diet and excercise the smiles come at the end, and not during. Changing our frames of reference and altering our perspectives to cut out all the nonesense is nothing but worthwhile. Davina Mcall and other cash-rich celebrity who brought out a workout DVD are peddling you a unicorn. Literally. Never believe that doing 20 minutes of bobbing about to rythmically will make you look like them. Never.
The bare facts aren't pretty. But thats because they are dipped in chocolate and promising you empty myths of total body transformation. There are short-cuts and more extreme versions - I'm afraid I'd be called all sorts of strange things if I stated them all in one artical