So Christmas is over the new year is here, and we have all over indulged feeling guilty in ourselves…vowing never to eat or drink again. Sound familiar ? First sight of January we rush out of the house (probably the first in a week getting out of our PJ’s or showering for that matter) to commit to a 12 month Gym membership Cheering the cliché chant of a New Year New Me! All to make ourselves feel better. It happens every single bloody year… how boring. But how long does it really last? Why do we do it to ourselves every year? Ooooooh the guilt!

When it comes to healthy weight loss, small steps really do add up.

In fact, little changes in eating and activity level have a more positive impact on health than drastic ones. This is because you are more likely to stick with smaller changes over time. Extreme diets and the next best fad along with intensive exercise regimens may work well at first, but they rarely last over the long term as they are usually too much of a change from your regular daily lifestyle and it becomes too hard and unsustainable. Healthy weight is all about balancing food intake with physical activity. Boring I know, If only there was that magic pill!!

The key to success now that the silly season is over, is to limit your access to the foods you know don’t serve you any good – if it isn’t in the house then it can’t be a temptation!

Christmas was fun but it’s now time to get rid of those selection boxes and endless half eaten tubs of chocolates and minced pies. Next time you go shopping aim for a fridge full of fresh and colourful healthy options to choose from – be creative and make sure you have healthy snacks in the house that you actually like rather than foods you think you should be eating but that are a chore to get down.

Ask yourself “Am I eating because I am genuinely hungry?” or just because it’s there staring me in the face whispering… eat me. Emotions and food are often intertwined. Stress, grief, anger and boredom can trigger emotional eating. Start by identifying your emotional issues related to food so that you’re prepared for the challenges.

Losing excess kilos is one thing but the real challenge is maintaining your new weight, not regaining the weight you lost. We have all been there however, there are some tricks of the trade, no magic pill but we do have tricks.

Tips to help weight loss and prevent weight gain. Keeping it off; the tactics:

  • Make the commitment for life. Your new approach to healthy eating and your resolve to be more active shouldn’t ever end. Slipping back into tired old habits is a dieter’s number-one downfall. Becoming healthier and fitter is for keeps, not just for new year’s or a week or a month or in time for summer, so make the commitment for life.
  • Be realistic. Your eating and exercise plan must fit in with your lifestyle and not be so inconvenient that you’re constantly making excuses not to eat well or exercise regularly. Remember it’s your way of healthy eating- make it work for you.
  • Keep a food diary — this is a great tool to help you stay on track. It’s also symbolic of the fact that you are in charge. Make sure to include exercise in your checklist too. This is a great way to gain control and not weight.
  • Don’t deny yourself — a little of what you fancy does you good. Saying that you will never eat chocolate or chips again is a waste of time, who wants to live like that. Healthy weight maintenance is about balance in all things, not denial. If you’re feeling tired or hungry all the time you may need to re-evaluate your dietary plan. If you listen to your body, you’ll find you can distinguish between real hunger and emotional need.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. For the love of god if you put on a little weight one week, it’s not the end of the world. Simply refocus and get back to it.
  • Keep your original goals in mind. Why did you want to lose weight in the first place? If you find yourself straying remember your initial inspiration. Keeping a journal is a great way to reflect on your goals and give yourself a subtle kick when you need it. Try to work out specifically what situations cause you to move away from your healthy lifestyle and then work on strategies to help eliminate or manage these challenges. Knowing and understanding your barriers to health is the best way to keep track in the long term.
  • Learn to handle stress without turning to food. The things that can lead to weight regain are the stressful events in our lives. When life throws one of those curveballs staying in control can be a big challenge.
  • Don’t skip meals or allow yourself to get too hungry. Eat regular meals so that binge eating attacks are kept at bay. Our willpower dissolves when we get too hungry and then we start making the unhealthy dietary choices.
  • Keep moving. The more you move the more you will want to move.

Something I feel must be mentioned, whilst the food industry and clever marketing is helping us all get larger our perceptions regarding how we would like to look are also changing… and not in a good way. It seems that our perception of the ‘ideal’ body has changed significantly in the last 20 years. Size 10 used to be considered ‘perfect’, whereas now celebrities and models are regularly closer to size 6. It is not unusual to see size 10 women now termed ‘curvy’! — say what?! friggin crazy I know. Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, she weighs 23% less. Ten years ago plus-size models averaged between size 12 and 18. Today the majority of plus-size models on agency boards are between a size 6 and 14. Most runway models meet the Body Mass Index physical criteria for anorexia, now please tell me how this is a healthy message for any women. 50% of women today wear a size 14 or larger, but most standard clothing outlets cater to sizes 14 or smaller.

Next time you are looking through a magazine and praying for the body of the models in there bear this in mind… they are probably wearing more Adobe Photoshop than Chanel! Make sure your weight loss goals are healthy and realistic, be kind to your beautiful body and fly the flag for real women!