21 Apr

Lose Weight Without Dieting

A month's worth of tried-and-tested Top Tips!

  1. As any confirmed snacker knows, the vending machine and corner shop are packed with tempting nibbles. Don't get caught out! Plan ahead!
  2. Pop a pack of your favourite dried fruit in your bag, desk or glove box in the car. I love plump, succulent ready-to-eat apricots, but the choice is yours.
  3. Chocoholics chill out! Don't beat yourself if you need the occasional fix. Research suggests that a few squares of dark chocolate between meals can satisfy your craving and also help you to eat up to 18 per cent fewer calories at your next meal. If you don't like dark chocolate, stick with a few milk chocolate buttons, or a small bar of chocolate like a Fredo or a two-finger Kit Kat with around 100 calories.
  4. Waistlines are expanding with the more telly we watch so swap your soap and take a walk with a friend instead. It burns calories; releases feel good endorphins and gives you loads of time to catch up and chat.
  5. Off to the supermarket? I try hard not to go on an empty stomach. It really does stop those freshly baked bread smells tempting me to devour half the french stick on the way round the store.
  6. If you drive to the store then burn a few extra calories by parking a long way from the door. If it's a small shop, then take a basket not a trolley. This way you'll work out your arm muscles too.
  7. Promise yourself to walk or cycle any trip that is under a mile. When I first started to do this it seemed a real chore, but the feel-good buzz you get once you get going is well worth breaking through the 'I can't be bothered' barrier.
  8. Always digging into the kids' leftovers? It's every Mum's weak spot, so keep a constant supply of chopped vegetables or fruit to hand and dip into these instead of the stray chips, crusts and end-of-the-pot fromage frais.
  9. Ditch leisurely activities like computer games for amusing the kids at weekends and go for more active pursuits. They may moan like mad to begin with, but run around with a football in the park or splash around in the local pool with them and you both may end up enjoying it– not only that, it will burn calories and help to keep your mind off food.
  10. Hooked on that latte and muffin on the way to work? Swap for a skinny cappuccino and fruit salad. Even skinny muffins are calorie-packed, with manufacturers using sugar to replace the fat.
  11. Alcohol calories do count but that doesn't mean total abstinence! I alternate alcoholic with non-alcoholic drinks like sparkling water with a touch of lime. It looks like a 'proper' drink and stops friends going on at you to keep drinking which means more fun all round.
  12. If you are feeling peckish have a drink of water instead. It may sound odd but sometimes we mix up thirst and hunger. A glass of skimmed milk or a skinny cappuccino can make a filling between meal 'snack', especially when you are on the go.
  13. Great news for everyone tired of low fat diets! Research shows that people eating a Mediterranean style diet manage to keep weight under control better than those on very low fat diets. Why? Probably because a bit of fat in the diet from oils, nuts and seeds makes food so much tastier and satisfying that you end up eating less!
  14. When it comes to starchy foods, always go for wholegrain versions of bread, pasta and rice. They take longer to chew than refined white versions and scientists think this helps to switch off the hunger centres in the brain. They also release energy slowly keeping you fuller for longer after eating.
  15. Don't rely on reduced and low fat labels, especially when it comes to cakes and biscuits. If manufacturers take fat out then they have to put something else back in to create bulk. Usually this is sugar and I'm constantly amazed that on reading labels the lower fat version is often not that dissimilar to the original version.
  16. If you love an Indian take-away, then tuck into the less calorie-laden choices on offer. Tikka and tandoori dishes with plain rice and remember two poppadums have 100 calories compared to 500 in just one naan bread. In the Chinese, select chop suey, stir-fries and boiled rice and in pizza places go for thin-based pizzas piled high with extra vegetables while skipping the pepperoni.
  17. Feeling stuck at home with your baby or toddler? It happens to most new Mums. Now that the weather is getting better resolve to get out to the local shops pushing the pushchair with lots of energy burning purpose. It will take your mind off the biscuit barrel, get you fit and you might meet other new Mums keen to have a chat.
  18. Come on, make those everyday chores more vigorous by putting on some music and strutting your stuff with the vacuum and duster! As well as reducing the tedium of the chores, it gets the heart and muscles moving and burns off those calories.
  19. Make everyday that bit more active. Take the stairs not the lifts or escalator. Get off the bus a stop earlier and stand on the train – it burns more energy than sitting.
  20. Get those boogie shoes on and get on that dance floor! A night out at a club or disco is a great workout if you really wiggle that tush. Make sure that you drink loads of water to keep yourself going.
  21. Weight loss doesn't mean missing out on a tasty restaurant treat. Try tomato and vegetable pastas, baked and grilled fish and lean roast meat with lots of vegetables. If I haven't got room for a fruity pudding, I'll have a cappuccino, which, when you spoon up the chocolate frothy bit, feels like a dessert!
  22. Get gardening! An hour in the garden can burn more calories than a step aerobics class. If you don't have one then help a friend with their weeding or ask if you can volunteer in your local park.
  23. Stuck at home and wanting to dig into the cakes and crisps? Distract yourself by writing a letter to someone you care about then burn some calories by walking to the post box to post it.
  24. If you automatically reach for the biscuits when making a cuppa then do like my friend Nicki. She keeps two cans of baked beans by her kettle and uses them to do bicep curls while waiting for it to boil!
  25. Think netball and hockey are just for the kids? Think again! Recapture your youth and join a local team. You could even try bending it like Beckham and giving a women's football team a go. It burns calories and creates a new circle of friends.
  26. At the end of your main course instead of rushing straight off to get a pudding on the table – hold on. Chat with other people around the table and give your main mealtime to go down. It takes 20-mintues for your stomach to register a meal. By the time you have waited a while, you may not even want your pudding.
  27. Kick dieting as a way of life into touch and aim instead for small, lifelong changes. everyone I know who has adopted this approach has ended up slimmer, healthier and a lot, lot happier.
  28. Want your cake and eat it? If you really fancy a piece of cake or pudding then share it. You still get all the taste sensation and the fun of indulgence but share the calories along with the gossip.
  29. My cousin's wife has written some positive statements on bits of paper and stuck them to her kitchen walls. One reads 'I can be who I want to be'. Whenever she sees it she wants to keep up with her new active lifestyle and it puts her in a positive, bright frame of mind.
  30. If I'm really craving something sweet, I try having a cup of hot, no-added-sugar blackcurrant squash. Other people I know say that a sugar-free fruity yoghurt works; really ripe mango and ready-to-eat prunes work well too.
  31. If it's a sweet afternoon treat you are after don't be fooled by healthy-sounding things like carrot cake and flapjacks. They are packed with fat and sugar. Go for small servings of fruit scones and malt loaf instead.

Being realistic is such a positive and essential incentive to successful weight loss. Remember that a 1-2lb loss per week is a slow and steady goal to aim for and is more likely to stay off in the long term – so give up the stop, go, yo-yo lifestyle for good and put your trust in yourself and not quick-fix dieting gurus!

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