There is so much information out there on health and fitness. Endless Instagram posts with #fitspo , tabloid headlines daily screaming at us about the 'next big superfood' and Carol from your book club telling you all about her 'latest' diet that means she is only eating certain coloured foods at certain times of day. Never have we had so much information! And never have we felt quite so confused. Faced with all this daily bombardment it can be no wonder that so many struggle to know where to start....
That's where my three simple tips come in handy to get the ball rolling for anyone who wants to make a change to their health and lifestyle for the better.
1) Drink enough water
"What's enough water?" I hear you cry? Well its roughly 2 litres per day - this will increase if you are particularly active or it's a hot day and you're losing water from sweating.
We are between 50-65% water (it varies depending on age, gender, weight). It's fundamental to our health - there is no physiological process in our bodies that does not use water. There is a reason we can only survive a few days without adequate hydration.
As well as a reduction in our physical performance, even a 1 -2% loss of water can impair our cognitive function, which if you're not one for remembering to drink regularly could be the reason you suffer from fatigue and brain fog by the afternoon.
So how do I remember to keep hydrated?
Have a glass of water on waking up.
Keep a water bottle by your side when you are working - if it's visible you're less likely to forget.
If you're pee isn't pale, its a sign you're dehydrated - so don't ignore it!
Tea and Coffee both count towards your fluid intake...but try not to stick to no more than 2 cups of coffee per day.
2) Move More
And I am not talking about more 'planned exercise' - although that wouldn't be a bad thing, but we're talking about easy changes here. I am talking about NEAT (or Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis to give its proper name).
It's basically what scientists say when they mean ALL the activity we do during the day that isn't formal exercise (ie the gym) or sleeping. In the olden days, before computers, mobile phones, automation and in-home technology (think washing machines) our NEAT would have been off the charts. We would have burnt calorie after calorie just performing the tasks that we needed to keep clean and earn a living.
Modern life, and the impact of COVID -19 have dramatically reduced most people's NEAT. We can order food from supermarkets & take-aways to be delivered to our doors, we can drive or take public transport, for the vast majority of us our work involves sitting behind a computer screen. And now with home-working well and truly established many aren't even able to get the steps in that they would have previously going to meetings, getting their lunch, getting up to make a cuppa.
Don't overlook the effect that NEAT can have on your health and weight-loss journey. The more you move the more you burn. So whilst getting to the gym (insert whatever exercise you like) a few times a week is amazing for your health, the cumulative effects of things like taking the stairs more often, vigorous housework, standing up rather than sitting when on work calls, walking to get the pint of milk, can actually end up burning more calories in the day than the 30 minute HIIT session!
3) Eat your 5 - A -Day
Did you know that you need to eat 80g of a fruit or vegetable for it to count as 1 of your 5 a day!? It surprises a lot of people. So whilst you may be eating 5 different fruit and vegetables in the course of day, if you're eating less than 80g, then its not a full portion and you're not consuming the recommended daily amount.
But why is it important that we consume 5 a day?
Fruit and veg contain a multitude of vitamins and minerals that we would struggle to consume from other sources.
Excellent source of dietry fibre - essential for gut health
Lowers our risk of many diseases such as heart disease, cancer and stroke
Contribute to maintenance of healthy gut biome - which can help to maintain a healthy weight
Have a close look at your fruit and vegetable intake and see if you could be increasing what you're consuming.
Always include a piece of fruit as part of your breakfast ( 2 if you can!)
Swap you usual snack for veggie sticks and dip
Add an extra portion of veggies to your evening meal
Create meals where vegetables are the star - see my recipe blog for idea.
Potatoes do not count! But that doesn't mean that hey haven't got a dense mineral profile.
References: Riebl & Davy (2013): ACSMs health & fitness journal 17 (6): 21