Make the most of summer with our Top Ten Health and Fitness Tips – by Chris Zaremba of Fitness Over Fifty
Now that summer is at last well on its way, I thought I would share with you my top tips for getting into shape during summer. Even though it’s hot out there, it’s still easy to make a noticeable difference to your health, your fitness levels, and your fatness levels – by making a few choices that won’t totally re-write your life.
Here are my top ten suggestions:
1. Think about what you’re eating – is it really nutritious and healthy, or if it’s just calories without goodness. Try to eliminate as much sugar and saturated fat from what you eat, and keep up the protein sources and fibre. Most people – especially those like me into their second half century – actually know what they should be eating. I bet you do. Try this test…
Chicken salad – or fried chicken take away
Omelette – or pizza
Baked potato including skin – or pile of chips
Glass of wine – or a bottle
Porridge oats – or sugared breakfast cereal
Sliced carrot and cucumber sticks – or crisps and salted peanuts
High sugar fizzy drink – or water maybe with ice and a slice
Grilled salmon and veg – or battered fish and chips
Whole apple – or apple pie and custard
Beef fillet – or shepherd’s pie with pastry
I knew you’d get 10 out of 10, well done.
2. A good tip is try to eat as much prepared from raw, natural ingredients as possible. And such ingredients don’t have ingredients labels on them. If you’re selecting something that has been processed or pre-prepared in some way, check the label carefully and make sure it doesn’t include anything that you wouldn’t put in yourself if making it from scratch.
And watch the secret sugar ingredient. It may not say ‘sugar’, but if it says corn syrup or anything ending in -ose, note that that’s a sugar and try to avoid as much as you can.
3. Try to find ways to use up more energy. On a shorter journey, walk rather than taking the car. And try to take the stairs rather than the lift, especially if it’s less than 4 floors. Another idea is to walk up escalators – an easy way to save time and use up some energy.
If you are walking, then try to walk a little more quickly – if you walk 30% more quickly than normal you will burn about 30% more calories per hour – and you’ll get to where you are going more quickly so you’ll have more time to do whatever it is you’re going to do – so where’s the downside in that?
And on stairs, if you can go up two at a time. It burns more energy, gets you there more quickly and gives the leg muscles a workout too.
4. Think about eating five times a day – at roughly three hourly intervals – that gives breakfast maybe at 7am, mid morning snack at 10, lunch at 1, mid afternoon snack at 4 and dinner at 7pm. Don’t skip any of the meals, and if you know you are going to have a big dinner, then have a little less in the other meals. And remember to ensure all the five include at least some protein and minimise the sugars and fats.
5. Keep portion sizes reasonable throughout – imagine you ate double what you normally eat, every day for a month – every meal, ever snack, doubled. Would that make you fatter? Yes, I’m afraid so. Let’s try eating less than normal for a month and just watch the reverse work.
6. There is magic 12-hours-a-day that really helps with fat loss. This is when you don’t eat – overnight. If you can avoid consuming for those 12 hours – then break that fast with break-fast – then you’ll be well on your way to success. Your body loves using up its fat reserves during that 50% of your life – and it’s not too tough, you should be asleep for most of it. You probably can’t achieve the magic 12 hours every night, so just try for as many nights as you can.
7. Have a go at a few bodyweight exercises at home – will only tale a couple of minutes a day and your muscles will love you for it. Try three exercises – push-ups, air squats and wine bottle presses.
Press ups can either be full body or kneeling if full body is too hard. Your hands should be a good shoulder width apart.
Air squats involve standing straight with arms out in front of you then lowering the body down through bending at the hips and knees, then back up again – keep the arms horizontal.
And wine bottle presses? Sit on a kitchen chair holding a wine bottle in each hand at ear height, then press up to arm full tent and then down. If a full bottle is too hard, try an empty one – but don’t drink it just to make it lighter!
Try these exercises every other day, and make a note of how many repetitions you do and try to increase by one each time. And if you enjoy those, and want to take it a step further, then there are many more exercises at home you can add – or even head to the gym. All described on my web site if you want to take this further.
8. One of the frequent causes of not achieving health and fitness improvements is random eating – choosing something just because it’s there, rather than because it falls into your plan. To avoid this trap, try planning each day’s food first thing in the morning – which is when your enthusiasm for fitness success is usually at its highest.
I usually write it down, as it helps me stick to it during the day. I include both what I’m going to eat and when – and keep that document to hand though the course of the day. And if reality varies, update the list as it happens and see how that helps keep you headed in the right direction.
9. But how about treats, maybe chocolate biscuits, some alcohol or cake? The answer is that each portion of those and similar less healthy items will delay your progress. Give it some real thought before taking the plunge – how important is it to you to make the ‘fitness up and fatness down’ objective a reality for you?
It’s all up to you – I’m not going to nag but remember it’s always choice. Think it through, and make the rational choice. And don’t just eat it very quickly so as not to allow yourself that thinking time (I know you do that).
10. How about going out with friends to eat and drink? Well, I’m not going ask you to give up your life to give up your gut – I didn’t – but I will ask you just to moderate what you eat and drink while you are out. On the eats side, you can usually choose a salad or a main course of fish or meat with veg. And ask them to double up the greens in exchange for the chips.
And in the drinks, drink as little booze and soft sugared drinks as you can – remember that orange juice is packed with sugar and not a good alternative. Red wine has lots of goodies in it as well as the alcohol, so that’s a good choice – a glass, not a bottle. And be the volunteer driver – everyone will approve and it’s the perfect logic for keeping clear of the alcohol.
Each one of those 10 points will help towards making this a summer where your fitness levels have increased, and fatness levels are down. And if you can’t manage all of them, try to be good as much as you can and follow most of them for most of the time. It’s not rocket science, it’s rocket salad!
Find out more of Chris’s tips for fitness on his website – www.FitnessOverFifty.co.uk