Let’s face it, dieting isn’t easy, but if you are looking to shift a few pounds then the good news is you don’t have to rely on dieting to help you do it. We catch up with Sarah Armstrong, founder and director of Cambridge Weight Plan, Hong Kong for some top tips on how to take a slightly different approach to achieving your weight loss goals.
Diets get a mixed press and, in a perfect world, they wouldn’t exist. So how can you drop a few pounds without changing your lifestyle too much? Try these five ideas and see the difference.
1. Eat at a table
This is my all-time favourite tip. How often do we eat ‘on the go’ at our desk, in front of the TV, on the bus? Studies have shown that when you are working and eating, rushing and eating, or watching TV and eating, you aren’t concentrating on your food and so you eat more and feel hungry sooner. By focusing on your meal and eating mindfully, you will slowly feel satisfied and enjoy the flavours, smells, and textures of your food. If you do find yourself hungry between meals, try having one healthy snack mid-afternoon to keep you going until dinner time rather than having frequent snacks which tend to be empty calories. Green vegetables, a few nuts, berries or a yoghurt are healthy options.
2. Drink more water
In Hong Kong’s humid and air-conditioned environment, we really need to keep drinking water. When you don’t drink enough water, your body receives mixed signals on hunger, and you can believe that you need to eat when you really need liquid. If you feel hungry, have a glass of water and wait a few minutes.
3. Avoid ‘empty calories’ and choose protein
Empty calories are those which don’t give us any nutrition. They include sugars and starches and solid fats. A low-fat blueberry muffin in Starbucks is is the perfect example of 430 empty calories. When most women only need 1,600 calories per day and men around 1,800, empty calories are a real problem. Instead of starchy, fatty, sugary food, choose moderate amounts of protein such as chicken breast, eggs, fish or tofu. Protein is used by your body to repair damaged muscle, bone, skin, teeth, and hair, among other things. Think of it as the mortar between the bricks; without it, the entire structure of your body begins to break down.
4. Lay off the alcohol
There are two main problems with drinking alcohol when you are trying to lose weight: firstly, it has lots of calories unless you choose vodka with soda, and secondly it reduces your self-control. How many times has too much to drink led to a greasy kebab or burger followed by a hair of the dog fry up the next day? If you find it difficult to have ‘just one drink’ then you are probably better not to have any while you are cutting down on calories.
5. Do more exercise
If you know that it’s difficult to motivate yourself to exercise then you need a personal trainer. If you can do it by yourself then all the usual advice applies: get off the bus or out of the taxi before you need to and walk, walk upstairs instead of taking the lift, go and see colleagues instead of emailing them, get out and hike at the weekends.
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