As the disarray surrounding the Brexit vote fades a little you may find your concerns moving towards your summer holiday and how you will feel stepping into the pool in a bikini/bathing suit. You want to feel confidant, slim and toned but with only a few weeks to go how can you best prepare yourself for that moment?
It may be tempting to go on a crash diet but before you do, consider the long-term approach.
By taking the long-term approach you recognise that you may not have reached your goal yet but you are on the way.
If in doubt, here’s why you don’t need to succumb to that crash diet and what to do instead:
Severe dieting works only in the short-term
Diets work because you put a lot of effort into making them work. You do things such as recording what you eat, counting points or calories, eating low fat, eating small portions, avoiding certain foods. This works in the short-term but it is difficult to keep up in the long term. That is why many diets don’t work long term. Often after about three months, your motivation to stick to the diet wanes.
To avoid the three month lag, try not to pick a really severe diet but instead choose one that is not too restrictive so that you can keep it going for the long term, and not just a few months.
When you are on a severe diet you focus only on a short-term goal
‘To lose a stone in time for my summer holiday’ may be your goal but once your holiday has been and gone, you are still left wanting to lose the weight and berating yourself for not achieving it.
Instead it is better to think of a long-term goal such as ‘lose a stone in a year and keep it off’ and think of why you want this? This brings a stronger motivation to do it. Then imagine a point in the future when you have achieved this. Visualise how you feel and what you have done to get there. You can then break this goal down into smaller targets so that it becomes achievable.
On a severe diet you may not be getting enough nutrients from your food
This sounds obvious, but on a severe diet you not only restrict calories but also valuable nutrients, which can affect many processes in your body. For example levels of fat-soluble vitamins are much higher in whole milk and lower in skimmed milk, as the levels of these vitamins depend on the fat content of the milk1. The main fat-soluble vitamin found in whole milk is vitamin A, but there is also some vitamin D and E. Fat is needed to assist the absorption of these vitamins. Vitamin A is important in vision, growth and to support the immune system; vitamin D is essential for bone development; and vitamin E is an antioxidant.
On a severe diet you may not be getting enough protein
Protein is not only found in meat and fish, it is present in milk and dairy products, eggs, nuts and seeds, beans and pulses. It is essential to have some protein with each meal as it helps to slow down the absorption of carbohydrates into the blood, keeping you fuller for longer. So for example, have some nuts and seeds on your cereal in the morning, have boiled eggs in your salad at lunch and have a portion of meat or fish with your dinner. Protein is essential for many body processes such as supporting the immune system and making hormones.
In summary, by taking the longer-term approach, setting a realistic goal, ensuring you have a nutritious diet which includes carbohydrates, fats and protein will enable you to feel and look great on your summer holiday (if not this one, then the next!).
Whatever you eat, enjoy it and have a great summer holiday!
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
1Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 10th Ed. 2000, Edited by Garrow, JS, James, WPT, Ralph, A.