January is famous for New Year’s resolutions – there’s something so motivating about pressing the ‘reset’ button and starting a new year with a fresh set of goals – a brand-new year for a brand-new you.
And this year that feeling’s likely to be stronger than ever as we emerge from the worst of the pandemic. For many of us, becoming slimmer, fitter and healthier will be at the top of the list of our new year’s resolutions for 2022.
Spending so much time indoors, often coupled with more indulgent food choices and disrupted routines, saw many healthy habits fall by the wayside during the pandemic and let’s not forget, getting into great shape is the very best thing that we can do for our long-term health.
If you’re ready to make 2022 the year that you take control, lose weight, get fitter and find your confidence, read on.
Here are seven top tips to help you taste the freedom, succeed in reaching your goals and make 2022 your healthiest and happiest.
Don’t go hungry
To lose weight you have to eat less, right? Well, not always. The kind of food you’re eating is much more important than the volume. Swapping high calorie, unsatisfying foods (think chocolate, alcohol, pastries ) for foods that are lower in calories and bulkier, so they fill you up for longer, is key to losing weight in a way that’s easy to live with.
Research shows that by basing your diet on foods relatively low in calories, like fruit and vegetables, and foods that are most filling – or satiating – like lean meat, fish, eggs, pasta and potatoes, you can actually eat a larger amount of food and feel more satisfied while losing weight.
Some quick and easy changes include using less fat when you cook so you boil or dry fry instead of frying in oil, swapping full fat dairy products for low fat or fat free, ditching sugary drinks in favour of low-calorie drinks and adding more fruit and veg to your daily meals.
Slimming World’s food optimising plan takes away the tedium of weighing, measuring and counting the calories in everything that you eat (and drink ). Every week in their local group members learn how to make healthier choices to satisfy their appetite and lose weight beautifully, without hunger or guilt. It is based on an understanding of the science of energy density, an area of research which Slimming World has been actively involved in for over 25 years.
Evidence shows that eating more low energy dense foods (foods that are lowest in calories per gram ) naturally limits energy intake, reduces hunger and results in better weight loss.
“We might think we need to be overly strict with ourselves when we’re losing weight – counting and measuring all our food and reducing portion sizes right down – but this type of restrictive approach ultimately leaves us feeling hungrier and more deprived,” Sinead Morris, who runs the groups every Tuesday in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel, said.
It’s OK to walk before you run!
If it’s your goal to get fitter, remember you don’t have to become a professional athlete to get active - just making a commitment to moving more all adds up.
Many people make the mistake of joining a gym, overdoing it in week one and quickly giving up, thinking ‘exercise isn’t for me’.
Finding an enjoyable, achievable, and sustainable way of building new active habits into your routine is key – anything that gets you moving more, from heavy gardening or vigorous housework to brisk walking, dancing, cycling, or playing frisbee in the park, counts.
What’s most important is making it a regular habit – as natural to your day as brushing your teeth.
“Slimming World groups are packed with motivation and ideas on how to get more active, and there’s a brand-new library of more than 50 on-demand activity videos to do at home. Our members love that there’s everything from a gentle introduction to getting started with moving more to cardio workouts and dance routines,” Carol Doran Joyce, who runs the group every Saturday morning in Ballybay Community Hall, Kiltoom, stated.
Be kind to yourself
We all start January with great intentions, but it’s all too easy to go off track. It’s what you do next that matters most – and the most important thing is not to beat yourself up about it.
A Slimming World survey of 1,700 slimmers showed that when they did have a slip up, being self-critical was more likely to lead to comfort eating and giving up completely, whereas when they were kinder to be kind to themselves (imagine how you’d talk to a friend who’s had a setback ), they more quickly got back to healthy eating, lost weight and they kept it off. So, cut yourself some slack!
Set a goal
It’s hard to achieve a goal if you don’t clearly set it out in the first place! When thinking about your dream weight, don’t be afraid to be ambitious.
“Slimming World research found that slimmers who set ambitious targets lose twice as much weight as those who try to be ‘realistic’. At Slimming World groups, as well as setting an overall weight loss target, members set weekly mini goals, whether it’s to lose weight, get more active, or plan ahead, because setting goals is more likely to lead to success,” Yvonne Briscoe, who runs the groups in the Shearwater Hotel every Tuesday, continued.
Don’t opt for a quick fix
It’s no secret that many people find losing weight far easier than keeping it off long-term.
To avoid becoming trapped in a yo-yo diet cycle, it’s important to approach weight loss as a permanent change to your lifestyle – and focus on developing new healthy habits that are sustainable for life, as well as getting support to make those changes.
“A group support approach is tried and tested - research shows that the more groups Slimming World members attend, the more successful they are. Based on their weight-loss over a year, the top 10,000 slimmers who attended their weekly weight-loss group regularly lost 30 percent of their body weight – around five stone each.
“In our groups, members are equipped with all the tools they need to stay slim for life, so that they can be confident that the changes they’re making are sustainable forever.
“In our groups we share techniques to empower and enable members to make their own behaviour changes through a variety of methods, including setting goals, making new decisions, developing skills to overcome barriers by facing, and seeking out challenges and taking back control.
“By encouraging our members to try new foods, transform old, unhealthy habits and change their perception of food and activity, we create an environment for our members to challenge themselves on their own timescales,” Dr Jacquie Lavin, Slimming World’s Head of Research, remarked.
Strike a balance
An all-or-nothing approach is rarely effective when it comes to weight loss.
“Restricting yourself when it comes to food and drink might work in the short-term, but pretty soon you’ll be fed up, hungry and giving up completely. A little bit of what you fancy is key! That might be a Saturday night glass of wine, or a bit of chocolate in the evenings.
“Whatever it is for you, having a flexible approach and a balanced mind-set is much more likely to deliver long-term success,” Pauline Bliss, who runs the groups every Wednesday in St Kieran’s Community Centre, commented.
You don’t have to go it alone
The principles of losing weight are quite simple, yet if it was that easy – we’d all be doing it! Studies show that embarking on your weight loss journey alongside other slimmers brings more success than going it alone – sharing tips and advice, as well as the ups and downs, and celebrating success together.
In fact, recent research with members found that people who are supported to lose weight in a group increase their mental toughness – developing control, commitment, take on challenges and grow in confidence - more than those who choose to lose weight on their own - and go on to lose more weight than those who don’t have the support of a Slimming World group.
To find out more about Slimming World and how to join, visit www.slimmingworld.ie or contact your local Slimming World consultant to book your place for January ( see details in the Slimming World advertisement in this paper ).