As I sit here writing this, the sun is beaming in through my window, warming my face nicely - a sure sign that Spring is here and Summer is on its way. Many of us see this as a time to kick start their health campaign, ready for our summer holidays. So now is the time to make changes to your lifestyle, rather than leaving it too close to your holiday and opting for an unhealthy quick fix that will leave you hungry, craving foods and lacking in energy. Instead there are some easy changes you can make to your lifestyle now that will help you become healthier, have more energy and burn some excess fat.
Most of us lead busy lives, making it harder to find time to train, easy to grab the less healthy snack or meal, and tricky to unwind and relax. Earlier this week I read an interesting article by precision nutrition on how we often treat our health with an all or nothing approach, in that we go full swing, eating well and training loads, but when we are busy, we pause it all, planning to take it back up when we are less busy. Not only does this make it harder to reach your goals, get fit or lose weight, but also our bodies are like formula 1 cars - to get the best out of them, they need careful looking after. John Berardi talked about having mini healthy habits that you could stick to when busy, so you don’t ‘pause’ your healthy habits, you just turn the dials up or down according to have how much time you have. So what mini healthy habits can you form?
As many of you will know, I spent half term in France, at Condom (yes that is what it is really called!) and had a beautiful relaxing time. Now that I am going there so often, I have had time to observe the French habits, and thought that there are a few things we could learn from them that would make our lifestyles healthier.
Firstly, I think most importantly, they making eating a social occasion, taking time out to enjoy their food and chat to family & friends. This means they take time to eat, and because they are eating slowly, the body is given time to feed back how full it is getting. It also makes sure that they are taking time out of their day to relax, sit down and unwind, which plays a vital role in reducing stress and balancing out our hormones. How many of us are prone to eating on the go, or grabbing a quick lunch, and not having the time too actually enjoy it? Easier said than done, but try and make some of your meals social - catch up with the family, chat to colleagues, or just enjoy a bit of peace and tranquility. Also you don’t see many fast food outlets nor people eating and drinking in the street, on the go!
They eat seasonally - which could be due to the vast size of France, or just their way of life. And because they eat seasonally, the food is fresher, with less preservatives and this means their diet has to be more varied as they move through the seasons. This is a simple way to make sure we eat a wide array of vitamins and minerals, rather than relying on our favourite food throughout the year.
Their supermarkets are simpler, with few ready made meals, and less choice because their towns offer an awesome weekly market, full of fresh fruit and vegetables, butchers in every town, as well as a fishmonger and several patisseries. The whole shopping experience, is just that - an experience, to be enjoyed, planned and time taken. This makes cooking from fresh seem more important and with such a great array of fresh food, cooking is more exciting and enjoyable.
If you go into any small town, or village, you will see they have pretty amazing sports and recreational facilities, from outdoor pools, to lines and lines of tennis courts, a park with a running track and equipment around it, picnic areas and an array of paved idyllic walks. What is more, they don't sit there empty, gathering dust and neglected, they are used, enjoyed and loved. They are near the main roads and available for all to access - no membership needed. So often our facilities are sold off for development or left uncared so they become overgrown and unusable, or privately owned and expensive. I know we have less reliable weather than the French, but the idea of exercising outside, breathing in the fresh air and grabbing some vitamin D from the sun makes the whole exercise idea that much more attractive, especially when you see people doing the same, so it is deemed normal, not for the super fit.
So my little trip to France has encouraged me to get back into my love for cooking, be more adventurous, eat more seasonal and fresher food, get out and enjoy eating socially rather than seeing eating a task that needs to be done quickly, even if that means I take the time to eat in the garden, or read my favourite magazine I am encouraged to utilise the local amenities more - butchers etc, and make my workouts more fun, using the park and natural areas.
Bon Appétit. Vive la France!
Fitness watches, smart watches and apps are all the rage at the moment with new ones appearing on the market all the time. Most of you may know that the recommended daily number of steps is 10,000, but why should you brave the weather, get out of your chair and stride those pavements, just to hit that 10k target?
To reduce your risk of a stroke, getting diabetes or heart disease, it is recommended that we all do 150 accumulative minutes of moderate exercise a week, which equates to 30 minutes each week day. 10,000 steps a day has been calculated to equate to 30 minutes moderate exercise a day, helping you to hit your target