Eating and exercising yourself toward health in 2017

bicycleWhat’s at the top of your new year’s resolution list? Probably something about losing weight, becoming more active or finally feeling comfortable wearing a swimming costume.

Many of us struggle with a little bit of extra weight. Gather together pretty much any group of people and the conversation will inevitably steer toward their health and fitness goals.

Most people aren’t confident about how their bum looks in their jeans and would never willingly head to the beach in bikini. But there are a number of steps you can make which could have a major impact on your health and weight.

Eating more healthfully

The reality is that everyone has a different opinion about what it means to eat healthfully. Scan the news headlines and you’ll likely find conflicting headlines daily. Eat no fat, says one expert. Cram your diet with healthy fats, says another. But one message is seemingly gaining traction.

And that’s the research that it’s not fat that’s making us gain weight. It’s excess carbohydrates, particularly sugar. The theory is that the consumption of sugar has increased in recent years, leading to the increasing prevalence of obesity, particularly among children. Sugar is added to nearly every kind of produced and packaged food. When many people think of sugar, they think of adding it to their coffee or tea. But this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sugar consumption.

Take a look at the package of the next type of food you’re about to eat. You’ll see that the sugar content is incredibly high. The idea is that we would all be much healthier if we cooked our own food from scratch using fresh fruit and vegetables rather than relying on the sugar-packed bottles and boxes from the supermarket.

A good starting point when looking at food choices is to change the way you do your grocery shopping. Picture the way the store is laid out and how you typically walk around to get the ingredients you need. Chances are good that the fresh produce, meat, seafood and dairy are all located around the perimeter of the store. And this is where you should spend most of your time. These fresh foods are healthier than anything found in the middle aisles where the ready-to-eat food is typically stored. This is how you can control the amount of excess sugar added to your diet.

This is a simple solution but one which makes so much sense. Eating from packages and at restaurants ensures you’ll never really know what’s going into your meals. By cooking your meals at home, you’ll know exactly what’s gone into every bite.

Says LiveStrong: “If you’ve decided to cut sugars out of your diet, you’re on the fast track to better health. Added sugars are blamed in part for the obesity epidemic, and they could increase your risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

“But going sugar-free is tricky; foods you wouldn’t think contain sugar do, and some healthy foods such as fruit contain natural sugars. Learning which foods you can and can’t have on your sugar-free diet is half the battle – then you have to actually stick to it.”

Exercising more regularly

Moving our bodies and increasing our heart rates are important for our health. It’s recommended we exercise almost daily. A total of 150 minutes per week is recommended by the American Heart Association. That works out to 30 minutes of moderate exercise each weekday. And that’s easy enough to do. But if you’re looking to lose weight or tone up, you’re going to have to do a little more exercise.

“The simplest, positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health is to start walking. It’s enjoyable, free, easy, social and great exercise. A walking program is flexible and boasts high success rates because people can stick with it. It’s easy for walking to become a regular and satisfying part of life,” says the association.

Other examples of activities you can do include cycling, swimming, hiking, jogging and playing sports. Many of these don’t need any equipment at all and are easy to do. The only problem is that you’ll likely soon become hooked on your new favourite exercise regime.

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These make you happy and you’ll want to keep feeling that way. Your short walks around the neighborhood could soon lead to you running marathons and your quick cycle around the block could soon lead to you checking out listings of mountain bikes for sale.

South Africa is filled with so much natural beauty, you’ll want to get out and explore all of it. And what better way to do that than while getting fit and improving your health at the same time? Remember, for best results it’s important that you combine weight training of some kind with your cardio workouts.

With just a little planning and some extra thought, you can soon be eating healthfully and exercising daily with hardly and effort on your part.