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Eating Healthily - the why's, what's and how's

You want to lose a little weight, to get a little healthier, to feel like you have a spring in your step. But the thought of religiously counting calories (or indeed macros) every day fills you with dread..... I mean life is for living right, and the last time you counted calories you lost weight but it was so restrictive you lost your mojo after the first week and dived head first into a family size bar of Dairy Milk and a multipack of Doritos.

Whilst the 80's, and indeed the 90's, were full of magazine and newspaper articles telling you to eat celery with cottage cheese and to avoid eating anything after 6pm, nowadays we've got the likes of the Body Coach telling us how to whip up exciting healthy meals in under 15 minutes without so much of a hint of diet restriction or cabbage soup.

So who is right? Can we really ditch counting calories and still see results?

The simple answer is yes..... but only to a point. I am a massive believer in eating healthily, moving more and looking at how you feel and look to decide whether you need to change your diet. The thing is to do that you need to understand basic nutrition - what you are putting into your body and why. Counting calories was the way to negate that knowledge.... it was something that everyone could do, it was simple maths and pre-packaged food has the nutritional information on. We know now that the world would be a better place without food that has been fiddled with in a factory.... and your body DOES have specific nutrient requirements that you need to bear in mind when making food choices. However this whole thing DOESN'T have to be boring, restrictive and involve you drinking filtered water and eating cucumber sticks in the corner.

Here are my top tips to help you reach where you want to be physically and mentally...... and yeah occasionally you might have to get your calculator out for a few days so you can learn how much you should be eating of certain things BUT unless you are planning on being a physique competitior, it doesn't have to be long term thing and it shouldn't take over your life.

1. Forget the low-fat/low-cal nonsense that was pummelled into your head all those years ago

To lose weight you DO NOT need to be eating 1300 kcals a day. You DO NOT need to swap your steak for pre-packaged reformed ham. Low-fat spreads are NOT better than butter and you SHOULD NOT be eating fat-free cack yoghurt made by weight loss companies who then inject 58000 artificial sweeteners/flavours into it to make it taste like a shit version of a lemon cheesecake.

Your body was made to eat REAL food - not processed muck in a packet. Step away from the ready meals, the un-natural yoghurts, the chicken shapes and move back to the produce section, to the fish, to the stuff that may have been squirted into a tube but not laced with chemicals and sugar on the way.

1500 kcals a day is NOT a one size fits all like we were once led to believe and you would potentially need to be fairly short/small, and fairly inactive to need a calorie requirement like that. Just for the record, I am on 3500kcals a day.... now I am active and I have a decent amount of muscle so it's different for everyone. All I'm saying is don't be scared of the number..... listen to how your body looks and feels and it will tell you whether you should be eating less or more.

2. Move more

Your body was made to be active. It wasn't made to sit at a desk all day. So get it moving.... we cannot do anything about having to work, this is true. But you CAN do something about how you choose to spend your lunchbreaks and your free time. 'Oh but I've got a family' I hear you say.... Yup... but don't they deserve to be doing fun stuff too? Family bike rides, walks in the park, play badminton, play tennis, walk the dog, go on Geo Treasure Hunts.... whatever it is, there is something for everyone out there.

I for one would definitely prefer to make time to move more so I can eat more food. For me it's a no brainer.

3. Realise how active/inactive you are and tailor your food accordingly

Be realistic. Do you sit on your arse most of the day? Is the most exercise you do walking to the shop for your sandwich at lunch? If this is the case and you aren't willing to make any lifestyle changes to increase your activitiy then at least realise pasta, rice, bread and potatoes probably aren't your best friend. Yes you may still need to eat some, however if your energy expenditure is low then you don't need as many energy dense foods to boost your calorie intake.

Swap the calorie dense carbohydrates for more protein, green veg, courgetti, butternut squash, corn cakes etc etc and fill up on those instead. Your body will thank you for it!

4. Get to know your body type and what works for you

Everyone is different. It isn't just exercise that dictates what you should be eating, your body type can also play a massive role. If you are naturally lean and lose weight easily, chances are carbs are your friend. If you tend to hold weight easily and have a tendency to be a little 'soft' in all the right places then chances are you will tolerate carbs less well but may find healthy fats a little friendlier to work with. At the end of the day it comes down to how you feel inside and out as to what you should be putting into your beautiful body.

5. Eat more protein

Most people do not eat enough. That means that when they lose weight, they have a tendency to lose muscle as well. Now that will happen for most people - but it's the degree to which it happens which will dictate the effect on your metabolism. Basically the more muscle you have, the more energy you need to be able to do things - this means that even when you are sat around watching TV you are burning more calories. So if you don't eat enough protein and you don't stimulate your muscles while you are losing weight, you could lose a decent portion of the muscle you do have. And then yeah you may be smaller, but everything still feels soft and loose.... so keep you protein levels up and make sure you consume some with every meal. It doesn't just have to be meat and fish - they are plenty of protein rich dairy products, tofu and other alternatives for you to choose from.