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Lose weight and stay slim

( 24 July 2015 )

Shedding some pounds, if you need to, can help lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoarthritis and even some kinds of cancer

Losing weight and keeping it off isn't easy but it is possible: here's how.

Motivate yourself

Motivation is most important factor in determining whether you will lose, so try these tricks to give your willpower a kick-start.

  • List all the reasons why you want to lose weight.
  • Boost your confidence by reminding yourself of previous successes both large and small.
  • Make a note of what you want to achieve, why and by when and check progress against these goals.
  • Set a start date and plan your campaign of eating and exercise.

Get moving

If you dislike formal exercise don't do it. Walking 10,000 steps a day - a brisk hour's worth - burns around 300 to 500 calories. That's a pound lost every 10 days without dieting.

  • Get a pedometer to log your step count.
  • Try dividing exercise into bite-size chunks - 10 or 20 minutes at a time
  • You've heard it before but increasing your daily activity level by walking for part of a journey or avoiding lifts and escalators really does burn calories.
  • Resistance training uses weights or your own body weight as in yoga or Pilates to develop muscle tissue which burns more calories than fat - even when you're sitting down.

Portion control

Average portion sizes have increased 30 per cent in the last decade and not just in restaurants and fast food outlets. Dinner plates have got bigger, so we're eating more at home too.

Rather than weighing everything, build up a mental image of what the right portion sizes look like.

Portion guidelines

As a rough rule of thumb a serving of fruit, vegetables or potatoes is equal in size to half a tennis ball; three ounces of meat, fish, or chicken to a deck of playing cards; an ounce of cheese to your thumb; and a teaspoon of oil to around the tip of your thumb.

  • Use a smaller plate to fool your brain into thinking you are eating more
  • Boost your confidence by reminding yourself of previous successes both large and small.
  • In a restaurant share a main course or have another starter instead.
  • Fill up your plate with green veg such as spinach, broccoli, kale and salad leaves to curb your appetite for high calorie foods.

Opt into breakfast

As well as preventing mid-morning 'munchies', it may lower your risk of insulin resistance syndrome, characterised by weight gain and belly fat, an early sign of developing diabetes.

  • Porridge, muesli, wholegrain toast and a boiled or poached egg help stabilise blood sugar levels.
  • If you can't face eating whiz up a smoothie with a handful of fruit, skimmed milk and low-fat yoghurt.

Get enough sleep

Recent research has shown that lack of sleep lowers blood levels of leptin, a protein that suppresses appetite and affects how our brains sense when we have eaten enough.

  • Get up half an hour earlier so you have time to wake up properly before facing any food.
  • Don't eat too late or go to bed hungry.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise just before bed as it can be over-stimulating.
  • Prime yourself for sleep by having a wind-down routine: with maybe a warm bath or a chamomile tea
  • Avoid caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol in the evening.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.