We’re at that time of year when we’re taking off the winter layers and perhaps realising the body underneath could do with a tune up. But before you succumb to the promises of the latest bikini body diet, allow me to suggest a different approach.
The problem with such diets is that they don’t consider a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. A short sighted view of weight loss over a few weeks is not going to help you with long term weight control, never mind consideration of your total body health. You put in all this effort and show amazing willpower, lose a few kilos, feel much better, but then return to your usual habits once the diet is over and back comes the lost weight, usually with interest. Research is most conclusive in the area of weight control. It shows that to successfully lose weight (if you need to) and improve your health and vitality, you need to make permanent changes – and not just to your diet. I developed my Get Lean program to help you to achieve this.
There are 6 key pillars to the Get Lean lifestyle – food, drink, exercise, activity, stress and sleep – all built on a foundation of joy. Because at the end of the day we are pleasure seekers and so when we enjoy what we do, we seek to do it more! Understanding and giving attention to each of these areas will ensure you are getting optimal results that last.
1.FOOD On Get Lean we eat delicious food that nourishes the body, in appropriate portions to lose body fat if you need to, or stay lean if you are already a healthy body composition. The Dr Joanna Plate is your guide to creating a healthy meal whether you are at home or ordering from a menu. Get Lean members then receive a personalised version of the Plate with their Daily Blocks to guide them with portion control in order to reach their goals. You’ll find an extensive Recipe Bank on the site and my weekly newsletter every Sunday includes a new recipe to inspire you in the kitchen. I’m a firm believer in healthy food also being delicious food, as well as quick, easy to prepare food for most days. This makes healthy eating doable for all of us.
2. DRINK Drink water as your main drink to stay well hydrated. You can also enjoy coffee and tea, with milk if you like, but without added sugar. Vegie-based smoothies are also fabulous additions to your daily menu plan to boost your intake of plant foods. Soft drinks and juices are out – you don’t need those extra kilojoules and we’d far rather get them from whole foods. If you enjoy an alcoholic drink then you can still do this! Just try to stick to no more than 2 a day, particularly while actively trying to get lean.
3. EXERCISE Exercise is a non-negotiable for long-term good health and weight control. It changes the way your body works, making you a better fat burner and with a little extra muscle you’ll burn more kilojoules even at rest! Aim for a minimum of a 30 minute walk every day and add 2-3 more formal exercise sessions into your week e.g. fitness class, yoga, Pilates, dancing, cycling or running. I set my members a Get Lean Weekly Challenge as a great way of encouraging them to try new things and build a set of exercises they can also do at home.
4. ACTIVITY Aside from the formal exercise you do, how active you are for the rest of the day also matters. Count up how many hours you sit on an average day? Especially if you work at a desk you’ll be amazed how these add up. Set yourself goals to break up sitting time so that you never sit for more than a couple of hours without a break for at least a few minutes of activity. If your office has a standing desk use it for some of the time, stand on the bus or train, stand when you are on a long phone call, walk on escalators and grab opportunities for movement!
5. STRESS If you’re stressed to the max it’s almost impossible to get any of the other pillars of Get Lean right. You might find you comfort eat, drink too much alcohol, sleep badly or skip your exercise to work instead. Take action to manage your stress levels and seek help if you need it.
6. SLEEP Being tired all the time erodes your ability to eat well, move more and manage your stress. Aim for 7-8 hours on most nights and you’ll be amazed how much better you look, feel and perform.
If you’re tossing and turning in the night, or you struggle to get to sleep, think about what sleep researchers call “sleep hygiene”. This includes things like going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time, avoiding caffeine after lunchtime, having at least two hours before bed without food, avoiding more than one or two alcoholic drinks, and having no screen time (especially tablets and smart phones) for an hour before bed – try reading a book or having a bath instead to help you to wind down.
7. A FOUNDATION OF JOY The foundation to all of this is joy. This is not meant in a flippant way, that somehow we have to be happy with every moment of our lives. Of course this is not possible and life at times is tough. During those times a focus on getting lean or even being healthy may seem far from your mind. But importantly what research has shown is that when healthy habits are well established we tend to default to them, even during the most stressful, rough patches. So aside from the truly tough times, give joy some priority. Do something everyday that makes you happy. It can be as simple as having a coffee with a friend or having half an hour to yourself in the bath with the door locked to a demanding family! Seek joy in preparing a new recipe, having an evening walk with your partner or reading a good book in bed instead of staying up late watching TV. Moments of joy are just as important on Get Lean as the food you eat or the minutes of exercise you clocked up.