Michelle Bridges 12WBT

How to Feel Fit and Fabulous – a 12WBT Dietitian’s Top Tips for a Healthy, Balanced Lifestyle

Author: Lisa Donaldson APD

With the weather warming up there is no doubt in the coming months you’ll be baring more skin. To get you into great shape we have put together a list of ten diet and lifestyle changes to have you feeling fabulous.

1) Become an active participant in life

This doesn’t necessarily mean joining an expensive gym or competing in your first triathlon, this simply means ‘move more’. By becoming an active participant in life you incorporate extra activity into your daily tasks. Think about parking further away when going to the shops, taking the stairs and not the lift, or even riding your bike to work. Perhaps invest in a pedometer and try to walk 10,000 steps every day.

2) Eat minimally processed foods

Time to think about eating foods close nature, or at least purchasing products that read like they are ‘homemade’. Think BBQs with loads of grilled vegetables, BBQ’d halloumi, fresh salads with seafood and lean meats, platters of freshly sliced melon, cheeses, berries and raw nuts.

3) Eat three meals a day and stop grazing

It’s not uncommon for ‘grazers’ to always feel hungry or to be constantly thinking about their next meal. It’s best to consume three well-balanced and nutritious meals, so that your body feels satisfied and can register hunger for the next meal. A little bit of hunger is a good thing when trying to lose weight, and hunger tells us that our metabolism is working hard whilst making use of some stored energy/fat.

Snacks should be eaten only when you have true ‘belly hunger’; not because you saw someone eating a muffin and think you need one, too! When people graze on small snacks all day long, they rarely feel satisfied. If you plated up an entire days worth of ‘grazing’ you’d probably be surprised by how much you’ve actually consumed! Go for three well-balanced meals and feel the difference.

4) Enjoy your dairy

Dairy products are a great source of protein to keep you fuller for longer, so foods like yoghurt and cheese make great additions to your diet if you are always hungry! Whether you choose skim or full fat, milk is a great source of calcium and a superb source of amino acids that help with muscle recovery and rebuilding. Think about switching that protein powder for a glass of milk instead!

5) Ditch the soft drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices for water

If you swap all your juices, soft drinks, cordials and energy drinks for water you are going to make a massive change to your waistline and your skin will look amazing! Liquid kilojoules certainly add up across the day and water won’t lead to a spike in blood glucose levels. Feel hydrated via a natural source.

6) Fill up on non-starchy plant foods

Packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre, non-starchy vegies are a weight loss dream! They fill you up with amazing nutrition, get your bowels moving and allow you to drop weight without feeling hungry. Go for half a plate of non-starchy vegies with every meal. This includes vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, beans, cauliflower, mushrooms, cabbage, tomato, Asian greens, baby spinach, zucchini, squash and carrots. Create some interest by sprinkling your vegetables with some herbs, nuts or a little feta! Plus enjoy two serves of whole fruit each day; berries, mangos, melon and guava are just superb in the warmer months.

7) Don’t go to a party hungry

It’s important that you go to parties prepared and not ravenous. If you find you are drawn to the dips, crackers and canapés, along with the sparkling wine and desserts, it’s even more important to ensure you have had a light meal before arriving. This will ensure the buffet isn’t an all you can eat feast. Take along a platter of vegie sticks with a selection of hummus/salsa/tzatziki, grilled vegetables, a little cheese and raw nuts as well as freshly sliced fruit. Alternate between mineral water and your alcoholic beverages to ensure you remain hydrated throughout the party and minimize the chance of a killer hangover the next day.

8) Take up an outdoor activity

Put on your hat and sunblock and get outside. Dust off your pushbike, untangle your bathers or pull out a frisbee; think of ways that you can become actively social with your friends or family. Getting outside in the sunshine is not only mood enhancing but also will boost your vitamin D levels.

9) Sleep well

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for feeling alert and re-energized each day. If you constantly wake feeling tired and lethargic you might need to reset your sleeping patterns. Think about turning off all electrical appliances (iPhones, computers, TV) at least half an hour before going to bed, washing your face and having a small cup of warm milk before going to bed. Try and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day for a few weeks and feel the difference in your energy levels.

10) Have fun

It’s important to include a few things in the week that bring you some sort of joy. This might include going to the movies, catching up with a friend, getting a massage or even having a meal out. Remember to find ways to make yourself feel happy.

About the Author:

Lisa Donaldson is the Nutrition Lead for the Team at Michelle Bridges 12WBT. She is also a lecturer of Nutrition at Canberra's CIT and a highly regarded presenter for Nutrition Australia. In between all her roles, Lisa keeps active with her toddler and enjoys climbing mountains with her husband.