WEEK FIVE: The countdown continues

It’s week five of our six-week programme — Drop a Dress Size for Christmas.

Keep up the good work online with our fitness coach Laura Murphy - see below for her latest video.

Just two weeks to go before you complete our challenge — Drop a Dress Size for Christmas.

Keep motivated with the help of our fitness coach Laura Murphy - see below for her latest video. Exercise is a key part of any diet, it burns calories, tones and builds your metabolism. It’s also an instant mood lifter - just what's needed during these short winter days.

Dietitian Aveen Bannon outlines a delicious and nutritious weight-loss eating plan that will deliver results - it you stick to it.

Of course you will have days when it seems like it’s all a huge effort, but remember how good you’ll feel when your party dress fits in all the right places.


By tackling your weight on two fronts — exercise and nutrition — you’ll quickly shed those unwanted pounds and look your very best by the time Santa Claus comes knocking.


We know it can be tough to stick to your diet plan when you’re surrounded by festive goodies, but remember how good you’ll feel when you slip into your fave party dress.


Week Five Video:

Week Five:

In the run-up to Christmas, we’re in the shops more. To avoid temptation at the supermarket, grocery shop online or write a shopping list before you head out. And never shop when you’re hungry.

Ensure you eat every three to four hours. “The act of eating increases our metabolism by 10-15%,” says Aveen. “Eating regularly keeps our metabolism working more efficiently. Keep raw vegetables in the fridge for snacking – carrots, cucumbers.”

Include pulses and lentils in your diet, she advises. “They lower cholesterol. They’re low in fat, high in fibre and high in protein. Ensure you eat protein at least at two meals a day because – with exercise – it builds muscle, which in turn helps burn fat.”

Week Six:

At this stage you’re well into Christmas party season. To combat the party pitfalls, have dinner before you go out. If going straight to the party from work, eat your main meal in the middle of the day and have soup and a sandwich that evening.

“With party nibbles, you can eat a lot of calories in a short while. Two or three mini sausage rolls could be 200 to 300 calories, a handful of crisps could add another 60 or 70. Just through picking at things, you could easily eat 700-800 calories without realising,” says Aveen.

Mitigate the fat-promoting effects of alcohol – for example, if you usually have a vodka and coke, instead have a vodka and soda water with lime. Always have a glass of water alongside the alcohol to help you drink less.

By now you’ve been eating healthily – rather than dieting – for six weeks. You can continue. And if you have an extra treat or two on the days around Christmas, be diligent about upping your exercise to compensate.

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Week Two Video:

Week Two:

Last week, you did great. This week, your good eating behaviours are starting to wane. Remember it takes three weeks to form a routine. One slip won’t undo all your good work – it’s repeated slips that do that, says consultant dietitian Aveen Bannon.

“If you have a bad day, don’t give up. Rather than trying to compensate through food, do extra exercise. Otherwise, you get into a cycle of yo-yo dieting, where you have a ‘bad’ day, then starve yourself. Instead burn off that ‘slip’ with exercise.” And if you get through the first two weeks, you’ll start to feel the benefits of eating healthily and your new routines will become easier.

Form good eating habits, such as ensuring you eat the calcium-rich foods recommended in your meal plan – low-fat yoghurt, low-fat custard, tinned fish. Grate cheese to make it go further.

Keep well hydrated – drink 1.5 to 2 litres of fluid a day (water, herbal tea, a little coffee or regular tea).


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Week Three Video:

Week Three:

Watch portion sizes – carbs should take up one-quarter of your plate, protein one-quarter, while salads/vegetables should take up half. Limit fruit to two daily servings. “Fruit’s highly nutritious but it’s also high in natural sugars. Aim to get more veg. Make sure you have colour in every meal,” says consultant dietitian Aveen Bannon, who recommends embracing winter casseroles, soups and stews because these are low in calories. “Add ginger to soups, juices and cereals – it’s great for digestion.”

By tackling your weight on two fronts — exercise and nutrition — you’ll quickly shed those unwanted pounds and look your very best by the time Santa Claus comes knocking.


We know it can be tough to stick to your diet plan when you’re surrounded by festive goodies, but remember how good you’ll feel when you slip into your fave party dress.


................................

Week Four Video:

Week Four:

For health, you should be doing 30 minutes of exercise a day; for weight loss, it rises to 60 daily minutes, says consultant dietitian Aveen Bannon.

To meet this relatively high target, remember to include your walk from the bus stop to the office or taking three flights of stairs instead of using the lift.

Always have a plan B. If winter’s putting you off getting out for your evening walk, ask follow Laura Murphy's fitness video on this website.

See the start of the six-week plan here

WEEK 1 ... Your six week guide to dropping a dress size for Christmas

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