Don’t go on a diet! 8 December 2014 Did you know that more than two-thirds of people who go on a diet, pile the kilos back on once their diet is over? This drastic change to your body does more harm than good and can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes – for those that don’t already have it. Some dieters even end up weighing more than they did when they started. No-body wants that! The key is not to diet at all but commit to eating a healthy and well balanced range of foods every day and burning kilojoules through regular exercise. Restricting yourself when you’re on a diet is often something that makes you want to reach for the junk food. Getting started is often the hardest part but once you do it will become a way of life. In fact, a study by the University College London found it takes only about two months for a new behaviour – like healthy eating and exercise – to become a habit. But here are some tips to get you started: 1. Start with a few small changes Maybe start by swapping white bread to wholemeal, going for a 15 minute walk on your lunch break, reducing the sugar in your coffee or adding an extra serving of vegetables to your daily intake. 2. Get a work out buddy It’s tough to skip that morning walk when you know your friend is waiting for you. Don’t be ‘that’ friend who doesn’t show up. 3. Set realistic goals Do you have a fun run or a cycle challenge that is fast approaching? Write it on your calendar and set clear realistic goals leading up to the main event. It’s tempting to set ambitious goals but if you’re only new to running maybe don’t make your first goal a half marathon – try an easy 8km run or even a brisk walk. 4. Drink more water It sounds simple but drinking water before, during, after and in between meals helps fill you up faster and is much healthier than sugary drinks. Water is also great for your muscles which is important when exercising and is also great for keeping your skin healthy. 5. Forgive yourself No one is perfect and if you’ve had a bad day of over-indulging don’t let it get you down. The important thing is to not make over-indulging your new habit! Aim for the 80/20 rule. If you eat really healthy 80 per cent of the time and allow for some treats or little set-backs for 20 per cent of the time, you will still be far better off than what you were when you started. 6. Plan! And never go hungry again When that pesky afternoon hunger strikes, that’s when most people reach for the biscuits. Plan your meals, including your snacks. Remember, eating healthy isn’t about going hungry so don’t ignore those afternoon hunger pains. Take chopped carrots with you to work, an extra piece of fruit or some nuts – these are a great alternative to a sugar filled biscuit that provides you little nutritional value.