Dr Sam's 6 ways to kick-start healthy changes in your life
Dr Sam is here to help you achieve your goals with his 6 ways to kick-start healthy changes in your life.
September. It’s the time of year where the kids start their next year at school, the warm weather starts to disappear as the days become shorter and colder, and we swap our summer wardrobes for something a little warmer.
No matter how old you are, September is a perfect time to jumpstart a healthy change in your life. Perhaps you’ve over-indulged this summer and are now looking to shift some pounds and improve your overall health. Take the change in season as an opportunity to set yourself some new health and fitness goals or get back on track with goals that were put on the back burner during the summer holidays.
Our Chief Medical Officer, Sam Rodgers is here to help you achieve your goals with his 6 ways to kick-start healthy changes in your life. Let’s hear what he has to say!
1. Get to know whether your weight is healthy or not
Understanding whether your weight is healthy or not is the first step in making a healthy change. You can start by investing in a good set of scales, preferably ones that tell you your BMI.
BMI looks at your weight and height and works out whether you are a healthy weight for your height. A BMI between 18-25 is considered healthy, 25-30 is thought to be overweight and anything over 30 is obese. Ideally, we want to be in the 18-25 range.
It is important to note that BMI does not take muscle mass into consideration. For example, someone could weigh a lot more due to their muscle mass but that does not necessarily mean that they are overweight or obese. BMI can also be skewed when it comes to height. This can result in taller people believing they are overweight, and shorter people not realizing they may be overweight.
Checking other factors such as your body fat percentage and taking a measurement of your waist can be a good indication of your current health status.
After establishing your current health status, you can work out what your target weight will be. Many people start their health journey by trying to get to their target weight from the outset, however, this can be very hard and can take months of work to get to your healthy weight. This is where our next step comes in.
2. Set small, manageable goals
Breaking down your long-term goals into smaller, achievable goals will make them more manageable and keep you accountable over the long haul.
For example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds in three months, you might have separate goals for each month. Aim for 4 pounds in the first month and 3 pounds in each of the next two months because early weight loss often is faster.
The NHS offers a free app called the NHS Weight Loss Plan which is perfect for setting goals and keeping track of your achievements over time.
3. Establish your reason for wanting to change
Do you want your clothes to fit better? Do you want to be fit enough to run around with your children or grandchildren? Have you been told by your doctor that you need to improve your health?
Whatever your reason for making a healthy change, this can play a key role in your motivation to keep going. Whenever you feel like giving up come back to your reason for starting and focus on the benefits you’ll reap from being healthier. Reminding yourself of why you started will encourage you to stay on track.
4. Understand your calorie intake
The amount of energy in an item of food or drink is measured in calories. When we eat and drink more calories than we use up, our bodies store the excess as body fat. However, to lose weight in a healthy way, you need to use more energy than you consume by eating a healthy, balanced diet with fewer calories while increasing your physical activity.
As a guide, an average man needs around 2,500kcal (10,500kJ) a day to maintain a healthy body weight. For an average woman, that figure is around 2,000kcal (8,400kJ) a day. These values can vary depending on age, size and levels of physical activity, among other factors.
To understand how many calories, you should be consuming daily you can use one of the free calorie calculators available online. My Fitness Pal offers a free app that calculates your calorie intake depending on your height, weight, and goal. You can also use the app to keep a daily food diary and keep track of each meal you consume. This will help you to understand whether you are staying under your recommended daily number of calories and keep you motivated.
5. Get moving
Being active is key to losing weight and keeping it off. Incorporating exercise into our daily routine not only provides a multitude of health benefits such as reducing stress, strengthening the heart, and lowering blood pressure but it also gives us a positive boost in mood, thanks to what is known as a happy hormone – endorphins.
And the good news is, you don’t need to spend hours in the gym every day to get the benefits of an active lifestyle. Here are 5 ways you can get moving more throughout the day:
- Get your daily step count up
- Take the stairs instead of the lift
- Make your housework exercise time
- Do bodyweight exercises at home
- Take advantage of free workout and yoga videos on YouTube
6. Plan a simple reward
Each time you reach a milestone in your health journey make sure you reward your hard work with a simple treat. Perhaps you’ll book a meal at your favourite restaurant with your family or friends or treat yourself to a new outfit you’ve wanted for a while. When temptation strikes, remind yourself of the reward you will treat yourself to when you reach your next goal.
One of the best ways to keep track of whether your weight loss has affected your overall health is with a simple blood test. Taking a look at your inner health can identify whether you’ve lowered your risk factors for health conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease.
Our Health and Lifestyle Blood Test is perfect for an overall health check. It measures important markers for liver, kidney and heart health as well as tests for inflammation, iron and key vitamins for energy and optimal health.