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With beach weather just around the corner, this is the perfect time to take on some new healthy habits, focus on wellbeing, and work towards a leaner figure.
By: Sophie Leaver
Yoga teacher & wellbeing expert
This summer instead of going on a crash diet or exhausting yourself with a whole new exercise plan, try a more holistic and sustainable approach that you’ll be able to maintain for the rest of the year, not just the season.
The first point of call is always diet. As the weather gets warmer, our bodies naturally crave lighter meals. It’s important to include protein in your meals, which helps to build lean muscle and keep you satisfied for longer. By making sure you have enough lean protein in your diet, you won’t feel the need to reach for refined carbs and sugars. Try to eat fresh, seasonal ingredients because packaged and canned foods often have high levels of sodium which can leave you feeling bloated. Opt for whole, unprocessed foods and experiment by cooking them with plenty of fresh herbs and spices. Chilli and cinnamon are both known to stimulate the metabolism, and add lots of flavour to your meals. Eating plenty of foods rich in soluble fibre will also help to keep you full, so include plenty of greens, fruits, nuts and beans in your diet.
Supplements are a great way to boost your diet and help your body to de-bloat. Apple pectin can have positive effects on cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and the absorption of carbohydrates. Taking a dietone supplement supplies your body with healthy probiotics, helping with digestion and blood sugar levels. It’s important to stay hydrated when using these supplements. Sipping on water and green tea throughout the day will help your body to function, and keep you energised.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR BODY TYPE
If your stomach feels bloated or irritated, you may want to experiment with carefully eliminating some things from your diet and observing the effects. Try avoiding gluten or dairy for 1-2 weeks, and see how your body reacts. Other common food intolerances are eggs, corn, or soy. Whilst it’s important not to radically eliminate any essential food group from your diet, it’s worth taking the time to find a balanced diet that suits your body and your lifestyle. The ancient, healing science of Ayurveda is based on the principle that we should create a diet and lifestyle based on an understanding of our individual body-mind type, known as a dosha. Our dosha reflects our innate tendencies, including energy levels, temperament, body composition, and metabolism. Once we start to appreciate our own unique needs, we can build a diet that compliments and balances this. It can be very valuable to take some time to research your own dosha, and the types of foods and habits which might help you find balance.
Keeping active and energised is important, and exercise is the best way to boost your metabolism, tone your muscles, help you sleep, and keep your brain alert! With a busy work schedule, the best approach to exercise is to work smart, not hard. Instead of spending hours in the gym, you can easily incorporate extra exercise into your daily routine. Shorter sessions of high intensity exercise will improve your overall fitness, burn extra calories, and get your heart rate up. Focus on overall body strength, and incorporate resistance and weights into your routine to see quick results. If you don’t have time for a full workout, little bits throughout the day will still make a difference. Take the stairs instead of the lift, challenge yourself to a plank pose while you watch tv, or even try a few squats or calf raises while you clean your teeth.
Last but not least, you need to give your body the chance to relax and replenish your energy. Try to set aside some time during the week for meditation and yoga. Yoga naturally strengthens the muscles and stimulates the organs for better digestion and metabolism. Any yoga sequence can be beneficial to your overall health, but if you want to tone your stomach, try spending a little bit longer in the following asanas:
- 1. Navasana (Boat Pose) - Sitting on your mat, raise your feet up to eye level, keeping your legs straight. Extend your arms out either side of your body, palms facing each other. Your body should make a triangle shape, as you balance on your seat bones. Make sure you keep your chest up, and don’t rock back onto your lower back. Use your stomach muscles to maintain the position.
- 2. Warrior Lunge Twist - Bring your hands into prayer pose. Lunge forward with your left leg and bend your knee about 90 degrees, keeping your back leg straight. Brace your abs in tight to your spine and rotate your upper body to the left. Keep your spine long as you lean over your left leg and press your right elbow into the outside of your left leg. Turn your head to look up toward the ceiling over your left shoulder. Hold for 10 long, deep breaths and then untwist and return to standing. Repeat on the other side. Your abs will engage to keep you stable, and you’ll feel a nice twist around your obliques.
- 3.Side Plank - Use your abdominals to stabilize your entire body as you balance on one arm and leg. Lie on your right side with your knees straight. Place your right hand under your right shoulder. Lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Flex your feet and extend your left arm up to the ceiling. Breath deeply for the duration of the exercise. Hold this position for up to 60 seconds. Lower and repeat on the other side. If this is too challenging, bend one (the bottom) or both knees to the floor to reduce the amount of weight that you have to lift.
This new approach to a slimmer waist will not only help you feel confident for summer, but it will help you find a balance which you can maintain. Most importantly, if focus on feeling