By following these tailored diet and fitness programmes, which are based on expert advice, you can improve and protect your physical and mental health.
Programme Week Two
Follow a six-week healthy living plan, tailored to your fitness level, and reap the benefits from day one
Read an explanation of what to expect in programme two of your healthy living plan. Expert, week-by-week advice will help you become more active, burn calories and tone your body.
This week's challenge is to choose healthier options when you eat out or order a takeaway. It's simpler than it sounds.
The calorie lottery
While all packaged food and drinks sold by shops must be labelled to show their calorie, fat and sugar content, this rule doesn't apply to meals from restaurants. It's a calorie lottery, with some meals providing almost a whole day's worth of calories and fat.
Popular meals, such as a double burger with cheese plus large fries and a soft drink, can provide up to 1,400 calories. That's 74 per cent of an average woman's daily recommended intake, and 56 per cent of a man's.
Limit eating out to a couple of days a week, and choose healthier options in restaurants. Also try to stick to a maximum of three small glasses of wine with your meal.
If it's difficult to spot a healthy choice, minimise calories by avoiding fried food, lots of cheese, mayonnaise and pies.
Here are a few suggestions on how to make healthier choices:
Avoid: pâté, mousses, goujons, plates of salami and other fatty meats, creamy soups.
Choose: broths, vegetable and fish soups, smoked salmon with wholegrain bread.
Salad is OK, but ask for the dressing on the side. Alternatively, fill up on breadsticks and wholegrain bread (no butter).
Avoid: foods with added fat, such as anything fried, breaded, crumbed or battered.
Choose: stir-fried, chargrilled, grilled, steamed or poached foods.
Avoid: fatty meats such as duck or goose, meat pies, burgers, sausages.
Choose: lean meat, game, poultry, fish.
Avoid: cream, oil and butter-based sauces, fondue.
Choose: wine, tomato or stock-based sauces, salsa.
Avoid: toppings such as salami, pepperoni, other fatty meats, cheese.
Choose: vegetable and seafood toppings with extra vegetables and no cheese.
Avoid: pastries, cheesecake, soufflé, mousse, crème brûlée, crème caramel, trifle, ice cream.
Choose: sorbet, fresh fruit.
If healthy choices aren't available, cut off any extra fat and remove the batter. If you must have chips, choose thick-cut ones.
Successful slimmers aim to strike a balance between enjoyment and overeating by planning for an evening out. This applies to holidays and festive events, too.
The golden rules are:
Never go out to eat when you're starving. Always take the edge off your hunger with a healthy snack, such as a banana sandwich or crispbread with lean meat.
Never compensate for a slap-up meal by missing meals earlier in the day. Three regular meals a day will help your body to control excess hunger.
Decide trade-offs before you go out to eat. For example, have one glass of wine but miss dessert, or have a dessert but no starter.
Stick to two courses.
This week, you'll introduce another interval session and focus on strengthening your abdominal and back muscles.
Your aim this week is to convert another of your 30-minute walks into an interval session, in which you change pace every two minutes. Try not to do your two sessions on consecutive days and keep the three remaining 30-minute sessions at your steady conversation pace.
Your week could look like this:
|1 x 30-minute walk
||1 x 30-minute interval session
||1 x 30-minute walk
||1 x 30-minute interval session
||1 x 30-minute walk|
As your walking speed increases, don't increase the length of your stride.
Instead, step more quickly and focus on the part of the stride where your leg is behind your body, as this is what powers you forward.
Use your arms to help propel you along, but keep your shoulders relaxed.
Rate of perceived exertion
A good way to gauge the intensity of your walks, and specifically your interval training, is to use what is known as the rate of perceived exertion (RPE).
This is a scale of one to ten, where one represents sitting on the sofa doing nothing and ten is flat-out running.
For the comfortable-paced walking, you're looking for an RPE of around four; for the harder bouts, you should be closer to seven.
The Superman exercise
This exercise stretches and strengthens the back, improving core stability and toning the buttocks and backs of thighs.
Do it every other day this week.
Lie face down on the floor. Engage your core muscles and stretch your arms in front of you, keeping your shoulders away from your ears. Lift your head, right arm and left leg a few inches off the ground, lengthening your body from your toes to your fingertips. Make sure you keep your neck in line with your spine.
Hold for three seconds and lower.
Do ten repetitions in total, then rest for a minute and repeat with the other arm and leg.