By following these tailored diet and fitness programmes, which are based on expert advice, you can improve and protect your physical and mental health
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 keep a diary and write down how many alcoholic drinks you have each day. Add it up at the end of the week to see if you've stayed within the weekly units recommended below.
You can still enjoy a drink in a healthy living plan. Here's how:
Aim for no more than three to four units of alcohol a week when you're trying to lose weight.
In general, have no more than three units of alcohol a day if you're a woman and four a day if you're a man. Have two alcohol-free days each week.
Choose lower calorie drinks, such as gin and diet tonic or dry white wine. Alcohol-free beers often contain the same amount of calories as alcoholic ones, so check the label.
Alcohol and weight
The Government recommends that women drink no more than two or three units a day, and that men limit themselves to three or four units.
However, if you drink this amount each week, you'll consume around an extra 1,900 calories if you're a woman and 2,500 extra calories if you're a man - the equivalent of a day's extra calorie intake.
Keep that up for a month, and you could gain 2lb to 3lb (1kg to 1.5kg).
Although moderate drinking can be healthy, many people still drink to excess.
Alcohol is a toxin, so the body needs to work hard to get rid of it. This process uses up certain vitamins, so ensure you balance your alcohol intake with a varied diet and plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Most hangover symptoms are a result of dehydration. Reduce your risk of a blinding headache by alternating alcoholic drinks with soft ones and eating a healthy meal before you go to the pub. Even beans on toast and a banana will be enough to balance out a few drinks.
This week, another ten minutes will be added to your walking quota. You should also try a new activity to bring a bit of variety to your week.
Your aim this week is to increase your last remaining ten-minute walk to 15 minutes, so you're now achieving 30 minutes' walking on four days of the week.
Add the other five minutes to the now continuous 20-minute walk to make it a 25-minute session.
|2 x 15-minute walks
||2 x 15-minute walks
||2 x 15-minute walks
||2 x 15-minute walk
||1 x 25-minute walk|
It's time to think about the pace at which you're walking. At this stage of the programme, you should feel slightly warm and breathless during your walks, but still be able to just about hold a conversation.
If you can chat 19 to the dozen, try to speed up a little; if you can barely utter a word, ease back.
It's important to learn how to gauge your pace because playing with different intensities - rather than exercising at a constant effort - is one of the most effective ways of taking your fitness to the next level.
In total, you're now walking 145 minutes a week and burning about 600 to 950 calories. So you could be losing about a stone a year.
Try something new
This week, there's no new exercise to add to your routine. Simply continue with the ones you're doing.
Instead, try an activity you haven't done for ages but always enjoyed, or something new that you've always liked the sound of.
The idea is to discover something that suits you, your interests and your lifestyle. This will help keep you motivated to do it on a regular basis.
You might want to try one of the following:
Water offers a greater resistance than air, giving you a tougher workout. And because your weight is supported by the water, it gives your joints a break from the impact of walking, while still burning calories and exercising the heart and lungs.
Start by swimming for 20 minutes, taking breaks when you need to, or join in an aqua-aerobics class at your local pool.
Dancing improves your coordination and balance and works the body through a full range of motion. As well as improving your aerobic fitness, you'll be boosting flexibility and strength, and you'll burn about 150 calories in half an hour.
Yoga and Pilates
Yoga and Pilates improve body awareness, flexibility and balance. They also work on your core stability, strengthening and toning your muscles and improving your posture.
Yoga and Pilates require strong mental focus and are therefore excellent for relieving stress and aiding relaxation.
For more information, contact the British Wheel of Yoga or the Pilates Foundation.
Many aerobic activities, such as walking, running, cycling, using the stairclimber or elliptical trainer, only move the body in a forward-and-back motion. An aerobics class will take you sideways, diagonally and every which way and incorporate different speeds of movement, giving your body (and mind) a fresh challenge.
There are many types of class to choose from. It could be step, low or high impact, 'bums, tums and thighs' or even boxercise. Select the one that best suits your needs.