Discover superfoods and improve muscle tone and strength
Follow a six-week healthy living plan, tailored to your fitness level, and reap the benefits from day one
This third six-week plan aims to increase the intensity of your physical activities and help you learn more about which foods your body needs as fuel.
This week's challenge is to ensure you don't miss any meals and to prepare healthy snacks so you don't give in to temptation too often.
Regular meals are important because they help you to manage hunger and keep your appetite under control. You're less likely to grab an unhealthy snack if your body is used to regular eating.
Three meals plus two or three healthy snacks is a good daily meal pattern. If your workplace has a tempting vending machine loaded with high-calorie treats, bring in crispbreads, breadsticks, extra sandwiches and bananas. But remember, it's all right to have a 'naughty' treat now and again, especially if you're happy with your weight.
If you work shifts or irregular hours, plan in advance by taking a packed lunch or tea with you.
There's no convincing evidence that sugar, chocolate and high-carb foods are clinically addictive. Psychologists believe we 'crave' our favourite types of food simply because we associate them with happiness, nurturing and reward, but then punish ourselves with guilt after 'giving in'.
This vicious circle of craving, giving in and guilt isn't helpful to weight management. The stricter you are with yourself, the more you'll want to eat your favourite food.
Tackle your desire for these types of treats by allowing yourself your favourite food as part of your healthy eating programme. Allow yourself two food treats this week and really enjoy them. But remember, there's a difference between having a treat and bingeing.
Also develop a wish list of non-food treats - for example, a relaxing bath, massage or bunch of flowers - with which you can reward yourself.
Eating at night
It's often said that calories eaten later in the day are more fattening, but this isn't true. What matters is what you're eating, not when. If you work irregular hours, a healthy meal eaten at 10pm is still all right.
On the other hand, snacking on high-fat foods all evening after your main meal isn't a good idea because these usually supply extra calories, which will be stored as fat while you sleep.
Start your programme with two interval sessions this week using the walk-run technique. Two 45-minute aerobic sessions are also on the cards. Aim to up your activity every day to give you an extra boost.
Your aim this week is to introduce two interval sessions, each one lasting 40 minutes. You should do them on different days, preferably with a day's rest between them.
Interval training is a highly effective technique for improving fitness levels. Here's how to do it:
Warm up by walking at a comfortable pace for five minutes.
Run for two minutes, then walk for three. Complete this cycle six times.
Cool down with a five-minute walk at a comfortable pace.
On two other days this week, complete a 45-minute aerobic exercise session of your choice, such as a dance or aerobics class, cycling, swimming or a sport. For ideas, take a look at What's the right activity for me?.
Your week could look like this:
|1 x 40-minute interval session
||1 x 45-minute aerobic session
||1 x 40-minute interval session
||1 x 45-minute aerobic session
Alongside structured exercise, it's important to weave activity into your daily regime. Every day, you should spend at least 15 minutes on energetic, active tasks such as vacuuming, gardening, playing football with the children, washing the car by hand, cycling to the shops, sorting out laundry or running up and down the stairs. Whenever you can, walk or cycle, don't drive.
Keep a note of your active minutes to ensure you reach your target. The point is to help you become adept at spotting opportunities in your daily life where you could be more active.
This exercise can help ensure you don't end up with sore knees or hips with the introduction of running.
Do it every day this week.
Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your left foot off the floor and extend your leg in front of you, keeping your core muscles engaged and your back straight.
Bend your right knee, keeping your knee directly over your fourth toe and your pelvis level. Lower as far as is comfortable, pause, then straighten again. Do a total of ten repetitions, then swap legs and repeat.