Apologies as I haven’t posted anything in a while! I have been back in the UK with my family and am now in the process of organising our relocation to Sydney, Australia so things have been rather hectic!
I was recently interviewed by a top women’s magazine here in Singapore. They wanted to gain a personal trainers perspective on the importance of eating healthily and exercising. Here are my views, in case you are interested!
Question 1. What does having a balanced diet and adequate exercise really mean? Why is it important?
The combination of an active lifestyle along with a healthy diet are two of the most important factors that affect your overall health. We are often hearing about how obesity is on the rise along with other health issues such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease. By doing some form of exercise everyday and eating healthily you can prevent weight gain and illnesses associated with it.
Exercise and a balanced diet are also important for overall energy levels, enabling you to live life to the full and do all the things that you love. It keeps the mind active and healthy, relieves stress, improves moods (especially around ‘that’ time of the month!) and helps you to look and feel better. Exercise and a good diet that is full of nutrients also helps to keep bones strong and healthy for later life and prevents injuries and posture problems.
Question 2. Tell us more about eating healthily: What does it mean? How difficult is it to achieve? What are some of the conscious decisions that you have to make, and how do you make the best decision?
Most importantly eating healthy is about eating a good balanced diet containing food from all of the food groups; protein, healthy wholegrains, lots of vegetables, fruits, pulses and good fats such as raw nuts, seeds and avocados. It’s about variety, trying to eat as many DIFFERENT nutritious foods as possible and drinking lots of water, at least 2 litres per day. Cutting out processed and packaged foods and trying to stick to foods that are as natural and simple as possible.
I believe that you should aim to eat a low GI diet, which means foods that break down slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream. This means sustained energy levels throughout the day and less hunger spikes. In short a healthy diet is about spoiling and nourishing the body, eating foods that are good for you and make you feel good!
The conscious decision you have to make is that YOU want to change. It is a decision that only you YOU can make. Once you have set your mind to do it, although there may be blips at times (and you may need to exercise some willpower!) it is easier than you may think! I would suggest making a start by really enjoying the food that you eat. Really taste it and notice what you are tasting. Take a bite, are you tasting lovely fresh flavours or just a lot of salt or sugar? Does everything taste the same?!
Whatever the changes are that you decide to make ensure that they will work for you long term and fit into your hectic schedule. Make promises to yourself that you know you can keep!
Question 3. We’re trying to get our readers to make small changes in their eating habits each time: How do you advise them to do this?
Firstly to set a goal, why is it that they want to become healthier – why is it important to them? What benefits could it add to their lives? It might be that they want more energy when they get up in the mornings, or perhaps they want to lose a few kg for their wedding day or have more confidence to wear that special bikini on the beach or maybe they have a family history of high blood pressure. Whatever it is, this goal will help to motivate them to stay on track… especially when temptations get in the way which they always will!!
Next they need to decide what the changes are going to be in order to achieve the main goal. I would recommend beginning by making changes to just one meal per day. For example the first change could be at breakfast (research shows this is the most important meal of the day). A good breakfast should contain some protein, healthy whole grain carbohydrates and some good fats. Therefore they may decide to swap a takeaway muffin for a boiled egg with one slice of multi-seed toast spread with almond butter.
Make a shopping list! Plan what you are going to eat ahead of time rather than relying on impulse buys. Look forward to your nightly meals and make each an occasion.
Once the first change is mastered than they can start thinking about the second one etc…
Question 4. What is one exercise you would recommend to girls to help them tone their bodies?
Ideally they should do a combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength/resistance training to keep themselves fit and healthy.
Cardiovascular training such as walking, running, cycling, dancing will help the body to burn fat. Strength/resistance training such as weight training, plyometrics, yoga etc will help to build lean muscle mass, give a toned appearance and increase the metabolism.
Unfortunately there is no one exercise that you can do but certainly walking would be a good first stage along with some simple resistance and core training exercises such as squats, lunges and planks.