The Christmas and New Year celebrations are over now and a lot of people have set themselves fitness targets for 2017.
Most people want to feel less bloated and have a flatter stomach after the thousands of calories consumed over the Christmas period.
But I see so many people going about it the wrong way; eating the wrong foods, doing the wrong exercises and trying to take short cuts.
It doesn’t matter how many crunches you do; alone they won’t make you burn body far from your stomach. Starvation diets won’t work. Neither will snacking on the left over chocolates from Christmas.
Getting a flat stomach doesn’t happen overnight, you must create healthy habits that you can maintain over a long period of time.
Make these five steps part of your lifestyle and you will really start to see a difference in your waistline.
1. Have a clear out on a weekly basis
Sweet treats and naughty snacks creep into all of our cupboards over time. And it’s OK to have them every now and again. But if you let them build up in your cupboards you’re more likely to indulge on them more often.
The things you need to remove are processed ready meals, refined sugars, fizzy drinks, snacks and booze. These are the foods in your fridge, freezer and cupboards that are making you gain weight and preventing you from losing body fat.
2. Drink two litres of water every day
Hydration increases your ability to burn fat. If you’re dehydrated your fat burning process will slow down, making it harder to get a flatter stomach.
Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to take a drink of water. Start drinking water as soon as you wake up on a morning - have a glass with your breakfast. Then keeping sipping throughout the day. Water helps suppress your appetite too.
My advice is to fill a two-litre bottle on a morning and make sure it’s gone by the end of the day. And, replace your normal cups of tea and coffee for three cups of green tea per day.
3. Do HIIT style workouts at least three times a week
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) training has been getting more popular over the last couple of years, and it’s about time. This form of training really works for burning body fat and toning muscles.
It’s the best way to train. You work at high intensity for short periods of time, followed by short rests. Your workout can be done within 20 minutes.
Give my HIIT workout a go this week.
4. Drink less caffeine
Caffeine causes your stress hormone cortisol to rise so it can leave you feeling physically, mentally and emotionally stressed. Caffeine induced stress can actually interfere with how you feel about yourself and trigger emotional eating or a need for comfort eating.
It also promotes fat storage around your belly. When your cortisol levels (the stress hormone) are high it raises your blood pressure and heart rate. This then tells your body to increase your energy stores.
This is why you get sweet cravings when you’re having a coffee. And of course, sweet, sugary foods cause you to hold onto body fat around your waist.
Caffeine leads to insomnia and sleep deprivation. Caffeine is a stimulant and it makes you feel more alert. It does this by blocking sleep inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenaline production.
So if you find it hard to switch off and relax on a night too much caffeine may be the problem. And lack of sleep can lead to a reduced metabolism and a higher risk of holding on to body fat.
5. Get at least 7.5 to eight hours sleep every night
Some big celebrities have recently revealed that their weight loss secret is getting enough sleep. I don’t believe that their sculpted bodies can be achieved by sleep alone, but sleep does help.
When you’re wiped out, your hormones go a little crazy, boosting levels of ghrelin, which tells you when you’re hungry, and decreasing leptin, which signals satiety.
Try to get into a routine of going to bed at the same time every night and setting your alarm clock for the same time every morning.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Chocolate overnight oats
If you like chocolatey things, then you’ll love these. I get excited when I wake up and see them in the fridge!
They take two minutes to prepare the night before and they are ready when you wake up on a morning. Just roll out of bed and enjoy the creamy chocolatey flavoured oats.
50g gluten-free oats
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
up to 125ml almond milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup/honey
In a bowl, combine the oats and protein powder. Then add them to your jar.
Pour in as much of the almond milk as you need, depending on how thick you like your oats.
Stir in a tablespoon of sweetener and mix well.
Seal your jar and pop in the fridge overnight (or for a minimum of three hours) before enjoying.
EAST COAST WORKOUT
20 seconds SQUATS
20 seconds LUNGES
20 seconds SQUAT JACKS
30 seconds rest
20 seconds WALKOUTS
20 seconds PRESS UPS
20 seconds TRICEP DIPS
30 seconds rest
20 seconds STAR JUMPS
20 seconds 5 STEP SPRINTS
20 seconds SIDE STEPS
30 seconds rest
20 seconds CRUNCHES
20 seconds BICYCLE ABS
20 seconds LEG RAISES
60 seconds rest
Complete another three rounds, so you do four rounds in total.
Watch a demonstration of the exercises and the workout at my blog www.eastcoast-fitness.com/blog
GET IN TOUCH
Your Trainer: Graham Low, owner of East Coast Fitness, is an award winning personal trainer based in Seaham. The ex-professional footballer was nominated for the Small Business of the Year and Leisure Awards at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards last year. Graham won the Leisure Award at the North East Hotels Association Awards while working as gym manager at Seaham Hall in 2012. For personal training, boot camps, small group training and online programmes email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.eastcoast-fitness.com