People who keep themselves physically active find that they can eat plenty without putting on weight. To maintain fitness (as opposed to improving) most experts agree that two to three aerobic sessions and two strength/tone/flexibility sessions a week are all that’s needed to keep you in shape.
But perhaps the single most important thing you can do to help maintain your new weight is to burn up extra calories each day by keeping as active as you can outside the confines of a formal exercise session. Your body needs to be used. Sitting around for most of the day and moving occasionally from bed to chair to car to desk to sofa to bed is not enough.
Give your body the attention it deserves throughout the day. All you need to do is to be aware of your body and to return a little to how your life might have been before TV, cars and labour-saving devices. Remember, every time you say ‘yes’ to a modern convenience that saves your body from moving or working, you’re doing it a disfavor. Here are some ideas on getting more activity and movement into your everyday life:
- Think ‘outdoors’ as often as possible. Cycle or walk when you can (often it will be just as quick as waiting for a bus that never comes, or finding somewhere to park the car). Make the most of local facilities such as parks and nature trails.
- If you have a garden, spend more time in it. Gardening can be an absorbing and not too expensive hobby that anyone can enjoy.
- To give walking more of a purpose if you need one, consider walking a neighbor’s dog or even a neighbor’s baby.
- Don’t just send your own children out to play – go with them and organize some active games like catch or rounders. Alternatively, take them swimming or roller-skating.
- Find out what clubs there are in your area that you could join. Your local council or library will have details.
- Try to increase the pace at which you do things, e.g., going up stairs, doing housework, carrying shopping, pushing a trolley, walking to work. Doing things faster means speeding up your metabolic rate and burning up more calories.
- Check your posture throughout the day. Whether you are standing or sitting, is your tummy pulled in, your bottom tucked in? Are your shoulders down and relaxed, rather than hunched?
- If you suffer from mid-afternoon sluggishness, don’t fall asleep or eat a chocolate bar. If you feel drowsy or lack concentration during the day, a high- sugar, quickly absorbed snack will only end up making you feel worse. Instead, take a five-minute activity break: running up stairs or walking round the room or garden will put your body and brain back in good working order.
- Don’t stay in bed longer than necessary to give you a refreshing sleep. Too much sleep can lower metabolism.
- Don’t forget to breathe, preferably, good, fresh air. Like a fire, our bodies need oxygen to burn fuel (i.e. to convert food into energy and burn off calories). Whenever you get the chance, stand at an open window and breathe in deeply (not too deeply if you are unused to this as it will make you dizzy, but you’ll soon improve). Always breathe calmly but deeply whatever you are doing.
- If you have long periods of standing or sitting, do some movements to get your circulation going again.
While sitting at desk or table: circle ankles; lift lower legs up and down and straighten legs out; flex heels to stretch calves; tighten and release thigh muscles; tighten and release buttock muscles; circle shoulders and gently turn head from left to right; gently pull head down to chest to release neck.
While standing in kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil: support yourself with one hand on work surface and do some leg sweeps; stand with feet apart and knees bent and gently swing upper body down until fingers touch floor to release a tight back; clench buttock muscles; put one leg in front of the other and lift front heel off floor several times to exercise calf muscles.
By giving your body a series of mini workouts during the day you are doing a great deal to help keep it toned and supple, as well as burning off calories and preventing a build up of muscle tension.