Since we are in a lockdown for one more time, many of us face the great challenge of weight gain, because of lack of daily exercise and excessive eating, often consuming food high in calories and trans fats. In the latest years, fitness centres are becoming increasingly popular to most of us, and there is a reason for that. Wellness and sports centres help us achieve our personal goals, always with the guidance and help from certified professionals and nutritionists.

So what do we do now that gyms are closed for an indefinite time? A quick answer to that question is that we simply keep on trying to achieve our personal fitness goals, with caution, knowledge and schedule, from home! If you stress out only with the thought of it, we are here for you with some simple and easy suggestions, in order to help you start your own fitness journey.

Nutrition or Diet?

 

A common mistake is that healthy nutrition and diet are the same thing. Maybe it is one of the most common false beliefs that unfortunately stands as a reason to not follow a balanced nutrition, since we believe that it is the same as a strict diet. In some cases, it even leads some us to dangerous diets, while we believe that we simply follow a nutrition. Let’s explain their main differences.

Healthy nutrition is a well balanced program, organised by a nutritionist or us, that is actually part of our daily life. It is a lifestyle that aims at weight loss or helps us sustain our weight and most importantly, our overall health. As a permanent situation, it should support our body needs and its daily activities, and it should fit into our daily schedule. A brief example is mediterranean nutrition  for which we might talk about in a later topic.

On the other hand, a diet is an eating schedule, created to last for only a certain period of time, which aims in weight loss or even helps someone gain weight, lose or build muscles or even assist someone overcome a health problem. It is not a lifestyle and it is not a permanent situation. Some common examples are keto c diet, which forbids the consumption of carbohydrates and is rich in protein foods, Atkins diet etc. A diet prescription should be based on the individual’s needs and should be given by a nutritionist, therefore, we will only give you some nutrition tips that you can easily follow from home.

Sugar: Our sweetest enemy

One of the most harmful “sins” that we all indulge in, is comfort food. Whether it is a salty delicacy or a sweet dessert, one thing is for sure: they all contain large amounts of sugar. However, it is not that easy to avoid sugar completely, but at least we should stop adding it into our food or favourite drinks, especially the ones that we enjoy on a daily basis, like our morning cup of coffee. From my personal experience, when I stopped adding sugar in my morning coffee and I replaced cream with oat milk, without sweeteners, I noticed a huge difference. Consuming sugar through drinks, is one of the most common mistakes. It might seem weird to taste your coffee or tea without any milk or sugar at first, but after a few days, you will get to enjoy the true flavour of a nice coffee blend or the scent of your herbal tea.

If you have a sweet tooth, like most of us, you can try adding some natural sweeteners, like bio honey, stevia (both my personal favourite choices) and better avoid consuming aspartame, since it is considered harmful to our health.

Tip: if you want to enjoy your cup of coffee or tea with a delicious piece of cake, without any guilt, try replacing sugar with chopped dates

Water: your strongest ally 

It is estimated that 70% to 75% of our body weight consists of water. This fact is the proof that adequate, daily water consumption is of great importance.

Beauty starts from within. If you wish to have glowing, youthful skin, then all you need is a good hydration cream and 8 to 10 glasses of water a day! Its most important advantage though, is that it helps us lose weight or sustain it. A dehydrated organism, loses its energy and craves for sugar and carbohydrates to replace it. As a result, we end up eating larger amounts of food than we should. On the contrary , when we drink a lot of water, we feel full and we stop craving food all the time, so we end up losing weight more easily. Last but not least, water balances all our body functions, our inner organs health, our resistance in moderate or intensive training, our mental health. In a few words, it is the number one factor for our overall health (homeostasis).

Tip: Try drinking water in room temperature, since our body tries harder in order to bring ice cold water in the right temperature and until it absorbs it, it ends up emitting it. 

Tip2: Like with food, every organism has its own needs in water. If you want to calculate your ideal daily water consumption, there are many mobile apps out there, that help you track how much water you should drink, according to your weight and activity. I personally use Water Reminder Daily Tracker, that not only calculates the ideal amount of water but, in case you want to, it also has an hourly reminder so that you never forget to hydrate yourself! 

Exercise and Smile

Modern lifestyle requires many hours of sitting still, as a result of office life and this year especially, because of the lockdown and quarantine measures. Therefore, most of us have stopped working out on a daily basis, a factor that plays a major part in maintaining our health and a positive attitude. Unfortunately, people that are not used of working out, are unable to comprehend the tremendous consequences of sedentary lifestyle.  Sitting in front of a computer screen for long hours or having Netflix marathons on the couch, makes our body stiff and weak. Human body is a biological tool that needs fuel (food) and practice (activity), in order to work properly. To put it simply, when we don’t work out, we are off form.

Daily exercise, especially aerobics (cardio, HIIT etc), which increases our heart rate and makes us sweat, helps us detox and boosts our metabolism. For more rapid results, try out a High-intensity interval training for afterburn effect, always with the guidance of a personal trainer who can help you from distance thanks to technology.

If you wish to build muscles, then weight lifting is the right type of exercise for you. One thing to keep in mind though, is that if you want to build muscles and not just stay fit, you should reach “muscle failure”. This type of exercise, should be conducted with the right equipment by an advanced trainee or under the guidance of a certified coach, in order to avoid possible injuries.

If, on the other hand, you simple wish to stay active, then wear a pair of comfy trainers and walk across the beach, do some trekking or visit your nearest park. After all, moderate cardio exercise and pure oxygen, is the perfect combination for a balanced metabolism and a good overall health. 

No matter which type of exercise you choose, it is more likely to stick to the one you enjoy the most. With a great variety in workout plans, it is certain that you will find the one that matches your interests and needs. And always remember, even if you are bored and about to watch the next blockbuster series on Netflix, get off the couch, wear those tights that compliment your figure and dedicate even 20 minutes for starters, conducting some mild cardio exercise. You will soon notice a great difference, not only in your mood but also in the way you’re facing your daily routine. Stay strong!

* Marilena Vasileiadis, is a certified Group Fitness Instructor and a member of EREPS (European Register of Exercise Professionals). She is specialised in TRX and BOSU training and owns a Sports Nutrition and Exercise diploma. 

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