Aisling Harris fills us in on the things we need to ditch from our diets and the exercises we should take up in 2016.
Aisling Harris knows a thing about food and fitness. In fact, her blog The Superfit Foodie talks about just that.
Amassing, a 16,000-strong following, Aisling’s fans look to her blog for everything from food inspo and diet tips to fitness advice and transformation inspiration.
Naturally, we had to get chatting this food and fitness-savvy gal to find out how we can be healthier and fitter than every before in 2016.
Sugar! We’ve always known this but this year the World Health Organisation issued a recommendation that we should only be getting less than 5% of our total energy intake from free sugars – to put that into context it’s about 30g and a can of cola has 35g! In Ireland the average person consumes about 90-100g per day which is huge and will have negative health impacts in the long run. The sugars in fruit and milk aren’t included in this figure so no need to cut down on them.
I think that functional training and bodyweight training will become even more popular. Nowadays most people have desk jobs or do a lot of driving so are sitting down for large parts of their day. This can lead to tight muscles or muscle imbalances. By doing more functional training you’ll see better improvements in your overall health and posture and won’t get injured as easily.
1.Fibre – this is my number one superfood and one that’s so overlooked. With the rise in popularity of high protein, low carbohydrate diets, fibre is being left out and the increase in digestive issues is rising. Fibre is also important for lowering cholesterol and keeping you feeling full. Include things like oats, bran flakes, wholegrains, fruits, beans, seeds and chickpeas in your diet to up your fibre intake.
2.Water – an obvious one but keeping hydrated works wonders for you skin, complexion, concentration, mood etc. Infuse it with cucumber, lemon slices or mint leaves to make it nicer to taste.
3.Green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kale and cauliflower – I’ve just finished up an essay about the cancer fighting properties in these vegetables and the evidence out there to back it up is overwhelming so eat your greens!
4.Oily fish – this is the best dietary source of Vitamin D, which is very important for bone health. Usually we can make Vitamin D ourselves from sunlight however in Ireland this can be a problem! The government is currently revising intake guidelines and may start recommending for some groups to take supplements. However, if you like oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines just have two to three portions a week and you’ll be fine.
5.Meat-free Mondays – I think it’s a great idea to include a few meat-free days each week, mainly because it teaches you how to cook and experiment with different vegetables and spices without depending on meat as the main ingredient. You also have to replace the meat with more vegetables or legumes to keep you full so it’s a great way of upping your intake of these.
1.Omelettes – this is my go-to dinner after a long day when I don’t want to cook but want to be healthy! Add in some chopped vegetables like mushrooms, onions, peppers and a bit of smoked salmon and you’ve got a really quick, cheap and nutritious meal.
2.Overnight oats – these are a saviour for anyone who finds they’re running short on time in the mornings. You prepare them the night before, leave in the fridge and simply grab them on your way out the door in the morning. I’ve loads of recipes on my blog ranging from the most basic to my more extravagant but delicious strawberries and cream or salted caramel flavours.
3.Zoodles – or spiralized zucchini. If you haven’t heard of a spiralizer before now, you definitely will in 2016! It can be used to make vegetable spaghetti as a lower calorie alternative to wheat pasta.
After all the excitement and partying during December it’s difficult to go cold-turkey on January 1st and go back to reality.
The best thing to do is to plan and organise some events/days out that don’t revolve around eating and drinking. This way you still have something to look forward to! We have so many beaches, national parks, galleries, visitor attractions etc. that most of us know about but probably have never even been to. Best of all they’re free, you’ll burn some calories getting out in nature and you can still treat yourself to a nice coffee afterwards.
Definitely stress, long working hours and poor time management. By the time most of us get home from work in the evenings, the last thing we want to do is prepare food for the week or get changed and head to a cold gym. We’d much rather stick on Netflix and sit on the couch.
However, and I’m guilty of this myself, in the time that it takes to watch two shows you could have made dinner for the week, got in a quick 30 minute workout and called a friend – well maybe that’s being a bit optimistic but it’s worth actually sitting down and analysing how much time you spend aimlessly scrolling through social media or half-watching TV. It’s actually shocking when you realise how much time you might be wasting. So put the phone down and make time to do the things you’ve been putting off.
1. Burpees – they’re a fantastic full body exercise that also gets your heart rate up and your lungs going.
2. Squats – they are a must for building a booty but also great for your core. If you’re a beginner, then just do bodyweight squats to start. You can then progress to jump squats or if you want to add in some weight then hold something heavy like water bottle into your chest. If you want to learn to squat properly, ask a trainer in your gym to show you the correct technique first.
3. Press-ups – if you want toned arms, add some press ups to your routine. You can start off by keeping your knees on the floor. When you work up to being able to do them from your toes you’ll also engage your abdominal muscles and build a really strong core.
4. Step ups – another great exercise for building muscles and toning legs. Step up onto a medium height box or chair either just using your bodyweight or holding two dumbbells (or water bottles). Push through your heels, stand straight at the top of the step and step down gently.
5. Plank – brilliant for core and never seems to get easier! Mix it up by doing side planks to target your oblique muscles or even add in a plank push up to really challenge yourself!
January can be a pretty miserable month after all the excitement of Christmas so instead of making it harder for yourself focus on what you can ADD into your lifestyle instead of what you need to cut out.
Add in healthy foods, more water, more walks and a few workouts to get the endorphins pumping and by February when you’ve developed healthy habits and start to feel better generally, you won’t want to negate the effects of your hard work so will naturally cut out things like chocolate, junk food and takeaways, although not completely as everyone deserves their cheat days. Just stick to the 80:20 rule and you’ll be fine!
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