With just over a month until summer, you might be starting to think about whether all those summer clothes you bought online in lockdown are actually going to fit. Logan Tutty talks to Whanganui health and fitness experts for some tips on how to shape up.
While the prospect of shifting extra weight through a stringent diet and exercise plan can seem overwhelming, fitness experts say it doesn't have to be all sacrifice and guilt over what you can and can't eat or drink; nor be a mammoth brow-sweating effort.
In fact, one tip requires you to stay in bed.
Simple baby steps of change are enough to significantly improve your health and help you feel more confident in your own skin.
If done regularly, and properly, they're also a sustainable way to manage weight, especially as we head into the silly season.
Here's how to do it.
Have a honest assessment of where you are at and what your goals are
Naturopath and dietician Audrey McCosh said before even looking at what you're eating, a hard and honest look at your current situation was needed.
"People have to be aware - for things to change, they have to change. Until they accept that, then change is going to be hard.
"A lot of times people don't want to change. It is so easy to say 'oh I can't do that' or 'I don't want to do that'.
"Sometimes people don't even start, because if you don't start, you don't feel."
Don't overload or push yourself too much early on
Personal trainer Carla Tonks says if you haven't done much exercise recently, it's about making tiny steps and setting small goals for yourself.
"I feel a lot of people go, 'I'm going to work out seven days a week, walk this day, run this day', and it is just too much.
"You need to build up to that. Walking is one of the most fabulous exercises you can start with. Also being outside in nature helps, not just for your body but the mind-body connection."
Having friends or family alongside you can help keep you motivated and accountable.
"I'm very much about getting women to become stronger, build confidence and build strength from the inside out. Sometimes people think they need to start moving more, but that's not the whole picture."
If people are struggling to fit in time for exercise, Tonks said a good start is to just park slightly further away from work and walk from there.
"Making sure you are moving your legs and not sitting all day. If there are stairs, take them instead of the elevator. It's just the small things you can do during the day which can incorporate a little extra movement."
With a particular passion for women's exercise, Tonks said new mums should check out MumSafe, a network of professionals dedicated to safe and effective exercises for every stage of motherhood.
"There is no real standard for return to exercise for new mums and there is no standard education that professionals have to adhere to."
She said a lot of mums suffered from incontinence or prolapse and it had become normalised when there were ways to help.
"I'm very much trying to have a conversation around 'yes, it is common, but it doesn't need to be normal'. There is a lot we can do about it. This is a barrier for women getting back into exercise and getting back into exercise safely."
Eat real food, not fast food
Where possible, try to eat whole foods. It doesn't mean you can't have treats, but if it comes from a packet, it's unlikely to be doing your waistline any favours.
Try to consume as many veges, fruits, meat, nuts and seeds as you can.
If you want to eat takeaways, opt for a wrap or salad and sushi bars over fast food, and moderate how many times a week you eat out.
Aim to have at least three main meals a day - breakfast being the most important (try raw oatmeal with honey, banana and a protein drink; or scrambled egg whites); and at least one or two healthy snacks a day.
A source of protein at each meal will help keep you full.
What's protein? Lean beef, chicken, dairy products, beans, pork, seafood and nuts. The palm of your hand is a good size guide as to how much protein you should be eating per sitting.
Protein is the building block for muscle, and the more muscle we have, the more energy we burn every day.
"Protein keeps you full. If you are full, you are less likely to pig out as well," McCosh said.
"Making sure there is protein in every meal. It will balance your blood sugar levels as well and stop you from spiking.
"Quite often when eat things really high in sugar, you spike your insulin levels and you actually become more hungry and want to eat more."
She recommended the average person have one gram of protein for each kilogram they weigh, and split that across their meals for the day.
For more active people, somewhere between 1.2-2g of protein per kg would be more appropriate.
"If you are going to snack, snack on protein because it will keep you fuller for longer. Then you are way less likely to binge eat because you are way more satisfied."
When it comes to carbs, pick complex carbs over refined ones, and you'll sustain energy, and minimise cravings for foods that you don't need.
Refined carbs are wheat, whole-grain cereals and breads, and brown rice.
There was one thing McCosh said should be avoided at all costs.
"Sugar. Sugar will make you crave more sugar so try not to eat it. If you do eat it, try to eat with some protein because it will stop the imbalance."
A simple acronym McCosh recommended working from was HALT - to figure out what is behind your eating motivations.
"Am I hungry? Am I angry? Am I lonely or bored? Or am I tired? That will help you understand why you are eating what you are."
Make sure you have a plan
When it comes to exercising, knowing what you are doing is crucial, McCosh said.
"You need a plan. There is nothing worse than people going to the gym and having no idea what they are doing. Having a plan will make life so much easier and you will see results so much faster."
Diet was about 80 per cent of the equation to being healthy, with the remaining 20 per cent being exercise, she said.
"I look at it as one plus one equals five. You put them both together, and you are absolutely going to get amazing results. You can't out-exercise a bad diet. You are what you eat."
Being wary during the silly season
McCosh said with summer holidays and Christmas around the corner, you can still eat festive foods - it's just about making good choices.
"It's basically being prepared. If you know what you are going to do, you are more likely to do it.
"Just say on Christmas Day you know you are going to eat twice as much food, then you have to prepare yourself for that."
She looks at calories as cash in the bank around Christmas, knowing that you are going to be eating more so slowly tapering off beforehand to compensate.
"It could be as simple as the week before cutting down very slightly, and then if you do completely overeat, cutting down slightly the following week.
"That doesn't work for longtime plans, but for around Christmas that works really well."
Tonks said people have to be able to enjoy themselves, but need to be cautious.
"It is all about balance. Make sure you keep exercising and balance out the bad days with unprocessed, healthy meals."
Making sure you don't drink your calories is another key strategy.
"You can add a lot of calories when you are out drinking with your friends and not realise it. Alcohol calories do not get consumed the same way as food does, so it puts a lot of stress on the body as well."
Wine and beer are not only bad for you, but once you've had a drink or two, you snack away when you're not actually hungry.
"Particularly at the social gatherings, Kiwis are very social drinkers. Quite often, when they drink, there are snacks as well. People sit and snack all night and don't even realise."
While it might not be for everyone, announcing to your gathering that you are being mindful about what you are eating and drinking at the start of the night may help reaffirm what you are doing.
"It might sound silly, but if people say at the beginning of the night they aren't going to drink so much or you are watching what you are eating, because you have said it out loud, you are more conscious that people are watching you and you may behave."
Make sure you are sleeping enough
Making sure you are getting between six and eight hours' sleep a day was crucial in allowing the body to rest and repair, as well as helping alleviate stress.
"It is extremely important. Your body is healing when it is sleeping, that is when all the good stuff is being done. If you don't sleep, your body is not resting and not repairing," McCosh said.
"You won't lose weight if you don't get good, quality sleep."