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How to lose those festive season kilos – and keep them off

12 January 2022
4 minute read
Woman with arms in the air

By Tamara Oberholster

Many people start the new year off a few kilograms heavier than they ended the last. If you’re looking to shake off any extra weight, here are some strategies to try.

Get physical

Elan Lohmann, founder of Sleekgeek, and co-founder Eric Chowles, believe that the source of fitness and wellbeing is basic everyday movement. If you want to shake off any festive season weight gain, taking up some form of exercise can help, as well as making you fitter, stronger and healthier overall.

But if exercise is not something you’ve been doing regularly before, all the information available can seem overwhelming and confusing. Here are Chowles’s top three tips for building the habit of exercising at home so that you can do it consistently over a long period of time in an effective, rewarding, and satisfying manner:

  1. Do something every day: Something is better than nothing says Chowles. On some days, you might be able to fit in a workout, but on days you don’t, you can still do something. That might be dancing to your favourite song, playing with your kids or pets, stretching, or taking a walk.
  2. Make it easy: Chowles says that your priority should be building the habit of moving. To help yourself get into the habit, make it easy to do. Even a sub-optimal exercise routine that you do is better than the perfect exercise routine that you don’t do. Over time, as exercising at home becomes more ingrained and automatic, you can scale up the difficulty to be more challenging.
  3. Use the two-minute rule: When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do. Rather than aiming to exercise for 30 minutes every day, set the requirement that you exercise for two minutes every day. On good days, you can do your two minutes and then do more if you want to (you almost always will). On bad days, you can do your two minutes and then stop. The key is that you’ve kept your momentum going and continued to build the habit of exercising every day. The next day will be 1% easier and more automatic. As you build the habit and get better at doing it consistently, you can raise the bar to five or 10 minutes.

Focus on food

People tend to want to do drastic things to get rid of any weight gained quickly, but fad diets don’t work (here’s why, if you’d like to read what the experts say). To lose weight safely and keep it off, rather focus on making good food choices.

Chowles suggests three steps to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight:

  1. Focus on affordable, healthy foods: You don’t need to buy “superfoods” or expensive health ranges. Focus on low-cost, nutrient-rich foods that give you the biggest bang for your buck, such as eggs, whole chicken, carrots, beetroot, lettuce, in-season fruit, brown rice, lentils, potatoes, beans, oats, sunflower seeds, peanuts and yoghurt. Don't forget healthy flavour upgrades, such as onions, garlic, spices, herbs, and citrus.
  2. Buy ingredients, not products: Refined food products tend to be less healthy than simple food ingredients (for example, a powdered soup mix is much less healthy than making your own soup from scratch). Buying single-ingredient foods and putting in the time and effort to produce a meal of your own will significantly save on costs and ensure you’re eating more healthily.
  3. Learn to cook: Convenience and pre-packaged meals come at a premium and can be loaded with unhealthy additives. Chowles points out that learning to cook is a true life-skill and not only likely to help you eat more healthily, but also a big money saver.

For more healthy eating tips, check out the Sleekgeek Guide to Eating Healthily on a Budget, which includes the “healthy meal template” Simply pick an ingredient from each group to build a healthy meal.

HEALTHY MEAL TEMPLATE

Build healthy habits for the long term

The best way to get and stay in shape throughout the year is by building healthy and doable habits into your everyday life. Here are six from Sleekgeek to consider:

  • Be as active as possible: Try to find a way to move more throughout the day (beyond structured workouts). Sit less. Walk more. Do fun, active
  • “Never skip twice”: The idea here is to avoid skipping two workouts or healthy meals in a row. No matter what happens, get back on track at the very next opportunity.
  • Cultivate healthy rituals: Rituals are things we do in our lives that are part of our routine. For example, you might pray or meditate before bed or start your day by packing lunch. In 2022, pick one healthy ritual to add to your life, whether it’s finding a way to add protein to every meal where possible or setting a weekly appointment to walk outdoors with a friend, building small healthy habits can keep you anchored to your healthy lifestyle.
  • Be a snob about treats: If you’re going to indulge, make sure the treat you pick is delicious and worth it. Don’t waste your calories on mindless snacking.
  • Aim for satisfied, not stuffed: Don’t deny yourself the enjoyment of good food but train yourself to eat to the point of feeling satiated, not over-full. There’s a difference between eating two mince pies or eight of them in one sitting.
  • Ditch the black and white thinking: Having a bad day is a small bump in the road – not the end of the healthy living journey. Lohmann says it’s important to remember that no matter what happens, even if your health plans go sideways, you are still valuable, worthy, and much more than your physical body.

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