Five diet and fitness experts on body-weight training, eating organically and 23 other tips to help you reach and maintain a healthy body
Do HIIT High Intensity Interval Training. (HIIT) alternates fast moves with slower ones, which is the best thing you can do for your body in terms of strengthening your heart and getting fitter, stronger and shapelier. The Model Method repeats three 30-second bursts of plyometric moves such as burpees, box jumps or step-ups, with a rest session of Pilates or floor work. There are no excuses with HIIT – you don’t need any equipment and you can always find 10 minutes to fit it in.
Wear a heart-rate monitor. Many of my clients don’t push themselves as hard as they could because they don’t know what working hard feels like. A heart monitor shows whether you’re working to the optimum level to get the results you want. I suggest people work at 80 per cent of their maximum heart rate or above. Not only does this ensure you’re working hard during your session, but you’ll burn calories at a faster rate for hours afterwards, too.
Don’t ignore your TA. Everyone works on their front abdominal muscles with moves such as sit-ups, but the key to a strong core is working the transverse abdominis muscle, which wraps around the middle of the body – strengthen that and you will look slimmer, stand taller and reduce your risk of back pain. Exercises such as plank are the best way to tone it – but do them properly, pulling your stomach back towards your spine.
Don’t run. I used to run marathons, but while running may cause weight loss in some people, it can also cause a flattening of your bottom, and for many it just doesn’t trigger fat loss at all. Do it for sanity or enjoyment but don’t expect it to change your body shape. For that you need to add some kind of weights element – be it strength training, body-weight training or Pilates.
Be inspired. One thing that gets me going on days when I don’t feel like working out or eating clean is following people who inspire me on social media – I can look at their accounts and think, “Well, she did it today – so can I.” Don’t follow anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself, only those who motivate you.The more you get to know and like your body, the more natural the right things to eat or do will feel”
Jane Kersel is a London-based yoga teacher. She believes your best body is not one that looks incredible but one that you’re at ease with
It’s not rocket science: stop obsessing. If there is an imbalance in what you eat versus what you use you’ll gain or lose weight. If you don’t move, your body will lose its tone, it will seize up and you will end up looking like the shape of your chair.
Start to enjoy your body. Get out of your head and start to see your body as the sensuous playground it is. Focus on the feel of how it moves, what it’s like to breathe, the pleasure of stretching. Learn to marvel at the engineering of your hand, your foot, your arm and your hips. You want to begin to treat your body like your best friend, not the enemy. The more you do this the more you will also enjoy moving your body; it will start to feel like something you have to do every day.
Work from your internal feelings and thoughts. The more you get to know and like your body, the more natural the right things to eat or do will feel. My teenage daughter, for example, does not smoke, not because she is not allowed to but because intrinsically it does not feel as if it is something her body would want. When you first smoke, you cough and feel nauseous – that is literally your body rejecting it. And yet we put many other things into our bodies that trigger the same reaction.
Don’t be over-critical of your body. We live in a world in which we are constantly fed the illusion that unless your body is slim, flexible and toned you’re lacking in some way. I sometimes work with supermodels and I have heard them comment negatively in regard to their bodies. It’s all based on external judgments and critical eyes. The best body is one belonging to someone who feels a million dollars on the inside, has made friends with the parts of her physique she didn’t like before and is confident in herself and in her body.
Get high on movement. Each day simply say, “Today I am going to move,” and then go and do it with no agenda. I move every day but would never call it exercise. Whether I’m running, dancing, swimming, in yoga practice or riding a horse, I get high on the ability to move myself around in all directions. We should never forget what a huge achievement that is.
Yoga teacher Jane Kersel (HOWARD SOOLEY)
Eat high-quality foods – organic, grass-fed and unprocessed – and you will find that you can eat a greater quantity of food while still losing weight”
Dave Asprey is an entrepreneur and the author of “The Bulletproof Diet”, about the regime he believes helped him lose seven stone
You absolutely have to change your diet. Many people think the key to getting your best body is to focus on exercise. It is not the only answer. I learnt the hard way that no matter how much you exercise, if you aren’t eating the right foods you won’t get the body you want. Follow a diet high in healthy fats and organic vegetables accompanied by moderate amounts of grass-fed meats, and cut out sugar and grains completely – you will see a massive change in how you look and feel in as little as two weeks.
Quality not quantity is key. That rule applies to the food you eat and the exercise you do. Eat high-quality foods – organic, grass-fed and unprocessed – and you will find that you can eat a greater quantity of food while still losing weight. Focusing on quantity is also the mistake I see time and time again regarding exercise. There is a point of diminishing return with exercise, and more will not always lead to a better body. Exercise sessions should be brief, intense, not too frequent, safe and purposeful.
Don’t count calories. The calories in/calories out model has been shown to work in sealed laboratories, but in the real world calorie restriction during the day leaves most people craving sugary or salty snacks late at night, at a time when you’re more likely to give in to temptation. It doesn’t have to be hard to eat well and feel satisfied; if you’re not satisfied, it is likely that you are not eating enough healthy fats and proteins for you.
Swap your normal breakfast for a coffee. The Bulletproof regime sees people starting the day with a coffee combined with grass-fed butter and a coconut oil extract I call Brain Octane Oil, which is 18 times stronger than coffee alone. Swapping to this instead of your normal breakfast cereal and a cup of low-grade coffee gives you heightened focus and energy without the crash and jitters. It will also turn on your body’s fat-burning mechanism by putting you into a state called ketosis – you’ll basically be in fat-burning mode until lunch.
Add a whole avocado to lunch. I eat at least one avocado every day, and they are a great way to get a supply of fat at lunch that helps to keep energy levels up throughout the afternoon.
Craving snacks is often a sign that you’re eating the wrong type of carbohydrates and/or not enough fat or protein”
Daniel O’Shaughnessy is the co-founder of the detox centre Bodhimaya, which has a clinic in London and a retreat in France.Change one thing at a time. Many of my clients try to change everything about their diet at once and follow every single fad, even if it is not working for them. Just focus on one thing – be that something about what you eat, or about when you eat – and give your body a chance to adjust to that. If it is working for you, keep doing it; if not, change to something else.
Structure your meals. This is the first thing I tell most of my clients to change as it often gives you very good results quickly. I suggest some clients eat only three meals a day – no snacks – and leave about five hours between meals. Craving snacks is often a sign that you’re eating the wrong type of carbohydrates and/or not enough fat or protein. Other people prefer eating only within an eight-hour window – say, between 8am and 4pm. Try doing this twice a week and see how you feel before attempting it more frequently.
Use full-fat not low-fat products. When manufacturers take fat out of food they normally replace it with sugar – and if you want your best-ever body you need to remove as much sugar from your diet as possible. Sugar is inflammatory, which increases ageing in the body and potentially links to an increased risk of chronic diseases. We have become afraid of fat, but we shouldn’t be – fat is a problem in a diet only when carbohydrate levels are high. Keep levels of both sensible and you can eat both.
Eat mostly above-ground vegetables. I divide vegetables into two types – those that grow above ground, which are mostly leafy, and those that grow in the ground, such as carrots or potatoes, which are more starchy. Focus your diet on the above-ground ones and you will lower carbohydrate and sugar levels a little further.
Know your energy sappers. I used to be a coffee addict. I loved it but it didn’t love me. It would sap my energy so badly that I just had to give it up. Then I had my genes tested and found that I carry a gene that means I detox coffee extremely slowly, which accounts for why it makes me feel dreadful. It is far easier to eat healthily and exercise if your energy levels are high, so look at how foods make you feel. If you believe you’re consuming anything that lowers your vitality, see what happens if you cut it out.
O’Shaughnessy recommends eating more leafy vegetables to lower your carbohydrate and sugar levels (ALAMY)
Ask yourself why you really want to change your body. Often we just think we want to get thinner, but actually what we want is more confidence”
Katie Kensit and Caroline Bragg are the team behind The Ignition, which combines physical exercise with mindset changes
Find your motivation. If you do not know why you want to improve your body, you won’t put in the steps it takes to achieve it. Ask yourself why you really want to change your body. Often we just think we want to get thinner, but actually what we want is more confidence, which might perhaps be gained by doing a different kind of workout. List absolutely every single benefit you think you might get from changing. When you go over the list you’ll probably see a theme – what lies behind that theme will reveal your true motivation.
Use the five Ws. What is your goal? When do you want to achieve it by? Where are you right now in relation to achieving that? (This is the question people overlook, but if you do not assess where you’re starting from, it can be hard to determine the best way to proceed.) What are your options to achieve your goal? Then finally ask, When am I going to start, and what’s the first step I need to take? Put that date in your diary then take that first step.
Put into your body what you want to get out of it. If you eat rubbish and don’t put the effort into your workout, your body will reward you with poor results. Two simple rules to follow are: do not eat anything you are unable to pronounce (except quinoa); and, if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.
Do something healthy first thing every day. Be that formal exercise, walking to the station, walking up the escalator, or starting with a perfect breakfast. It sets your mind up to think about your goals for the whole day.
Use “power postures”. The Ted talk by the social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, is brilliant. She proposes that our bodies and minds are intrinsically linked, and if you change the position of your body, you can change the way your mind behaves. For example, raising your arms over your head after your finish your run – as the winner of a race might do – gives a sense of jubilation that you can tap into to affirm how good exercise makes you feel.