Take tiny steps, not big leaps, to better health

TV’s Dr Phillip Kieran offers five simple habits for lasting results when it comes to improving your health and fitness and losing weight
Take tiny steps, not big leaps, to better health

Dr. Phil Kieran. Picture Dan Linehan

JANUARY is always that month when we feel extra pressure to undo the indulgent festive period as many of us search for a quick fix to improve our health or lose weight.

Although diets and January fads usually result in fast results or even weight loss, they are not associated with forging lifelong habits with research showing that two-thirds of people subscribing to unhealthy, unrealistic fad diets regain all the weight they lost and then some following a highly restrictive diet.

2020 has been severe enough without putting any further unrealistic expectations on ourselves. Take the pressure off and be kinder to yourself by taking tiny steps with simple lifestyle changes and forget giant leaps, it’s the best way to get lasting results.

GP Dr. Phil Kieran from RTÉ’s “You Really Should See A Doctor” advises us to look at our health holistically, including sleep, stress, movement, and nutrition. It is the most effective way to lose weight, manage stress and prevent regaining future pounds.

Dr Phillip Kieran’s Five Tips for a healthier 2021

Try to make sure you drink lots of water Picture: Stock
Try to make sure you drink lots of water Picture: Stock

1. Drink plenty of water

Water is the main component of blood, which supplies cells with oxygen and nutrients and carries waste out of the body. Even mild dehydration can impair memory and mood, heightening anxiety symptoms.

“Try to make sure you drink plenty of water. Dehydration because of alcohol excess post- Christmas period is very common at this time of year”.

Up your fibre intake, says Dr Kieran. Picture: Stock
Up your fibre intake, says Dr Kieran. Picture: Stock

2. The magic of fibre

Even if increasing your fibre intake is the only dietary change you make, research shows that people who get at least 30 grams of fibre a day, given no other nutritional parameters, lose a significant amount of weight. 

Bananas can be useful for weight loss because they contain lots of fibre but other fruits and vegetables can also be beneficial.

“Switch it up for the new years and keep some carrot sticks in the fridge as a snack which will increase your fibre intake and could help you reduce your intake of high-sugar and processed snacks”.

3. Reduce junk food and try a probiotic.

You might find yourself struggling with junk food cravings, mainly when stress is high or times of uncertainty. Junk food can be addictive, and when we’re off the back of the festive season, it can be particularly challenging. However, your gut will thank you for sticking to a cleaner diet!

“Unfortunately, our guts don’t like sugary fatty processed foods. 

Try to avoid junk foods like soft drinks, biscuits, chips and pizza. This is so hard to do when we are surrounded by it at Christmas. Instead, try to plan and keep healthy snacks at hand. When you’re leading a busy life and find that your bowel is playing havoc, I’d highly recommend taking Alflorex. It’s a probiotic with a unique 35624 culture that has been proven to improve symptoms of IBS”.

Even get out for a brief walk. Picture: Stock
Even get out for a brief walk. Picture: Stock

4. Make 2021 the year of the “exercise snack”.

An exercise “snack” is a short burst of movement you can enjoy at home or outdoors, even just 4-second bursts of exercise have been shown to improve fitness.

Just get up and start walking around your house as you talk on a work call.

If you have hand weights, do some arm exercises. Do a yoga pose or a wall sit while you chat.

Even in small spaces, walking around or walking on the spot, can help you remain active. If you have a call, stand or walk around your home while you speak, instead of sitting down.

It’s so important to stay active whatever way you can. Start slowly, introduce new activities gradually, set yourself realistic targets each week and rest when you feel tired.

“Make January the month to get out for even a short walk close to home during the day. If there is a beach close to your house go for a swim, it’s one of my favourite things to do”

Remember, If you decide to go outside to walk or exercise, be sure to keep within the 5km rule and maintain at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) between you and other people.”

Ensure you get enough sleep. Picture: Stock
Ensure you get enough sleep. Picture: Stock

5. Sleep.

“We can all find ourselves burning the candle at both ends around Christmas, but the new year is the perfect time to clean up your sleep routine. 

"Trying to keep to some degree of a regular sleep routine will allow us all to enjoy ourselves a lot more and snack less”.

6. Connect with family and friends.

“January, the start of a new year, also be a very lonely time of the year and this year more so than previous years.

“Pick up the phone and ring people whom you would usually have met up with.”

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