“Sweat the small stuff”

Here at Valley Leisure, we believe in creating small changes. We understand how hard it can be to drastically change your diet, so we’ve put together our top five tips in taking that first step towards a healthier lifestyle.

1) Get in shape

The first thing, quite obviously, is to stick to your exercise routine. If you haven’t got one yet, then its time to start. Start simple, either at home or in the gym to help you gain muscle and tone-up (look out for Valley Leisure’s 24 Days of Christmas fitness videos – starting 1st December for inspiration).

2) Ditch the sugar

If you’re like us and have a bit of a sweet-tooth, then we would recommend trying to cut down on sugar, but if you can’t cut it out completely, then there are always better options.Brown-Sugar

Alternative: Sweeteners (in particularly Stevia), are well-known for their no-calorie appeal. Further studies have shown that stevia can lower insulin levels, making a great option for diabetics. Another option could be to swap to brown sugar, which contains essential nutrients, making it a healthier alternative to the typical refined white sugar. But remember, you should only have sugar in small quantities.

3) Shake off the salt

Salt is another one of those ‘bad habits’ which doctors and health experts always warn us about. Like sugar, salt is fine in small quantities, but there are always more nutritious options. pink salt

Alternative: We recommend using pink rock salt, or in fact any coloured salt (that isn’t white). These options all include minerals, as they’re unrefined, unprocessed “raw” salts. Typical table salt (or sea salt) as we know it, is a highly refined, processed white substance that devoid nutrients, and the lack of iodine in the salt can have an effect on general health.

4) British way of life

In one of the previous points we mentioned the traditional British beverage – tea. There is no ‘law-abiding’ regime that says how many cups you should have a day, because everyone has a different reaction to caffeine. Firstly, don’t just have tea or coffee because you’re tired or need waking up. If you don’t enjoy drinking it, then don’t abuse it as an energy supplement. Also, try to stop drinking caffeine after 5pm, as it can affect your sleeping.

Alternative: If you want to enjoy a healthier choice, then try green tea. Green tea is categorised as a ‘superfood’ by the NHS due to its medicinal properties and rich antioxidants, and is used in the Far East to treat everything from headaches to weight loss.

5) Treat yourself

Let’s face it, all of us crave unhealthy, fatty foods at one point or another, after all, we’re only human. We recommend that you give in to your cravings once a week, with one ‘cheat meal’. Throughout the week, try clean eating, this simply means eating whole foods – those that aren’t processed, refined and handled. Examples include fresh vegetables (specifically greens), chicken, eggs, and other foods with high protein. Quite frankly, opt for the ‘healthy’ lifestyle. Avoid participating in juicing and diet fads, it comes down to eating mindfully. Then once a week, treat yourself to that large Domino’s pizza and tub of Ben and Jerry’s you’ve been craving (we choose Saturday’s for our cheat meal). Give yourself one to two hours, and eat whatever takeaway or unhealthy food that you desire. Please note, that this isn’t a cheat day, just simply one large cheat meal, which will keep all those nasty cravings satisfied!

Photo sources: Brown sugar, Pink rock salt, British tea, Ben and Jerry’s

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