Karl Henry’s 10 steps to turn your health around

1. Lie on your side with all joints in line, as shown.
1. Lie on your side with all joints in line, as shown.

No amount of exercise can compensate for a bad diet, I’m afraid. You are doing well if you are getting in your three hours of exercise each week, but it doesn’t give you a free pass to the kitchen. The food that we put into our bodies is directly related to our health and our weight. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to eliminate any food groups, or go on any fasts. This plan is designed to give you the tools to stay healthy and trim for the rest of your life, so there are no drastic steps.

I outlined my idea of healthy eating in the piece I wrote for the launch of the 10 steps in Weekend Magazine, but let’s recap here. In essence, it’s a clean way of eating, using fresh foods that have a short shelf life, meals that you prepare yourself where possible, or if you have to buy pre-made food, opt for meals that have as few ingredients as possible. If you abide by these simple rules, you will change the way you eat and you will gain the benefits of health so quickly and so easily, you will wonder why you never did it before. Here are the basics.

Protein: We know just how important protein sources are for the well-being of your body and also to satisfy appetite, so aim to get at least two protein-based meals in each day. Protein-rich foods are all the meats, fish, pulses and eggs. Protein will help to balance out your blood sugars when combined with carbs and fats.

Carbohydrates: When eating carbs, firstly aim for plenty of coloured vegetables, which are the best sources, and continue last week’s food task, which was to swap your white foods for brown. Eat protein with carbs.

Fats: When it comes to fats, nuts and seeds are great, but are to be consumed in small amounts and not too regularly. A palmful is sufficient, and go for raw nuts, not toasted or salted. Cashews, Brazil nuts, pecans and almonds are all great snack choices. Avocados are a great food and oils are good too, especially rapeseed, avocado and coconut, especially when you’re cooking. Avoid trans fats and hydrogenated fats on food labels as they are man-made and not good for you at all.

Fluids: Increase your water and reduce anything that contains sugar or has the word diet on the label.

 Treat: Each week you are to have one meal that contains whatever you want. There are no rules for this one.

Don’t forget to take your waist measurement, weigh yourself and do your fitness test, then record the results to mark your progress.

Good luck!

Top 5 food tips

1 Spicy foods: The hotter you can make your dishes, using chilli, mustards and spices, the better they are for you, your metabolism and your ability to burn fat.

2 Apple cider Vinegar: This is an old-school recommendation, but one that has many health benefits for you. Organic apple cider vinegar in water or warm water first thing in the morning before breakfast is great for your metabolism, digestion and your appetite, too.

3 Foods with sugars from real sources: Eat only food with a short shelf-life. Processed foods are super high in sugar or other man-made sweeteners.

4 Eat every three hours: Don’t worry, I’m not recommending five large meals a day, but ideally three meals with two snacks (nuts and seeds or one piece of fruit). Have your main meal no later that 12 hours after your breakfast.

5 Eat breakfast: Breakfast, breaking the fast of night-time, is a crucial meal. Have eggs, meats or porridge. Be realistic. Don’t plan something that takes too much time if you have to rush out the door first thing!

Exercise of the week

Side leg raises

Time: circa 6 minutes

Frequency: every second day

Lie on your side, with all your joints in one line as shown. Point your toe towards your face

Raise your leg as high as feels comfortable and lower again for one minute then change sides.Repeat five times.

Week two food task:

Eat greens twice a day: Add broccoli, spinach, kale, cabbage or any green vegetable to at least two meals each day. Try adding spinach to a smoothie

Week two: summary

Measure your progress by taking weight, measurement and fitness test (timing one mile walking/running)

Move for three hours – to include fitness test, five sets of leg raises at least three times this week, your static ski squat once this week and any other cardio activities – walking, running, tennis etc

Eat greens at least twice a day and continue to swap white foods for brown

Irish Independent

Author: Francis O' Toole

Francis O' Toole is a Educational Psychotherapist & Guidance Counsellor. I set up this blog page to help students gain as much information as possible to be able to make right choices and decisions regarding their career options. I believe that we will be very successful in our careers if we follow what we enjoy.

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