Small Lifestyle Tweaks To Have You In Decent Shape By Christmas

Easy does it.
When eating out go for lean protein and salads over carbs.
When eating out go for lean protein and salads over carbs.

Working out five times a week and drinking protein shakes would probably get you into great shape in a month or two but lets face it, ain't nobody got time for that.

Life is busy enough and seems to get even more flat-out in the lead up to Christmas, so committing to a full-on lifestyle overall at this time of year is pretty unrealistic.

That's why we've asked some of Australia's top wellness experts who are getting together for the upcoming Fitness Show for small tweaks and easy tips you can incorporate to be in decent shape by the time the fat man comes.

Make a lunch swap

"Turn your favourite sandwich into a salad to help manage your carbohydrate load." Lowe told HuffPost Australia.

"Love a turkey, avocado, cranberry and salad sandwich? Try making it into a salad version, using only fresh and unpacked ingredients."

Lowe says excess carbohydrates in the form of sugar, white bread, pasta and rice and makes weight loss and fat burning virtually impossible.

"When you max out on white foods you stay hungry, courtesy of a blood sugar roller coaster, controlled by the hormone insulin. This causes cravings and it's easy to give in to overeating, especially at the back-end of your work day and the biscuit bin is calling."

Not all salads are boring. Promise.
Not all salads are boring. Promise.

"By swapping a homemade salad for your usual white bread sandwich you will be minimising refined carbohydrates and you'll be on your way to eating an abundance of non-starchy vegetables, quality protein and good fats with each meal which will help you achieve a healthy body weight."

Have 'clean' protein on every plate

"Swap the usual pasta or grains on your plate for a clean protein to take control of your cravings and the amount you eat," Lowe said.

"Protein is the satiety macronutrient that balances blood sugars and helps to control our blood sugar which dictates hunger, energy, mood and weight By choosing a variety of good-quality protein such as free range eggs, wild caught salmon, organic tofu or tempeh, grass-fed hormone-free beef, and organic, hormone-free chicken you will see a difference in not only the way you feel, but the way you look."

Don't turn your back on good fats

Lowe says it's important to stop avoiding fat and increase your intake of food like avocado, salmon and almonds for essential omega 3s.

"Fat is essential for satiety, hormonal control and nutrient density but the right type of fat is extremely important. Always cook with saturated fat, such as coconut oil, butter and animal fat, as they are highly heat stable and maintain their structure under high temperatures. They are also a fantastic source of slow release energy and along with protein, contribute to satiety, blood sugar and insulin control," Lowe said.

"Avoid polyunsaturated seed oils, high doses of omega 6 and trans fats -- these are highly inflammatory and can lead to hormonal imbalances and chronic health conditions."

Set performance-based goals

"I hear it all the time as a trainer. 'I want abs', 'What exercises will tone my thighs'. 'I'm trying to lose weight for summer'. The danger of these goals is letting a negative body image and self criticism fuel your workout regime," Poppett told HuffPost Australia.

Make your goals about getting fit and healthy, not about how your body looks.
Make your goals about getting fit and healthy, not about how your body looks.

"Exercise will improve your body confidence but don't let society's ideology of the perfect body be the driving force behind your workouts. I find the most successful goals that motivate clients to show up everyday and push their limits are those that focus on particular skill or facet of their fitness."

Eat More Plants

Poppett is a big fan of adding more vegetables to your diet.

"The majority of Australians eat an excessive amount of meat and animal products, which believe it or not can have detrimental effects on not only your health but the health of the planet."

"Most animal products are high in saturated fats which have been proven to contribute to preventable chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Enjoying more plant based meals can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like freshwater and fossil fuel."

Poppett suggest swapping some animal sourced protein for a few of these nutrient rich plant-based alternatives:

  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
  • Black Beans
  • Lentils
  • Spirulina
  • Brown Rice or Pea Protein Powders
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Edamame Beans

Practice Mindful Eating

Poppett believes It's not just about what we eat, but how we eat.

"In our fast paced world full of distractions it can be seemingly easy to scoff an entire meal without taking the time to enjoy the flavours of the foods we are eating or even acknowledge the amount we are consuming."

Mindful eating is the action of eating with your attention focused primarily on the food that is in front of you. Mindful eating is one of the biggest stepping stones we can take towards creating a healthy relationship with food," Poppett said.

Tips for mindful eating:

  • Eat slowly and remember to chew -- your digestive tract with thank you for this one.
  • Put your fork down between mouthfuls -- it is not a race to the finish line.
  • Be social -- take time to engage in conversation between mouthfuls whether it be with your family, friends, or work colleagues.
  • Turning off technology -- technology is one of our biggest distractions when it comes to eating mindfully. Turn the TV off, put away your smartphone, close the laptop screen and be at one with the meal that you are about to eat.

Wake up right

Mornings are an opportunity to start the day on the right foot.

"Breakfast is super important and if you start your day off in the best way possible you're more likely to continue on with those positive choices throughout your day," Bines told HuffPost Australia.

An omelette stuffed with spinach is a great way to start the day.
An omelette stuffed with spinach is a great way to start the day.

"Go for fresh fruits and yoghurts, smoothies, lean proteins and yummy vegetables in power packed omelets. Each morning, have a big glass of warm water with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Not only will this rehydrate your body but also kick start your digestive system and help get everything moving."

Eat your greens to eat out without blowing out

It can be as simple as adding some fresh vegetables to every meal.

"It doesn't always work to restrict yourself, so why not look at ways to add things in. Treat dining out as a celebration but use ways to curb the food party. Order all your dressings or sauces on the side so you can you take control on how much you use."

"Choose grilled, steamed or baked foods but pass on anything fried, smothered or encased. If there's a buffet, fill your plate with mostly fresh fruit and vegetables so there's less room for anything else," Bines said.

Press reset

"A break from routine can be just what you need to kick start your motivation," Bines said.

"Try to make the most of every day and do simple things like add in movement and healthy food wherever you can. It's not easy to find balance, but that just means you know what to work on tomorrow."