Gentle ways to whip your body into shape for summer

Never too late to start

A fitness fanatic works out in a gym with dumbbells.
A fitness fanatic works out in a gym with dumbbells.
Image: 123RF

According to research conducted as part of Tiger Brands’ Eat Well, Live Well initiative, ‘The State of Nutrition in SA’ report shows that SA’s average Body Mass Index (BMI) is 35.1. This is a number significantly higher than the BMI norm as recommended by the World Health Organisation to indicate healthy weight. The BMI is an indicator that uses your height and weight to measure your level of health on a spectrum ranging from underweight to obese.

With winter finally behind us, the coats and boots are all packed away and the bikinis are coming out to play. But if you form part of the many South Africans who are guilty of not adopting a healthy lifestyle and optimizing your winter to work towards your summer body, the good news is that it is never too late to start.

According to dietician Nelile Nxumalo, the present moment is always the right time to be more intentional about a clean diet and healthy lifestyle.

 “It’s never too late for anyone to start adopting a healthy lifestyle. Yes, you may not achieve your ideal body weight right there and then, but it’s never too late to start somewhere. The little you decide to start off with will definitely yield results if you remain consistent,” she says.

Nelile Nxumalo.
Nelile Nxumalo.
Image: Supplied

While eating healthy may seem hard for some, Nxumalo maintains that it is not all too complicated. What it takes is the intentional implementation of lifestyle changes that lead to holistic health.

“As a general guide, you need to be watching what you eat in terms of your carbohydrates. This does not mean you shouldn’t be eating starch, but you must have more unrefined carbohydrates or those which are high in fibre. Having less sugar also helps a lot.

“Look for proteins that are lean and not high in fat content and calories. Incorporate plenty of fruit and vegetables into your diet too. That way, your diet is balanced and you are not over-consuming a particular food group.”

For optimum health and a great body, exercise is just as important. According to fitness coach and founder of Knockout Legends Boxing Gym, Richard Sibanda, having realistic fitness goals will serve as an important guide on your journey towards physical wellness and a healthy lifestyle.

“You need to first set a goal that’s ideal for yourself. Whether you are trying to lose or gain weight, your goal must make sense for you and your body type.

Do not tell yourself you want to gain 10kg in two months simply because you feel you are small. That is not the right way to do it. Start by losing only a few kilos and take it from there. It’s something that you build up,” he says.

Furthermore, Sibanda warns against over-exercising and straining your body as a shortcut to weight loss.

“Recovery is important. Whenever you’re training, you need to allow your body to rest. You can’t just train endlessly without rest. As long as you’re not giving your body enough time to recover, there’s no way you’re going to see results.”

Ultimately, he encourages the adoption of a healthy diet suitable for one’s particular goals as this will lead to an ideal and maintainable body weight.

Richard Sibanda.
Richard Sibanda.
Image: Supplied

“What’s also important is losing an amount of weight you can maintain. If you starve yourself and lose weight, it will be hard to maintain that weight because the manner in which you lost it is not natural.

“If you would like to lose weight, I would suggest a proper eating diet. Eat clean,” he says.

Do’s and don’ts on the journey to your ideal weight

Dietician Nelile Nxumalo and fitness coach Richard Sibanda recommend the following food and exercise tips to assist on your fitness journey:

Consistency is key

When working out, your body is bound to hurt. This does not mean you should stop. It’s important to endure the pain and keep going.  Exercise should not be a once-off but rather a part of your healthy lifestyle. This way, you will see results and also be able to maintain them.

Be strategic with convenience

Let’s be honest…life can really get busy at times. And while fast food is not always the healthiest, it tends to be convenient for those busy days. However, it’s important to try and make healthier choices even in situations where fast food is your only option. For example, you can choose a salad or vegetables as a side instead of chips.

Understand that it is all connected

Food consumption and exercise do not exist in isolation. As such, the effects thereof can be seen in other parts of our lives. Eating healthier and exercising can improve your productivity at work, strengthen your immune system and even have a positive effect on your mental health. By taking care of your physical health, you are also taking an active step towards holistic wellness.

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