Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Late night suppers

Many years ago I gave up my 12-hours-a-day-job for better hours and more work-life-balance and never looked back. But I still work in the city and so 12 hour days aren't entirely unheard of - today was one of them.

Back in the day when I wasn't expecting to be home before 9 I'd often eat my dinner (and breakfast and lunch!) at work so wouldn't get home hungry, but tonight I got home at 9 having had nothing more than a few rice cakes as my afternoon snack.

The problem is that eating this close to bedtime is likely to disrupt your sleep, making it hard to get to sleep and possibly causing disturbed sleep. So if you're getting home late you need to eat something fast to prepare and quick to digest but sustaining enough to keep you asleep til the alarm goes off (early morning waking is often due to blood sugar levels falling too low).

So what's the best choice? Well infact breakfast is the answer? Healthy breakfast choices make good late night suppers. Something high in fibre, low in fat, preferably with a bit of protein but not too much, and super quick to pull together:

- Muesli with plenty of nuts and seeds is a good filling high fibre choice.

- Fresh fruit with natural yoghurt and seeds is also satisfying and sustaining.

- Sardines or poached eggs, or avocado + hummous for a veggie choice, on wholegrain toast are all superquick and tasty.

It may seem odd eating a bowl of muesli before bed, but you'll eat earlier and probably healthier than if you faff around trying to cook something or heat up a ready meal. It should also leave some time to unwind before bed - preferably an hour to give your food time to digest.


Monday, 30 January 2012

Paying it forward

This months blogs have been rather 'me, me, me' in their approach. To be fair january tends to be about people working on themselves so they get more focussed on their goals and how to reach them, and may as a result become a bit more selfish.

However, it's not all about you! The relationships we have around us are such an important part of our lives, that whilst we're obsessing over our own health regimes, we mustn't get blinkered and neglect to support our friends loved ones, especially in any efforts to make positive changes themselves.

Whilst diet sabotage is ever prevalent (friends pressuring you to eat pudding when you're trying to eat healthily, colleagues trying to drag you down the pub when you were planning to go to the gym) helping your friends be healthy, isn't just showing them support it's helping them live a long and healthy life - which is surely worthwhile! And you might get a bit healthier yourself on the way.

There are plenty of ways you can do this, but here are a few to get you started:

- know someone who's struggling to sleep? Offer them a green tea instead of an Americano - if you can get them to switch entirely they'll sleep better and be getting some extra antioxidants.

- know someone who's trying to quit smoking? Buy them a copy of Alan Carr's Quit smoking and keep them distracted when they have cravings. If they need a cigarette with a drink, make plans to meet over lunch instead of a pint, or catch-up over a game of squash or a round of golf.

- got a pal who's trying get into exercise? Offer to join them at the gym or plan a weekly saturday morning jog followed by brunch.

- have a friend on a diet? Not sure what regime they're following? Let them choose the venue so they can stick to their diet.

- take a basket of fruit round to a sick friend, or bring healthy snacks to the office instead of cookies and share them with your colleagues.


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Short-term vs long-term

When I first came to the city my first job was as an Emerging Markets Analyst in an Investment Bank. Fresh out of uni with an Economics degree I thought I knew a fair bit about the workings of a countries economy, so was shocked to find I didn't understand half of what was being said to me by my colleagues in the first week!!

Fortunately for me Ms Haribo was in the team and took me under her wing. Over the next couple of months she taught me how to calculate seasonally adjusted growth rates, whilst I coaxed her off her three-Americanos-a-day habit. By the time she left for Japan we were firm friends!!

Since then I've always deferred to her knowledge of Economics and she to my knowledge of nutrition, which is why, when I had the idea of doing some blogs on the application of Economics to developing healthy habits, I thought I'd ask for her help!! As usual she's risen to the challenge and written a few blogs on the subject, the first one of which is below. I'll post teh rest over the next couple of weeks and hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Miss Haribo here!

January is almost over and I bet quite a few of us have already given up on those New Year resolutions to stop drinking and do a painting course, while giving up give up cheese and going to the gym more. Congratulations to those to haven’t but to those who have it’s only normal.

Sometimes our short-term self sabotages our longer-term goals. Or in other words we make decisions today that our future self would prefer us not to make. I’m sure we’ve all regretted some on the couch eating crisp sessions, or having a few too many drinks at an after-work drinks. This is what economists like to call time inconsistency, and often stem from hyperbolic preferences, which mean that we discount the near future incredibly heavily.

It’s ok for the couch or the gratin dauphinous to win occasionally (I believe 20% of the time), but what can we do to stop ourselves sabotaging our future selves? The answer is commitment devices.

These aren’t as difficult as you might think. Just telling someone about your goal and asking them to monitor you will help, as can arranging to do exercise with a friend. For example, I often make ‘gym dates’ with a work colleague early in the morning, this way I know she’s watching me and that I’m watching her.

Miss Haribo.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Design your own detox

A detox diet doesn't have to be expensive, infact cutting out meat, processed and treat foods will probably save you money. However, if money is no object, then you might want to consider some complimentary treatments whilst your detoxing to maximise results.

One key area in effective detox is lymphatic drainage. The lympahtic system carries toxins away from the cells to be detoxified by the liver so if the lymph system is congested you can't detox effectively.

One of the reasons cellulite is concentrated in the butt region is because sitting down all day reduces circulation to that area.

So how do you boost lymphatic circulation:
Well exercise is the obvious solution as the contraction of your muscles squeeze the lymph vessels and move the fluid around. However intensive exercise isn't recommended during a deep detox. Yoga is therefore a great compliment to detox as it moves the muscles and lymph fluid, whilst also increasing oxygen intake through deep breathing.

Manual massage is the super lazy way to drain your lymph fluid, and can be more effective than exercise, particularly if you have lymphatic drainage massage which is available at Elemis spas and other beauty salons. This kind of massage is focussed on the lymph nodes and channels and can be uncomfortable, but at the same time very effective. Be warned, you are likely to feel woozy the next day from all the toxins it unsticks - so go on a friday after work, drink lots of water and have an early night to let your liver process the toxins.

Endermology is a manual massage using a vacuum cleaner type machine. It's not relaxing, and can be uncomfortable, but it does work and can reduce cellulite when combined with a detox diet.

Coming back to Magdas original question, colonhydrotherapy can also be used to aid detox along with enemas (water or caffeine). These are obviously more invasive than having a massage, so why go through this?

Well, as I said before, if you are constipated then a detox may not be that effective as you may be reabsorbing toxins from your bowel. Therefore some form of manual colon cleanse at the start of your detox can really help clear out your bowels and make your detox more effective.

That being said I wouldn't recommend everyone has one done and that's because your bowel has it's own bacterial population and having a hydrotherapy treatment can disrupt this. Therefore if your bowel movements are regular and your not experiencing high toxicity then I wouldn't suggest having a hydrotherapy treatment. Whereas if you are highly toxic or constipated then a cleanse can give you a clean start, so you should follow it with a course of probitics and a detox diet, to encourage the healthy bacteria.

The beauty of a detox is that you can customize how you do it, for how long and do whatever extra treatments you fancy to go with it. So when it warms up it's worth spending a bit of time to design your own detox and reap the benefits.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Moving things along

As I said in my blog last week on detoxes, I don't think it's necessary to fork out for lots of detox supplements to do an effective detox.

That being said they can help speed your detox along and make it a bit less painful.

The key is not just to buy the latest fad 'cleanse' supplement but to think about what you need and pick accordingly.

Firstly you need antioxidants - the liver uses these in the chemical processes by which it neutralizes and excretes toxins. However on a detox diet you'll be getting loads of these from all the fruit + veg you're eating. A couple you might not be getting are CoQ10 and vitamin D which are found in meat, fish and eggs, so are worth supplementing if you're not eating these.

Secondly, if you're constipated, you may need some bulking fibre supplements. These will help speed up your excretion process which is what you want for effective detox. You can reabsorb toxins from the bowel if things aren't moving along as they should be and these fibres can instead trap them to stop reabsorption and make sure your bowel movements are regular. Simple natural laxatives such as flax seeds and psyllium husks can be effective for this but if you need something stronger go for natural fig or papaya based laxatives.

Thirdly, depending on how toxic you are, you may experience some unpleasant detox side effects - headaches, lethergy, even flu-like symptoms and this is where taking something extra can really help you get to the end of your detox:
-Milk thistle extract taken in water can help with these symptoms, whether you're on a detox of just have a hangover from over indulging. Take it in the morning with fresh grapefruit juice to kick your liver into action - grapefruit stimulates the first stage of the detox process.
- dandelion coffee is my personal favourite for dealing with detox and is especially good in helping with brain foggyness. Don't go for the powdered version with added lactose, brew it up from the root and have a cup every few hours.
- detox teas are a great, lazy, way to benefit from som detox herbs. Pukka, twinings, Dr Stuart and Yogi tea, all make good ones, but you may need to try a few to find ones you like the taste of. Have 3 cups a day.

And finally, you need plenty of water, preferably filtered or mineral, to help flush out the toxins and prevent water retention - buy a 1.5litre bottle at work and make sure you've drunk it by the end of the day.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Grazia, I salute you!

As a rule I don't read the gossip mags that seem ever popular, despite all essentially running the same stories each week, just on different celebrities. When I have time to read a magazine it tends to be either a Nutrition or Health magazine or The Economist ... tragic I know!

However, I don't feel like I'm missing out as Ms Haribo regularly updates me on the world according to the Daily Mail ... the parallel universe where a story isn't worth reporting unless it's about a Z list celebrity. She also shoves a copy of Grazia under my nose periodically ... usually to show me the latest horrific pictures of the A listers ageing badly (excessive cosmetic surgery, overly thin and newly divorced ... not a good look).

Anyway there is a point to this blog, and that is that last weeks Grazia actually contained some common sense!! Part 2 of their Clean and Lean series, by A list trainer, James Duigan (who looks like he's wearing a skirt with leggings in the photo ... but let's not hold that against him!), is all about how stress makes you fat, and how all the exercise and healthy eating in the world won't get rid of your paunch if you don't face up to the fact that yes you are stressed (even if it's just in a having an amazing but ridiculously busy life kind of way) and then do something about it. Hurrah, the message is finally getting out there :-)

Quite frankly the fact that they included the phrase 'Adrenal Fatigue' in a Grazia article is amazing ... firstly as far as I can tell most of the stories in Grazia are 20% fact and 80% fiction ... with unnamed 'sources close to the star' supposedly divulging all their most intimate secrets! and secondly doctors still don't recognize adrenal fatigue - apparently your Adrenals are either not functioning at all (Addison's disease) or just perfect, and nothing inbetween.

I'm not going to be cheeky and plagiarize the article ... but if you can get hold of the last two weeks copies and buy this weeks too, I'd recommend it and he's also got a book out:

I've also harped on about stress at length, but if you need a reminder of how to deal with it here are a few oldies to remind you:

Eating clean

Having blogged on the Clean & Lean series by James Duigan in Grazia, I looked a bit more into his book this evening and it looks like it contains alot of common sense. One of the main principles is eating clean, which is a fancy way of saying not eating rubbish/toxic food, and ties in with my comments on cleaning up your diet rather than plunging straight into a January detox.

This means cutting out processed foods, anything containing sugar or sweeteners, avoiding any artificial additives, whilst eating lots of clean foods in the forms of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, fish and chicken - all organic to keep the pesticide content down.

If you just apply the principal of not eating anything processed or artificial your diet will be cleaned up instantaneously, giving your liver and digestive systems a nice break. You'll also have to replace all the nonsense you've cut out, so you'll naturally end up eating detox friendly foods such as fruit, veg and pulses. For most people on an average british diet, this will dramatically increase your fibre and antioxidant intake helping the detox process further and slowing the ageing process.

So next time you make a food choice, think - which option is least processed and 'cleanest', follow this principal and eating healthily will come naturally.

And if you need anymore convincing as to why eating clean is the way to go ... Jamie's diet is supposedly responsible for the amazing body that is Elle!


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Pension top ups

I hope my tips yesterday were useful for those of you currently in 'New Year, New You' mode. However I appreciate some of you may have ditched setting resolutions and taking on new health regimes and power to you.

This months zen approach is very much about making small changes that aren't too traumatic so you'll keep them up for good. And little changes can be the best investments in the long-run - perhaps they don't make a big difference over a fortnight, but accumulated over months they could make a big difference and turn into natural habits.

Therefore, if you're not on any particular regime right now maybe consider making a little daily health investment, kind of like building up a pension pot to pay out in your old age.

Think of one thing you can do each day until the end of January to pay into your health pension and keep you healthy in the long-run.

Here are some ideas to get you started, doing the whole list would be a bit much but just one a day is totally manageable:

- add a big salad to your lunch or dinner to give you extra antioxidants
- don't add salt to your meal to reduce your chance of hypertension
- curtail your evening tv viewing and go to bed half an hour earlier
- get off the tube a stop to early and walk the extra distance to help burn excess fat
- sit in a sauna for 10 minutes or soak in a warm epsom salt bath to detox and promote immune function
- cut the fat or skin off meat before cooking it or even better choose a vegan meal for lunch or dinner
- drink water instead of wine with your dinner
- have a massage or do a 10minute meditation/breathing exercise to reduce stress levels and help lower blood pressure
- walk up the escalators in the tube instead of just standing on them to burn fat and get your heart pumping
- sweeten your breakfast with fruit instead of sugar
- have a fresh fruit smoothie or veg juice for your afternoon snack instead of crisps or chocolate
- swap your morning coffee for a green tea
- make your sandwich with brown bread (preferably wheat free) rather than white
- skip dessert in a restaurant and instead enjoy a fresh mint tea
- have a dairy free day and use soya or rice milk if you need a milk substitute
- try a new fruit or vegetable, increasing the antioxidant variety in your diet
- order brown rice with your meal instead of white, the brown husk is rich in b vitamins and stops the sugars digesting too quickly
- give someone a hug. Ok so that's not food related but human touch is a great way to feel loved and give you a lift. Give one and you'll usually get one back (just don't try hugging strangers on the tube!)

Monday, 16 January 2012


Not only does my quiet social schedule leave me time for some healthy cuisine, but it also leaves more time for the gym - something I usually have to squeeze in at lunchtime or before I go out in the evening.

Unfortunately the rest of the city is in the same situation and the gym was absolutely packed this evening with quite a few frustrated looking people queueing for treadmills.

If you're training for a competitive event I understand the need for very specific training, but if you just want to be fit and healthy it pays to be flexible on what you do. Setting out on a strict exercise regime is a fasttrack to frustration, either not being able to fit it in or getting to the gym and finding the equipment you want isn't available.

The point is that exercising shouldn't stress you out but should be as pleasurable as possible. This isn't just part of my January zen diet approach, but is also key to maximize fat loss.

Anything that leaves you feeling a negative emotion, be it irritation at waiting for a treadmill or anxiety that you haven't been to the gym enough, promotes the production of stress hormones which in turn encourage the storage of fats, particularly around your waist, as well as increasing your appetite for a double wammy.

So if going to the gym actually stresses you out it could be counterproductive, leaving you with a spare tyre instead of a six pack. Infact look around next time you're in the gym and you'll be able to spot quite a few men and women who appear to exercise regularly so have toned arms and legs, but a noticeable gut, or as Ms Haribo refers to them 'flabs'!

If this is something you suffer from you may want to look at your exercise routine and see if it is a source of stress itself. Cutting down and switching to more enjoyable forms of exercise, rather than trying to stick to a strict intensive regime, could infact leave you both slimmer and happier ... a win-win!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The meat-free month

Well the temperature really has dropped this week and it's starting to feel more like January usually does ... cold, dark and somewhat depressing.

Everyone's saving money post Christmas and are just not in a party mood so my social calendar is way more empty than usual. In addition a lot of people are subjecting themselves to calorie restrictive diets, which is clearly enough to put anyone in a bad mood.

As I've said before I'm totally anti-calorie controlling when it comes to dieting and eating healthily, mainly because food just isn't that simple and calories don't truly represent what happens in your body. As an example, a guy friend of mine eats a whole 500 calories less than me a day and whilst he's a healthy weight he's taller and is certainly not slimmer than me.

The fact is if I ate 1000 calories of junk food a day I'd gain weight, but instead I eat approx 1800-1900 calories of healthy food which keeps me a healthy size 6.

The key is to eat healthily rather than spend your day adding up meaningless units, and the good news is that whilst everyone's in social hibernation it means less eating out and more time to cook up healthy meals at home. For me this includes cooking mainly vegan food, so no eggs, cheese, dairy or meat, although I do have the odd piece of fish and take iron supplements daily to compensate for the lack of meat.

Whilst quite a few friends of mine have a booze free January, which I applaud and encourage, a meat free January is also something I think most people would benefit from health and waist band wise and it's not as daunting as you think.

I use tofu in my stir fry instead of prawns or chicken, make bologneise or lasagna with lentils instead of beef and just up the kidney beans and leave out the meat to make chilli con carne or healthy burritos. For something super comforting I'll have Sainsbury's soya sausages with new potato and mustard mash, peas and gravy but minus the saturated fats and salt content of pork sausages.

If this still sounds a step to far, then at least try having 'meat-free Mondays' to give your body a break whilst diversifying your repertoire in the kitchen.

As I've time to cook I also try and make up a double portion of my vegan dinner and take the second lot to work for lunch - saving money and making sure I have a healthy lunch. By the time everyone emerges from their January blues I'll have lost weight and ready to don my party dresses once again!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Dog training

Following on from my blog on dog walking yesterday, I’ve been thinking about dog training and in particular Pavlov’s dog experiments. Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who studied conditioning and involuntary reflex actions. He is most famous for his study of dogs in which he discovered could get dog’s to salivate on the sound of a bell by associating that sound with eating food. He’d ring the bell everytime they were given food creating a conditioned reflex in the dogs which meant they would start salivating whenever he rang the bell even in the total absence of any food.

I’m not for one second suggesting that any of you are dogs! But Pavlov’s research applies to humans also and the same tricks can be used to get yourself into some healthy habits that you’ll do without even thinking.

The trick is to associate something that you do every day automatically, with a healthy habit that you want to form. If you make yourself do the healthy habit everytime you do your everyday task it won’t be more than a couple of weeks before you start doing the two together automatically without even thinking about it or having to motivate yourself.

Here are some easy suggestions to start with but I’m sure you can come up with some better ones yourself – just think about the healthy habits you want to become automatic and then think which regular tasks you can associate them with.

NITC’s Pavlov training:

Drink a glass of water before you eat your dinner

Always have a green salad with your dinner

Take a multivitamin with your breakfast juice every morning

Eat a raw carrot whilst you cook your dinner

Take an essential fat supplement with your dinner

Have a stretch or hold a yoga posture for ten breaths before you get into bed

Every time you unlock or logon to your pc at work take three deep full breaths to reduce stress and improve your oxygen levels and energy

When you’re moisturizing after you’ve taken a shower use your fists to massage the back and sides of your neck to clear your lymph glands

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Time for walkies

I know I might regularly chirp on about how little exercise city types get if they don’t make an effort, but for a couple of days last week I worked from home and realised how much less I moved around compared to a regular day in the office. Just the act of commuting (walking up escalators and to and from the tube station) and walking around the office (my desk is not located particularly close to the toilet) plus getting up from my desk to pick up printing or get drinks and snacks from the canteen or fridge means I do actually move around quite a lot.

Working from home, on the other hand, involves very little moving around at all – my living room and laptop are only 10 metres from my bed and the kitchen is about five steps from my laptop so all in all there isn’t much reason to move around. And I live in flat so there are no steps involved whatsoever. Basically the Kirsty Alley nightmare could quickly become a reality if I worked from home!!

And it’s not just weight gain I’d need to worry about … moving your muscles in essential for proper circulation, avoiding deep vein thrombosis/dangerous blood clots and keeping your immune system functioning properly as it’s only by muscle movement that you can move lymph fluid around your body. Lymph fluid contains your immune cells that help fight infection and also keep cancer in check by killing off the cancerous cells that are constantly created in the body, so it’s pretty important to move that stuff around. Poor circulation can also lead to constipation and headaches so if you suffer from either you may need to move more.

So what’s the answer? Well if you either work from home or are a house wife, you need to be disciplined and take yourself for a walk everyday, or get yourself a dog and then you won’t have a choice!! Getting outside for 30minutes fresh air will not only get your circulation going but help burn off some of those Nachos you were eating in front of Jeremy Kyle … I know you were!!

On a cold winters day it can be horribly tempting to stay in doors, but I find once I’ve been out I feel much better for it.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Who's pasta?

Following my zen diet is pretty easy when cooking for myself, but when I have friends round for dinner who may not enjoy as healthy tasting food as I do, it's much more tempting to serve up something less healthy but that I know will taste good. So that's why it's good to have a repertoire of recipes that are as tasty as they are healthy up your sleeve.

So last night I served up this lovely dish from Jamie, my fave chef when it comes easy Italian cuisine, for my friends and in the words of the lovely Aj, who's favourite food is cheese, 'it was amazing'! Suffice to say all plates were clean by the end of the meal and it's ridiculously easy to make so great for the cooking averse.

The recipe is an old one and a good one - Pasta Puttanesca, which translates as 'whore's pasta' and is a salty and slightly spicy southern-italian tomato based dish, low in fat but high in flavour.

It was first introduced to me by my wonderful flatmate Davide who came to our university from Verona with a book full of recipes written out from his mother. He used to cook this up for lunch and I never tired of eating it. Sadly he never translated the book for me, so I use the Jamie recipe but I like to up the protein level so I add either a tin of drained kidney beans or two tins of line-caught tuna with the tomatoes to make this a filling and hearty dish.

Last night I used tuna and served it with a side of fresh watercress, for added greens, drizzled with olive oil. You cook the pasta separately so I did one pot of gluten-free pasta for me and one pot of regular pasta for my pals.

Who's pasta?

Following my zen diet is pretty easy when cooking for myself, but when I have friends round for dinner who may not enjoy as healthy tasting food as I do, it's much more tempting to serve up something less healthy but that I know will taste good. So that's why it's good to have a repertoire of recipes that are as tasty as they are healthy up your sleeve.

So last night I served up this lovely dish from Jamie, my fave chef when it comes easy Italian cuisine, for my friends and in the words of the lovely Aj, who's favourite food is cheese, 'it was amazing'! Suffice to say all plates were clean by the end of the meal and it's ridiculously easy to make so great for the cooking averse.

The recipe is an old one and a good one - Pasta Puttanesca, which translates as 'whore's pasta' and is a salty and slightly spicy southern-italian tomato based dish, low in fat but high in flavour.

It was first introduced to me by my wonderful flatmate Davide who came to our university from Verona with a book full of recipes written out from his mother. He used to cook this up for lunch and I never tired of eating it. Sadly he never translated the book for me, so I use the Jamie recipe but I like to up the protein level so I add either a tin of drained kidney beans or two tins of line-caught tuna with the tomatoes to make this a filling and hearty dish.

Last night I used tuna and served it with a side of fresh watercress, for added greens, drizzled with olive oil. You cook the pasta separately so I did one pot of gluten-free pasta for me and one pot of regular pasta for my pals.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The zen gym bunny

This time last year I set out on a programme of daily rigorous exercise to whip myself into shape, and to be honest it worked. I was fired up and enthusiastic and whilst it was hard work I enjoyed it.

However this year I'm taking a different approach and inline with my zen dieting it's alot more relaxed.

This doesn't mean I'm turning into a couch potato, though, just that I'm going to be less regimented in what I do, and when, and respond to how my body feels when choosing what to do.

It's easiest to explain my approach in terms of questions as with the diet.

If you get to the end of your working day and you've already been to the gym, then bravo! Gold star for you! If however the most exercise you've done is walking to the canteen (not that uncommon) then ask yourself these questions:

Do I have the energy to exercise?
I know most exercise programmes insist you'll feel better if you drag yourself to the gym, come hell or high water, but if you're sleep deprived, over-stressed or ill it can be counter-productive so be honest with yourself.

If the answer is No, then consider at least a 15-20min walk on the way home (just get on the tube a stop later) or 20mins of a gentle yoga or pilates dvd when you get home, just to get your circulation going. Then make sure you have a relaxed evening and an early night.

If the answer is yes then spend a couple of minutes mulling over what you fancy doing.

Sometimes I fancy going to the gym, sometimes I just want to get straight home and then exercise there. There are days when I want to do something quite high impact for 40-50mins like tae bo or spinning and others when I just feel like a gentle cycle or swim for 20 minutes. Weights I usually limit to 30mins as I get bored but cheer myself along with cheesy tunes, and some days I just want to do something silly and put on a cheesy dance workout dvd at home (when no one is looking)! For a truly amusing workout just put on mtv and try and dance along with the routines :-)

By just doing what you fancy you're much more likely to exercise, rather than finding an excuse not to, plus if you're having fun you're less likely to produce as much stress hormones whilst you're working out (stress hormones increase fat retention, especially around your waist).

By the time you get to the weekend you will hopefully have enjoyed a few exercise sessions, but if you haven't done much it's a good time to fit some in. Firstly you have more time to do it and secondly you can catch-up on some sleep so should have more energy.

Think about what you did in the week and balance it out. Did you do all cardio? Then fit in a weights session, bodypump or some other toning class. Didn't have anytime for some stretching or yoga? Then do some after your workout. Are there any muscle groups you didn't work out this week (legs, back, chest, abs, arms)? Then make sure you do some exercise that uses them.

And remember weekend exercise can be more fun, having a kick about in the park, playing tennis or going for a bike ride all count.

We also all need a couple of rest days a week, so if you've been super good during the week then make sure you take Sunday off to chill!

By doing exercise you enjoy, but also resting when you need to, you'll be in better shape (physically and mentally) than trying to stick to the latest ridiculous celebrity exercise regime. Results might not be as quick but in the long run you'll stay fitter and feel happier.