Making Healthy Changes and Water Weight

by Annie


Happy New Year to our readers from the Body Conscious staff!

Christmas and New Year is undoubtedly a time when diets and healthy eating plans usually go out of the window. You have feasted on whatever you liked, drank way too much of the good stuff and not been as much of a gym rat as usual. It might be safe to say that you are now feeling a little bit rubbish!

While your first thought may be to jump straight into a hard-core diet and exercise regime to undo all those mince pies, this may not actually be the best thing for your body. Sure if that’s what works for you great, but often after a week of this gruelling plan most people will start to feel lethargic, unmotivated and miserable. Depending on the amount of time you have given yourself off your normal health and fitness regime, it might be better for your mentality if you start off slow and work yourself back up to where you were before.

Therefore here are some tips to get you back on track after Christmas and New Year:

1. Do not weigh yourself a few days after the festive season! While some people might find this motivating (due to a hard slap in the face causing you to face reality), this is often an unreliable measurement of where you actually are. Why is this? WATER WEIGHT.

But what exactly causes water weight?

The body needs around 3-4 grams of water to process and store just 1 gram of carbohydrate. Therefore if you eat say 75g of carbs (which is easily done!) you will need 220g of water just to deal with it! This equates to around a pound of so called “weight”. However this isn’t actually fat at all, it’s just water weight! (phew).

Salt is also a food that may increase your water weight, depending on how much you typically have in your diet.  

Excess levels of Cortisol (the stress hormone) may also affect water retention. Cortisol becomes elevated when you are stressed out and had enough sleep. What some people don’t know is that cortisol also becomes elevated when you calorie restrict and exercise excessively! So by cutting you calories and hitting it hard at the gym in order to lose weight, what may happen is that you find yourself holding on to water weight! This is natural and should ease off, but try not to get too frustrated when you step on the scales after a week of intense training and healthy eating. Talking of hormones, you ladies may also see fluctuations in your weight massively due to menstruation, this is different for each woman but is certainly worth keeping in mind when feeling a little demotivated.

The best thing to do for water weight is to..drink water. Yes crazy but true, this will help kick your digestion into action and keep things moving, giving you a flatter stomach in no time. Exercise is also a great way to reduce your tendency to retain water in the long term as exercise helps to stimulate blood flow and stimulates the lymphatic system. Diet wise? You guessed it, reducing starchy foods such as pasta and bread will reduce overall carbohydrate intake meaning you will hold onto less water. Cutting down on salt may also help, try to stick to Himalayan salt if you do have salt which is full of minerals and a lot better for you! 

2. Make sure all the junk food is gone! You don’t need it sat around your house tempting you. Give away boxes of biscuits and chocolates to friends, family or donate them. Fill your fridge and cupboards up with healthy food. The chances are after a few weeks of not so great eating that your blood sugar levels will be a little off track. Disrupted blood sugar levels can make you feel hungry, tired and ready to grab the first chocolate bar you see. To avoid this make sure your meals are protein rich with loads of vegetables to keep you full. After a while your blood sugar levels will start to stabilise, making you crave the sweet stuff less.

3. Commit to three days exercise a week. Make it a New Year’s resolution to join a new fitness class, or at least give one a go. Trying something new will spur you on and you may find a new hobby! Committing to just three days a week instead of 7 will ease you into the routine and keep you motivated rather than exhausted!

4. Make one healthy change. This may be taking a greens powder every day to energise and detox your body, having a few nights off the wine a week or walking to work instead of driving. Making one healthy change can help lead you onto more.

There you have a few healthy tips to get you back on to your health and fitness mission without feeling like you want to give up after a week!

Until next time, have a great week :)