Monday, December 21, 2009

Your 12 diet days of Christmas - You can put on as much as 5lbs over the festive season. But with more parties - and the big day - still to come, you don't have to resign yourself to looking like a Christmas pudding by New Year's Eve. Instead try our great diet and start 2010 feeling trim...

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me...

A partridge in a pear tree..

Over-indulging at Christmas leaves many of us more pear-shaped than we'd like. Squats really give results, says Joanna Percival, who specialises in women's fitness. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and your arms by your sides. Slowly stick your bottom out and gently bend your knees to no lower than 90 degrees. Raise your arms in front to. help you balance and squeeze your glutes as you come back up to standing.

2 Turtle doves..

A close relative of the dove is the turkey - and you usually end up with plenty of leftovers from your Christmas roast. The good news is that without the skin, turkey is one of lowest-fat sources of protein around - there are about 186 calories in a 120g serving. But leave the sauce and gravy out this time. Instead stick a thin slice on top of a slice of wholemeal bread and smear with mustard for a healthy 250-calorie open sandwich.

3 French hens..

Like turkey, chicken is a great source of protein and will leave you feeling fuller for longer. A chicken drumstick contains about 230 calories and you can save another 50 calories by removing the skin.

But say no to chicken nuggets, which are packed with around 26.5 grams fat per nine-piece serving, and often contain very little meat. Fried chicken should also be off the menu as it has double the fat of baked chicken. Instead keep chicken lean and grilled, add diced chicken to salads to make them more satisfying and keep a pot of low-calorie chicken broth bubbling on the stove to keep you full.

4 Calling birds..

After Christmas, you're bound to be catching up with old friends on the phone. But rather than slumping on the sofa while you chat, you could be burning as many as 50 calories during a 10-minute call, says Joanna. "Even if it's just walking around, keep moving. Knee raises are also good for the phone. Just bend and lift the knee in front of the body - try 20 before swapping legs."

"To work the hamstrings and lift saggy bums, bend your leg backwards then "kick" your heel towards the centre of each buttock for 20 before swapping legs."

5 Gold rings..

Weighted hoops are a great craze fitness craze. They not only burn off up to 80 calories in 10 minutes, they also help define your tummy and strengthen your back.

"At home all you need is a little space," says Joanna. "Then it's just a question of swinging your hips to keep the circle spinning. It will require a little patience at first but it definitely pays off."

6 Geese-a-laying..

Goose eggs may be hard to come by but there is no doubt that protein-packed chicken's eggs for breakfast will keep your blood sugar levels even, kickstart your metabolism in the morning and help curb your appetite for the rest of the day.

Try a low-fat omelette made with one whole egg, two egg whites and skimmed milk. Stir in some herbs and cook in a non-stick saucepan. It contains just 200 calories and will keep you full for hours.

7 Swans-aswimming..

If you want to lose those extra pounds after Christmas, get swimming. An average-sized woman will burn up around 420 calories an hour. Joanna says: "Water is the best way to work the whole body without any strain on joints. In water, you are always working against resistance as the drag of the water helps work every muscle. Make it a resolution to join an aqua class and learn some moves to incorporate into your own workout." Another good investment for 2010 would be aqua gloves, she suggests.

"They give you webbed hands which help to tone up those bingo wings."

8 Maids-amilking..

Semi-skimmed milk contains 50 to 60% less fat than whole milk. So if you use 250ml a day, switching from whole to semi-skimmed milk will save yourself around 79 calories and 9.5g fat a day without you even noticing it.

Yoghurt made with skimmed milk also contains just a quarter of the calories of full-fat versions and can be used instead of cream in some sauces on leftovers.

9 Drummers drumming..

If drumming's not for you, then here are some other ideas to get rid of flabby arms. Joanna says: "If you want to tackle bingo wings, try some sofa dips at home. Hold the side of your sofa, walk your legs away and push your body weight up and down by bending and straightening your arms. Just don't lock out your elbows or force the arms straight."

Try two sets of 10 every day and you should soon see the backs of your arms tightening up.

10 Pipers piping..

Don't eat all your food piping hot but try to introduce more uncooked foods like fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains into your diet. Among the celebrities reported to follow a raw food diet are Demi Moore and Uma Thurman and eating more raw food is known to boost your intake of fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. Experts also say that raw foods are digested quicker, meaning that partially-digested fats, proteins and carbohydrates don't get a chance to clog up your digestive system and arteries.

11 Ladies dancing..

The TV show Strictly Come Dancing has made ballroom more popular than ever. Practising will not only give you some great moves for New Year's Eve but it's a fast and fun way to lose weight at the same time. Slower dances like the waltz and foxtrot burn off around 320 calories an hour, while more energetic routines like disco and the samba can burn off nearly 500 calories.

12 Lords-aleaping..

You may not have had a go since school, but skipping with a rope is one of the fastest calorie-burning exercises you can do. It works all the major muscles in your arms, shoulders and legs - and it burns calories at a rate of five every minute. It's intense, says Joanna, so do it safely for the sake of your joints and back. "Keep jumps small and land on soft knees. Stick to it and you will have lost the extra bulge by the New Year."