Making the decision to switch to a healthier lifestyle is a common goal, but it's not always clear where to begin or how to actually make it fit into your current routine.
Luckily for all of us aiming to smash 2019 and make it our healthiest year yet, LloydsPharmacy has set up an epic transformation programme to help us along the way.
Available in 91 of their stores, the new 8 week ‘Change Your Health Direction’ programme focuses on your individual goals and you'll get one-to-one advice and support from a Health Coach in your local LloydsPharmacy.
How does it work?
The 8-week programme takes a holistic approach to health and will guide you along the way to achieving your goals. From diet plans and exercising tips to recipe guides and BMI checks - there is so much on offer here and.... it's all completely FREE!
You'll get a crash course in how to pick the right foods for your own eating plan and great ideas for snacks and sourcing sugary drink alternatives. Once you do this a few times when food shopping, it will become second nature and you'll be a whizz at picking the right foods.
When you sign up to LloydsPharmacy Change Your Health Direction plan, you have all the knowledge and support you need to stick with it and absolutely nail it!
Two of the areas this programme will focus on are nutrition and heart health. We've pulled together some amazing tips from their nutrition expert Elsa Jones that will help you on the way to a healthier lifestyle.
Nutrition - What foods should we be eating?
At meal times, go for protein rich food such as chicken, fish eggs or plant based protein like beans, nuts, seeds or tofu.
Adding complex carbs like brown rice, sweet potato and quinoa will provide a lovely slow release of energy along with loads of vitamins and fibre.
To make sure you get your 5-7 a day, try mixing fruit and veg to each meal. Berries in your porridge, chopped apple in yoghurt, and try spinach, tomato and mushroom with your Sunday brunch.
Be sure to fill half your dinner plate with veggies and you can upgrade your lunchtime sambo by adding sliced tomato, cucumber or peppers - the more colour the more vitamins!
Keep your omega 3 levels up by adding oily fish like salmon or mackerel to your diet twice a week, or mix seeds like flax, chia and hemp to your cereal daily. These essential fatty acids will nourish your brain, heart and reproductive system as well as encouraging healthy hair, skin and nails.
Nutrition - Top 5 tips before starting a healthier diet
Planning ahead is a game changer, here's five tips that will set you up for success:
Limit temptation – If you want to cut down on certain foods like chocolate or biccies, it makes sense to remove or at least limit temptation where possible.
Plan your meals in advance – Write down exactly what you plan to eat for all your meals and snacks for 7 days. If 7 days seems overwhelming, start with 3 days and repeat.
Stock up - Once you’ve planned out your meals, make a shopping list and save it to your phone. Pick a time and place for your weekly shop and stick to it. This way you won't be tempted to stop by a random shop and having to think on the spot when you're busy, tired or worse - hungry!
Batch cooking & freezing - If you find yourself too busy/tired to cook in the evenings then consider batch cooking a few dinners, soups etc. in advance and refrigerate/freeze them.
Pre-prep breakfast & lunches the night before - If you are time-pressed in the mornings, do a bit of prep on your breakfast and/or lunch the night before. Simple things like soaking oats, rinsing fruit, taking bowls & spoons out can make all the difference.
When it comes to a healthy heart, it's not just about what you eat! There are so many factors such as moderate exercise, lack of stress and a good sleep pattern. Laura Dowling, LloydsPharmacy pharmacist, shared her useful tips for heart health and how you can achieve them.
Make sure you eat a healthy and balanced diet full of fresh fruit, veggies, pulses and legumes. A small amount of lean meat and deep sea fish will also help keep your heart healthy.
Vitamins and Nutrients
It can be difficult to get all your nutrients solely from the food you eat, so if you feel that you're not getting what you need from your diet you can look into taking supplements. LloydsPharmacy have experts on hand to advise you on the best supplements to take for your needs - no more confusion when reading about what you should and shouldn't take!
One great supplement is Active Iron - this reduces tiredness and fatigue without giving you nasty side effects. Omega oils such as Morepa (fish) and Udo's (nuts: suitable for vegans) can help your heart and brain too.
Getting plenty of exercise - and by exercise I mean getting the heart rate up and breaking a sweat - will pay off massively.
Sleep - and plenty of it
It might seem obvious, but getting enough sleep is so important. Some people can survive on six hours or less but the recommended amount is between 7 and 9 hours - get good quality sleep and you'll feel the difference. By limiting screen time before heading to sleep, you'll help the brain switch off which can aid a much better sleep.
Don't sweat the small stuff
Try to reduce stress in your life. Taking up yoga or breathing exercises can help with stress and overall mindset. Taking the time to spend an hour a few times a week to focus on you can make a huge difference.
Check out their Instagram for updates on their programme too!