Belfast Telegraph

Just what is Alexandra Burke's diet secret?

If your resolve to lead a healthier lifestyle like Ms Burke is weakening, Gabrielle Fagan tells you how to keep on track

We all start with the best of intentions, but by now many of us have already broken our New Year's resolutions. It's so common that this month has been dubbed ‘Flab-ruary' as it's the time when we feel unhappiest about our weight and lifestyle, according to research by WeightWatchers.

A poll found that 41% made a resolution to lose weight, and 35% to eat better, but by now around 10m of us (24%) have already broken our promises. We show you how to get back on track.

ADJUST YOUR VISION

“If all the good intentions of your New Year's resolutions are now just a distant memory, don't beat yourself up, just recognise you're a big step closer to knowing what will actually work for you and what won't,” says Ali Campbell, author of Just Get On With It!: A Caring, Compassionate Kick Up the Ass! (Hay House, £8.99).

When setting resolutions, he believes success is far more likely if you choose ones you actually want to keep, rather than making resolutions because you think you should. Also, he believes it's essential to work out whether you're motivated by the pursuit of pleasure or motivated to avoid pain and feeling bad.

STUB IT OUT

“Many smokers are not only unaware of how difficult it can be to break the cycle of nicotine dependence but also that there is help and support available from healthcare professionals,” says Dr Sarah Jarvis, BBC medical correspondent and practising GP.

“Your doctor, practice nurse, a pharmacist or a local stop smoking service advisor will be happy to help you and will make it considerably more likely that you'll successfully quit.”

Help yourself, she advises, by having a clear ‘quitting' strategy. Set a definitive quit date and write down your reasons for quitting. Other tips she recommends are keeping a quit smoking calendar and tick off the days you haven't smoked; reward yourself with a treat using money you've saved by not buying cigarettes.

For more information, visit www.quitwithhelp.co.uk.

BALANCE BODY & SOUL

“We can all feel a little lacklustre at this time of year and lack the necessary get-up-and-go that’s vital to allow us to persevere with New Year's resolutions,” says Sebastian Pole, co-founder of Pukka Herbs.

“Help your body clean up after the excesses of Christmas and the New Year by encouraging natural detoxification by staying hydrated and drinking good quality spicy herbal teas, aloe vera juice and pure water,” he says. “Ensure you eat enough good quality fats and oils to encourage the efficient absorption of mood-enhancing vitamin D.

“If we feel ‘low' it's much harder to remain motivated.

“But in the Northern Hemisphere our bodies haven't been able to produce sufficient vitamin D from sunlight since mid-autumn.

“So assist the absorption of dietary fat soluble vitamins by including a daily serving of hemp seed oil and try nourishing organic ghee, a golden clarified butter.”

Pukka organic hemp seed oil £7.75 for 250ml; Pukka organic Ghee, £8.95, available from www.pukkaherbs.com.

DRINK TO IT!

“A cheap, easy aid to a diet is simply making sure you drink plenty of water,” says Jennifer Irvine, author of The Pure Package: The Diet For Food Lovers (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, £20).

“Often thirst is confused with hunger and we reach for a snack although our body is actually telling us it is dehydrated.

“So I start the day with two large glasses of water, at room temperature, before breakfast, and then before lunch will have two large mugs of herbal tea. It definitely helps me avoid temptation.” Irvine’s company has a diet food delivery service and has numerous celebrity clients including singer Alexandra Burke, actor Hugh Jackman and TV presenter Denise van Outen. Find out more at www.purepackage.com.

MIX IT UP

“Boredom is the enemy of New Year's resolutions. Make sure you constantly change the activities and exercise that you do,” says personal trainer Matt Roberts, whose clients include Prime Minister David Cameron.

“Varying routines and sports will keep it more interesting and from a physical point of view your body won't be able to get used to one type of exercise. This confusion makes the body work harder to adapt and ensures you see continual results.”

Setting an achievable goal for each month, and finding a training partner will also help motivate you, advises Roberts, who's promoting Kinect for Xbox 360. Kinect has a range of fitness titles with in-built calorie counters and voice and movement recognition.

For more information, visit www.xbox.com/kinect.

BEAT THE BOOZE

“The secret to reducing our alcohol consumption lies in satisfying our emotional needs positively rather than allowing our impatient emotional brain to drive us to drink before we've made a choice,” says Paul Bird, author of Emotional Fitness: Changing The Way You Think And Feel (Amazon, £12.60).

“To find out whether you are choosing to drink or whether drink is choosing you, simply keep a diary of your drinking habits for one week without changing anything. Just note each day how much you drink, where you drink, what time you drink, and the reason why you drink — for example, boredom, socialising, feeling stressed.

“Also, record how much you enjoy each drink on a scale of one to 10, with one being you didn't enjoy it at all and 10 being you loved it.”

This will help you to recognise the occasions when you are drinking out of habit rather than need. Target those occasions to cut out alcohol completely or to consume alternative drinks like water or fruit juice rather than alcohol.

For more information, visit www.emotionalfitnessgym.co.uk.

GYM FREE EXERCISE

“Fat burning, toning up, working out and raising your heart rate don't have to be found in a gym, nor do you have to find extra hours in a day,” says Iain Reitze, founder of Prestige Boot Camp (www.prestigebootcamp.com).

“Use the stairs not lifts to increase heart rate. Carry bags or suitcases with a bent arm to increase tone in your triceps.

“Do exercises when the adverts come on, such as sit-ups or tricep dips against the settee. Do 10 reps of each. Over the course of a week, this can make a huge difference.”

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