The important thing is to work out what you want and set a goal to help you achieve it. So the first question to ask yourself is: are you a healthy weight?
You can check your body mass index (BMI) on the NHS website to assess your weight in relation to your height.
Do the calculations
Boots – and many gyms across the country – offer scales combined with BMI calculators, where you jump on for a basic or advanced reading.
The advanced reading will include your BMI index and body fat percentage, so it should enable you to sit down and work out what you need to do next.
Some of you may find you’re underweight and need to put a bit of weight on to get healthier. Others may be a healthy weight but not happy with the way they look, which could mean a specific exercise plan helping you to tone specific muscles.
When you decide to lose weight, it should be more than just a short term thing. It’s all about re-evaluating the way you live, what you eat and how you exercise.
This is a total lifestyle change, and it has to be for good. Once you achieve your ideal weight, you still need to maintain it!
A good option is to have an overall goal (such as “I would like to lose 15kgs to become healthier and happier”) and lots of little baby goals. Concentrate on the first 5kgs, which should take about 4-5 weeks. After you lose the first 5kgs, reward yourself with a new item of clothing, a spa treatment or whatever appeals to you.
It’s not healthy to lose more than 2kgs a week, so don’t go overboard. You also need to rest and give your body time to recover after exercise (especially after weights, which should only be done every other day at most).
Exercise for free – Work out at work
If you sit at a desk for most of the day, keep active by getting up at least once an hour and do two laps of the office or building, or walk up and down the stairs a couple of times. Go to the kitchen for a drink and spend half your lunch time walking. Shoulder and leg exercises are also quite easy to do at your desk, as well as chair squats and abdominal stretching.
The website About.com has a great resource on exercising at work everything from basic stretches to full office workouts.
Housework is good for you
Hate housework? Don’t. Combine housework with some loud rock music and go crazy. Rock music will help you put more effort and ‘umph’ into scrubbing/vacuuming/sweeping/wiping.
Another great exercise: when you’re carrying the shopping in, hold the bags in both hands at a 90 degree angle and then slightly lift them in towards your chest, hold and release. This helps to tone your biceps.
Run for it
Running’s great, for the simple reason that you can do it anywhere: paths in the city, in the country, on the beach or through national parks. All you need is a good pair of shoes – so invest in trainers that are going to support you.
If you buy from Runnersworld they’ll do an analysis in-store to test your arches and flex. They’ll even get you on a treadmill and video your foot strokes to find what type of shoe works best.
COST: Nothing to run, around £60 for a decent pair of fitted running shoes.
Go to the park
There’s strength in numbers. If you prefer exercising in a group, get your mates together at the park and take a Frisbee.
Playing Frisbee for an hour will help you to lose 200-300 calories, depending on how much you run and jump. Alternatively, take a football and flaunt your Beckham-like ball skills.
COST: Nothing to enjoy nature and around £10 for a new football
Get your togs on and head out to the beach or your local pool. Swimming in the sea is harder work and therefore better for you. Its fun, and you can do it on your own or take your mates – playing ball or Frisbee in the water is an even better workout.
COST: The beach is free, but the local pool may cost you couple of quid for entry.
Get your Wii out
Get yourself some active Wii games like boxing, tennis, golf and bowling or better still a. Wii Fit, which comes with a special balance board and four training categories aimed at improving players’ muscle condition, balance, flexibility and aerobic capacity.
COST: Around £150-200 if you haven’t already got a Wii, around £70 if you have. Alternatively, compare prices with Kelkoo or BuyCentral.
Change your eating habits
You’ll have a much easier time losing weight through exercise if you also watch what you eat.
However, remember that starving yourself will actually make the situation worse. If your stomach isn’t being fed properly the fats you do eat will store themselves because your body doesn’t know when you’ll be fed next. If you eat 500 calories less than your recommended daily amount, you can lose a healthy 0.5kgs a week.
Think of ways to cut down on the things that aren’t as healthy as others. For example, including ice in a glass of coke cuts out 70 calories, and switching from a cream-filled doughnut to a chocolate covered doughnut cuts 100 calories.
SAVINGS: Coke, doughnuts and ice cream are more expensive than water, bananas and crudités. Always look for an alternative!
Jasmine Birtles is the founder of the money-making and money-saving website http://www.moneymagpie.com
Jasmine earns her living as a finance journalist, expert, TV presenter and is author of 38 books including the latest, “Beat the Banks!” http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beat-Banks-Control-Familys-Financial/dp/0091929474/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1272641989&sr=1-1