Practical weight loss and fitness tips

MALAYSIA - It's happened again. You've fallen off the fitness bandwagon and you're having trouble getting back on. The good news is, it's never too late to start, and the sooner you do, the better you will feel.

I personally have a love-hate relationship with fitness. It is a volatile, wretched romance. Even for someone who loves exercise, it is possible to fall off the fitness bandwagon.

In just a few months, I went from being over-zealous about eating "clean", to drowning in cookies and crisps in one of my many late-night binges.

Suddenly, it was "okay" to eat an entire pizza, or have two burgers at one go, before washing them down with a cocktail (or five). Worse, I have been skimping on my workouts. It didn't help that I was constantly tired from work.

Suddenly, my face was dotted with pimples. I developed a sty in one eye, and had tongue ulcers.

I was a flabby mess. Whatever happened to those defined abs I'd paraded so proudly just months ago?

I am now in the process of weaning myself off chocolates, and limiting the number of cocktails. I haven't ballooned out of my clothes, but it does get frustrating when I think about how far I've come since my days as a fat kid.

But as I fight my way back to Fitville, I also have to remember not to kill myself on occasions when I do give in to temptation.

So what if I fall? For me, it is an opportunity to come back fitter, faster and stronger.

And to anyone who might be too scared to even try to hop back onto the fitness bandwagon because you're afraid you would just fall off it again, don't be.

Set your fear of failure aside, and do your best. You will be back on track in no time.

Tips on getting back into shape

1. Drink water before a meal

It really doesn't get easier than that. Most of us don't drink enough water anyway, and those of us who favour fruit juices and carbonated drinks may suddenly find ourselves a few pounds heavier.

If you are often ravenous at meal times, start off with a glass of water first. You might just find yourself feeling more placated, and less inclined to stuff yourself with three whole plates of rice.

2. Toss out the junk

When choosing a snack, don't go for just any Tom, Dick or Harry sandwich. Ditch the junk, and go only for diet-worthy snacks such as almonds, walnuts and fruits. Stash some of these nutrient-packed goodies in your backpack or briefcase, so if you ever find yourself hungry while running late for an appointment, you have something to fill your stomach that will not derail your diet.

3. Play the waiting game

The next time you are craving for doughnuts, do what you do to a potential date - play the waiting game. Instead of rushing into things and giving in, eat something nutritious and filling, like an apple... then wait for 10 minutes.

You might be amazed at how the craving has suddenly vanished, or lessened considerably. Often, the yearning for a sugary snack can be stopped in its track with a healthier and more wholesome alternative.

4. Get off your couch. Now!

Life happens, and there will always be days when you will be tempted to skip your workout to go bond with your couch. If you don't have the time or energy for a full workout, know that even mini bursts of physical activity can produce good results.

A Stanford University study showed that three 10-minute workouts during the day produced similar results as one 30-minute workout. So get moving and remember that getting off the couch itself is an accomplishment!

5. Be realistic

You're not going to get those sizzling abs overnight no matter how many sit-ups you do. Plus, every legitimate fitness trainer will tell their clients to stay away from fad diets and workouts that promise instant and unrealistic results.

Instead, follow a sustainable exercise routine and eating plan. All this may sound boring, but the main goal here is to achieve a healthy and consistent body mass. Ultimately, it is about maintaining good health.

If you stick with your guns and keep pushing, you will look back a year from now and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

6. Stop comparing yourself to others

Okay, so your Facebook and Instagram is saturated with pictures of toned and sexy celebs and fitness models, as well as that annoying girl who wouldn't stop posting pictures of her abs (coughs!), and they are making you feel just a tad envious and unfit.

But even these folks have their off-seasons and cheat meals. Besides, most of what you see is airbrushed anyway, and many actors gain weight in between projects, and end up with unflattering pictures in the tabloids.

So stop comparing yourself to others. You don't have to prove anything to anyone. The only person you should be competing against is yourself.

7. Don't beat yourself up

We all mess up sometimes, but that's not the end of the world, and it's certainly no reason to go on a food binge. Instead, just accept that you just ate a slice of cake and skipped gym. And then get right back to eating healthy, and maybe have a salad as your next meal.

You don't have to admit defeat and inhale an entire cake just because you feel like your diet is already ruined.

Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves - so what if we fall? For me, it is an opportunity to come back fitter, faster and stronger.

And to anyone who might be too wimped out to even try to hop back onto that fitness bandwagon because you're afraid you would just fall off it again, don't be. Set your ego and fear of failure aside, and do the best that you can. You will be back on track in no time.

As for that annoying girl with the defined abs, she will be back. Sorry, Facebook.