Just another day of normal family life where Michelle is caught swearing at her jelly belly!

You know what family life is like. You stagger through the ups and downs until you settle into a routine (sort of). Hectic though family life is, the years do sort of creep by. But while time creeps past you, the dial on the scale steadily creeps up! Nothing too alarming, a pound here and there. You think it’s not too bad, you will shake it off. You will cut out that biscuit with your tea, or not have crisps with lunch. But no matter how good you are, you still end up half a stone heavier at the end of the year.

It really hit home how much of a jelly belly I had developed when I accidentally walked into the edge of a door and my belly was the first thing to make contact! Hmm …. something had to be done! Being an ex-fitness instructor, I knew exactly what I should do. So last week I dusted off my old rebounder (it’s like a mini trampoline), screwed on the six legs and positioned it in front of the TV.

My theory is this:

I’m a single mum, so taking time out to go to the gym isn’t possible for me. I work all day, and the evenings are filled with cooking, cleaning, entertaining my son, bath and bedtime. So the rebounder was the perfect solution for me. I don’t have to leave the house to exercise. I don’t need expensive trainers or workout clothes. There are no expensive gym memberships to pay. I don’t use petrol getting to and from the gym. I don’t have to pay for a babysitter. I can still watch my favourite TV programmes, but instead of sitting on the sofa to watch them, I can now have a little bounce and a dance around! Even doing just 30 minutes a day in 3 ten-minute bursts will mean at the end of the week I would have worked out for three and a half hours, and without even changing my day-to-day routine.

What I am saying is that you have to find the best solution that fits in with your lifestyle. I found something that is convenient and fits well into my routine, and I am sure you can too.

So are here are some pointers on losing weight safely.

Beware the Crash Diets

Body weight doesn’t appear very quickly, so why would anyone think that you can get rid of it any faster than you gained it! Jumping into a fad diet routine that promises a 7-pound weight loss in a week is really quite ridiculous. Most fad diets usually include expensive diet foods and drinks you need to buy that you replace normal food with. The most unfortunate thing with these diets is the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables. The meals are usually instant powders, bars or soups that have all been engineered in a sterile factory rather than simply grown. These types of diets do nothing to educate you about healthy eating. In fact, once you have lost some weight with these products, and then return to healthy eating only to gain the lost weight back, with probably a little extra on top, you are compelled to do the diet over again, which is exactly what these diet manufacturers want you to do. More of your money in their pocket! All that will get slimmer on these sorts of diets is your purse or wallet.

Beware of Ultra-low Calorie Diets

Ever heard of the cabbage soup diet? Or the grapefruit diet? These diets usually are very low-calorie and rely on your eating or drinking huge amounts of low-calorie soup or fruit to fill you up and quell the hunger pains. In truth all these diets do is to slow down your natural metabolism, or the rate at which your body burns calories. Since this makes the body think it means there’s little food available, it goes into starvation mode.

This starvation mode was a very useful thing to our caveman ancestors, as when there was a lack of available food during harsh winters, the body slowed down and held onto its fat reserves. Then any food it did receive while in starvation mode was made the most of, and every spare calorie was converted to life-saving body fat. When things get really bad the body will automatically break down your high-protein muscles to use as fuel rather than use your precious body fat. So you do lose weight, but the weight you lose is from healthy muscle tissue and not body fat. Again, once you stop these types of diets and return to normal eating habits, the body is still making efficient use of every calorie you eat, and will continue to lay down body fat. So again you will end up fatter than when you started.

However, the sensible way of cutting the calories is to try eating small meals at more frequent intervals. This way the body will not think that it is being starved and will not store food as fat. You should divide your meals up into six small portions: breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner and supper.

Eat Proper Food

Try to choose food that has not been overly processed. Sugary breakfast cereal is a prime example of something that has been so refined that the manufacturers have to add vitamins and minerals back in to make it appear healthy! Try boiled eggs and wholemeal toast, or porridge and a piece of fresh fruit for breakfast. Mid-morning snack should be something quick and easy, and something that can be easily carried with you if you go out to work. A small pot of hummus and fresh veggie sticks are quick to prepare, and easy to keep in the fridge at work, or try making a large Spanish omelette that you can slice up and eat cold with a banana. Lunch can be a tasty bean salad, or a chicken or turkey sandwich with salad on wholemeal bread. Afternoon snack can be a piece of cheese, a small handful of roasted almonds and a crisp apple.