Christmas has gone, the decorations are down and the festive period is well and truly over.
Next comes the difficult bit – shifting the pounds we piled on over the last few weeks.
January is traditionally a time when new fitness goals are set and we look to become a little healthier, but losing weight (and keeping it off) doesn't have to be torture.
The UK’s leading weight loss organisation, Slimming World, have come up with 15 simple top tips to help you achieve the lifestyle and figure you want for 2017.
To find your nearest group visit slimmingworld.co.uk
1. Be ambitious
‘When you shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars’.
This quote is true with weight loss too.
Research, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, has found that slimmers who set ambitious targets and aim for their dream weight lose almost twice as much as those who try to be realistic by setting a more modest weight loss target.
The study, which looked at precisely 24,457 Slimming World members who accessed weekly support, found that the more ambitious the target, the more weight people lose – regardless of their starting weight.
2. Fill up
If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to doom a New Year’s weight-loss resolution, it’s being hungry.
Feeling deprived is never fun, especially in the long, cold winter months.
One of the first things you’ll discover about Slimming World is that you don’t have to go hungry, instead satisfy your appetite freely on a long list of healthy foods like fruit and veg, pasta, rice, potatoes, lean meat, fish, eggs and fat-free dairy.
3. Find your fitness love
Exercise is a great way to feel fitter, healthier and happier, however, for some people the thought of hitting the gym or starting a new sport might put them off even starting in the first place.
So, pace yourself. Focus on finding an activity you enjoy, start small and, as you lose weight and have more energy, gradually work up to doing more, more often at a rate that suits you.
4. Discover support
What’s been the common denominator for all the times you've made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and never quite got going…?
The likely answer is that you tried to do it with little or no support.
Going to a Slimming World group or joining online and getting support, encouragement and motivation could really be the change that makes the difference this January.
5. Set bite-size goals to reach your end target
It’s important to set ambitious targets and aim for the weight or clothes size you really want to be.
However, initially that end goal might seem a long way off, so having mini milestones to aim for can help to keep you inspired.
What will your first one be? And how quickly can you achieve it?
6. Focus on your 'weight-loss weapon'
Whatever your reason for resolving to slim down, it’s essential that you never lose sight of it.
That’s going to be one of your greatest weapons for staying motivated, especially when you’re having a wobble.
7. Don’t miss out
Make a list of your favourite meals and find out how you can make them Slimming World-friendly.
By making just a few small changes to the way you shop and cook you won’t have to go without your best-loved dishes, whether that’s a curry, a burger or even chips.
8. Be inspired by others
Whether it’s another member in your Slimming World group, a story in a magazine or a transformation photo on social media, seeing other people’s success can be a huge motivator.
So why not seek out that inspiration?
Follow people you admire on social media and read inspirational stories – you’ll find tons on slimmingworld.co.uk.
9. Plan ahead and shop for success
When you’re short on time and the cupboards are bare, it’s easy to be tempted by unhealthy convenience foods that can be on the table in a flash and with little effort.
By planning meals and shopping in advance, so you know what’s on the menu and have all of the healthy ingredients to hand, you’ll be well placed to cook a delicious, filling meal whatever time you arrive home.
10. Treat yourself
If traditionally you've rewarded yourself with food, whether that’s a chocolate bar or glass of wine after a stressful day or a nice meal to celebrate an achievement, don’t deprive yourself.
Simply swap that foody treat for something else that you love like a new nail polish, a night out at the cinema or some new clothes.
11. Track your progress
Because we see ourselves every day, it can be hard to see how far we've come.
Log your progress so you can look back and give yourself credit for the changes you've made and the weight you’ve lost.
Slimming World’s member’s website allows you to track your weight and plot it into a graph.
12. Fill your freezer
Batch cooking healthy dinners – ready to heat up like your very own ready meal – or cooking double the amount and freezing half for another occasion can be a lifesaver. (There’ll never be an excuse to have a last-minute takeaway which is likely to be high in fat and calories).
Alternatively, you could stock your freezer with the Slimming World ready meal range available from Iceland.
13. Make a date with activity
If you struggle to find time to fit exercise your day, you’re not alone.
One trick is to make a fitness date in your diary with yourself - once you’ve made a commitment to get moving you’re much more likely to actually do it.
14. Be kind to yourself
When things don’t go to plan on our weight-loss journey, we’re often extremely hard on ourselves and that self-criticism can quickly spiral into self-doubt and lead to us going off track for days, or worse still, throwing in the towel completely.
By learning to be kinder to ourselves and accepting lapses are natural, you can become more resilient and get straight back on track.
Letting a bad day turn into a bad week is the biggest waste of time when you’re trying to slim. Self-compassion is sure to see you hit your target weight much sooner.
15. Celebrate every milestone
It’s important to celebrate not just weight loss goals but other milestones too, like making a great healthy choice, overcoming a challenge or feeling brave enough to do something you wouldn't have before.
Of course, the greatest achievement is celebrating achieving your dream weight, so use this advice to help you get into the groove.