Aiming for a slimmer you in 2013? Don’t set a goal weight – pick a goal dress

Marks & Spencer are working with the nutritionist Helen Stevenson to promote steady weight loss, rather than crash diets, using the idea of setting a goal dress to fit in to, rather than a target weight.

1. Choose your ‘goal dress’. This could be an old favourite or a new LBD that’s just a little too tight, but either way, it’s got to be something you know will make you feel amazing – perhaps check out the M&S dress range ( The next stage is to think of an occasion you’d like to wear it that allows a realistic time frame for you to lose the weight. There are lots of great summer events kicking off from April, from weddings to ladies days at the races. By choosing your dress and the event you will have something to aim for but won’t need to check the scales every day.

2. Be sensible with calorie counting. As a guide, Women aiming to lose weight should try and stick to 1500 calories a day. You don’t need to completely exclude any foods from your diet, instead aim to rethink your food choices, can you chose healthier food options have you had a balanced diet each day? As a guide, healthy, sustained weight loss should be gradual – no more than 0.5kg-1kg a week.

3. Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals – in particular, breakfast – will not help you to lose weight. Instead it can make you more likely to snack on high-fat or high-sugar snacks later in the day. Some good breakfast options to start the day with include porridge, low fat yoghurts, fruit, wholemeal toast with low fat topping or high fibre cereal with semi-skimmed milk

4. Get balanced There are plenty of diets out there to choose from. Some cut out carbohydrates, some suggest you eat only raw vegetables, while some consist of multiple complicated stages. The problem is many of these diets are restrictive and avoid important food groups which provide essential nutrients that our bodies need. A balanced diet is a healthy one, ensure you include plenty of fruit and vegetables with each meal, chose wholegrain carbohydrates, lean protein and low fat dairy products each day.
5. Boost your five-a-day. A great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre, fruit and vegetables are ideal healthy snack options (for example, carrot and celery sticks with low fat dip, handful of dried fruit or mixed fruit salads). Vegetables tend to contain less sugar than fruit and are higher in many vitamins and minerals, so aim to get your 5-a-day from 3 portions of vegetables and 2 of fruit.

6. Easy swaps. Make some easy swaps to help reduce your calorie intake. This could include switching full fat yogurt to low fat, using tomato-based sauces rather than creamy ones, and choosing lean and skinless meat rather than skin-on varieties.

7. Eat more fish. Fish is a great source of protein and is low in saturated fat too. Most of us don’t eat enough of it so try to include at least two portions a week. Ensure one of these is an oily fish (such as sardines, salmon or mackerel) as these provide omega 3 fats which, as part of a healthy diet, can help to keep your heart healthy.

8. Healthy snacks. Even a healthy diet can include snacks, just remember to include them in your calorie intake. Healthy snacks are best, however if you’re looking for something more indulgent portion control is the key – aim for no more than 150 kcals per snack (that’s  a handful of nuts and dried fruit, two Rivita crackers with a tablespoon of cottage cheese or roughly 4 squares of milk chocolate ).

9. Get active. Exercise can help to maintain an energy balance by increasing the amount of energy you use. This can help with weight loss and improve body shape. As well as weight management, exercise helps to build strong muscles and bones and has been linked with improvements in overall health. Even a little bit of exercise can enhance your overall feeling of wellbeing as it can help to improve sleep and mood as well as helping to relieve stress, increasing stamina and making you feel more energised! Aim for 2∏ hours of exercise in a week – but you don’t have do it all at once. Keep it varied and try splitting it up throughout the day.

10. Stay hydrated. Keeping hydrated is a vital part of a healthy diet but drinking nothing but water can be boring – so it’s good to know that diluted fruit juice and even weak tea and coffee can count towards your fluid intake.
These ten top tips can get you started on a healthier you so that once that dress fits, you’ll know you’ve hit your goal.

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