Imagine a way of living with no diets, no deprivation, no starvation, no insane exercise regime, no misery, no crazy promises. Just this: when you feel good, you look good. That when you treat your body well, and fuel it properly, you enjoy food and you enjoy life. Think small daily changes and YES, you can have chocolate. And wine. And a life. This is a philosophy – and an approach – which breeds happiness. This is The Feelgood Plan, devised by personal trainer Dalton Wong (the man who hones the bodies of Jennifer Lawrence, Amanda Seyfried and Game of Thrones Kit Harington) and health writer Kate Faithfull-Williams. Want to get in on the action? Read on for our exclusive extract…
Your Five Feelgood guidelines
- Take at least 15 minutes a day to put yourself first.Because looking after your body impacts everything. You’re not just making healthy choices for your waistline, you’re doing it because it means you have more energy for fun times, more patience with your loved ones and more brainpower at work. Making feelgood choices will improve your home life, work life and whole life.
- Plan and eat proper,satisfying meals. Your key ingredients are protein, vegetables and complex carbs. Snacking is usually a gateway to overeating.
- No foods are off-limits, but only eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full. If you’re not hungry, food isn’t going to make you feel better.
- You don’t have to deprive yourself: there is always a feelgood option. It’s totally possible to be healthy and have a life. So yes to burgers, chocolate and nights out.
- When you’re tired, you can get more energy from exercise or simply chilling out. Sugar isn’t the solution.
Your route to the Feelgood zone when you’re stressed and tired.
Take one small step
Why are you feeling low? Because you’re not happy with the way things are. Why aren’t you happy with the status quo? Because it doesn’t make you feel good. Lows are your body’s way of forcing you to make a positive change and regenerate. Making healthy choices is proven to make you feel emotionally stronger and happier. Start with the very next thing you put in your mouth.
Nourish your body
When you try to fight the lows by eating junk food, you end up feeling worse. If you gorge on cake and other carb-laden treats when you feel bad, the insulin crash afterwards sinks your mood even lower. Eating the right vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and carbohydrates mean your body and brain can function at their very best.
Zap fatigue with gentle exercise
It might seem contradictory to lace your trainers up when you want to lie on the sofa, but people who do 15 minutes of moderate exercise, like a brisk walk or cycle ride, feel a 65% boost in energy.
Stretch away pain
Aching shoulders, backs, stomachs and, oh, everything are all part of feeling stressed. But low-intensity exercise triggers the release of pain-relieving endorphins and meditation can make colds history.
Get a good night’s sleep
When you’re feeling low, you need more sleep to regenerate your body.
How Long Does It Take To Change Your Body?
In 4 seconds you could look slimmer.
Slide your shoulders back, lift your chest up, pull your tummy in and smile. This move automatically makes you look an inch taller, a size smaller and 100% happier.
In 45 minutes you could increase your metabolism.
A vigorous 45-minute workout can elevate your metabolism for the next 14 hours.
In 1 day you could look younger.
Eat plenty of vitamin C and you’re likely to look less wrinkled 24 hours later. Scientists believe the nutrient spurs the production of collagen. Want a piece of that? Load up on cantaloupe melon, which is high in vitamins A and C, the ultimate skin-savers.
In 1 week you could lower your risk of disease.
How? By getting more sleep. Scientists compared people who got less than 6 hours of sleep a night with a group who got 8 ½ hours. In just 1 week, sleeping less had altered the expression of 711 genes, including ones involved in metabolism, inflammation and immunity, which can raise the risk of conditions from heart disease to obesity.
In 3 weeks you could sleep soundly.
Add more magnesium-rich foods like dark leafy greens, fish and avocado to your meals every day for 3 weeks and you’ll be rewarded with deep, sound sleep.]
In 6 weeks you could double the size of your brain.
Thanks to exercise, of course. Six weeks of regular exercise can double the size of your hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory and learning.
Seven Shortcuts To A Less Stressed Life
There’s no such thing as perfect. But an insidious perfectionist streak can feel all too real. It pushes you to set unrealistic goals that make you feel like you’re perpetually struggling to keep up. Curb your perfectionism by setting yourself a deadline and doing your best until that time is done. Has the world ended? No. Are you giving yourself room to breathe? Yes. Do you feel a little better already? Hope so.
Stressed about being stressed?
You know what Alanis Morrissette would say about that. Instead of being hard on yourself, go easy on yourself. You’re doing OK. You’re reading this book, right now. You’re on your way up.
A blast of exercise will reduce anxiety
Studies show that just 10 minutes does the trick; we find 15 minutes helps us feel happier and more focused. Your workout doesn’t have to be sweaty if you’re dressed up for a big meeting – even a quick stroll calms your nerves.
Meditation is well-known for its ability to calm the mind, but can also boost your immune system so you’re less likely to catch a cold, too.
If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, let go
Analysing a problem inside out can make you feel more frustrated than when you started. Sit back and let the answer come to you. The ‘aha’ moment will bring your solution.
Focus on what feels good
Being happy isn’t about avoiding stress completely (sorry, that’s impossible); it’s about paying attention to the good things in your life.
When everything is too much
In times of acute stress, take time out to let your emotions run their course. Don’t worry about food or your exercise plan: rest is what you need to get through this difficult time. When your troubles aren’t so all-consuming you’ll go back to a healthier life: start with a daily walk and cooking yourself a nourishing dinner.
This is an extract from The Feelgood Plan: Happier, Healthier & Slimmer in 15 Minutes a Day by Dalton Wong and Kate Faithfull-Williams (Ebury Press, £14.99). Buy it here.