What Are Calories?

We know that calories are found in food, but what are they and how do they affect us?
+ Read More

BMI Guide

Body Mass Index is a way of calculating whether people are at a weight that is healthy for them.
+ Read More

Healthy Eating

A healthy diet should consist of a balance of food in the correct proportions. See the 5 food groups.
+ Read More

Your 5 A Day

You should try and eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, but what counts as a portion?
+ Read More

Love Takeaways?

Everyone loves a takeaway but they aren’t usually very healthy, so what can you do to cut down?
+ Read More

Exercise Guidelines

To be healthy you should include exercise as part of your daily routine, but how much should you do?
+ Read More

Find A Gym

One way to keep fit is to join a gym. We have compiled a list of major chains to get you started.
+ Read More

Fitness DVDs

There’s a huge range of fitness DVDs on the market to help you keep fit in the comfort of your own home.
+ Read More

Health Spas

A health spa is a great place to visit if you need to escape and recharge your batteries.
+ Read More

Motivation

If you want to be healthier, you need to keep fit, and to do that you will need to motivate yourself.
+ Read More

What Are Calories?

A calorie is a measure of energy found in food. Your body uses food as fuel and burns calories to produce energy. If a food item has 200 calories, it's a way of describing how much energy your body could get from eating it. Although your body needs energy to function, it can only use so many calories at one time, so you need to balance the amount of calories you consume with the amount of energy your body needs, otherwise the excess calories will be stored as fat. If you constantly consume more calories than you burn off, then you are at risk of becoming overweight. If you are overweight you are more likely to develop health problems such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Recommended calorie intake for adults is:

An average woman
2,000 calories per day

An average man
2,500 calories per day

Note: This can vary depending on many factors such as your age, weight, and level of physical activity. For example a labourer would need more calories per day than someone who sits at a desk all day.

You can find the calorie content of most food and drink items in the nutritional label on the packaging. It will appear under the ‘Energy’ heading and will often be written as ‘kcals’, which is short for 'kilocalories', and also as ‘kJ’, which is short for kilojoules. Kilojoules are the metric measurement of calories. For more information on food labelling click here

Calories - a few examples of popular items:

Serving size Calories Serving size Calories
Twix Twin bar (62g) 306 Big Mac 215g 492
Mars Bar 1 bar (65g) 294 ¼ pounder w/cheese 206g 515
Maltesers 1 pack (37g) 183 McDonalds fries 78g 207
Milky Way 1 bar (26g) 117 KFC Chicken 67g 195
Kit Kat 2 fingers (21g) 106 Indian Chicken Korma 300g 498
Cheese & onion crisps 1 bag (35g) 184 Chinese Chicken w/cashew 350g 311
Ready salted 'light' crisps 1 bag (28g) 132 Cheese, cheddar 40g 172
Danish pastry 67g 287 Can of coke 330ml 139
Doughnut 49g 140 White wine 120ml 87
Jaffa cake 12g 46      

Source: weightlossresources

Note: You should not focus too much on how many calories you consume each day, but rather you should aim to:

Source: NHS Choices website
Note: This chart should only be used for adults over 18.

Source: NHS Choices website

Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index (BMI) is an established formula used by health experts to determine whether people are at a weight that is healthy for them. BMI is calculated using height and weight. The chart opposite can give you an indication of your BMI.

Note: If you are an athlete or are very muscular, the BMI measurements won’t be accurate because muscle weighs more than fat and you are likely to slip into a higher category. Also pregnant women won't get an accurate reading; they should seek advice from their doctors instead.

Check out these BMI calculators:

Healthy Eating

The eatwell plate is based on the five food groups and shows how much of what you eat should come from each food group. This includes everything you eat during the day, including snacks. Use the eatwell plate to help you get the balance right.

  • Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods (33%)
    Eat plenty, choose wholegrain varieties when you can
  • Fruit and vegetables (33%)
    Eat plenty, at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day.
  • Milk and dairy foods (15%)
    Eat some, choose lower fat alternatives whenever possible or eat higher fat versions infrequently or in smaller amounts.
  • Meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein (12%)
    Eat some, choose lower fat alternatives whenever possible or eat higher fat versions infrequently or in smaller amounts.
    Aim for at least two portions of fish a week, including a portion of oily fish.
  • Foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar (8%)
    Eat just a small amount.
Note: This adds up to 101% due to rounding up.


Salt
- Try to choose options that are lower in salt when you can. Adults should have no more than 6 grams of salt a day.

© Crown copyright. Source: Department of Health in association with the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government and the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland

Your 5 A Day

We all know that a healthy diet should include at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, but what counts as a portion?

Examples of portion sizes for fresh fruit & veg:

  • 1 medium sized fruit e.g. apple, pear, orange, banana, peach
  • 2 small sized fruits e.g. plums, satsumas, kiwis
  • Handful of grapes, gooseberries, blackberries
  • 4 heaped tablespoons of blueberries or blackcurrants
  • 14 cherries
  • 7 strawberries
  • 1 medium tomato or 7 cherry tomatoes
  • ½ a pepper
  • 1 large parsnip
  • 2 broccoli florets
  • 8 cauliflower florets
  • 8 spring onions
  • 5 asparagus spears
  • 4 heaped tablespoons of green beans, spring greens or spinach
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of carrots, peas, sweetcorn

Examples of portion sizes for canned, frozen or dried fruit & veg:

  • 2 halves of canned peaches
  • 6 halves of canned apricots
  • 20 canned raspberries
  • 3 dried apricots
  • 1 handful of dried banana chips
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of sultanas
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of baked beans
  • 3 tablespoons of frozen mixed veg
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of frozen or canned carrots, peas, sweetcorn

To get the most benefit try to vary the types of fruit and veg you eat. A (150ml) glass of unsweetened pure fruit or vegetable juice counts as a maximum of one portion a day, however much you drink. That's mainly because juice contains less fibre than whole fruits and vegetables. Beans and pulses only count as one portion a day, no matter how many you eat. That's because they contain fewer nutrients than other fruits and vegetables.

Potatoes do NOT count towards your 5 a day. They are classified as starchy food as they are usually used in place of other sources of starch such as bread, rice and pasta. They still play an important role in your diet though.

For more information on portion sizes click here to view the NHS guide

Source: NHS Choices website

Love Takeaways

Everyone loves a takeaway but they are 'usually' loaded with saturated fats* and salt. They aren’t easy to give up when you are trying to lose weight or trying to maintain a healthy diet, but there are ways of cutting down by just making a few simple changes.

Fish and Chips

Choose thick, straight-cut chips instead of french fries or crinkle-cut. Thick chips absorb less oil. Don’t eat the batter around the fish because it soaks up a lot of fat. Choose fish in breadcrumbs if available instead.

Burgers

Don't have cheese in your burger and instead of mayonnaise have tomato sauce.

Curry

Choose a dry or tomato-based dish, such as tandoori or madras, instead of creamy curries such as korma, pasanda or masala. Have plain rice and chapatti instead of pilau rice and naan bread. Try to avoid bhajis, pakoras and poppadoms as they are deep fried.

Thai

Choose a stir-fried or steamed dish containing chicken, fish or vegetables. Watch out for curries that contain coconut milk, as this is high in saturated fat. If you choose one of these, try not to eat all the sauce.

Kebabs

Switch the lamb doner kebab for a chicken shish kebab (meat on a skewer) with pitta bread and salad instead.

Chinese

Choose a lower-fat dish, such as steamed fish, chicken chop suey or Szechuan prawns. Avoid the deep fried items such as sweet and sour pork balls and items marked as 'crispy' as that means deep fried. Choose plain rice instead of fried rice.

Pizza

Choose lower-fat toppings such as vegetables, ham, fish or prawns, instead of pepperoni or salami and don’t order extra cheese! Go for thin pizza bases instead deep-pan and avoid cheese stuffed crusts.

Pasta

Choose a tomato sauce on your pasta rather than a creamy or cheesy sauce as it’s lower in saturated fat.

*Eating a diet that is high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in the blood. High cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease.


  • The average man should eat no more than 30 grams of saturated fat a day.
  • The average woman should eat no more than 20 grams of saturated fat a day.
*Source: NHS Choices website

For more information go to NHS Choices website

Exercise Guidelines

To keep healthy, government guidelines recommend that an adult* should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week.

150 minutes

(2 hrs, 30 mins)

5 x 30

Tip: A good way to achieve this is to break it down into 30 minute chunks,
5 days a week

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity

This means you're working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. Examples include:

  • walking fast
  • water aerobics
  • riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
  • doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower
  • hiking
  • skateboarding
  • basketball

Alternatively...

75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

75 minutes

(1 hr, 15 mins) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity

This means you're breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you're working at this level, you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Examples include:

  • jogging or running
  • swimming fast
  • riding a bike fast or on hills
  • singles tennis
  • football, rugby
  • hockey
  • skipping
  • aerobics

* The amount of activity you need to do each week depends on your age. These guidelines are for the 19-64 age group. Activities for children and the over 65s can be found here

Note: You should start slowly if you haven’t exercised in a while, build up over a few weeks or do just 5-10 minutes per day to start with. Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise routines.

You should also warm up and stretch properly before exercise to prevent injury. For warm up exercises click here

Source: NHS Choices website

Find A Gym

One way to keep fit is to join a gym. There are many good local gyms and health clubs around the UK, but here’s a few of the major chains to get you started:

David Lloyd www.davidlloyd.co.uk
Cannons www.cannons.co.uk
LA Fitness www.lafitness.co.uk
Virgin Active www.virginactive.co.uk
Bannatynne www.bannatyne.co.uk/fitness
Fitness First www.fitnessfirst.co.uk
Livingwell www.livingwell.com
Spirit Health Clubs www.spirit-fit.com
Lifestyle Fitness www.lifestylefitness.co.uk

Fitness DVDs

There’s a huge range of fitness DVDs on the market to help you keep fit in the comfort of your own home. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most current ones, released 2011-2013, with a price guide.

Note: We have not tested any of these DVDs and we do not endorse any of them, this list is purely for your information only.
Davina Intense
Released: 2013
Price guide: £13.97 (Amazon)
Gareth Thomas - The 7 Day Fitness Plan
Released: 2013
Price guide: £10.99 (Amazon)
David Haye's Box & Tone
Released: 2013
Price guide: £11.75 (Amazon)
Nell McAndrew Peak Energy Recharged
Released: 2012
Price guide: £8.14 (Amazon)
Ballet Fitness With Nicky Mcginty
Released: 2013
Price guide: £10.99 (Amazon)
Glynis Barber's Anti-Aging Yoga Secrets
Released: 2013
Price guide: £10.99 (Amazon)
The Tracy Anderson Method - Dance Cardio Workout II
Released: 2011
Price guide: £11.99 (Amazon)
Christine Bleakley - The Workout
Released: 2011
Price guide: £11.70 (Amazon)
Strictly Come Dancing: Dance School
Released: 2011
Price guide: £10.99 (Amazon)
Now That's What I Call A Fitness DVD
Released: 2011
Price guide: £10.97 (Amazon)

Health Spas

A health spa or health farm is a great place to visit if you need to recharge your batteries. Escape the pressures of your weekly routine and enjoy some guilt free quality time being pampered in a tranquil environment. Indulge in some revitalising spa treatments and make use of the leisure facilities. Sounds bliss!

Here are a few health spas and health farms to help you on your way:

Name Website Location
Ragdale Hall www.ragdalehall.co.uk Leicestershire
Champneys              www.champneys.com Various locations
Hoar Cross Hall www.hoarcross.co.uk Staffordshire
Nirvana Spa www.nirvanaspa.co.uk Berkshire
Cedar Falls www.cedarfalls.co.uk Somerset
Grayshott Spa www.grayshottspa.com Surrey
Clarice House Health Spa www.claricehouse.co.uk Suffolk
Lifehouse Country Spa Resort www.lifehouse.co.uk Essex
The Lorrens Ladies Health Hydro www.lorrens-health-hydro.co.uk Devon
Aqua Sana www.aquasana.co.uk Various locations
Spa Satori www.spasatori.co.uk Manchester
Luxury Scotland www.luxuryscotland.co.uk/spa Various locations

Motivation

Now that you’ve started thinking about your health, you will need some motivation to keep fit. Hopefully these tips will help you.

1. Have a reason for keeping fit

You need a good reason to keep fit in the first place otherwise you won’t be motivated, so make a list of the reasons why you want to keep fit, for example:

  • I want more energy so that I can play with my children
  • I want to be able to run upstairs without being out of breath
  • I want to fit into my new jeans etc.

2. Set some goals

If you have goals to work towards then you will feel a sense of achievement when you have reached them, and this will spur you on. They don’t have to be big to start with, for example:

  • Walk 1/2hr each day
  • Do 20 sit ups each day
  • Cycle to work instead of driving, twice a week etc.

3. Exercise in the morning

If you exercise first thing in the morning, before you start your daily routine, then you won’t have the excuse ‘”I am too tired” or “I am too busy” as you would have later in the day.

4. Exercise with friends

Exercising with others not only makes you keep your exercise dates, but it's much more enjoyable.

5. Enter a competition

Enter a local marathon or a sponsored event and then you will have a goal to work towards and you will be motivated to train regularly.

6. Write it down

Write down your exercise routines and time spent working out, having it on paper emphasises it. If you factor your fitness into your daily schedule (add it to your work diary or onto your calendar), then you will mentally prepare for it and it will become a habitual routine rather than a chore.

7. Variation

Vary your work out routines so that you don’t get bored. If you are jogging or cycling then take a different route each time, if you attend dance classes or follow fitness DVDs then try different styles. This will keep your mind stimulated as well.

8. Photos

Put an overweight photo of yourself on the inside of your wardrobe door or on the fridge door to encourage you to get back into shape. There’s no bigger motivation than seeing a terrible photo of yourself! On the positive side, you could use a really good photo of yourself, as this might spur you on instead.

9. Reward yourself

Reward yourself when you have achieved a particular goal (not with food!) but with something that will make you happy, for example you could put some money in a piggy bank every time you exercise, then buy yourself a gift when you’ve earned enough, or you could treat yourself to a night at the cinema instead of looking after the children etc.

10. Make it enjoyable!

If you don’t enjoy doing something, then don’t do it, you won’t be motivated! Find an activity that you do enjoy. If you go out jogging make sure you take your iPod and your favourite music with you, if you are exercising at home put on your favourite CD.

Note: If you have any health issues, you should always consult your doctor before taking part in any form of physical activity.