Jennifer Aniston has clearly followed Ben's advice…
Weight-loss expert and personal trainer Benjamin Cook talks about how to look great this party season without torturing yourself in the process


 
It’s not long now till the Christmas party season. But if you’re worried about being at your sparkling best, don’t – there’s plenty of time to get in shape for that little black dress (or slim-fit suit!)

As a weight-loss coach people often ask me, “shouldn’t you just do more exercise?” or “isn’t it simple really?”

Well… it is! Weight-loss coaching is not about the obvious truth, it’s about how we link that essential truth to daily actions and our thought and emotion patterns. This is the essential step most of us fall down on when we get distracted by the demands of living a busy life.

Here are my top tips for beating those temptations this year and staying on track.

 

1. Avoid Exercise Bulimia

When it comes to exercise, the simple fact is most of us do way too much, or do way too little. If you train more than three times a week to begin with you’ll deplete your body of essential nutrients and minerals, feel chronically fatigued and give up six to eight weeks into your programme.

Train harder two or three times a week for 45 minutes with sensible activity like walking mixed in-between harder sessions. This will give your body time to adapt and stop you feeling like you’re being an exercise martyr – Helping you to be consistent until it’s time to shine.

 

2. Food is as important as exercise

The number of people who come to me saying they are eating on the fly to get to the gym and train is astounding. You are what you eat! Food is equally as important as exercise. So following on from point one it’s smart to train a little less and spend a little more time preparing high quality food.

I eat organic vegetables and eat fresh unprocessed cuts of meat and fish. You’ll find if you really up the quality of your fruit and vegetables, you’ll effortlessly feel less hungry – it’s an effect I’ve seen in myself and countless clients for which the scientific evidence is just starting to emerge.

 

3. Hydration or hunger?

When we eat processed foods the salt makes us de-hydrated, which our body confuses for hunger. Take a large water bottle to work with an organic lemon squeezed into it (leave the lemon in the water). This will keep your electrolyte balance good, tastes great and will help ensure you stay hydrated avoiding “false” hunger pangs. This advice is particularly important if you spend time in an air conditioned environment or office.

 

4. Strong = slim

Getting strong gets you slim – yes really! Most people think strength training like weights or yoga will make you muscly, in fact you’ll look long, lean and slimmer than you would without this kind of training. Strength training is the “secret weapon” of top personal trainers in making celebrities and stars look amazing.

If you use the 3-8 and 20+ rep ranges you’ll avoid any muscle building and increase your metabolic rate burning body fat 24 hours a day, seven days a week rather than just when you go to the gym.

 

5. Intensity always beats duration

You do not have to go to the gym for hours at a time. Charles Pollequin, the greatest Olympic coach of all time, bans his athletes from training for more than an hour at a time! Recent studies have shown that a number of people respond to two minutes of intense training in exactly the same way as they do to ten or 20 minutes of less intense physical activity.

I encourage my clients to train for 20-45 minutes at a time, focusing on training harder in bursts. This is called “interval training” and is used by top Olympic athletes to reach higher levels of fitness while training less often and for less long.