These small, common-sense steps could lead to big improvements
IMPROVE YOUR SNACK GAME
Snacking has a bad rep and rightly so – grazing on chocolate and crisps won’t help you to reach your health goals. However, snacking can be a force for good if you go about it in the right way. A 4pm nibble will keep you fuelled for the afternoon and lessen your hunger in the evening, which is when many of us habitually overeat. Make sure your snack contains protein. A handful of nuts, some low-fat Greek yogurt or an open salmon sandwich are good examples.
KEEP A TEA TOWEL DOWN THE BACK OF THE SOFA
With the rise of sedentary jobs, back issues are on the rise. These are exacerbated by short hamstrings and stretching them can help. Every time you lie on the sofa and switch on your fave box set, whip out your tea towel from behind the cushion. Hook one foot in the tea towel, straighten the leg and gently pull it towards you, feeling tension down the back of your thigh. It’s eye-wateringly good for you.
MAKE SPORT SOCIAL
Choose something you really enjoy – I play badminton but I also like to cycle. Many of my clients love Zumba and other dance-related classes. Pick something that involves socialising and isn’t solitary. This way you have the added advantage of the endorphins that are released when we have fun.
MEASURE YOUR COFFEE
Caffeine is a potent tool: it has been shown to improve overall performance by up to eight per cent in athletes; and further studies have found that it boosts our concentration and decisionmaking skills. But use it too much and you can feel jittery and irritable.
The answer is to control the dose. Coffee-shop coffees contain hugely variable amounts of caffeine; instead, use a coffee pod machine, which will supply the same hit every time (around
60mg per capsule).
SMARTEN UP YOUR LIGHTING
Light plays a vital role in the regulation of our sleepwake cycle. We want to darken down our evenings and be bright in the mornings to wake us up. A smart lighting system will automatically adapt the brightness (and colour) of your bulbs as the day wears on. It means you can pre-programme your home to help you sleep better. Guy Meadows
CHOOSE YOUR CHINA
When I was working with the British athletics team, we had to find a way to decrease the athletes’ food intake as a competition drew near. Athletes train less in the lead-up to an event, so need to fuel less. Research shows that eating from a bigger plate increases the amount we serve ourselves by 41pc. So we gave athletes smaller plates, to make portions look bigger.
KEEP YOUR DRINK AT A DISTANCE
A huge proportion of us are dehydrated. You can’t think at your best level if you haven’t got the water in you to get your blood up to your head. I fill up a big bottle and drink it throughout the day. But I don’t keep it near me. I have to get up to get it, which means I get a screen break and a stretch too. LB
REMEMBER YOUR POST-ITS
When I was competing I used to have Post-it notes saying: “Is this going to make me win gold?” I’d see it every time I was debating whether to eat a chocolate bar or a cheese toastie. Whatever your goal is, ask yourself the question on your Post-it note. If the answer is “nah”, then don’t do it.
FIND YOUR MINIMAL EFFECTIVE DOSE
I used to watch the strength and conditioning coaches at Arsenal ask: “What is the minimal dose of resistance training required to keep strength and power levels at their peak?” They wanted players to stay supremely fit