Is it just us or does Christmas seem to sneak up faster and faster every year, leaving minimal time to lose a little of the 'winter weight' we've been gathering as the desire to hibernate sets in?
It's that time again when we suddenly realise that party season is on the horizon, that glitzy dress for your work or family Christmas do is calling, and we want to feel a little slimmer and a whole lot healthier before the celebrations get underway.
Nutracheck Fitness Expert Kelly Marshall is here to show you that getting party-ready in 30 days can be done. Her fitness challenge is easily set out so you can see exactly which exercise you need to do each day of the month - there's even examples of how to do each exercise move.
And that's not all! Kelly has devised some top nutrition tips to accompany her 30-days to party-ready challenge, so each day you will have a handy tip to help you on your way to success. Each tip is set out below per day, so just check them off as you go!
What does the plan involve?The 30-days to party ready challenge targets your legs, bottom, tummy and arms - a real total body approach for an overall body shape change! The format of this challenge follows three days of consecutive work followed by a day of rest to allow the body to recover before the intensity increases.
Kelly says: 'On the rest day, you should ideally incorporate stretching to aid recovery and it can serve as an "active recovery" day where you do something completely different like a light to moderate walk or swim!'
Each 4-day cycle looks like this:
Day 1, 2 + 3: Decline floor bridges --> Assisted Single let squat --> up/down plank
Day 4: REST
Getting started with your plan couldn't be easier. All you need to do is download your own 30-days to party-ready challenge using the link below, print it off and stick it up somewhere that will motivate you to do your daily exercise. Don't forget to check your tip for that day too, all of which are set out below.
The movesKelly demonstrates how to perfect each of the three moves you'll need to know, take on the 30-days to party-ready challenge:
1. Decline floor bridges
Find a step (could be stairs or an aerobics step) and place your heels on the step - just heels as it will help engage your bottom during the exercise. Ensure your bottom is close to the step then you are ready to start.
Draw your tummy muscles in and consciously clench your bottom before pushing through your heels to lift your hips off the floor, towards the ceiling. Once you reach the top of the movement return to the floor at a controlled pace remaining the focus on clenching your tummy and bottom. Repeat for the specified number of repetitions.
2. Assisted single leg squats
Lightly hold onto a wall or other solid structure in your home. Lift one leg slightly off the floor and pull your tummy muscles in. To begin, push your bottom out behind you and allow your knee to bend, so your body lowers to a comfortable position. Try to emphasise your weight being on your heel and look down at your knee to ensure your knee doesn't go forward over your foot. This will protect your knee and maximise the recruitment of your bottom muscles!
Try to squat as low as you can with good form and then, to stand, clench your bottom and push into the floor with your heel. The more you consciously clench your bottom, the better training response you will get.
3. Up / down plank
Begin on your forearms and toes (a classic 'plank' position'), you will start and return to this position each time and that counts as one repetition. Lock your tummy muscles in tight then take one hand to where the elbow of that arm was, push down with that hand then follow suit with the other arm. You will end up in an extended arm position (not dissimilar to the starting position of a press up).
Then return on to your elbows by reversing the movement. Try to be as controlled as possible with this, by keeping your hips still. If you are unable to do this exercise then simply regress to working on a static extended arm plank (the press up position) and aim to hold for a duration of 30-4secs for each set.
Your daily nutrition tipCheck your daily nutrition tip to make sure you're on course to be party-ready by December!
Day 1: Track it
Number one weight loss tip - keep a food diary. It's the only way to know what and how much you are eating. It's also been proven to double weight loss. Try the Nutracheck website or app.
Day 2: Portion distortion
Portion size is the problem for many of us. Learn what a real portion is - protein = an iPhone; cheese = matchbox; pasta = size of your fist; veg = half the plate.
Day 3: Healthy but calorific
Healthy stuff still has calories. Be careful with foods like nuts, avocado, olive oil and salmon – all are high in good fats, but that also makes them high in calories.
Day 4: Always weigh foods
There are certain foods that it’s all too easy to eat too much of. Breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, jacket potatoes being common culprits. Have digital scales on your worktop and always weigh.
Day 5: Weigh-in weekly only
Avoid the temptation to weigh every day - natural fluctuations make it unreliable and demotivating. Weigh on the same day, at the same time, once a week.
Day 6: Good vs bad fats
Switch saturated fat found in pastries, cakes, fatty meat and full fat dairy, for unsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocado, oily fish and nuts.
Day 7: Variety is key
Eat a mix of fruit and veg to get a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Aim to include a rainbow of colours. Can be fresh, frozen, dried or juiced – all count.
Day 8: Veg before the rest
Always dish your vegetables first – cover half the plate - then potatoes, pasta, rice or protein. This means less room for the higher calorie stuff 0 and you'll still get a filling portion.
Day 9: Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is vital for our body to perform at its optimum. Water, tea, coffee, milk and no-added sugar squash all count. Keep track with the water monitor in the Nutracheck App.
Day 10: Go wholemeal
Switch all refined white carbs for wholemeal versions with more fibre and vitamins, to boost health, satiety and weight loss.
Day 11: Breakfast is a must
Never, ever skip breakfast. It kick starts your body, gives you much needed nutrients and reduces the likelihood of mid-morning vending machine raids.
Day 12: Regular is best
Eat little and often to help control blood sugar levels and hunger. Skipping meals can lead to cravings and poor food choices. Use the meal occasion view in your Nutracheck diary to stay on track.
Day 13: 5-a-day every day
Always eat your full fruit and veg quota to get important vitamins and minerals to keep your body functioning healthily. Track your 5-a-day automatically in the Nutracheck website diary or App.
Day 14: Recognise your triggers
We eat for many reasons other than hunger. Identify your personal triggers and see the helpful tips on the Nutracheck website to help you beat these going forward. Behaviour change is possible!
Day 15: Alcohol swaps
Make smart drink choice by switching to calorie-free mixers, add soda water to your wine and switch your pint for a shandy with calorie- free lemonade.
Day 16: Cut the fat
Always cut the visible fat off meat and avoid the skin as much as possible. These can increase the calories by up to 40%!
Day 17: Go low fat
Dairy foods are an important source of calcium but always opt for reduced/low/no fat options of yogurt, cheese and milk.
Day 18: Tea time
Try switching your usual brew for green tea – calorie-free and full of antioxidants to help boost your health.
Day 19: Easy days
Plan in advance for social occasions by setting easy days in the Nutracheck website. This will give you more calories for the weekend and less across week days to compensate.
Day 20: Have a treat
Don't cut out your favourite foods, you'll only crave them more. Have a little of what you fancy to keep cravings at bay and avoid falling off the wagon.
Day 21: Get support
Don't go it alone! We all have tough days, reach out and ask for help. The Nutracheck forums are a great place to get advice and support when you need it.
Day 22: Snack happy
Snacking is a great way to maintain blood sugar levels and avoid getting over-hungry. Opt for nutritious choices - nuts, veg crudités, oat cakes and fruit are all good choices.
Day 23: Egg up your life
Eggs are a perfect start to the day, packed full of protein, vitamin D and B vitamins they will give you the boost you need and keep hunger at bay.
Day 24: Swap & save
Make smart swaps with your treat foods - you can have a little chocolate but opt for a Curly Wurly instead of a Mars Bar to save over 140 calories.
Day 25: Think 5-a-day
Aim to have at least one portion of fruit/veg with every meal or snack - forming this habit will make it much easier to hit your target every day.
Day 26: Cook from scratch
Making your own food is the only way of knowing what's in it. Pack your meals full of veggies, wholemeal carbs and lean protein. Nutracheck's recipe calorie counter will work out cals per serving for you.
Day 27: Every mouthful counts
Don't miss entering anything from your food diary – you'll only be cheating yourself. Honesty is key to help you spot eating patterns and see where you can make changes.
Day 28: Plan in advance
Going for dinner? Check the Nutracheck App or website for the calorie info so you can choose your dish in advance. Plan the rest of your day's calorie allowance around it to stay on track.
Day 29: Serve and remove
Portion out your meal and then take the serving dish or pan back into the kitchen / oven. Studies show that leaving your serving dish on the table leads to overeating.
Day 30: Chew it
Take your time when eating to fully chew each mouthful and really taste the food. You will fill up more quickly and reduce your chances of overeating.
We'd love to know if you're going to take the 30 days to party-ready challenge, and for you to keep us posted with your progress! Either leave us a comment below or visit our Facebook page to share your sofa exercise experiences. Good luck!
Kelly Marshall, Nutracheck Fitness Expert says 'It's true that you can't out-train a bad diet. To get the maximum benefit from your party-ready toning plan, you need to make sure your nutrition is as focused as your exercise. The Nutracheck App is a must-have tool if you want to monitor your diet and track your calorie intake'.
If you are trying to lose a few pounds as well as tone up, the Nutracheck calorie counter App and website can help. Enter all the activity you do in the exercise diary and see how many calories you've burn. Record everything you eat in the Nutracheck food diary - the App is super-fast to use - and get the balance right to lose weight.