A new you doesn’t have to cost a fortune

Climbing on to the scales at the start of the year may lead to a nasty shock. Two weeks of festive food and drinks can easily cause the pounds to pile on.

TV adverts for summer holiday sales, featuring people looking cheerful in swimwear, can add to the pain. But don’t worry. Expert advice is at hand to help you get back into shape – and it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Meal plans, gym membership and personal training come at an eye-watering cost following the expense of Christmas, so the NHS has devised a series of online diet and exercise programmes to help fight the flab and get you fighting fit for the year ahead.

One in four of the adult population is obese, according to the recently published NHS Health Survey for England. Being overweight is more common than being obese: 40 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women are overweight, though not obese.

A sensible place to start is by working out your current Body Mass Index (BMI). The NHS BMI calculator will show how much you weigh and enable you to monitor your success as you move into the green section of healthy weight.

Secondly, clear out your kitchen of things that may de-rail your efforts. Say goodbye to the crisps, sweets, biscuits, cake and sugary or alcoholic drinks that may tempt you during the long, cold nights of winter. If packets of food items are unopened and well in date, why not donate them to a local food bank? Many supermarkets have baskets to accept these donations.

Next, to learn more about what may trigger your bad eating habits take a look at the NHS advice on diet danger zones. The NHS has a 12-week diet plan, devised in conjunction with the British Diabetic Association. You can download the programme, free of charge. At meal times ensure half your plate is full of different coloured vegetables, as this will fill you up, boost your weight loss and support your immune system, which will help you fight off winter bugs.

Remember, when aiming to get your five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day, that frozen and canned fruit and vegetables can count towards your five-a-day as long as they are not in syrup. They have several advantages including being cheap and long-life – and they can minimise waste.

But diet is only half the answer. The government recommends 150 minutes of physical activity a week. Not only does this improve circulation, lung capacity and wellbeing, but it also helps to keep off weight.

Unfortunately, the Health Survey for England found one-third of men are failing to reach the target, while four out of 10 women are not getting enough exercise. The NHS has devised a series of 10-minute workouts that can help to boost your daily exercise.

And finally, remember you are never alone. You can sign up to supportive emails to keep you motivated.

Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2018.