Durban - This year is your year to implement healthy habits, stick to your goals, and commit to a long-term lifestyle change.

When it comes to cleaning your slate, here are some ideas for getting yourself off to a great start:

Have a goal in mind: If you are dragging your feet when it comes to working out, visual motivation will get you going. Keep photos of yourself at your fittest in your office, picture fitting into your dream swimsuit, or look for pictures that match realistic goals of your ultimate body.

Get some sleep: Enough sleep can help regulate your weight. Inadequate sleep increases cortisol levels and increases ghrelin – the peptide that stimulates hunger. It also reduces leptin, a hormone that signals fullness, leaving you storing fat and hungry.

Cleanse your body and eliminate these foods from your diet for 10 days: Avoid wheat, dairy, meat, processed foods, sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol. You will cleanse your body of toxins, stimulate your digestion and improve energy levels.

Give spot training the boot: Working one area won’t eliminate fat from it, and overdeveloping one muscle will create a body imbalance. Your workout should have a cardio, strength and flexibility component; only then should you target specific areas.

Shake up a steady-state cardio routine with interval training: Bursts of one-minute sprints followed by three-minute recoveries help you burn fat rather than carbohydrates – your precious energy supplies. These varied and explosive movements stimulate your body’s repair cycle effectively for higher calorie burns and improved fitness.

Keep it interesting: The same routine delivers the same results. You need to vary your programme often to challenge your body and prevent boredom, and also to stave off weight loss plateaux.

Push the weights: Strength training is critical for long-term toning and health benefits. Compound movements in particular are responsible for greater calorie burns during sessions as well as increasing lean muscle tissue at a greater rate, meaning a faster metabolism overall. - The Mercury

* Info provided by lifestyle and wellness expert Lisa Raleigh. Visit www.healthboxsa.mobi.