At this time of year, many of us start to think about improvements we can make to our lives.
Some will consider a return
to education, others will decide to take up a new hobby for 2012.
But by far the most popular resolution is to lose weight.
Over half the country will decide to shed the pounds in the new year – but, according to a survey conducted by bread giant Hovis, the average person gives up by January
Scotland is the fattest nation is Europe with seven in 10 overweight and nearly a quarter clinically obese.
Obesity is usually measured using the body mass index (BMI), a calculation using height and weight to give an indication of how healthy your weight is.
A BMI of 18-24 is the healthy range, a result of 25-29 is overweight and anything over 30 is classed as obese.
Those in the obese category are putting their health is danger, increasing their chances of getting conditions including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Even more shocking is that many of us are apparently unaware our weight is unhealthy.
A survey conducted by health service BUPA revealed four in 10 obese adults thought their weight was in the healthy BMI range.
Allie Kearney (26), from Grangemouth, decided to do something about her size at the start of 2011 after tipping the scales at just under 19 stones.
Allie, a deputy manager at William Hill Bookmakers, managed to lose an incredible seven stones, bringing her weight from the obese category into the healthy range.
“At 18 stone, life was becoming more and more difficult,” Allie explains, “I would hide away at social events and never want to go out because I thought people would be staring. And I knew that being so overweight would have serious implications for my future.”
After too many cosy nights in with takeaways and big family meals, she joined Scottish Slimmers a year ago and stuck to their eating plan to get incredible results.
Allie, who is 5ft 6in, now weighs 11st 11lb, went from a size 22 to a size 14 and was selected as a finalist of the Scottish Slimmer of the Year Awards.
She added: “I have changed some of my cooking habits, and learned that we can fuel our body with tasty food which is good for you, without compromising on taste.
“The energy and confidence I have is indescribable. I love going out now and feel confident rather than worrying who is looking at me.”
Personal trainer Lynn Scott-Dodd agrees that January seems to be the month many of us will try to lose some excess weight and says even small changes to your routine can make a huge difference to your health.
Lynn, who runs a personal training business from her Redding home, said: “To put it simply, the vast majority are not doing the Scottish Government recommendation of exercising for 30 minutes, five times a week.
“We always hear the same excuse, that people don’t have enough time. I appreciate how pushed for time people can be with work and looking after their family but half an hour is not a lot to dedicate to yourself and your health.”
Lynn recommends walking as the ideal way to introduce exercise to your life as it is free and easy to build up.
“Start out at a few minutes of walking and keep increasing this until you are walking quickly. Getting family members or friends involved can be a good way to make sure you stick to your plan too as you’ll be less likely to give up.”
Falkirk Council offers dozens of exercise classes from their sports centres and there are many private classes in sports such as Zumba, boxing and aerobics throughout Falkirk.
NHS Forth Valley also offers help for those trying to shift pounds with a weight strategy group dedicated to bringing the weight of the population down and health workers visiting schools to try to encourage healthy eating and exercise in children, preventing them becoming overweight adults.
The best method of losing weight is to combine sensible eating with regular exercise to benefit not only your waistline but your health in general.
Lynn continued: “Many people are apprehensive to join a gym or start classes, especially if they haven’t done anything for a long time but there is something out there for everyone.
“Find out what works for you and stick to it, whether that is swimming, gardening or a new sport.
“Even just getting out of work on your lunch for a brisk walk is better than sitting at your desk.
“Getting your heart rate up on a regular basis is an important way not only to lose weight but to lead a healthy lifestyle.”
Super slimmer Allie agrees and says she’ll never go back to her old weight.
“The difference in
my life in incredible and there is no way I’ll ever allow myself to go back to being overweight.
“Dieting can be hard to start but once you seeing pounds dropping off and feel the benefits of having extra energy, it makes it all worthwhile and you will be determined to keep going and get down to your target weight.”