Giving up white bread and 4 more Lenten promises to improve your health dramatically

Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier and start your day with a good stretch, plus more useful advice.

White bread -- well worth giving up for Lent.
White bread -- well worth giving up for Lent.
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Updated at 16.27

1. Stretch or foam roll every morning when you get out of bed

Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier and start your day with a good stretch and/or foam rolling session. Pay particular attention to your lower body; your calves, thighs, hamstrings and glutes in particular.

And using a towel, lie on your back and stretch those hamstrings and calves again. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.

Stretching and foam rolling improves circulation and flexibility while also firing up your metabolism and giving you an all-round positive start to the day.

2. Do not eat white bread

We’re not going to suggest something totally unreasonable and tell you ban all carbs but if you’re going to eradicate any from your diet, make it the white bread.

That means no more club sandwiches at lunch, no more toast in the mornings and definitely none at midnight before bed.

A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found a diet that includes lots of white bread increases your risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. We’ll take their word for it…

3. Lose a stone

A stone is just under 6.5 kilos and to shed that, we suggest losing around a kilo a week for the next six weeks.

To do this requires careful planning. It’s said that to lose one kilo every week, you need to expend 500 more calories than you take in every day for that week.

There are no pills or potions you can take to help you (not legal or ethical anyway), so concentrate on taking in less. The good news is that exercise helps you burn off even more calories so up your level of exercise — the slightest changes can make huge differences.

Take the stairs instead of the lift, walk or cycle to work when the weather allows, lift more stuff, stand more, MOVE MORE!

4. Reduce your coffee intake by 50% — and only drink Americano

Beverage Stock - Coffee Source: Edward Smith

(Americanos are considered one of the healthier types of coffee to drink)

Coffee is the best thing in the world and we’re not going to deny you that morning kick-start or 3pm slump mug.

But did you know some coffees are loaded with calories? We’re especially talking the likes of the double chocolate chip frappuchinos — the ones with all the cream and sugar.

Cut it back to an occasional treat and try something more plain like an Americano. And if you want to be really good, with no milk and definitely no sugar.

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Too much coffee interrupts your sleep and that is one of the most overlooked elements of any fitness routine.

5. Do the following every time you go to the gym…

You knew this was coming. Eating well is one thing, sleeping well is another, but to truly feel health benefits, you need to train more — and harder.

That’s why we’re bringing you this monster core workout. It’s very simple, so you’ll have no problem remembering it. It goes as follows;

90 second plank- 90-second side plank (both sides) — 4.5 minutes.

50 Bicycle kicks into 30 mountain climbers — 3 minutes

30 reverse crunches into 30 straight leg raises — 3 minutes

90 second plank- 90-second side plank (both sides) — 4.5 minutes.

15 minutes total.

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About the author:

Brian Canty

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