Experts share workout plans to aid healthy weight loss before June 21

Are YOU ready to lose your lockdown stone? Personal trainers share their tips for helping the pounds stay off for good – and delicious recipes including veggie scramble and aubergine stew

  • Fitness experts have revealed top tips for achieving fitness goals after lockdown
  • Personal trainer James Ronan explained it is dangerous to set a strict deadline
  • Sarah O’Neill said the key is to set aside time for regular exercise

Now that we’re getting used to life looking a little bit more normal, many of us are starting to think about how to be healthier after a year of bad habits. 

Health and fitness experts from across the UK have spoken to FEMAIL about the habits and tricks you should try if you want to shed the pounds – and keep them off for good.  

There is advice on the type of exercise you should do and what you should eat – with a sample meal plan at the bottom of the article. 

The key, they all agree, is to develop long-lasting good habits, rather than focus on quick fixes and fad diets. 

Here, FEMAIL shares their tips…   

Health and fitness experts from across the UK have spoken to FEMAIL about the habits and tricks you should try if you want to shed the pounds – and keep them off for good. Stock image


Personal trainer Sarah O’Neill who works across London and Berkshire told FEMAIL that the key to losing weight is using weights, rather than solely doing cardiovascular activities, because she said that resistance work will help you burn more calories at rest.

‘If people want to lose weight then the key is to use weights, so use resistance work. That can be dumbbells, hand-weights, mini-bands, long resistant bands or it can just be body weights,’ she explained. 

‘With cardio exercise you burn more calories per session, but with resistant work you burn calories for longer, so it’s called an after-burn effect.’ 


Personal trainer James Ronan, from London, said it was important for people new to exercise to learn the foundations first before taking on too much of a challenge.  

Remember: Fad diets and quick fixes are not a long term solution 

Sarah also insisted that ‘quick fixes’ and fad diets don’t work as a long-term solution because they are not sustainable, as she urged people to change their mindset towards exercise and fitness.

She explained: ‘We all know that the quick fixes don’t work, or they work for a short period of time and then you fall off the wagon because its not sustainable and then you feel worse and get in that yo-yo dieting mentality.’ 


James said: ‘If you can’t do some basic body weight movements before you go into the gym and you start lugging around barbells and dumbbells, then there is a good chance you will probably injure yourself because you haven’t spent the time building up those foundations.’ 


Sarah, who runs a 30-day kickstarter plan, said people do not need to exercise for 60 minutes at a time to achieve their fitness goals, but can fit exercise into their busy routines in 10 or 20 minute bursts. 

She continued: ‘When people think about starting exercises, they mistakenly think they need to exercise for a really long amount of time, so they need to be doing 60-minute hardcore workouts and stuff. That absolutely isn’t the case. 

‘For my kickstarter programme for example, all the workouts are between 10 and 30 minutes long, and the majority are around 20 minutes long. But it’s about the consistency so you’ll work for four or five days on, and then you’ll have a rest day. 

‘But keeping it going and keeping that momentum and setting the tone for the day by doing your exercises is so key, it really doesn’t have to be long, you can do short, efficient workouts and that’s much easier to fit in.  

Alison, from London, shared her transformation pictures after just 30 days on Sarah’s Kickstarter fitness programme, which focuses around resistance-based exercise


James recommended introducing some simple diet changes and manageable exercises that will be sustainable, rather than setting a tight deadline that is not always achievable.

He explained: ‘People are going to be rushing to get holiday ready. 

‘The issue is people racing to do that, the expectation of being able to achieve that in such a short amount of time, they have just got to think to themselves “are you doing it for the right reasons? Are you trying to lose weight just for one day, or a few days at the beach?”

‘Before you know it, that very much, you’re back to consuming excess calories, you put the weight back on, so you know is it really worth putting yourself through a tight deadline just for a few days on the beach, whereas building up some long lasting change and setting habits now, you’re setting yourself up for a much more sustainable approach.

‘You’ll hopefully see the weight coming off and staying off for the long term.’

James’ client Richard lost an impressive 22kg, while James said that he has had a lot of success with his workout plan during lockdown


James said: ‘The food diary is a really useful tool for the individual. Not only is it really handy for the coach as well to get a snapshot of that individual’s eating habits, but it also gives them an opportunity to see what they are eating. 

‘If they are truly honest with themselves with what they are having over those few days that we are asking them to record, it gives them a real idea about what they are consuming and educates them in calories, the macronutrients themselves and what they are taking in.’

… And three things to avoid 


Sarah Lindsay, of Roar Fitness, said: ‘You can be super strict all week and then you can undo all that in a day, I think ‘is it worth it?’ If you’re trying to get somewhere then, I understand it is difficult, but if you can get your brain into it then you need to try and tough it out a bit.

‘If you’re trying to maintain then maybe, and then you just need to find out what works for you. So if you’re just trying to keep your body fat and weight where it is then you can think ‘if I’m good all week then I have Saturday off, and back on it Sunday’ then maybe that maintains but you just have to try it.

‘Having a day off encourages bingeing I think, because you’re strict and then you get to the weekend, lose your mind and go crazy. You don’t feel good when you do that and it’s not really a reward for your body if it makes you feel horrible. So for me, that’s not really a treat.’ 


Roar Fitness’ Sarah Lindsay also recommended keeping the evening meal ‘lean and light’ so their body does not struggle to digest fats and carbohydrates overnight.

She said that many people get ‘hungry’ in the evening and it becomes their ‘danger zone’, so she urged people to come up with a strategy to stop snacking late in the evenings.


Personal trainer Aimee Victoria Long said: ‘If you’re serious about losing weight this is only going to aid that. Not only does alcohol contain calories it also decreases performance. 

‘Decreased performance equals less calories burned when you’re training for a period of time.’

The personal trainer said food diaries are an effective ‘awareness tool’ but was quick to add that he does not give specific meal plans or dictate to his clients what they should or shouldn’t eat.

James continued: ‘Obviously my practice is always to help individuals eat as healthily as possible to improve their health and to help them with their goals, but generally speaking just helping them towards a nice, well-balanced diet. 

‘The food diaries are a tool that we use infrequently just to do a little check and see how things are going – if someone is struggling with their diet or not losing weight to the speed they would like. So it’s a really good tool to use as-and-when you need it.’ 


Sarah Lindsay, of Roar Fitness, also advised people not to continually increase a calorie deficit and said that not all calories are ‘equal’, meaning that people need to eat meals that are filled with ‘protein and essential fats’.

The three-time Olympian and British short track speed skater said: ‘You can’t just exercise all day and eat no food, you can’t just keep increasing a deficit.

‘People just find it a very easy way of saying something – calories in vs calories out – but not all calories are equal. They are not all going to do the same thing for you and just because you eat two Mars bars a day instead of three, four healthy meals of protein and essential fats that your body needs to function and produce hormones, is not the same thing.’  

Sarah went on to explain that not everybody will lose weight just because they eat less food, instead saying that many people fall into this trap and simply ‘ruin their metabolism’.

She continued: ‘People just think, if you eat less food then you will lose weight, well that doesn’t actually happen for everybody. 

‘Some people really don’t, I’ve got plenty of examples of people who barely eat anything and they’ve ruined their metabolism and their thyroid, and actually that needs repairing. 

‘That would work if you considered everyone to be in a healthy position, but a lot of people aren’t.’

Personal trainer Aimee Victoria Long recommended a daily calorie deficit of no more than 350 calories less than a person’s normal intake as she said that too big a deficit will result in bingeing.

She explained: ‘You need to be in a calorie deficit to aid fat loss. This means eat less calories than you burn. It sounds simple and I guess it is. 

‘This being said for healthy weight loss I would aim at being in a daily deficit of about 350 calories. This way it is maintainable. If you go into a 750 daily deficit you’ll no doubt end up devouring a load of pizza and burgers on the weekend. Undoing all that hard work in the week.’ 

The former bodybuilder also shared a number of simple swaps that can help people reduce their calorie intake without making huge changes (pictured)


Olympian Sarah also insisted that fats, such as avocados, nuts, oily fishes and meats, are essential to your body and urged people not to cut fats out of their diet.

She explained that many people avoid fats because they are ‘calorie dense’, but she clarified that the body needs fats to ‘transport hormones around the body’, which ultimately helps you ‘lose fat’. 

She explained: ‘Fats, for example, are essential. Your body needs fat, it is literally the building blocks. Fats and proteins are essential, carbs are energy for when you need them – I’m not anti-carb but they have to be considered.’

She added: ‘A lot of people avoid fats because they are more calorie dense. When you eat fats there’s nine calories per gram of fat, and only around four for proteins and carbs. 

‘So people avoid fats because they are higher in calories but actually, you really need them to help transport hormones around the body, which will help you lose fat ultimately.’ 

Sarah O’Neill’s sample meal plan 

The trainer also shared a sample meal plan and a 30-day workout programme with FEMAIL to encourage people to change their mindset around weight loss and make long-term and sustainable fitness goals.

Breakfast: Apple & Cinnamon Overnight Oats

Mix together 50g porridge oats with 100g fat-free natural yoghurt and 100ml water (you could swap the yoghurt for nut milk such as unsweetened almond/cashew/coconut) and one grated apple, plus ¼ tsp cinnamon. 

Leave overnight then in the morning add 25g chopped mixed nuts (or one nut of choice)

Sarah’s sample lunch (pictured) is a veggie scramble with salad, which includes salad, feta and cucumber

Lunch: Veggie scramble with salad

Using several sprays of oil or a splash of olive oil, saute a few spring onions and mushrooms, then wilt in the spinach, crack in two eggs and add a splash of milk [you can chuck in extra veggies if you like! Red pepper and courgette also delicious]. 

Crumble in some feta just before the end (I used 30g). This is optional but quite yummy. 

Meanwhile prepare a salad of mixed leaves (plentiful), one large chopped tomato and a good sized chunk of cucumber.


(am) – apple with 1 tbsp peanut butter

(pm) – veggie sticks: 2x celery, one carrot, chunk of cucumber and 1/2 pepper, sliced into batons. optional tbsp houmous to dip.

Dinner: Aubergine, potato and pepper stew with feta (serves 4)

Speaking about her aubergine, potato and pepper stew with feta Sarah says: ‘I love this recipe!! Save a portion for tomorrow and freeze remainders’

Sarah says: ‘I love this recipe!! Save a portion for tomorrow and freeze remainders…if there are any, it’s so delicious!

‘This stew is super filling and warming; and delicious reheated the next day. It also looks very nice if you have guests coming round and fancy making a low tech, tasty dish. 

‘When entertaining I like to add 4 tbsp kalamata olives and then 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts at the end which look beautiful on top!’


  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil or several squirts of 1 kcal spray
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 mixed peppers, deseeded and cut into large chunks
  • 2 medium courgettes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 aubergine, cut into large chunks
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks (or around 8-10 new potatoes)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • 400g can butterbeans, drained and rinsed
  • 125g crumbled feta
  • 1 tbsp pitted kalamata olives (optional, but delicious)
  • 1 tbsp or two toasted pine nuts (optional but looks dead fancy!)
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped flatleaf parsley (you could also use coriander)


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