Want to lose weight, tone up and look good? James Haskell shares his key tips

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Autumn is a popular time to want to change your fitness routine or, in some cases, simply start one! If you are trying to lose weight, tone up or just become healthier, it is important to remember that there are no quick fixes. Faddy diets are not the answer and no one should expect to go to bed one size and wake up another, miracles don’t happen overnight, I’m afraid.

Lifestyle changes require commitment and dedication. I always recommend everyone to find a routine and stick with it for at least four weeks. If it doesn’t work after four weeks then you need to make some changes; but chopping and changing all the time is not the answer.

Before doing anything you need to record your starting points and this will help measure your progress. Make sure you record some stats and this could include measuring your body fat or checking your weight (although the latter doesn’t have a bearing on aesthetics as you can be a stone heavier and still look amazing). I also find that taking some pretty stark photos can help too, but make sure you are in a brightly lit room.

If your goal is to shed some extra pounds, a photo diary can prove really helpful. You should take a picture at the end of every week and this will help you see the progress. If you are trying to cut down on sweet treats or monitor the amount of food you consume, then sticking it on the fridge will be a useful reminder to avoid that piece of cake. Plus it’s a prompt for never allowing yourself to get to that starting point again.

Consistency is also vital when you are using statistics. There is no point getting your body fats taken by your doctor and then using the scales in the gym. Find a method that you can repeat and stick with it. Some methods are better than others, but if you are starting off it’s about just getting some initial data. It has been proved that those who record information and track progress are more likely to succeed.

I also suggest that less is more. Rather than making big changes only to fail after three days, try small steps instead. This is where targets become important and you must not set targets that you cannot beat. Instead, make things easy for yourself. If you have never run, then don’t say you will run an hour everyday. How about aiming to do five minutes of exercise per day, that’s all you need to do to get started. Or how about you try and eat breakfast every day; it may sound simple but it can make a massive difference to your health, performance and mental state.

Try to reach your goals and then over time you can increase them by small margins. Don’t fall short by buying all the gear and having no idea. Lots of people will try and sell you something, when in fact, as an individual you have 90% of your tools at your fingertips to get results.

The key words that I always use to fuel my thoughts include: preparation; simplicity; hard work and dedication. If you have these in the forefront of your mind, you can make successful changes and achieve your goals.

Readers of The Sloaney can submit any health and fitness questions for James to answer by emailing