Many times, life gets busy enough to where we can lose track of our physical health. We can go weeks without actually investing time in exercise, we partake in consistent late night meals, and lose plenty of sleep. In short, life can be a real messy sometimes. I become aware of my slacking in many ways – how clothes fits or the feeling of throwing up after sudden unplanned physical activity. Yeah, sometimes it’s more noticeable than others. All the same, it helps to have a recipe to get your health back on track – here are 9 simple practices for a good physique.
Weird I know. Someone telling you to eat when you’re trying to slim down. Still, the idea that you need to starve yourself to lose weight is pretty prominent. When you starve yourself your body goes into starvation mode, slowing down your metabolism and storing all the extra calories it can find. Yes, this means that while you’re trying to lose weight or fat – by not eating – you could actually end up doing the opposite. So eat regular consistent meals. I sometimes skip dinner if it’s too late – depending on how much I ate and time I had lunch. In this case, eat a small snack or just drink water. Shakes are also a good option.
Eat Until Satisfied, Not Stuffed
It feels great to stuff yourself, I get it. However, stuffing our faces leads to overeating or overconsumption. Meaning, we consume more calories than needed. Do not misunderstand me, I do not count my calories – you can, but I don’t. I really prefer not to spend extra time out of my day to meticulously count all the calories I consume. So boring, and honestly, a waste of time unless you’re a pro athlete, or at least headed in that direction. I am sure there are some that enjoy it, but personally I do not.
Our bodies are fully capable of telling us when we are no longer hungry, and that is what I use as a guide. Start with a small portion of food on your plate, if during or after enjoying that portion you find you’re no longer hungry – in other words, satisfied – stop eating. If you find you are still hungry at the end of your first small portion, deliver another even smaller portion on your plate and eat consciously. Become aware of when you’re no longer hungry, and stop eating.
Eat When Hungry
Now this one sounds like a no brainer. Yet, I’ll find myself picking around the house, even eating full meals when I’m not even hungry. Again, this leads to overconsumption. Our bodies are beautifully made; built to tell us when hungry, when full, and when thirsty.
Make it a point to only eat when you feel hungry, not when you think it is time to eat, but when your body tells you it needs food. If done right, you’ll feel hungry about every 4-5 hours.
Eat your heavy meals earlier in the day. My last meal usually happens between 5-6pm, or they don’t happen at all. A general rule to follow would be to eat your last meal 4-5 hours before your bedtime. And no, that does not mean stay up late for the sake of keeping the rule. The idea is to give your digestive system time to do its work before you head to bed – allowing your entire body to rest and recover while you sleep.
What I mean is, make it a habit to take the stairs not the elevator. Park further away from the store and walk the longer distance. If feasible, walk wherever you’re going, don’t drive the car. Take a few hours a day to experience life outside, in the natural outdoors. The average American spends approximately 93% of their life indoors, and 5 hours per day average watching television. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to spend time outside experiencing life instead of watching it on a screen?The average American spends approximately 93% of their life indoors, and 5 hours per day average watching television. Click To Tweet
Get Enough Sleep
This is probably the hardest rule for me to follow. Often I pack a lot in to one day without enough time for everything to get done. The thing is, that problem will never resolve itself. There will always be something to do, one more thing you have to take care of.
It simply boils down to this. You cannot efficiently and healthfully get anything done without allowing your body to get the proper rest it needs. Your brain – how fast you process, how clear you think, and how much information you retain – relies heavily on how much rest your brain receives every night. How well and efficiently your body recovers from workouts, and how fat is burned also relies on sleep.
This is not a call for you to sleep all you want, but rather to highlight the importance of good healthful sleep. Experts recommend 7-9 hours each night.
Who wants to wake up early to work out? No one. Well that’s not true, but I’d probably say most. I can see why it’s not appealing. Crawling out of a warm bed, putting enough clothe on to be deemed acceptable, and going outside to feel the cool morning air isn’t exactly everyones definition of a good morning. Here is the thing though, exercising in the morning – which can easily be categorized as the hardest thing you’ll do all day – will not only set you up for success the rest of the day, but free your evenings up to do whatever you want. Vegetate after work if that’s what makes you happy, but at least you would have already gotten your exercise done and over with. It also makes it harder for you to bail out or come up with excuses to not exercise when you come home from work: laundry has to be done, dinner has to be made, going to sleep early, homework, etc. Let’s face it, having to exercise after a long day of work and commute is not great.Exercising in the morning will set you up for success the rest of the day. Click To Tweet
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This keeps you sane. It’s hard work practicing discipline when it comes to eating habit and implementing exercise regimens. My one solace is knowing that at the end of the week I can splurge. Usually I splurge for one meal of my choosing, but others might do one full day (3 meals) of splurging – which is acceptable.
Not only will this keep you sane, but also prevent your body from going into starvation mode. Starvation mode is when your body – because of decrease in calories consumed – starts trying to hoard all calories, converting them into fat to store as energy for times of need. Our bodies have many mechanisms in place to help us survive dire circumstances. Starvation mode is one of them, and it’s a switch we want to leave off. The surplus of calories consumed with cheat meals will serve as a way to assure your body that you are not starving.
Instead of Snacks, Drink Water
Snacks. I love snacks. If I could snack all day I would. Unfortunately, snacking can often become an avenue for the overconsumption of calories. We snack while watching TV, browsing the web, or working around the house, while our minds are occupied on tasks instead of paying attention to what and how much we are eating. This sort of mindless eating most assuredly leads to overeating, which leads to weight gain. In general, unless you are eating smaller meals throughout your day or your blood sugar is low, there is no need for a snack.mindless eating most assuredly leads to overeating, which leads to weight gain. Click To Tweet
So what to do when you feel hungry between meals? Drink water – chances are you’re not drinking enough of it anyway. So not only will drinking water between meal help you stay hydrated, but it will also help decrease the feeling of hunger between meals. For the record, feeling hungry between meals is usually brought on by the practice of snacking. Once you stop snacking between meals, your body still continues to cue you to eat your snack; as it always has. This is completely normal, as your body is adjusting to your new eating habits. Two to four weeks in, you’re likely not to feel hungry between meals anymore.