Three things you can do right this minute to help you on the road to a healthier lifestyle.
Yes we all have the high ambition that today is going to be the start of the new lifestyle and we tend to go all out when we reach that conclusion. We empty out the cupboards, make a shopping list (that we rarely stick to) and we go gun ho in the search for the magic solution to how we currently feel about ourselves, whether that be frumpy, general lethargy or that we no longer fit our wardrobe full of lovely clothes. But that’s the first step to unnecessary stress and ultimately failure.
Why? We set ourselves a lofty goal that we possibly can’t reach and we are an impatient species. We want it all now, now, now and the way you’re currently feeling about yourself is down to suspect habits that have crept in overtime. It didn’t happen overnight, so why do we expect this new regimen to have an immediate effect? Instead of going all out on the new healthy lifestyle, why not introduce some new habits over time, and feel the benefits of those. I guarantee that once you add in two to three new habits, you’ll start to feel better and will be looking for the next new habit to introduce that will help you towards that goal. Break everything down into bite-size pieces while keeping the bigger goal in mind but in the distance. As many trainers often say, it’s a marathon not a sprint. Start with some simple things that you can control right now, and then look at the more complex stuff a little later on when you are in the habit of habit change.
If you fancy starting to change some simple habits, here are three things that you can do RIGHT NOW to help you start your journey to a healthy lifestyle:
1) DRINK MORE WATER
Yes you’ve heard it countless times but water has so many benefits. The body is approximately 60% water, so drinking water is going to help maintain good functions of all systems within the body. It helps in keeping you alert as one of the symptoms of dehydration is the ‘tired eyes’ effect. How many times as a kid in school, did you get the ‘can’t keep my eyes open, just want to sleep’ feeling? You were probably dehydrated from running around in the playground then sitting a warm class and only having had squash or a soft drink at lunchtime. For more reasons why water is good for you, see this wonderful post by Greatist. Here are some simple ways to drink more water (and you don;t have to do all these at once but introduce them over a month or so): substitute that diet cola (which really is no good for you anyway) at lunch/dinner with a bottle of water; carry a bottle of water in your hand when you’re out and about; have at least a one litre bottle on your desk at work and finish it before you head home. Introduce more water into your everyday and you’ll soon feel more awake, as well as the other benefits of maintaining good hydration.
2) GET MORE SLEEP
Again you’ve heard this one, but unsurprisingly most of us survive on less than 6 hours of sleep a night. That’s bonkers when you think about it. While there have been many articles that show the importance of sleep, it’s never really clear how much is enough and how much is too little. Sleep is very much trial and error on what’s going to work for you but generally speaking, we tend to sleep in 90 minute cycles. We start in light sleep, enter into deep sleep, then REM and back to light. Ideally we want to waking up in light sleep so we’re less groggy. So there is a theory that if you work back in 90 minute cycles from the time you wish to get up, that will give you the best time to head to bed. For me, personally, I aim for a minimum of six to at most 7 and half hours sleep per night, depending on my schedule. Here is a lovely 59 second video explaining the theory!
Getting sufficient sleep also helps with fat loss, reducing stress levels and helps you to feel better from the moment you wake up. Simple things you can also do, to prepare your body for sleep, is to evict the TV and all smartphones and tablets from the bedroom. Make the bedroom a haven, once again, for sleep, rest and relaxation. Your mind won’t switch off if you room is being lit by artificial light every whip stitch. Need your smartphone for your alarm? Then put it into ‘do not disturb’ mode as soon as you get into the bedroom, then do you nightly rituals of cleaning teeth etc. Let your body know it’s time to go to sleep.
3) EAT LESS SUGAR
This one really is a no brainer! Yet as a society we’ve lost our way with food in a spectacular way. Sugar has become more prevalent in our food supply in the last few decades and it’s been a concern of a number of the big hitters in the fitness industry for some time – yet the rest of the industry has been slow to catch on until now. In the 80s the diet industry was all about fat as the big bad, yet dietary fat and body fat aren’t the same thing and dietary fat is needed to maintain good functions of the body. When the food industry removed fat from a lot of the produce a lot of the flavour was also lost, so what did they add in instead…yep sugar! And sometimes it’s hidden in different terminology. As a person who is allergic to lactose (the sugar found in diary produce), I’ve had to learn a huge number of names for milk….whey, lactose, galactose, casein, anything that has caseinate as a suffix and so on. It’s the same with sugar. If you want to cut your sugar intake down then look at labels for any of these ingredients (please note this list is not exhaustive, there are till yet more names but most of these I have found on UK products):
- barley malt
- buttered syrup
- cane-juice crystals
- corn syrup
- corn syrup solids
- diastatic malt
- ethyl maltol
- fruit juice
- fruit juice concentrate
- high-fructose corn syrup
- malt syrup
- refiner’s syrup
- sorghum syrup
It’s scary when you start to look at the labels of food, and realise jut how much sugar is in the ingredients. I have come to the conclusion that anything longer than three lines of four ingredients with words you can’t pronounce are best left on the shelf. Even if you manage to just remove 1/3 of your daily sugar intake, you are well on your way to stemming in possibilities of developing type 2 diabetes. Eventually, you will start looking to reduce the intake of sugar further – and be careful with fruit, as that can hamper your efforts so be sparing with fruit as a go to snack. I have been through this process myself and when I creep back into old habits (which you will, so don’t beat yourself up about it, just start afresh and keep going), and it can be tricky but it is worth it. I’ve found when I consciously reduce my sugar intake, I am more productive, more alert, and my general well being and demeanour is improved. And it comes with very interesting side effects!
Just by looking at these three simple steps that you can implement now, and won’t cost you anything – except perhaps a bottle of water (which is cheaper than bottle of soft fizzy drink anyway) you can start on the healthier lifestyle road and start to form new, more beneficial habits that will help you trudge the path to that lofty goal. Remember it won’t happen overnight but the important thing here, is that you have to start somewhere. If you want more specific help to understand your goals, a plan to help you reach them even if you’ve only 30 mins a day you can honestly commit to your plan, then please get in touch with Kirby’s Personal Training and Fitness Port Talbot, today to arrange a free consultation.
As always be kind to yourself, you rock!