Choosing to make a lifestyle change is the simple part. It's actually doing it that's difficult. We swear to cut sugar from our diets, refrain from eating bread, eliminate alcohol and jump right into a rigorous workout regimen. The plan works for a week or two until the daily rigors of life intervene.
Just like training for a marathon or advancing levels in a video game, we need to approach a weight loss goal in the same way: taking our time and making sure all aspects are working for us. Your goal should be to aim for habits that will provide the lowest barrier to entry and provide positive feelings about fitness in the shortest amount of time. The quicker you net "victories," the likelier you'll succeed with your ultimate weight loss goals.
So in honor of starting small, here are four totally doable, simple tips that will serve as an excellent introduction to a healthier, maintainable lifestyle.
1. Drink more water.
Believe it or not, most of your afternoon hunger pangs and cravings are nothing more than signs of dehydration. Before you run out for a sugary snack or dip into the communal fridge at work, try drinking a glass or two of water first. You'll be amazed at how something as simple as hydrating properly can cure a headache, dry mouth, stomach pangs and pastry cravings.
Drinking water provides numerous benefits besides fat loss. It lubricates your joints so you don't ache and wince every time you move, protects your skin, aids in digestion and helps your body run properly. Get to drinking!
2. Get plenty of shut eye.
In an orchestra, there are many different instruments, each producing a unique sound and playing a different part ... literally. When they all come together, harmony is created and the act of blending all of them creates beautiful music. Much like an orchestra, our bodies host several different hormones that must work together harmoniously to aide in fat loss.
Each one has a specific role to play, and when combined with the proper amount of sleep, can produce the beautiful bodies we desire. Because sleep deprivation can have a seriously negative effect on your metabolism, it's crucial to get enough every night to make sure your hormones (like insulin, leptin, ghrelin, cortisol, adrenaline, and human growth hormone) are all functioning at optimal capacity. Think of hormones as the conductor of your body orchestra, and recognize that all stages of fat loss take cues from your hormones.
3. Move your body and quit sitting so much.
Many of us are stuck at a desk every day, sitting for hours. Living in the sedentary workforce-based culture we do, it's clear movement isn't a priority. But it should be. According to juststand.org, "the average American will spend 7.7 hours of their waking time in a sedentary position." This "sitting diseases" will increase the likelihood for type 2 diabetes, muscle atrophy, heart disease and shorten life expectancy.
However, eradicating this problem starts with being conscious of including movement into your daily lives. Here are some simple things you can do every day to start reversing the effects of sitting:
- Take a break every 25-30 minutes and move around for five minutes to get the blood flowing
- Stand while you're working
- Stand up and move around during commercials while watching your favorite show
- Have walking meetings
- Go on active dates
- Dance whenever the mood strikes
What you do doesn't matter; what does matter is that you don't sit as much and include more movement in your life.
4. Eat more.
Sounds counterintuitive, I know. But weight loss isn't usually an issue of eating less for most people. Rather, it's an issue of eating better.
When someone goes on a diet, they usually start by immediately deciding what foods to eliminate. This approach usually means someone is depriving him or herself of what are often their favorite foods, and deprivation is not the way to lose weight in a healthy way. What they should be doing is deciding what real, whole foods they should be eating more of.
It's easier to add something new into our lives than to subtract something built into our routine. Anytime someone is trying to start a healthier lifestyle, the focus should to be on adding value to their life, not subtracting joy.
At the beginning, it's about accumulating as many small victories as possible to build momentum to continue along. Start with an easy goal such as eating one healthy, complete meal a day and build up from there.
A healthy lifestyle starts with eating an abundance of quality foods that are both pleasing to your palate and complies with your goals.
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