With the weather in most parts of the country warming up many of us are thinking of ways to look after ourselves better.
With a new season comes a new outcome or new intention so it’s a great time to do a spring clean on ourselves and our habits that shape our weight and wellness.
There are many healthy habits that contribute to our overall success and happiness: some you may have already nailed, some that you have always wanted to do, and some you may never have thought of.
These are in no particular order of importance, as we are all different and all have different lifestyles, so choose a few that suit you.
Good Sleep Habits
Your day starts with a good night’s sleep. Good sleep habits start with an evening routine – replace watching TV with a good book, dim lighting or use candles, enjoy a warm shower or bath, herbal tea or a soothing drink, no or reduced alcohol intake, journaling your gratitude, or yoga or mediation are some routines that may work for you.
To help with good-quality sleep your bedroom needs extra special care. Block-out blinds or curtains are a must, remove any electrical stimulation, freshly washed (and ironed) sheets are soothing, as well as doona washed and sundried and mattress turned. Is it time for new pillows? Perhaps steam clean any carpet/ and or rugs too.
Here’s a big tip: Whatever time you need to wake up, make sure you are in bed at least 7 (preferably 8) hours before.
Rise and Shine Habits
Waking up the same time each day (weekends included) helps with sleep. To start your day well it is recommended that you schedule some time where you have some “me” time.
For some this may be an early morning walk or run as a daily dose of sunshine helps your circadian rhythm and sleep and Vitamin D levels. Others prefer to head for a gym workout or practise meditation, breath work (nose instead of mouth) or yoga.
Ensure that you have your workout gear, yoga mat, towel, water bottle, everything you need laid out ready to go as this makes it easy for you.
Maintaining Hydration Levels
Never go anywhere without your bottle of water, one in the car, one in your bag, one on your desk, one glass with each meal and snack. Mix it up with infused lemon, lime and mint or buy a soda stream if you prefer some bubbles (a great investment).
Coffee (preferably before lunch), herbal teas, soda water, soups, broths all contribute to maintaining good hydration levels.
Tip: Coffee may stimulate the bladder for some, but it does not dehydrate!
Reducing Temptation in the Kitchen
This is a great time for a pantry and fridge clean out. If you only have on-plan foods and drinks in your home the chances are you’ll stay on-plan.
Any packets or boxes are likely to hold highly processed carbs like biscuits, cakes, cookies, high sugar cereals – you just don’t need these in your or your loved-one’s lives.
Check that you are well-stocked with herbs and spices for flavour and good quality olive, nut and coconut oil.
Your fridge should be well-stocked with proteins, full fat dairy products of your choice and loads of colourful vegetables. Don’t forget avocadoes, tomatoes, and berries (fresh or frozen).
Pre-planning meals for a few days or the week ahead then doing the shopping ensures you are taking control. Scheduling some cooking time to batch cook meals will save you money, reduce food wastage and give you more time to enjoy with family and friends.
We encourage you to have a minimum of 12+ hours between your last meal of an evening and your first meal the next day. For example: if you eat your evening meal by 7pm then don’t start your first meal the next day until 7am, or later. Many people feel comfortable extending this time and the added benefits of extending our overnight fast includes reducing blood pressure, managing blood sugar, and may also protect and slow down diseases that affect the brain, and even aging itself.
Daily Activity and Movement
Humans were made to move. Our joints, muscles, cells and mind all work better when we move our body.
Strength training helps build resilience. It can be as simple as lifting heavy shopping bags, body weight exercises like push-ups, pullups, and planks.
High intensity intervals are, another routine and could include climbing up and down stairs, run and walk sprints or skipping.
Working at home? Try standing instead of sitting – perhaps it’s time for a standing desk?
On days off why not include some time in nature, hiking, swimming, or gardening.
Do things that give you joy
Relationships are special. Spend time with family, friends and colleagues who are supportive of your weight and wellness efforts. Take up a hobby: draw, paint, cook, read, listen to music, learn a new language, knit, sew, garden – whatever adds to your life.
Reduce chronic long-term stress as associated increases in cortisol, insulin levels and blood triglycerides, are all linked with weight gain. Stress management techniques include: being grateful, practicing meditation and/or mindfulness, yoga, breathe work, walking, exercising, music – just find what works for you.
An accumulation of small, positive acts done daily become part of your toolkit of healthy habits. You no longer need to think about them, be afraid of them, use excuses, or feel like you have no control over your health and weight. They are automatic, doable, achievable and for most even enjoyable and contribute to your overall health and happiness.
So, get cracking – and remember small changes = BIG RESULTS. Good Luck.
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