Let’s take a look at the current trends and research in diet and exercise…
When people are dieting, training for an athletic event, or have some other health goal, it is easier for them to pay attention to nutrition, exercise, and overall healthy living. This is a good thing. However, having a healthy lifestyle should not be a once in a while thing. Did you know that Americans are more health-conscious than ever? So how is it then that many folks they are gaining weight or experiencing related health problems?
There’s lot to be said for willpower, but there is even more of a benefit for developing an overall healthy lifestyle that is meant to last longer than what it is going to take to be ready for the 5K or become trim enough for a high school reunion. There are also some hidden factors that can trigger weight gain. Here is a list of those hidden items that we may not have even realized are sabotaging our health goals and what can be done about them:
- Certain Medications. Antidepressants, steroids, Seroquel, among other medications can cause weight gain. Do Not just stop taking your prescribed medications. Instead, talk to your doctor about benefits versus risks. Maybe there is something else that will work just as well.
- Sleep Deprivation. We have talked about this before. Lack of sound and appropriate sleep length can disrupt the body’s hormone balance and eating patterns. Can’t sleep at night? Do you stay up watching TV to lull you to sleep? Commonly, when people are watching TV, they are snacking. That bowl of ice cream at 2 am may have something to do with weight gain. Cortisol levels are not as well-regulated. Cortisol is important for the fight and flight response when under attack, but cortisol also regulates the body’s sugar levels. In a study done in 2009 by the National Sleep Foundation 2 out of 10 people were sleeping less than 6 hours per night. Try these tips for a better night’s sleep: go to bed and arise at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Don’t watch TV before bed. It stimulates your brain. Try reading a book instead. This allows the brain to relax without fast-paced images on the screen keeping us awake. Don’t sleep with the light on. Try deep breathing exercises and gently stretching. Dump the coffee, tea, and colas at least before bed, if not forever.
- Stress. This is another one we’ve talked about before. Ongoing stress wears out the body by overproducing the fight or flight hormones. Your body becomes fatigued from being in fight or flight mode constantly. Your immune system is adversely affected. I don’t know about you, but when I am especially stressed, I find temporary comfort by sticking my head into a sack of milk chocolates. When did a bag of chocolate ever help someone keep a slimmer waistline? Take breaks periodically for a quick stretch. Distract yourself briefly by listening to music. Chat with a friend and blow off steam. Realize that this too shall pass. Meditate, or one of my favorites – take a nice long hot bath using essential oils or bubble bath for a nice aroma.
- Too little home cooking. Fast food restaurants, snack machine junk food, pizza ordered in all contribute to higher cholesterol, triglycerides, and heftier bodies. Take some time, maybe even with your family assisting, to make some meals in larger quantities that are tasty, healthy, and ones in which leftovers are freezeable. In a rush, forget the fast food, fix your meal that’s in the freezer.
- Too much sedentary time. After a crazy day at work, doesn’t it sound inviting to kick off your shoes, relax on couch, and watch TV to help shake off the day’s drama? Excessive sitting for whatever reason adds weight and deconditions the body. Even if a person exercises regularly, those effects are almost nullified by sitting for prolonged periods of time. Reduce your sedentary time. Stand or walk around if you have a desk job. Put a treadmill or exercise bike in front of the TV. I found a book rack for my stationery bike and was in heaven reading while cycling. Limit your screen time to 2 hours or less a day when you aren’t at work. Regular exercise will make your nights more restful and your days less stressful.
Even if only small changes are made, that is a good thing. Make a habit out of it. Then move on to something else that you could change for the better. Remember, Rome was not built in a day. Little changes will bring big benefits to your health. Who doesn’t want to feel better?
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