I’m willing to bet we are all huge fans of any new trick that will help keep fat gain at a bare minimum–even bigger fans of techniques that help us lose the fat. It all really amounts to small habits we have that accumulate into something significant–like snacking on small sweets frequently can help pack on the pounds and add inches to the waistline, so can a few minor tweaks to our daily routine bring about good changes in our health and figure.
It’s a little frustrating (annoying even) when we meet people who seem to be able to eat whatever they like yet not gain as much weight (and as quickly) as we do. Sometimes it’s genetics, other times it’s because they simply move more. After a meal, they may opt to walk it off right away and go for a leisurely stroll in the park or down the street, or they could stand up and walk around. The point is to spend the least amount of time with your bum parked on a chair. Keep moving. Go up and down a few steps on the stairs for a few minutes or take a short walk outside the house. If you keep your body moving, it signals your body to burn a few calories. If you don’t feel like taking a walk, then perhaps get up and do the dishes standing over the sink instead of just dumping it into the dishwasher. Added bonus: play some upbeat music you can dance to while getting chores done. (As I type, I’m standing up with my laptop on the bar as I sip on my sugar-free coffee haha)
One of the biggest culprits to ‘surprise’ weight gain is mindlessly snacking on high-sugar or high-fat junk. Potato chips, popcorn, donuts, etc. Those things may seem harmless when taken in small doses, but we are hardly very conscious of how ‘little’ our doses remain. Instead of going for junk food and the empty calories it offers, why not reach for a piece of fruit instead? You want to make sure you have access to low-calorie, nutrient-rich snacks regardless whether you’re at work, at home, or traveling. Pack a small zip bag of almonds and sunflower seeds, maybe a rice cake, a salad jar, or baby carrots and celery sticks, or even a protein bar (if you’re counting calories or macros, you can have half a bar for now and save the other half for later). There are lots of choices out there now for smart snacking that also pack fibre, vitamins, and calcium. Another tip is to make your meal visually enticing. The whole experience of eating begins the moment you look at a dish and decide it’s delicious enough to want to try it.
Get Enough Shut-Eye
Sleep is so important and so good for you. Not only are the pros and cons of sleep so quickly evident in our physical appearance (skin, face, complexion), but you also feel it in the inside. Whether you get too much or not enough sleep can affect your weight loss/gain. People who tend to keep very late nights frequently also have a high propensity to keep weight and have difficulty losing it. Staying up late causes you to get hungry and chances are, if it’s that late in the evening, you’ll be going for the easiest thing you can get.
Change Up Your Workout
When you’ve been doing the same workout for awhile, it’s normal to hit a plateau. You notice you’re not losing weight and maybe you’re even gaining. It’s worth looking into changing up your routine. Usually there’s also an increase in appetite when you start regularly working out. Try and change things up a bit every now and then to keep challenging your body and finding new and fun ways to burn calories. I joined a new workout called Sweat Session that incorporates yoga, zumba, and bodyweight exercises done to the tune of 90s hiphop music. It was fun doing it with friends and the music helped our energy stay up. Two months ago, I started doing Bikram Yoga (after years of saying I would never do yoga) and found myself enjoying it immensely. It has also helps with my flexibility and mobility when lifting weights.
Practice Mindful Eating
We’ve said it before: fitness is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. Working out helps you burn calories but proper nutrition and a good diet plan is the foundation upon which you fat-burning and calorie-torching quest must be established if you want to succeed in becoming a healthier you. You don’t need to go crazy and buy into all the health trendy food out there, you just need to make healthier choices. Be aware of whether you’re taking in enough nutrients at the start of the day so that your body can function optimally throughout the busy schedule ahead of you. At night when you’re usually the least active, be mindful of what you eat so that you’re not taking in more calories than your body will need as you retire for the evening. And of course, be particular with the right substitutes: go for coco sugar instead of white sugar, opt for a black coffee or sugar-free tea instead of a sugar-rich blended coffee drink (and you can forget about the whipped cream and chocolate syrup!). If you sit down and set out to eat because your intention is to fill your body with the right stuff, the good stuff, and the important stuff it needs instead of simply satiating an oral fixation, then you’ll be more inclined to make better food choices.
Get Hooked on A Workout You Enjoy
Just like a person has a sport or pastime they are obsessed over, finding a workout that you love and enjoy increases your chances of sticking to it and avoiding excuses to miss out on it. I remember being a huge fan of boxing and would spend anywhere from 3 to 4 hours at the gym daily just to train and spar and play around with the other boxers (this was before I became a parent, of course). I would have my work done quickly and immediately so that I wouldn’t have to sacrifice any gym or ring time. Now that I have a little human being dependent on me, my gym schedule revolves around my duties as a mother. But the bottom line is, because I love hitting the iron and the amazing way I feel after a good endorphin rush, I don’t allow myself excuses to miss out on a workout session. Even if it means I have to work out from home.
Remember that it’s the little habits we have that add up to something big. And whether that something big is something good or not, is entirely up to you. If making big changes to your lifestyle is too drastic, but you really want to get on track to becoming healthier, then start with baby steps. Make small changes until you find yourself being able to change some more along the way. You’ll be surprised how far you can go and how much better you can start at taking care of yourself and your health.
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