January is a month filled with resolutions, hope, and desires for change. One of the most popular resolutions is to become healthier and lose weight. What most of us fail to look at, is how much weight do we actually need to lose to be a healthy weight? How do we learn to not be fixated on a number but more importantly appreciate the way we look and feel?
It is my hope to inspire you to look past a number and start to look at becoming healthy first and foremost. When you start to view nutrition and exercise as a way to make yourself feel better, all of the outside motivations will follow. I have compiled a list of the 5 Simple Ways to Achieve a Healthy Weight to help you jump start a healthier approach to weight loss.
1) Eat Whole Foods. A whole food is a food that has not been chemically engineered or altered. In other words, it did not go through a manufacturing plant to get to you. Consumers get into trouble with food when they consistently eat items that are laced with additives and preservatives. When we stick to foods such as grains, animal proteins, vegetables, fruits, and legumes, we become much healthier individuals and we lose weight much easier. Obsessing over calories, fat, and protein content is not going to make or break your weight loss success. Focusing on eating real food is going to have a bigger impact on your overall health and weight loss.
2) Exercise 5-6 Times a Week. Get Moving. Our bodies were intended to be active for hours throughout the day. As the country began to see a decrease in manual labor, and an increase in reliance on machinery we saw an increase in obesity. Now we have to force exercise, since our current lifestyle and jobs do not. 30-60 minutes of exercise almost every day will help you achieve a healthy weight. There is no need to spend hours on the cardio equipment. Instead, go for a hike outside, take a group strength training class, or join a sports league. Find ways to incorporate activity into your everyday routine.
3) Get Plenty of Rest Every Night. Sleep is one of the most neglected activities among individuals, yet, is one of the most crucial players in the battle against sickness and obesity. Sleeping is your body’s only opportunity to rest and recover from your day’s physical and mental activities. Lack of sleep can affect your mental capacity and energy throughout the day. Many times, your sugar and carb cravings are a direct result from a lack of a good night’s sleep. If you find that you are getting sick frequently or having a hard time seeing progression with your workout programs it could be a direct result of not going to bed early enough. Aim to sleep 7-9 hours a night ideally getting to bed by 10pm every night.
4) Reduce Stress in Your Life. Stress management is crucial to optimal health. If we walk around week to week stressed about this or that, anxious and irritable, over time our sympathetic system (the flight/fright) will dominate over our parasympathetic (relaxed) system. The flight/fight response is our bodies reaction to stress. Our body cannot differentiate between different types of stress, whether we are running late, or we are grieving the loss of a loved one. When our body reacts to stress it releases the hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which have a stimulating effect upon the body, allowing it to carry out the necessary tasks for survival. The body will continue to release adrenaline until the stress trigger subsides. However, the body may continue to have high levels of cortisol for some time following the stress trigger. This consequently will have negative effects on your body’s ability to build muscle and shed body fat, especially in the abdominal area.
While some stress is important for the body, the problem with living in today’s society is that many of us are in a constant state of stress, and physiologically we are in a state of constant overdrive. Our adrenals are being asked to constantly perform without reprieve, and we run the risk of fatiguing our system, therefore affecting our overall health and homeostasis. Learn to make time for yourself every week to do what you enjoy. Exercising, meditation, positive reading, yoga, can all help reduce levels of stress.
5) Drink the Right Fluids. Dehydration can often times be confused with being hungry. Many of us fail to recognize what vital role water consumption plays in our bodies overall health. Our body needs a minimum of .5 oz per pound of body weight in order to function properly. In fact, when we fail to get the minimum water intake and instead drink dehydrating beverages such as alcohol, tea, coffee, and other caffeinated beverages we are putting ourselves at risk for many side effects. Fatigue, headaches, constipation, light-headed, and hunger, are signs of dehydration. Reach for water 90% of the time. Keep in mind the beverages you choose to consume, their calories, ingredients, and overall impact on your body.
I hope you find these 5 simple strategies helpful and easy to incorporate into your routine. When you keep it simple you will find it much easier to become healthier, feel more energized, sleep better, and be able to shed the excess body fat. When you follow trends, fad diets, and expect quick results you will fail. Keep it simple, follow the 5 tips I have provided and make 2013 the year you become healthier and happier with the way you look!
Andrea King is a certified San Diego fitness coach and has been able to help her San Diego weight loss clients succeed in achieving their own healthy weight by making lifestyle changes that aid in quick weight loss and overall fitness success!